ko·an: ~ a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.
~ a puzzling, often paradoxical statement or story, used in Zen Buddhism as an aid to meditation and a means of gaining spiritual awakening.
Have you ever thought of yourself and your life as a paradox, a puzzle, a mystery, a koan?
Have you ever wondered if your creative expressions (including blogging!) are an attempt to understand the mystery of the world and the paradox that is you?
Where are you on the journey of understanding the world and your place in it?
Zen masters often juxtapose two unrelated and seemingly contradictory concepts in their presentation of a koan.
What are the mysterious, contradictory elements of your existence that, taking up an uncomfortable residence side by side, could illuminate your path - that could spur an awakening?
Who does not love a mystery?
Who does not love to solve a puzzle?
Who does not enjoy an "aha' moment when the penny drops?
The pairing of disparate concepts, as in a Zen koan - held in a contemplative manner, as in meditation (or a quiet walk in Nature) almost always lead to an understanding levels above the original question.
Each of us is a paradox, a tantalizing mystery, a jumble of contradictions. There is too much depth to the mystery of any of us to imagine we can come to any complete or final understanding. But we can shine a light that deepens our understanding of our self and our place in the universe.
Funny ... we are each an individual mystery, and yet we are also so fundamentally the same... a similar mystery - a related koan. We are really more alike than we are different. That is probably why all the different Zen koans ultimately lead to the same place - a place where concepts, masks, illusions fall away and we awaken (by the friction of disparate parts) to what really is and always has been.
Every man's condition is a solution
to those inquiries
which he would make;
he lives it as life
before he perceives it
~Ralph Waldo Emerson