Zen Buddhist Koans -
The Enlightenment Saga

Zen Riddle #2 -fire :
How to put out a far away fire?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)

Want more riddles? Choose one!
#16-bridge #4-boat #5-ghost

In theory Zen buddhist koans are stories about nothing but enlightenment.

Zen koans

This is no koan, not at all.

  • 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.


Like always in the realm of religion, Zen believes and faith are different from Zen reality.

Zen riddle

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 only pretends to guide his student to enlightenment through meditating buddhist koans.
    The relationship is about power and exploitation.

    Read more about organised Zen here.

  • Enlightenment isn't achieved through meditating koans.

    Normally a Zen student is declared enlightened to establish a new Zen community to enlarge his masters flock.

    Read more about Zen enlightenment here.

    So far so good.
    But even as enlightenment has nothing to do with koans, how to decode these puzzling riddles?

Zen quotes

This is no koan answer, no, no.

Koans are not too difficult to answer. Don't worry. Here's an example.

The Zen Koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" is rather well-known and often used as an initiation for Zen students.
Sounds difficult because its impossible to clap just one hand, isn't it.

But the answer is 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 only with one arm and hand. That's it, the "sound" of one hand clapping.
There are examples and simple rules how to deal with koans....

...and about 30 basic koans and their answers.

Read more about the buddhist koans' Chinese origin here.

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.



The decoding of a Zen riddle or koan is time consuming even with further instructions.

Zen quotes

A catch phrase of Zen

You may be tempted to read Zen books that comment on Zen koans, one 's smarter than the other.

But you won't find any solutions for a koan but get showered with vain and confusing Zen-talk.

The Zen hierarchies insists on the secrecy of koan solutions.

They still believe in decoding hundreds of koans leads a student's enlightenment. Ok. Fine. Here is the alternative.

Use the below form of "Free Zen Riddle and Koan Service"
  • to get a solution (sometimes more than one) for a certain riddle or koan
  • to discuss the decoding of riddles, koans or a koan answers
  • to get some more information about riddles or buddhist koans


Koans and Riddles are no secrets any more
Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
First Name*
E-mail Address*
Country*
Do you practice Zen?
NO
YES
Do you have a
Zen-teacher to satisfy?
NO
YES
Please write your Koan or Riddle in the box below!*
What do you want to know ?*

Please enter the word that you see below.

  







Do you like Zen Riddles?
Here are 59 of them!
With no charge!

Both Zen-Riddles e-books are with answers.
No charge!