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The Sound of One Hand

July 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 159

Mokurai, or 'Silent Thunder', was the master at Kennin temple. He had a young student called Toyo who was just twelve years old. Young Toyo saw the older students going to their teacher's room every morning and evening to study Sanzen (personal instruction from a Zen master). Mokurai gave them koans to stop wandering mind.

Toyo wanted to study Sanzen too.

"Not yet," Mokurai told him. "You are too young."

Toyo kept insisting, so finally the master agreed.

That evening, the young student went to the entrance of Mokurai's sanzen study at the correct time. To announce his precence, he struck the gong. After bowing three times to show respect, he entered the study room and sat infront of the Zen master in silence.

"You have heard the sound two hands make when the clap," Mokurai said. "Tell me the sound of one hand clapping."

The child student bowed to his master and returned to his dormitory to think about the question. Through the window, he could hear music from the geisha's residence. "Oh, I've got it!" he exclaimed.

Next evening, he went again to the master's study room. When Mokurai asked him what is the sound of one hand clapping, Toyo played the geishas' music.

"Oh, no," said Mokurai. "That won't do. Not the sound of one hand clapping at all."

That night Toyo sleep away from the window, so he would not be distracted by the geisha music. "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" as he thought about this, he could hear some dripping water. "That's it," thought Toyo.

The next evening he went once more to his teacher, and did an imitation of the dripping water.

"What's that?" asked his teacher. "That's not the sound of one hand clapping, that's the sounds of dripping water. Try again."

The young boy meditated on the sound of one hand clapping. He could hear the sigh of the wind. This sound too was rejected by his master.

He considered an owl's cry. This too was rejected.

The sound of one hand clapping was not locusts chirping either.

Toyo went to the teacher more than ten times with different sounds. All were refused. Toyo thought about the problem for nearly a year.

Finally, Toyo began true meditation and transcended all noise. "There was no more to collect, I had come to the soundless sound." he explained later.

Toyo had realized the sound of one hand clapping.

Morgan Park juggles a busy career and family life and keeps on an even keel by practicing meditation every morning and evening. She shares her tips for meditation techniques using Zen meditation. There you can enjoy classic and more modern Zen stories from Japan, in new translation of Muju Ichien's Collection of Sand and Stone.

Source: EzineArticles
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