7 Buddhist Koans and Their Meanings

Buddhist koans also called Zen Koans are a guiding light in the darkness of life. They have been used for centuries by Zen teachers to help students understand their true nature, to step beyond the use of rationality and intellectual cognition into the realm of non-rational and intuition. 

Buddhist Koans are like short stories, and riddles that sometimes are straight forward and sometimes need the listener or reader to sit with it, engage with it and ponder over it. Once the true essence of a koan is known to the listener, it causes an inner shift, a change in awareness, and it liberates our thoughts.

They are simple in words, but the human mind is so complicated and sophisticated that we find it difficult to comprehend. Koans are simply a tool, an aid to self-inquiry and deep realization.

Tools are as essential in cultivating the spiritual life as they are in cultivating the soil of a garden. For many Zen practitioners, koans have proved an effective way of understanding the problems that arise on the spiritual path and gaining insights to help resolve those problems. 

In order to utilise the koans most effectively, one requires an understanding of what it is and how it is used.   

“It is not achieved by looking out of the corner of your eye to see if everybody else is getting the same results as you or by trying to find out what others have already discovered. It is achieved by going down into one’s own inner, secret place and asking there for a direct encounter with the world, independent of convention.” ~ As explained in Sitting with Koans

There are no sure shot answers to a koan, it largely depends on one’s experience of the universe, of oneness, of unity, and the experience of reality. It is a state of consciousness.   

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