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What is the sound of one hand clapping? - Dhamma Wheel

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Kamran
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What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby Kamran » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:55 am

Thanissaro Bikhu says that maybe this famous koan is referring to sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that clap against the mind and cause it to clap back. Is the koan referring to the mind that does not clap back and does not react to the senses but just observes them ? That is the mind that we are after.

Ajahn Sumedho thinks the sound of one hand clapping is the sound of silence, also called the nada, which is a pleasant whistling noise from within the ear that meditators often hear and that can be used as a meditation aid.

I am interested to know what others think of this koan.

Thanks.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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mikenz66
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:13 am

Hi Kamran,

Do you have references to these statements, or could you give some actual quotes? They sound interesting, but it would be useful to see the context.

:anjali:
Mike

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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:22 am

The original koan was "You know the sound of two hands clapping; tell me, what is the sound of one hand?" Notice that the word "clapping" does not appear after the phrase "one hand".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakuin_Ekaku
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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David N. Snyder
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:27 am

It is a Zen teaching of course, not Theravada. If the bhantes did respond as what is written in the OP, I imagine a Zen master would respond something like:

"You have the philosopher's disease! Always wanting to analyze everything!" And then the Zen master would fill a tea cup so that it overflows and then says, "this is your mind, nothing further can enter, it is overflowing; you need to empty your cup."

This kind of anti-intellectualism is not my cup of tea, but I am sure some find it useful and helpful.
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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:46 am

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:56 am

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whynotme
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby whynotme » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:07 am

I am not a fan of zen tradition but zen isn't for understanding, zen is for seeing.

Zen koan is just a way to point to something, i.e look at this direction you will see this. But human mind is busy with reasons and thoughts and habits so it is not easy to tell the mind that, hey, mind, look at this you will see this. Instead they use a trick to force the mind to see what they want the mind to see

IMO, zen method is dangerous because it can be explained in many different ways, especially in our current situation with cyber space where information is counted in terabytes and gigabytes per second. Everyone can read it then explain the zen story to fit his theory.

And I laughed at Thanissaro Bihhikhu and Ajahn Sumedho's explanations if that was true. Well, I respect them but zen is just full of tricks, there isn't something like 'maybe' or 'thought' in zen. It is just a trick, if you know it you know it, if you don't know it every explanation is wrong.

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whynotme
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby whynotme » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:11 am

To explain the zen koan, I think some member here know it, e.g ground even he is/ isn't from zen tradition
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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:12 am

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:15 am

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby whynotme » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:18 am

Please stop following me

pegembara
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby pegembara » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:25 am

This question is nonsense. There is no answer or perhaps the "answer" is silence.

In a similar vein, I can ask an unmarried person, "How is your husband/wife doing?"
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby whynotme » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:43 am

Please stop following me

pegembara
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby pegembara » Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:04 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:17 am

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

pegembara
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby pegembara » Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:43 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:20 am

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Viscid
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby Viscid » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:13 pm

"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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beeblebrox
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:14 pm

These koans are like mini-samsara and you have to figure out the nibbana, that's all... (without turning it into a papanca mess, please.)

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Kamran
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Re: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Postby Kamran » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:22 am

Thanks for the replies. I paraphrased the quotes from dhamma talks but will have to find them on my mp3 player. Below is some additional info that I found.

"In trying to answer the Koan, the student will come to a mental "precipice", as it were, where all the methods and procedures of accepted thinking no longer function. The purpose of the Koan is to shove the student over this precipice into an area of experience that is completely new. This is the spiritual reality that the Zen master is attempting to guide the student towards."

" What is the sound of one hand?" Of course, in terms of the conventional world there can be no sound from a single hand. Sound logically needs two hands clapping. However, the question presumes that one hand clapping has already created a sound and that it can be heard. The question is not about sound or hands clapping, although this is quite conceivable within the context of Zen. The question is rather about hearing the impossible, which is only termed impossible within the framework of conventional reality. The Zen master is therefore pressing and encouraging the student to critique ordinary reality and to force the mind into other areas of understanding."

http://www.essortment.com/understanding ... 42451.html
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi


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