Most Zen Koans were written or collected in 13th to 15th century China.

But there are much earlier Koans too. They train creative, intuitive problem solving.

Sounds strange for people normally use their rational thinking to solve a problem.

But in Zen only an intuitive, creative solution of Koans is accepted.

If you want to find out about this "dogma" in Zen go to the Person that calls itself 'I'

There are six types of ancient Zen riddles or Koans. Their answers are normally hidden but here they are provided.

All riddles show, that the Koan-questions and their answers are not logically connected.

The typical Zen-solution needs intuition and creativity, not logic and intellect.

That what's the ancient Zen Koans demonstrate over and over again.

(To give the answer for a Koan is against the tradition, but it avoids useless mental movements in circles.)

1. Body and Actions

2. Things

3. Roads and Mountains

4. Water Challenges

5. Animals and Plants

6. The Universe and Theories

**How to use this page?**

*If you can't believe the answer for a Koan is correct, click the "???" button to get a short explanation.
"???" brings you to a Koan box on another page.
Click the "show/hide" button, to see the answer and the explanation.
If a Koan has no "???" button, download the free e-book "Miscellaneous Koans"
* to find it.

In spirituality body parts or actions are often used to illustrate philosophical and religious teachings. E.g. "speaking in tongues" means, influenced by the holy spirit somebody cries out holy words in a language he or she doesn't know. (Second Koan)

The Koan answer brings the religious symbol "tongue" down to earth. Just (use your tongue and) say something.

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

Top of Page

This type of Zen Koans challenges our common sense. They are about dealing with normal "things". Everybody knows what you can do with "things" and what you can't.

But that's the cage of logic, you have to leave in Zen.

The Koans have a creative answer, that doesn't care about common sense.

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

Top of Page

**Koan: Who am I?**

Chinese Zen monks walked long distances between monasteries, which were built on top of mountains. This practice was called "the way".

Like on a western pilgrimages after some time landscape, walking and logic melt into one another. the pilgrim is "out of the mind".

Zen Koans question this unique experiences logically.

The answer can only be found by intuitively going back to the pilgrimage on roads and mountains.

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

Top of Page

Water can be dangerous, useful, pleasant, friendly, like a living being. Human imagination uses water as religious symbol (e.g. baptism) or as a philosophical sign.

Many Zen Koans refer to these human water-fantasies.

Forget about them. Water is water. Deal with it, as simple as possible. Thinking doesn't help.

"Draw some water with your hands" is always a good reaction on water.

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

Top of Page

**Koan: Who are you?**

Humans like animals and plants are living beings. They are equals. There's basically no superiority.

To answer a Koan with animals or plants forget the Buddhist rules how to treat them.

To answer the Koan, refer to what a people normally do with animals and plants.

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

Top of Page

**Buddha makes a Koan
**

Most cultures are interested in the universe and theories of all kind. Zen is not.

The Koan "How do you put on a shirt of empty sky?" raises metaphysical questions. For a long time you could ponder about them.

In Zen you answers these questions randomly or literally, like a child.

Just put on a shirt.

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

...the answer is...

Go to

Go to

Return from Zen Koans to