Sound of One Hand

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1 week 6 days ago #114912 by Tom Otvos
Sound of One Hand was created by Tom Otvos
Two hands clap and there is a sound, what is the sound of one hand?

-- tomo

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1 week 6 days ago #114913 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sound of One Hand
A classic, but I am posting it for two interesting reasons. The first is how often it is misquoted as "what is the sound of one hand clapping". The second is that, unlike the other classic koans from collections like Blue Cliff and Gateless Gate, this one is about 600 years later. I had always assumed it was an "oldie but a goodie" but apparently this originated in the 1700's by Zen Master, Hakuin Ekaku (1685- 1768).

I am also posting it because it resonates well with me.

-- tomo

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1 week 6 days ago #114914 by Kalle Ylitalo
Replied by Kalle Ylitalo on topic Sound of One Hand
Resonates much better with me than the misquoted version. Thanks for posting.

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1 week 6 days ago #114915 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Sound of One Hand
I like this one myself :D 

All I get from it is an image of one open palm and a very spacious act of listening ... sense of wonder ...

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1 week 5 days ago #114919 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
What do you like about it, Tom?

Thanks for the interesting history tidbit. 

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1 week 5 days ago #114920 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sound of One Hand
Well, not to get all non-dual but it evokes a kind of interdependent feeling, like that there is no one thing without the other. That sound is the result of the interaction, not a thing of itself. And even, that sound is nothing if not heard, or a sight is nothing if not seen. But I could just be spouting stuff right now, and not making sense. That is how it makes me feel, though.

-- tomo

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1 week 5 days ago #114921 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
Sometimes how we feel is overrated, but it's also real and true, even when it's not, so worth honoring for being part of how we are in this struggly existence. 

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1 week 5 days ago - 1 week 5 days ago #114922 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sound of One Hand
Interestingly, I came across this link while researching Hakuin, but hadn't read it until now (spoiler alert!):

According to the Inzan school, the correct answer is, “The pupil faces his master, takes a correct posture, and without a word, thrusts one hand forward”. Various Zen schools follow this same discourse, but for the Takujū school, the pupil’s answer may be “The sky is the one hand, the earth is the one hand; man, woman, you, me are the one hand; grass, trees, cows, horses are the one hand; everything, all things are the one hand”. Both the insistence of the non-verbal one hand thrust forward and the eloquence of the voiced response embrace the same notion of universal connectivity and one-ness. The one hand thrust forward represents the essence of all hands, one being no better and no less than any other hand, so that the sound of the one hand is also the sound of every hand. The hand’s representativeness of a universal hand-ness is akin to the cosmopolitan spirit of humanist universalism while also upholding diversity through the uniqueness of the one hand.

www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2017/02/22...-koans-with-answers/

I don't think I'll be buying that book. I'll stick to my translations of Gateless Gate and Blue Cliff Records.

-- tomo
Last edit: 1 week 5 days ago by Tom Otvos.

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1 week 5 days ago #114925 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
Do you ever go to a (modern) art exhibit and see a cool piece and like how playful or funny it seems, and then later read the very serious  analytical blurb about it and it kind of ruins it for you?

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1 week 5 days ago #114926 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Sound of One Hand
Koans are ripe for over-analyzing. It's so tempting to weave a story around them.

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1 week 5 days ago #114927 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sound of One Hand

Chris Marti wrote: Koans are ripe for over-analyzing. It's so tempting to weave a story around them.


Yeah, they are weird that way. You shouldn't really analyze them, and yet by the same token, they are tests that have a pass/fail aspect that invites finding "an answer".

-- tomo

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1 week 5 days ago #114928 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
It hardly seems possible for them to be tests of awakeness if there is a formal answer, since anyone could then just learn the answer and perform it without having the relevant insight(s). 

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1 week 5 days ago #114929 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sound of One Hand
I would tend to agree, although I think the answers are a bit more squishy and there is probably additional triangulation done by the teacher. All that said, I think that is also why there was/is considerable resistance to publishing koans in general, esp. with answers.

-- tomo

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1 week 5 days ago #114930 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Sound of One Hand
Lemme see … sound of one hand ? … listening … mind image of one hand … “sound of one hand?” … listening-anticipation … spaciousness … hearing-comprehending (kitchen stuff) … image of one hand … touching-comprehending (my back on the sofa) … remembering the koan … one hand image … listening-anticipation … slow in and out breathing … listening … 

Thats all I get. Call me dumb :D 

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1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #114933 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Sound of One Hand

... they are tests that have a pass/fail aspect that invites finding "an answer".

I doubt there is just one sort of "official" answer to every koan. I think they're situational and personal. How we hear them, and how we respond, is also situational and personal. "Passing" is probably not a good way to describe coming to a perception about a koan. I used to re-read the Blue Cliff record about once a year, and those koans changed with each reading. Each koan was about something different, and my response to it had changed, too.

JMHO, of course.
Last edit: 1 week 4 days ago by Chris Marti.

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1 week 4 days ago #114936 by Kalle Ylitalo
Replied by Kalle Ylitalo on topic Sound of One Hand
For me, this koan works as a signpost towards the direct experience of silence as the basis of experience. One might replace silence with space or emptiness. A still aspect that is a there as the background of each arising experience.

The misquoted version doesn't work as well. It just sounds like a logical problem to me.

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1 week 3 days ago #114949 by Kacchapa
Replied by Kacchapa on topic Sound of One Hand
It's actually possible to audibly clap one hand. When I was an impressionable teen aspirant visiting Rochester Zen Center, one of the impressive staff guys showed me how to do it. Just filmed my hand clapping but can't upload the file type. 

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1 week 3 days ago #114951 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
wha?? please describe!

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1 week 3 days ago #114954 by Shargrol
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1 week 3 days ago #114955 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
Appropriately disappointing! lol

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1 week 2 days ago #114957 by Kacchapa
Replied by Kacchapa on topic Sound of One Hand
It's not quite as simple as Bart makes it look. Here's how it's really done. It's all in the wrist, and fingers. 

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1 week 2 days ago #114963 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Sound of One Hand
There's a Brazilian one-hand snapping sound that is apparently the "African finger snap". People use it a lot for emphasis, such as to accompany a strong reaction, my impression often to do with when someone is going to be in trouble or there's a humor around someone being in trouble (like "Oh man your wife is going to be so mad when you get home!"). Or when recounting a story where there was a close call or urgent (but kinda funny in hindsight) situation. It's a bit like the gesture you make if you just accidentally touched the hot tea kettle.

It also involves this wrist flicking thing.

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1 week 2 days ago #114966 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Sound of One Hand
Classic western reaction to an eastern conundrum: redefine the problem, engineer a solution for that version, ignore the original issue.

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1 week 2 days ago #114968 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Sound of One Hand
Koan: how is this thread the sound of one hand?

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1 week 1 day ago #114977 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sound of One Hand
Mu

-- tomo

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