Please note: This article is about a story or question.. For other uses of the term, please see Koan (disambiguation).

A koan, or "public proposition," [1] was a enigmatic riddle, [2] a story, question, or statement generally containing aspects that were inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that might be accessible to intuition. Koan were used by teachers, monks, and students in training to serve as a point of meditation or to test a student's abilities.

Enlightenment Edit

Enlightened individuals had written koans to help others to find Enlightenment. The truth behind many koans was to demonstrate their untruth. The koans of the Brotherhood of Shinsei were paradoxical, confusing, and intentionally self-negating. Shinsei himself once said, "Enlightenment can only be found without words, but cannot be approached without words." [3]

Notable Koan Edit

  • "Eight forces sustain creation: Movement and Stillness; Solidification and Fluidity; Extension and Contraction; Unification and Division." Tetsuya [4]
  • "Do not seal the cracks. It is only through cracks that light can enter." Shiba [5]
  • "Enlightenment can be found in the song of stone, if only one can learn to listen". Shinsei [6]
  • “Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?” [7]
  • “If you discover Enlightenment you must destroy it.” [7]
  • “Following the rules and protecting bureaucracy is binding oneself without rope.” [7]
  • “Neglecting written records with unrestrained ideas is falling into a deep pit.” [7]
  • “To be awake and not ignorant is to wear chains and carry a boulder.” [7]
  • “A person who perceives thoughts as they immediately arise is tinkering with the Void.” [7]
  • “Without thinking of good or evil, show me your original face before your mother and father were born.” [7]


  1. Way of Shinsei, p. 25
  2. Way of the Phoenix, p. 120
  3. Way of Shinsei, p. 24
  4. Shiryo no Tetsuya (Hidden Emperor 6 flavor)
  5. Teach the Mountain (Hidden Emperor 6 flavor)
  6. Way of the Open Hand, p. 26
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Book of Void, p. 143

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