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We are excited to share our latest obsession - Zen Koans! 

Merriam-Webster Definition: “A paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason.” 


The Koans can be a story, question, dialogue, or statement that helps Buddhists and those who meditate to doubt what they currently know and unravel the greater truths of the world. Although Koans are generally associated with Zen Buddhism, the stories are shared across Buddhist traditions. 


Here’s a great Ted ED video that explains further:

Zen kōans: Unsolvable enigmas designed to break your brain - Puqun Li


We love puzzles and we love to teach through storytelling. This has been a fun and educational project for us both. We have compiled several of these Koans on our website. We plan to highlight and discuss a few of our favorites and the ones that currently resonate the most with us. 

Which ones are your favorites? 

The Thief Who Became a Disciple

"One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding wither his money or his life."

"Shichiri told him: "Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer." Then he resumed his recitation."

"A little while afterwards he stopped and called: "Don't take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow.""

"The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. "Thank a person when you receive a gift," Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off."

"A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offense against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: "This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.""

"After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple."



A farmer got so old that he couldn’t work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch. His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there.

“He’s of no use any more,” the son thought to himself, “he doesn’t do anything!” One day the son got so frustrated by this, that he built a wood coffin, dragged it over to the porch, and told his father to get in.

Without saying anything, the father climbed inside. After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff.

As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. He opened it up. Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. “I know you are going to throw me over the cliff, but before you do, may I suggest something?” “What is it?” replied the son. “Throw me over the cliff, if you like,” said the father, “but save this good wood coffin. Your children might need to use it.”

Source: 10 Short Zen Stories 

A Useful Life

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