Learn more about Zen Koans, paradoxical anecdotes or riddles, used in Zen Buddhism to provoke enlightenment. Each of these Koan cases is accompanied by commentary by Clark Strand, an ex-Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and former Senior Editor of Tricycle.

Green Koans Case 1: Shakyamuni Touches the Earth

Green Koans Case 2: Shantideva’s Sword

Green Koans Case 3: The Great Compassionate One’s True Eye

Green Koans Case 4: One-Page Dharma

Green Koans Case 5: The Person of the Way

Green Koans Case 6: The Green Yogi

Green Koans Case 7: Rain of the Law

Green Koans Case 8: Bashō’s Last Words

Green Koans Case 9: General Stone Tiger

Green Koans Case 10: Joshu’s Oak Tree

Green Koans Case 11: A Brahmin Takes a Bath

Green Koans Case 12: The Original Face

Green Koans Case 13: Seki’s Amida

Green Koans Case 14: Avalokiteshvara Becomes a Bee

Green Koans Case 15: The Second Watch of the Night

Green Koans Case 16: The Great Being

Green Koans Case 17: The Color of Insight

Green Koans Case 18: Fear No Evil

Green Koans Case 19: One Small Candle

Green Koans Case 20: Indra’s Grass Stalk

Green Koans Case 21: Blue Mountains Walking

Green Koans Case 22: Handing Down the Lotus

Green Koans Case 23: Run, Rabbit, Run!

Green Koans Case 24: Not Born Again

Green Koans Case 25: Keichu the Wheelmaker

Green Koans Case 26: Ryutan Blows Out a Light

Green Koans Case 27: What Time Is It Now?

Green Koans Case 28: The Buddha’s Union

Green Koans Case 29: Makiguchi Refuses to Lecture

Green Koans Case 31: Daito’s Raincoat

Green Koans Case 32: The Buddha’s Mission

Green Koans Case 33: The Evil Person

Green Koans Case 34: Keeping it Simple

Green Koans Case 35: Into the Wild

Green Koans Case 36: P’ang Splits Wood

Green Koans Case 37: Myoe’s Letter to Japan

Green Koans Case 38: Ajaan Lee refuses to bow

Green Koans Case 39: The Great Natural Way

Green Koans Case 40: The Gift of Rice

Green Koans Case 41: The Meaning of Suffering

Green Koans Case 42: Hui-ke Offers His Arm

Green Koans Case 43: Jōshū’s “Mu”

Green Koans Case 44: On Killing

Green Koans Case 45: The Perfection of Wisdom in One Letter

Green Koans Case 46: A Tree Joins the Monastery

Green Koans Case 47: Rikyū’s “Only This”

Green Koans Case 48: Ta Tsung Makes a Stool

Green Koans Case 49: Myōe Saves a Bee

Green Koans Case 50: Dōgen’s Eyes and Nose

Green Koans Case 51: Soen’s One World 

Green Koans Case 52: Yen-shou’s Sand Stupa

Green Koans Case 53: Shakyamuni’s World on Fire

Green Koans Case 54: Nichiren’s One-Eyed Turtle

Green Koans Case 55: Kashyapa’s Teaching Sign

Green Koans Case 56: No Fence to the West

Green Koans Case 57: Shakyamuni’s Ignorant Man

Green Koans Case 58: Tōhta’s Haunted Sea

Green Koans Case 59: The Happy Buddhist

Green Koans Case 60: Dogen’s To-Do List

Green Koans Case 61: The Naked Dharma

Temple
Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

Liberate this article!

You’ve read all of your free articles for the month. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus films, video dharma talks, e-books, and more.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.