A koan is a multi-level structural device that is used in Zen practice to help a person expand their awareness. Koans can be long or short, verbal or non-verbal.
Probably the most famous Zen koan in the West is: "The sound of one hand clapping."
At first glance a koan often appears to be a meaningless phrase. What great insights can be gained by thinking about the sound of one hand clapping?
However when you focus intently on a koan for extended periods of time, the nature of reality can be revealed to you.
Koans often juxtapose two or more incongruous concepts. Normally we think that it takes two hands to clap.
Unlike your finite mind, your infinite mind is not bound by the rules of time and space. It has ten thousand states of mind to view and examine experience through.
With the use of your infinite mind you can understand the clapping of one hand and many other things that would seem incomprehensible to your finite mind.
The idea is that you go and see your Zen Master, maybe once a day, working on a particular koan.
You go back each day and you repeat the answer you've managed to get together. The idea is that when you have the right answer, you'll make some kind of breakthrough to a new plane of consciousness.
There are no right answers. It has nothing to do with what you say -- it's how you say it. It's the moment and Old Zen was the study of the moment, to see the moment as eternity.
From the point of view of Zen, there's no point of view. Therefore, there's no Zen. All there is is dishwater, timeless, eternal, perfect dishwater waiting for the dishes that will never come.
Why did the Zen Master cross the road? He didn't. The road crossed him.
The koan is: Life doesn't change, but you do. It changes with every state of mind that you enter into.
The shortest distance between two points is your mind. It's not a straight line.
What is the half life of time?
An old Japanese proverb tells us that wherever a dog walks his tail must follow. If your mind is clear than your life will be clear.
We use explanations backwards. We use an explanation to take you to a point where there are no explanations. That is what a Zen Koan is supposed to do.
Everything I do is a koan.
We're the best hope humanity has, so humanity is clearly in trouble. Buddhists have always known this.
Nothing matters quite a bit. I have made this point repeatedly. Let me try again. When I say that nothing matters, I do not mean anything. I mean everything. Everything matters precisely because nothing matters.
Prohibitions and doctrines have been set forth by teachers who have walked the path that leads nowhere forever.
How could we not exist, since we never existed?
You can learn a lot from a flower - they're beautiful and then they die.
There is no beginning and there is no end. Some days there's not even a middle.
The planes of light are inside your mind. Infinity is inside your mind. Eternity is inside your mind. The question is: where is it?
Plan not to plan.
I asked the Zen Master why he lived on a mountain. He didn't answer or perhaps, he did.
Is there anything outside of your mind? That is the Zen koan for the yuga.
Zen is the way of emptiness and fullness, beginning and ending.
I asked the Zen Master what is death? He smiled and said: "It is life."
If a tree falls in forest and there's no one there to watch it, did it really fall? Well, it really doesn't matter. If you weren't there, it's not of no consequence.
For you, there is a way. For me, there is no way. We are on different sides at the moment
The koan is: Happiness is a warm puppy.
There are billions of people out there walking around and they wear a lot of shoes. Have you ever thought about that?
I'd like to discuss just about everything that seems irrelevant. By discussing all things that are irrelevant we'll find that which is left over is relevant.
Is there something different about an Aqua Velva Man? Does she or doesn't she? Only the Zen Master knows for sure and he's not telling.
I asked the Zen Master why is all of this? I asked the Zen Master what is all of this? He smiled and walked away, slowly softly.