What is a Koan?


Koans are what appear to be paradoxical statements designed to frustrate the intellect and create doubt.  In doing this the koan dismantles the way of solving problems and opens up new dimensions of consciousness.  Koans are used as subjects for meditation in Zen monasteries.

Koans go beyond words and ideas to a direct experience for the individual.  The answer to a koan is your own intimate and direct experience of the universe.  A koan cannot be solved intellectually, the idea is to sit with the question, not the solution

Working with koans requires a strong teacher-student relationship.  The Zen master checks the student’s understanding and provides valuable guidance as the process of resolving the koan occurs.  Ideally, the koan is solved through a flash of insight.

Here is an example of a koan to get you thinking:

“I’d love to give you something
but what would help?”
― IkkyuCrow with No Mouth

Personally, I don’t do koans, they do my head in! 🙂