What is a Koan?

The koan is a little nugget of something an awakened master did during his time. ~ Henry Shukman

Henry Shukman, answers the question: What is a koan?

The text is taken from a 2-minute video clip from an upcoming full length feature film on a conversation between Henry Shukman and Chris Hebard about Zen and more.

The word koan actually means “a public case” which has a legal background, like an established legal precedent. The world transferred over to the spiritual realm of Zen. Henry describes…

 A koan contains awakening. They are mostly tiny little stories of things that great awakened masters said or did…the koan is a little nugget of something an awakened master did during his time, which still contains the world as he experienced it.

Henry explains that koans are from the Chinese Tang dynasty which is when Zen began to flourish, between 600-900 AD.  Zen was a confluence of Buddhism and Taoism, which Henry believes contains the best of both traditions.

We sit with koans during our Zen practice. We take them into our meditation. Henry calls the koan a riddle, a puzzle, or an enigma, until it does its work and brings us to some taste, some personal lived glimpse of the world of the original master.

This short 2-minute video clip is from an upcoming full length feature film on a conversation between Henry Shukman and Chris Hebard about Zen and more.

This clip and the upcoming film is a Stillness Speaks production in association with Mountain Cloud Zen Center. It is produced by Chris Hebard and Henry Shukman. Filmographer (including video editing) is Jonathan Mugford (who can be contacted @ jonathan.mugford@gmail.com). All text and quotes in this post are from this film.

Video clip copyright holder is Stillness SpeaksPruett Media, and it is freely made available to Mountain Cloud Zen Center.

Image (edited with logo): Featured and 1) Search for my original face 2) Om mani padme hum, both images by Jim O’Neil, CC by 2.0 from Flickr.com

 

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