(Japanese:koan) Literally, a "public case, " as in a law case. Ch'an method of meditation in which the practitioner energetically and singlemindedly pursues the answer to an enigmatic question posed by his master, or which arises spontaneously. The question can only be answered by abandoning logic and reasoning, and by intuitively resolving the "doubt sensation" that gave rise to the question. Famous kung-an encounters were recorded and used by masters to test their disciples' understanding, or to arouse in them the enlightenment experience. The term "kung-an" is often used interchangeably with "hua-t'ou." See "HUA-T'OU."


(Sanskrit: Avalokitesvara, "the lord who looks down") Literally, "he/she who observes the sounds, " the Great Bodhisattva of Compassion who hears and responds to the cries of all living beings. Avalokitesvara can be both male and female, but in China is usually depicted in the female form of Kuan-yin.

Great Functioning

In a Buddhist context, the skillful means by which a bodhisattva leads sentient beings to liberation.

Group of Six Bhiksus

A group of six bhiksus living during the Buddha’s time, notorious for their undignified and base conduct. Sources differ as to the members of this group, so a definitive listing of their names cannot be provided.