KOAN MEDITATION

THE SOTAESAN CENTER

The Principal Book of Won Buddhism

KOAN MEDITATION

ENLIGHTENMENT WITH ZEN(SŎN) QUESTIONS

“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?

Koan Meditation is a method to directly see one’s self-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 Koan is a spiritual question that is used to focus one’s mind when practicing meditation by giving rise to the questioning mind as to the nature of ultimate reality.

A kōan (公案), which literally means ‘official document’ or ‘public record’, is also used as the criterion to test a Zen student’s awakening. The koan is meant for contemplation and defies rational understanding. It works to exhaust analytic thinking and the dualistic mindset. Therefore, a koan appears to be nonsensical and puzzling, and is usually a paradoxical statement or question. 

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Cases for questioning” means to inquire into, and be evaluated on, topics that create doubt regarding the universal principles of great and small, being and non-being, and the human affairs of right and wrong, benefit and harm, as well as regarding the hwadus (keywords, koan) enunciated by past Buddhas and enlightened masters. This is intended for practitioners who are engaged in a profound stage of inquiry to attain a clear analysis of human affairs or universal principles.   “The principle of the nature” means to enable us to resolve and understand the original principle of all things in the universe and the fundamental principle of our self-nature.

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ESSENTIAL CASES FOR QUESTIONING

The following koans or cases for questioning can be contemplated when you have quiet moments in your daily life, or you can contemplate a koan in order to replace wandering thoughts or to transform a restless mind into a single mind. This koan practice will help you to stay centered and gradually hone your innate wisdom, eventually leading to enlightenment.

“All things are created by the mind. What does this mean?


“Mind is Buddha.” What does this mean?


“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?


“Illuminate the one mind by penetrating the myriad dharmas.” What does this mean?


Are all things in the universe subject to arising and ceasing or free from arising and ceasing?


“Heaven and earth know without knowing anything.” What does this mean?


“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?


The myriad dharmas return to one; to what does the one return?

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The great Way is all-pervasive, without any gaps, but people do not understand this and end up creating gaps on their own. Regardless of who it is, if one understands and practices the principle that illuminates the one mind by penetrating the myriad Dharmas, then one will certainly attain the great, perfect, right enlightenment.

Venerable Sotaesan

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