Hakuin and the Zen Koan

Hakuin Ekaku, Hotei Meditating, Ink on paper, Ginshu Collection

Well, monk, what a surprisehave you come to do zazen today?


…so reads the inscription on this painting by Japanese Zen master Hakuin Ekaku, currently on view in the exhibition The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin. Seated meditation or zazen in Japanese, is a key part of Zen Buddhist practice.

Hakuin emphasized the importance of solving “koans,” riddles or non-sensical statements, as part of a Zen monk’s intellectual and spiritual training.

In this video curator Rob Singer talks about Hakuin’s most famous koan: “What is the sound of one hand?”

Kristin Bengtson

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