A Koan (Japanese) was set at the conclusion of a recent class, non-compulsorily and as gift.

This is an ancient method of puzzle-question (or statement) designed to penetrate to the heart/mind of a particular teaching.

Originally found in Chinese Taoism/Buddhism, Kung-An 公案  – whose literal meaning approximates to a public case-study of law, requiring a judgement, but is nearer in sense to a personal mind-push became very much used in Japanese Zen training from around C13th. There are many famous examples.

Here is ours, put a little more formally than in the class perhaps.

  • Asked by the teacher to describe the standing chi kung posture for meditation, what answer would you make?

There are no wrong answers, per se; a student (or monk or nun) making a response that did not satisfy the teacher would simply be sent away to meditate further, with the quiet admonition: ‘Not this!’ A response that pleased might find the student ‘passed’ with a ritual yell, or other abrupt dismissal.


See also On Paradox
elsewhere in these pages.
April 2012 ©