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koan

Definition from Dictionary, a free dictionary
Think for thyself one good idea, but known to be thine own, is better than a thousand gleaned from fields by others sown.
Alexander Wilson
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English

Alternative spellings

Etymology

From Japanese 公案 (こうあん), from Chinese gōngàn ‘official business’.

EB1911A-pict1.png This entry lacks an etymology. If you are familiar with the origin of this word, please add it to the page as described here.
Particularly: “correct script for Chinese”

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /'kəʊɑ:n/

Noun

Singular
koan

Plural
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koan ({{{1}}})
  1. (Template loop detected: Template:context 1) A story about a Zen master and his student, sometimes like a riddle, other times like a fable, which has become an object of Zen study, and which, when meditated upon, may unlock mechanisms in the Zen student’s mind leading to satori.
    • 1979, Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
      Achilles: Let me tell you a kōan about an imitator.
      Zen master Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A young novice began to imitate him in this way. When Gutei was told about the novice’s imitation, he sent for him and asked him if it were true. The novice admitted it was so. Gutei asked him if he understood. In reply the novice held up his index finger. Gutei promptly cut it off. The novice ran from the room, howling in pain. As he reached the threshold, Gutei called, “Boy!” When the novice turned, Gutei raised his index finger. At that instant the novice was enlightened.
  2. A riddle with no solution, used to provoke reflection on the inadequacy of logical reasoning, and to lead to enlightenment.
    • 1973, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
      Gibberish. Or else a koan that Achtfaden isn’t equipped to master, a transcendent puzzle that could lead him to some moment of light.
    • 2001, Joyce Carol Oates, Middle Age : A Romance (Fourth Estate, paperback edition, 303)
      As always the koan “Why, Why am I here, why here” begins in her head, but she beats it back like a housewife with a broom.

Translations


Hungarian

Etymology

From the English koan, from the Japanese 公案 (kōan), from the Chinese 公案 (gōng'àn) (literally, "public case").

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /'koɒn/

Noun

koan (plural koanok)

  1. koan

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