Paradoxes in Zen Buddhism and Zen Koan: Its Relevance and Spiritual Significance

Ravi Kumar

Assistant Professor, Doon University, Dehradun. E-mail:


Zen Buddhism has developed into a unique form of religion in Japan and has influenced its culture, people and society to a large extent. Rinzai Zen emphasises solving a Koan and practising Zazen under the guidance of a master for inner awakening, which helps to know the ultimate truth of life. Koan also helps solve the mysteries of life, which is full of paradoxes and unwanted happenings. This paper aims to analyse some of the Zen koans and stories, and an attempt is made to find out the hidden spiritual meanings, which may be helpful for people in modern times. According to Suzuki, “when a disciple solves the given Koan, half of Zen is understood by him”. A Zen master helps the disciple by giving him first-hand experience of life by creating various unavoidable situations and using symbols, gestures or sometimes remaining silent. This paper highlights the importance of Zen meditation in our life, and a regular practice solves the paradoxes, conflict and suffering, which exist due to ignorance and exists not after knowing the ultimate truth, guiding us towards a stress-free successful life.

Keywords Koan . Zazen . Paradox . Intuitive knowledge . Spiritual meaning .