Chan Buddhism originated from Bodhidharma, prevailed since the Sixth Patriarch Huineng and developed into the mainstream of Chinese Buddhism after the middle and late Tang Dynasty. The Chan School has been passed down from the patriarchal Chan tradition which maintains a special transmission not relying on scriptures and dogma, and focuses on realizing human nature upon sudden attainment of enlightenment.

Chan Buddhism is the crystallization of Chinese cultural integration with Indian Buddhism. Bodhidharma, the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism from India, founded the Chinese Chan School and passed on to Huike, Sengcan, Daoxin, Hongren and Huineng. After Bodhidharma and successive patriarchs, Chan Buddhism flourished and developed into five schools, namely, Weiyang, Linji, Caodong, Fayan and Yunmen. Therefore, one flower with five petals is often referred to as the Chan origin blossoming into five schools in China. The Linji school was further divided into the Yangqi and Huanglong lines, which, together with the Five Families, formed the Seven Sects. These lineages are commonly referred to as the Five Families and Seven Sects.