Zen koans


These have served, or will serve, as inspirations for ‘The Prompter Room’ daily writing blog.  I thought I would gather them all together (along with an occasional Zen-like thought from others) here in one document, though, so readers can return here for reference and/or meditation without my added wordage to get in the way.




A good explanation: don’t explain everything.


To walk in the dark in one’s best clothes.


Knock on the sky and listen to the sound.


On the southern mountain, drumming: on the northern dancing.


Enter a tiger’s cave and stroke its whiskers.


The accomplished hermit stays in the town; the immature hermit hides in the mountain.


Blue mountains after rainfall: much bluer.


The great road has no gate; a thousand crossings lead there.


In the willow, become green; in the flower become red.


The quieter you are, the more you hear.  (Baba Ram Dass)


Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows.


Scooping the water to catch waves.


Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.


Three thousand miles away: another one who knows.


Watch fountain murmur; hear mountain color.


Waters, however rapid, will never carry off the moon.


Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to understand that this too was a gift.  (Mary Oliver)


Guest and host interchangeable.


Farmers sing in the field, merchants dance at the market.


Words, words, words: snow and drizzle.  Silence, silence, silence: thunderclap.


However precious, a piece of gold in the eye is nothing but grit.


To sense an old temple, hearing bell sounds.  To know a hamlet, seeing smoke.


Don’t say no one comes this far.  Those eye-filling mountains: not your best friends?


I’ve scooped the valley’s pine winds for you: have a sip.


It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.  — Confucius


The biggest bowl fills last.


To waste all day in the busy town, forgetting the treasure in his own house.


The dim pines ripple in a soft wind; come closer, the whisper is better.


White clouds embrace dim rocks.