Definitions for koanˈkoʊ ɑn
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
ko•anˈkoʊ ɑn(n.)(pl.)-ans, -an.
a nonsensical or paradoxical question posed to a Zen student as a subject for meditation, intended to help the student break free of reason and develop intuition in order to achieve enlightenment.
Category: Eastern Religions
Origin of koan:
1945–50; < Japn kōan, earlier koũ-an < MChin, < Chin gōngàn public proposal
a paradoxical anecdote or a riddle that has no solution; used in Zen Buddhism to show the inadequacy of logical reasoning
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 studentu2019s mind leading to satori.
A riddle with no solution, used to provoke reflection on the inadequacy of logical reasoning, and to lead to enlightenment.
Origin: From (), which was from 公案.
The New Hacker's Dictionary
A Zen teaching riddle. Classically, koans are attractive paradoxes to be meditated on; their purpose is to help one to enlightenment by temporarily jamming normal cognitive processing so that something more interesting can happen (this practice is associated with Rinzai Zen Buddhism). Defined here because hackers are very fond of the koan form and compose their own koans for humorous and/or enlightening effect. See Some AI Koans, has the X nature, hacker humor.