koan | Zen Buddhism | Britannica.com

Posted: October 18, 2017 at 3:01 am


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Koan, Japanese Kan, in Zen Buddhism of Japan, a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices, particularly in the Rinzai sect. The effort to solve a koan is intended to exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will, readying the mind to entertain an appropriate response on the intuitive level. Each such exercise constitutes both a communication of some aspect of Zen experience and a test of the novices competence.

A characteristic example of the style is the well-known koan When both hands are clapped a sound is produced; listen to the sound of one hand clapping. Sometimes the koan is set in question-and-answer form, as in the question What is Buddha? and its answer, Three pounds of flax.

Koans (from Chinese kung-an, literally public notice, or public announcement) are based on anecdotes of Zen (Chinese: Chan) masters. There are said to be 1,700 koans in all. The two major collections are the Pi-yen lu (Chinese: Blue Cliff Records; Japanese: Hekigan-roku), consisting of 100 koans selected and commented on by a Chinese priest, Yan-wu, in 1125 on the basis of an earlier compilation; and the Wu-men kuan (Japanese: Mumon-kan), a collection of 48 koans compiled in 1228 by the Chinese priest Hui-kai (known also as Wu-men). Compare zazen.

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koan | Zen Buddhism | Britannica.com

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Written by simmons |

October 18th, 2017 at 3:01 am

Posted in Zen Buddhism