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A puzzling, often paradoxical statement, anecdote, question, or verbal exchange, used in Zen Buddhism as an aid to meditation and a means of gaining spiritual awakening.

[Japanese kōan : , public (from Middle Chinese kəwŋ; also the source of Mandarin gōng) + an, matter (from Middle Chinese ʔan`; also the source of Mandarin àn).]


(Buddhism) (in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution
[from Japanese]


(ˈkoʊ ɑn)

n., pl. -ans, -an.
a nonsensical or paradoxical question posed to a Zen student as a subject for meditation, intended to help the student break free of reason and develop intuition in order to achieve enlightenment.
[1945–50; < Japanese kōan, earlier koũ-an < Middle Chinese, < Chinese gōngàn public proposal]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.koan - a paradoxical anecdote or a riddle that has no solution; used in Zen Buddhism to show the inadequacy of logical reasoning
problem - a question raised for consideration or solution; "our homework consisted of ten problems to solve"
References in periodicals archive ?
The process was even more simple, according to Koan.
While the classic Zen koan has no real answer, it provokes many questions when it comes to the power of partnerships.
This same sense of koan or paradox can be applied to further understand invitational classrooms.
com, CNN, comScore Europe, CPX Interactive, Ernst & Young, Expedia Inc, Fox Interactive Media, Gemius, Goldbach Media Group, Google, Hi-Media-AdLink, InSites Consulting, Koan, Microsoft Europe, Netlog, News Corporation, Nugg.
Taken together, Malainud's short fiction comprises a bible devoted to exploring the author's strange koan of cultural ambiguity: "All men are Jews," he once said, "except they don't know it.
AoYou donAAEt know what youAAEre listening for, because you havenAAEt heard it,Ao Hempton says with the simplicity of a koan.
Ask not what your country can do for you,| a kind of political Zen koan.
The conclusion is that the koan offers "a test site in which the self is placed at absolute risk" (307).
The winning public relations strategy was developed in partnership with Koan, a Manchester-based communications consultancy.
Page 78 (bottom left): Painting near front door is Koan 38, oil and wax on canvas, by Larry Fodor from Porter Associates (see above).
These works have become your koan, and working with a koan isn't about finding an answer; it's about being in the question.
takes a new approach to the philosophical koan of how to represent the inexpressible by seeking to reorient the study of Holocaust literature and survivor testimony away from the focus on the awestruck language of the unspeakable to the spaces between speech and silence, and body and text.