Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a little background while I wait for an email about a job .


Koans are " ...sometimes said to confound the habit of discursive thought or shock the mind into awareness. "

My animation and writing is of a similar nature .

KOANs : from Wikipedia . .. .

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A kōan (pronounced /ˈkoʊ.ɑːn/; Chinese: 公案; pinyin: gōng-àn; Korean: gong'an; Vietnamese: công án) is a story, dialogue, question, or statement in the history and lore of Zen Buddhism, generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet may be accessible to intuition. A famous kōan is: "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?" (oral tradition attributed to Hakuin Ekaku, 1686-1769, considered a reviver of the kōan tradition in Japan).

1 In summary
2 Examples
3 Roles of the kōan in Zen practice
4 Etymology and the evolving meaning of kōan
5 The role of kōans in the Soto, Rinzai, and other sects
6 Interpretation of kōans
7 Classical Kōan collections
7.1 The Blue Cliff Record
7.2 The Book of Equanimity
7.3 The Gateless Gate
7.4 The True Dharma Eye
8 Other traditional kōans
8.1 Killing the Buddha
8.2 The sound of one hand
9 See also
10 Notes
11 Further reading
12 External links

In summary
Kōans originate in the sayings and doings of sages and legendary figures, usually those authorized to teach in a lineage that regards Bodhidharma (c. 5th-6th century) as its ancestor. Kōans are said to reflect the enlightened or awakened state of such persons, and sometimes said to confound the habit of discursive thought or shock the mind into awareness. Zen teachers often recite and comment on kōans, and some Zen practitioners concentrate on kōans during meditation. Teachers may probe such students about their kōan practice using "checking questions" to validate an experience of insight (kensho) or awakening. Responses by students have included actions or gestures, "capping phrases" (jakugo), and verses inspired by the kōan.
As used by teachers, monks, and students in training, kōan can refer to a story selected from sutras and historical records, a perplexing element of the story, a concise but critical word or phrase (話頭 huà-tóu) extracted from the story, or to the story appended by poetry and commentary authored by later Zen teachers, sometimes layering commentary upon commentary.

English-speaking non-Zen practitioners sometimes use kōan to refer to an unanswerable question or a meaningless statement. However, in Zen practice, a kōan is not meaningless, and teachers often do expect students to present an appropriate response when asked about a kōan. Even so, a kōan is not a riddle or a puzzle.[1] Appropriate responses to a kōan may vary according to circumstances; different teachers may demand different responses to a given kōan, and a fixed answer cannot be correct in every circumstance. One of the most common recorded comments by a teacher on a disciple's answer is: "Even though that is true, if you do not know it yourself it does you no good." The master is looking not for an answer in a specific form, but for evidence that the disciple has actually grasped the state of mind expressed by the kōan itself.

Thus, though there may be so-called "traditional answers" (kenjō 見処 or kenge 見解) to many kōans, these are only preserved as exemplary answers given in the past by various masters during their own training. In reality, any answer could be correct, provided that it conveys proof of personal realization. Kōan training can only be done with a qualified teacher who has the "eye" to see a disciple's depth of attainment. In the Rinzai Zen school, which uses kōans extensively, the teacher certification process includes an appraisal of proficiency in using that school's extensive kōan curriculum.

The word kōan corresponds to the Chinese characters 公案 which can be rendered in various ways: gōng'àn (Chinese pinyin); kung-an (Chinese Wade-Giles); gong'an (Korean); công án (Vietnamese); kōan (Japanese Hepburn); often transliterated kōan). Of these, "kōan" is the most common in English. Just as Japanese Zen, Chinese Ch'an, Korean Son, and Vietnamese Thien, and Western Zen all share many features in common, likewise kōans play similar roles in each, although significant cultural differences exist.


  • A student asked Master Yun-Men (949 C.E.) "Not even a thought has arisen; is there still a sin or not?" Master replied, "Mount Sumeru!"

  • A monk asked Zhàozhōu, "Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?" Zhaozhou said, "".
    ("Zhaozhou" is rendered as "Chao-chou" in Wade-Giles, and pronounced "Joshu" in Japanese. "Wu" appears as "mu" in archaic Japanese, meaning "no", "not", "nonbeing", or "without" in English. This is a fragment of Case #1 of the Wúménguān. However, note that a similar kōan records that, on another occasion, Zhaozhou said "yes" in response: Case #18 of the Book of Serenity.)[clarification needed]

  • Huìnéng asked Hui Ming, "Without thinking of good or evil, show me your original face before your mother and father were born".
    (This is a fragment of case #23 of the Wumenguan.)

  • A monk asked Dongshan Shouchu, "What is Buddha?" Dongshan said, "Three pounds of flax".
    (This is a fragment of case #18 of the Wumenguan as well as case #12 of the Blue Cliff Record.)

  • A monk asked Zhaozhou, "What is the meaning of the ancestral teacher's (i.e., Bodhidharma's) coming from the west?" Zhaozhou said, "The cypress tree in front of the hall".
    (This is a fragment of case #37 of the Wumenguan as well as case #47 of the Book of Serenity.)

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