What is Zen, what is contemplation?

Zen

is a spiritual path that came to reach the West through China and Japan. Zen has its roots in Buddhism, but is not in itself bound to one religion. Through the exercise of letting go of all thoughts and ideas when sitting in silence, its goal is to make us realize our true being.

The exercises of Zen encompass Zazen (sitting upright in meditation), Kinhin (walking meditation), Dokusan (personal talks with teachers), Teisho (lectures), and working with Koans. These exercises get especially intense during prolonged stretches of practice (Sesshin, Rohatsu).
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Contemplation

Meditation was also practiced over many centuries in the West by Christian mystics and reached its peak with mystics such as master Eckhart or Teresa von Avila. The path of contemplation was a well-known, though hidden one in earlier Christianity; it meant getting closer to the divine through experience and not only faith. It was suppressed later on and thus fell into oblivion. Its core, like in Zen, lay in experiencing the present moment. This is practiced sitting down in silence and following an inner path.  Further elements of this practice are mindful walking, complementary individual talks with teachers and masters and recitative singing.
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„Those who can open themselves to silence feel a shift. Silence changes us, it unites and heals.“

Willigis Jäger