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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).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Buddhism) (in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution
[from Japanese]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
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Koan said ZirMed will become the firm's preferred partner for value-based care services.
Thus, he explains that "The aesthetic of composition is the dynamic zone orkhora where the non-linearity common to poems, Zen koans, and inventive mathematics proffer limited healing and recourse to discourse rendered immobile by the erosion of its very grooves" (329); an intermedial non-place "waived or suspended by the visual resources intrinsic to poetic space." (329)
If we sit in the pews ho-humming the obviousness of a moral lesson ("Yes, God the Father welcomes the prodigal sinner home"), then it's time to consider that we've turned a multilayered koan into mere allegory.
They're not at all unlike a zen-influenced koan, are they?
With the first koan of the book--a story or lyric expression meant to test a student's development in Zen Buddhism--the speaker implores,
It's a metaphysical problem, really, or even nearly a Zen koan: The stories that we tell ourselves are always about becoming, never about being.
One new fisherman, Koan Kirby, 4, squealed with delight as he grasped at the wriggling fish that his mom, Monique Kirby of Eugene, reeled in Sunday morning.
The shih prologue of "On Vulture Peak" is followed by the main body of the sutra, which consists of nine numbered sections (Parts I-IX) in the form of a Rinzai koan interview.
There is a classic Zen koan that asks: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Often given to students to aid in enlightenment by leading the mind into a cul-de-sac with no way out but enlightenment, the koan is both the object being sought and the relentless seeking itself.
Iskandar Jusuf, Dari Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan 1900 sampai Sekolah Terpadu 2008.
THIS IS NO ZEN koan, but a practical challenge posed by Christina Ham's stage directions.
Huckleberry owners Koan Goedman and Mark Mann say the new space is "amazing" and they are confident the innovative idea will be the ideal spot to grow their cafe concept into a "gathering place, encouraging discussion and interaction."