Zen Buddhist Koans -
The Enlightenment Saga
This is no koan, not at all.
Zen buddhist koans are stories about nothing else but enlightenment.
- The koan stories describe strange actions of medieval Chinese monks who in one way or another became "deeply enlightened".
- Today this process is much more formalised.
The Zen master knows the meaning of all and every koans because (by definition) he's enlightened
The Zen student has to meditate with hundreds of koans in order to become enlightened himself.
Enlightenment is said to be a sudden experienced while meditating about a koan.
These basic believes in buddhist koans and enlightenment are part of the religious orthodoxy
in Zen Buddhism.
If you're just looking for Koan examples and their answers go to Zen Koans
The reality of Zen Buddhist Koans
Like always in the realm of religion, Zen believes and faith are different from reality.
How do you answer this koan?
Buddhist Koans are summaries of legends about Buddhist monks in China, created, edited and first written down in 11th century.
The legends main purpose was to prove that Buddhism is not a foreign religion but part of Chinese culture.
Read the full story of Chinese Buddhism here.
The reality of Zen master and Zen student relationship is as murky as the origin of koans.
The master pretends to guide his student to enlightenment through meditating buddhist koans but he relationship is about power and exploitation.
Read more about organised Zen here.
Enlightenment isn't achieved through meditating koans.
In reality a Zen student is declared enlightened to establish a new Zen community to enlarge his masters flock.
Read more about Zen enlightenment here.
You'll find ancient Koan examples with answers at Zen Koans or choose the
48 Koans (with answers) of Mummonkan (chin.: Wumen guang).
But why not try to decode these puzzling riddles by yourself!
B A N G !
are not too difficult to answer.
Here's an example.
The question "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" is a rather well-known Zen Koan and often used as an initiation for Zen students.
It sounds difficult because its impossible to clap just one hand, isn't it?
The answer is nevertheless quite simple.
How do you clap both your hands? You lift both arms and clash the hands together, don't you?
Try this movement again, but with one arm and hand only .
That's it, the "sound" of one hand clapping.
There are more Koan examples and simple rules
how to deal with them.
You want more? There are 30 basic Koans
, lots of ancient Koans
and the famous 48 Koans
of 13th century Chinese master Wumen Hukai (jap.: Mummon).
Or find a sample of Koan questions from visitors of this site and my answers here!
You may send your own question about Buddhist Koans and Zen
to me. I'll answer via e-mail.
Read more about the buddhist koans and their Chinese origin!
Last but not least: download one of my free ebooks
, that gives you the answers to most popular Zen Buddhist Koans.
Don't forget, koans are stories about action, not talking.
The actors are always a senile and vain know-it-all teacher and you are the clever student.
Make a slap-stick out of every encounter with the master.
go to Zen Koans
see the 48 Koans of Mommonkan
visite the Person that calls itself 'I'
explore Zen's World
Goto "Zen Riddles"
Return to Home Page from "Zen Buddhist Koans"