Koan meditation is a method to directly see one’s Buddha nature by asking a question. Koan means a spiritual question in Zen tradition and it is used as means of gaining spiritual awakening. Koan generally contains aspects that are inaccessible through rational understanding, yet accessible to intuition. A famous Koan is:
" Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand? "
Essential Cases for Questioning
- What body did you have before your parents conceived you?
- When a person is in deep, dreamless sleep, where is the numinous awareness that makes one sentient?
- “All things are created by the mind.What does this mean?
- “Mind is Buddha.” What does this mean?
- Why is it that there is samsara for sentient beings but liberation for all the buddhas?
- “A person who practices well is not separate from the self-nature.” What is this practice which is not separated from the self-nature?
- How are mind, nature, principle, and energy the same?
- Are all things in the universe subject to arising and ceasing or free from arising and ceasing?
- The karmic retributions of cause and effect among all things in the present life occur by knowing one another. But how do the retributions of later lives occur, when they have forgotten their past lives and no longer recognize one another?
- “Heaven and earth know without knowing anything.” What does this mean?
- The numinous awareness of people who attain nirvana is merged with the dharmakaya. How, then, do individual spirits become divided again and the standard for distinguishing past and future lives come into existence?
- “I have a volume of scripture that is written without paper or ink. It does not contain a single word yet always radiates light.” What does this mean?