Zen Riddles and Answers, no Secrets


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Zen Riddle #16-bridge :
The bridge flows, the water is motionless. Why?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)

Want more riddles? Choose one!
back #17-curves #20-rice #25-snow

zen riddle
A puzzling riddle answer



Riddles and answers are the holy grail of Zen. The riddles are known, the answers are hidden.

Suppose you find the secret solutions of some Zen riddles. Does it show your deep enlightenment?

Nonsense. Read the secret answer of Zen riddles in the box at the right.

Do you feel enlightened?
Try again? OK. Down the page there are more Zen riddles and their answers.

Where do Zen riddles come from?
What is their origin? Some background information.




my picture India

How the Buddha once Solved the Indian Dukka-Riddle

Gotama Shakya, an Indian monk in 5th century BC, for many years struggled with the question, why is all of life nothing but suffering (Sanskrit: dukkha).

Finally, after a night of meditation and hallucinations, he saw the morning star and cried: All the world is already enlightened.

That's not a proper answer for the suffering question, is it?

But it worked. Gotama Shakya was suddenly enlightened and from that day on he was a sage, (Sanskrit: muni) called Gotama Shakyamuni or simply Buddha.


my picture China

Riddles and Answers in Chinese Buddhism

The Buddha's riddle-solving by meditation only was later used by Chinese Buddhists to provoke highly educated Confucians.

These riddles were about crazy but enlightened Buddhist masters.

To find an answer, logic, reason and arguments had to be suspended.

Jumping into creative madness was necessary instead.


my picture Japan

Riddles and Answers in Japan

Shortened versions of these riddles came to Japan in the 13th century and were soon forgotten.

It wasn't until the late 17th century that Master Hakuin
remembered the old stuff and claimed the riddles as a Japanese heritage of Buddhism.

He also preached the medieval Chinese belief that dealing with paradoxical questions implodes the mind and thus makes Buddhists enlightened.

This crude theory reigns until today as the deep mystical secret of Zen Riddles. These answers have to be secrets, so that everybody who knows them proves her enlightened mind.

You still want to come closer to enlightenment through Zen riddles? Ok. Here are some more riddles and their secret answers.

For a more systematic overview on how you, yourself, are involved in Koans and how to answer them goto Zen Koans.


Western Countries West

Riddles and Answers in Western Countries

Only in 20th century Japanese master spread Zen and its meditation techniques in the US and other western countries.

Later it was picked up by christian priests to reanimate the mystical practices of medieval christianity.

The Japanese Koans about crazy but enlightened Buddhist masters were used in christian Zen as well.

Like Japanese Zen-monks the christians tried to find Koan-answers by suspending logic, reason and arguments.

Meditation and jumping into creative madness was again the way of Zen.


New Riddles, Answers and Explanations



Zen Riddle #6-steps :
Make mount Fuji take three steps. How?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
Zen Riddle #8 - well :
Looking into a well, a man without shadow is drawing water. Why?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
Zen Riddle #11-picking :
Pick up a stone from 10000m deep in the ocean with dry hands.
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)

Having read several Zen riddles and their answers you will realise the pattern.


  • Some answers refer to the "all-is-one" theory of Buddhism and want you to identify with an "object", fire, bell, hand etc.

  • Others illustrate the Zen belief, that the world is simple.
    Complications only arise from the mind. Don't bother about the mind, Zen says. Do what you're asked to do.

  • In both cases don't explain your answer but make it a little (more or less stupid looking) performance.

If you want to know about the Buddhist background of these recommendations vist and Zen's World and the Person that calls itself 'I'.
Don't forget, meditation is always a good idea to find out about Zen.

zen riddle

Check it !

Zen Riddle #26-tongue :
Why is it not our tongue that we speak with?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
Zen Riddle #35-arise :
How does the Buddha's dharma arise from the supreme way?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
Zen Riddle #14-plough :
Take hold of a plough with empty hands . How?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
Zen Riddle #37-freedom :
The principle of Zen is complete freedom. Why?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
Zen Riddle #29-crimson :
Why do crimson lines never cease to flow?
Here's the answer....(Show/Hide)
go to Zen Koans

see the 48 Koans of Mommonkan

visite the Person that calls itself 'I'

explore Zen's World

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