Definitions
koan Tweet Definition of koan Like Definition of koan on Facebook
noun 
  1. (context, Zen Buddhism) A story about a Zen master and his student, sometimes like a riddle, other times like a fable, which has become an object of Zen study, and which, when meditated upon, may unlock mechanisms in the Zen student"s mind leading to satori.
    • 1979, Douglas R. Hofstadter, wikipedia:Gí¶del, Escher, Bach, Gí¶del, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
    • : Achilles: Let me tell you a kÅŤan about an imitator.
    • :: <small> Zen master Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A young novice began to imitate him in this way. When Gutei was told about the novice"s imitation, he sent for him and asked him if it were true. The novice admitted it was so. Gutei asked him if he understood. In reply the novice held up his index finger. Gutei promptly cut it off. The novice ran from the room, howling in pain. As he reached the threshold, Gutei called, "Boy!" When the novice turned, Gutei raised his index finger. At that instant the novice was enlightened.</small>
      1. A riddle with no solution, used to provoke reflection on the inadequacy of logical reasoning, and to lead to enlightenment.
    • 1973, w:Thomas Pynchon, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity"s Rainbow
    • : Gibberish. Or else a ' that Achtfaden isn"t equipped to master, a transcendent puzzle that could lead him to some moment of light.
    • 2001', w:Joyce Carol Oates, Joyce Carol Oates, Middle Age : A Romance'' (Fourth Estate, paperback edition, 303)
    • : As always the "Why, Why am I here, why here" begins in her head, but she beats it back like a housewife with a broom.
Translations: (trans-top, zen story)
(trans-mid)
(trans-bottom) (trans-top, riddle without solution)
(trans-mid)
(trans-bottom) Etymology: From (term, sc=Jpan, lang=ja, åæ) ((term, sc=Jpan, lang=ja, ãããã)), from (Chin.) gÅngín "official business".(rfe, correct script for Chinese)


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