Monks

The practice of Zen entails the unraveling of a koan: a master’s statement, anecdote, or question, designed to provoke a student and test their progress.

Koan, Japanese Kōan, in Zen Buddhism of Japan, a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices, particularly in the Rinzai sect. The effort to “solve” a koan is intended to exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will, readying the mind to entertain an appropriate response on the intuitive level. Each such exercise constitutes both a communication of some aspect of Zen experience and a test of the novice’s competence.

A characteristic example of the style is the well-known koan “When both hands are clapped a sound is produced; listen to the sound of one hand clapping.” Sometimes the koan is set in question-and-answer form, as in the question “What is Buddha?” and its answer, “Three pounds of flax.” “Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica”  

~~dru~~

Please note, the illustration above is from my own personal collection of Asian Art and is listed for sale on eBay right now at

http://www.ebay.com/itm/252515711929?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2648