Koan Buddhism Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Koan Buddhism. Here they are! All 9 of them:

Every day Zuigan used to call out to himself, "Master!" and then he answered himself, "Yes, Sir!" And he added, "Awake, Awake!" and then answered, "Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir!" "From now onwards, do not be deceived by others!" "No, Sir! I will not, Sir!"
Wumen Huikai (The Gateless Gate)
You listen to people, you listen so deeply that you can hear their past lives, The crackle of their funeral pyres,
Dick Allen (Zen Master Poems)
Zhaozhou often quoted this saying by Sengcan: “The great way is not difficult if you just don’t pick and choose.
John Tarrant (Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy)
A koan is like a riddle that’s supposed to help you toward enlightenment in Zen Buddhism. For my answer, I wrote about this guy Banzan. He was walking through the market on day when he overheard someone ask a butcher for his best piece of meat. The butcher answered, “Everything in my shop is the best. You cannot find a piece of meat that is not the best.” Upon hearing this, Banzan realized that there is no best and no worst, that those judgments have no real meaning because there is only was is, and poof, he reached enlightenment.
John Green (Looking for Alaska)
[T]he koan is only a piece of brick used to knock at the gate, an index-finger pointing at the moon. It is only intended to synthesize or transcend—whichever expression you may choose—the dualism of the senses. So long as the mind is not free to perceive a sound produced by one hand, it is limited and is divided against itself. Instead of grasping the key to the secrets of creation, the mind is hopelessly buried in the relativity of things, and, therefore, in their superficiality. Until the mind is free from the fetters, the time never comes for it to view the whole world with any amount of satisfaction.
D.T. Suzuki (An Introduction to Zen Buddhism)
Here lies the value of the Zen discipline, as it gives birth to the unshakable conviction that there is something indeed going beyond mere intellection. The wall of koan once broken through and the intellectual obstructions well cleared off, you come back, so to speak, to your everyday relatively constructed consciousness. [...] Zen is now the most ordinary thing in the world. A field that we formerly supposed to lie far beyond is now found to be the very field in which we walk, day in, day out. When we come out of satori we see the familiar world with all its multitudinous objects and ideas together with their logicalness, and pronounce them "good".
D.T. Suzuki (An Introduction to Zen Buddhism)
Zen can be seen as having a special kind of structure with basic demands that are structural demands and therefore open to scientific investigation—and the more it can seem to have a definite character to be grasped and “understood.” When Zen is studied in this way, it is seen in the context of Chinese and Japanese history. It is seen as a product of the meeting of speculative Indian Buddhism with practical Chinese Taoism and even Confucianism. It is seen in the light of the culture of the T’ang dynasty, and the teachings of various “houses.” It is related to other cultural movements. It is studied in its passage into Japan and its integration into Japanese civilization. And then a great deal of things about Zen come to seem important, even essential. The Zendo or meditation hall. The Zazen sitting. The study of the Koan. The costume. The lotus seat. The bows. The visits to the Roshi and the Roshi’s technique for determining whether one has attained Kensho or Satori, and helping one to do this. Zen, seen in this light, can then be set up against other religious structures—for instance that of Catholicism, with its sacraments, its liturgy, its mental prayer (now no longer practised by many), its devotions, its laws, its theology, its Bible; its cathedrals and convents; its priesthood and its hierarchical organization; its Councils and Encyclicals.
Thomas Merton (Zen and the Birds of Appetite (New Directions))
When I am silent it seems that nothing is happening, but everything is happening. Nothing ever stops happening. Everything is happening. To see into this is a way of melting down this carapace, this shell, of what we call existence.
Albert Low (Working with Koans in Zen Buddhism)
A Koan is a riddle or dialectic meditation device used in Zen Buddhist practice that is intentionally designed to, at least on the surface, be unclear and obscure. Its point is not to provide a conclusion or answer to the question presented, but rather, to disregard the relevance of the answer, to detach itself from the functions of conclusion and singular resolution. There are over a thousand known Koan that follow this format, used to test and challenge Zen Buddhists, and reveal the obscurity and limits of the mind. In general, life is uncertain, confusing, and paradoxical. As hard as we work against this, it mostly remains so. No matter our efforts, every time we believe we have some understanding or control over life, like water in the palm of the hand, the tighter we squeeze, the further it eludes our grip. Sciences, religions, and philosophies make sense of the world through various methods, some more successful than others, but nonetheless, all face the inevitable limits of themselves, the human mind, and the time in which they are erected. By sheer lack of alternatives, we understand the world with thoughts and words. Through which, we can create systems of order and understanding like logic, story, social structure, and so on. This can greatly assist our ability to survive, coexist, communicate, deal with physical stuff, and so on. However, thoughts and words, of course, can only describe and understand the world with thoughts and words. As a result, they cannot make sense of what exists beyond thoughts and words, which a great measure of life arguably does. Like any tool thinking and language are limited to the confines of their abilities. Like a hammer cannot screw in a screw, and a nail cannot cut a board of wood, the human mind cannot make sense of the mindless. A hammer can perhaps smash a screw in, and a nail can perhaps split a board of wood like the mind can perhaps consider life, but none of these items or tools fully suit the jobs they are carrying out, and thus, will fall short in their abilities to properly complete them. A Koan embodies this notion. As opposed to most stories, ideas, and answers that attempt to fight against the concept of obscurity and absurdity in life by using defined structure, logic, and resolutions, the Koan harmonizes with the absurdity of life and disregards the need for conclusive answers. In rough terms, Zen Buddhism, in general, is founded on this synchronization with the obscure and abstract.
Robert Pantano