A paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.
puzzle, conundrum, brain-teaser, Chinese puzzle, problem, unsolved problem, question, poser, enigma, mystery, quandary, paradox
- ‘Like the ponderer of a Zen koan, the viewer must come to terms with this paradox.’
- ‘The goal of the Zen koan is enlightenment, which is a profound change of heart.’
- ‘Let's take a look at one of the classic Zen koans, the one about wild geese.’
- ‘Don't think that the koan and its solution are themselves wisdom and truth.’
- ‘Zen masters often use nonsensical or unsolvable riddles, or koans, to bring about enlightenment.’
Japanese, literally ‘matter for public thought’, from Chinese gōngàn ‘official business’.
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