Candelabra for In order to thrive, the koan tradition must continue to be able to hold on to its essential meaning and function by going back to the roots of inspiration while overcoming defi ciencies in practice. It can thereby reform, revive, and propagate in dynamic fashion its enduring virtues in ways appropriate and attractive in the new millennium. Current indications suggest strongly that a robust and resilient CHAPTER 6 Whither Koans, or Wither? Current Trends and Possible New Directions Whither Koans, or Wither? 161 eff ort is being made toward achieving the goal of reform in Japan, along with a revival of interest in Zen in post- Mao China and a new movement stressing the internationalization of koan studies in Korean Zen. In the second half of the chapter, I briefl y outline several recent trends representing reform approaches and review some recommendations for taking on new directions based on understanding classic koan sources. Th is segment on recommendations for the further development of the koan tradition focuses on three main areas that are of par tic u lar contemporary signifi cance: (1) fostering greater gender balance and equality in Zen to refl ect the notion of nonduality; (2) supporting the role of interpersonal relations in both professional and social environments based on traditional Zen principles, such as how doubt can constructively lead to a higher level of social awareness; and (3) establishing a greater connection between science and theology by seeking a middle way position that breaks through perennial ideological impasses separating subjective experience and objective observation of reality. Examples of cases are presented to show that age- old koan rec ords can provide models for innovative approaches to speaking, knowing, and acting in public and private spheres in modern contexts. A key to viewing koans in light of current trends and new directions is to develop a comprehensive interpretation that encompasses nearly all the various narrative, poetic, and ritual elements that constitute the complexity of classic case rec ords. Candelabra 2016.

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