Kōan

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A kōan (pronounced /ˈkoʊ.ɑːn/; Chinese: 公案; pinyin: gōng'àn; Korean: gong'an; Vietnamese: công án) is a fundamental part of the history and lore of Zen Buddhism. It consists of a story, dialogue, question, or statement, the meaning of which cannot be understood by rational thinking but may be accessible through intuition. One widely known kōan is "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?" (oral tradition attributed to Hakuin Ekaku, 1686–1769, considered a reviver of the kōan tradition in Japan). The word koan, the name by which the practice is known to the West, comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters (公案).

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