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What is the sound of one hand clapping?

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2012-11-12 04:03:35

"What is the sound of one hand clapping?" is a traditional

zen koan -- a question posed by a Zen master to a student.

It is meant to be pondered from within the routine of daily life

until the answer opens the true heart of the question. All koans

must be answered from within the realm of one's own personal

experience, and thus be encountered in the journey of living rather

than in the rationalizations of logical thought.

Accordingly, each koan has many answers, answers that will vary

both in words and in the stirring of one's mind and emotions.

Even the wisest Zen teacher cannot tell you your own

answer. You must find it for yourself, and not in your mind,

and not in the comfort of a rational response. Once experienced,

the answer is often a life changing experience, and needs no

confirmation from anyone else.

Here are responses to the question from a variety of

WikiAnswer users:

  • What is the sound of one hand clapping? To know, you must

    experience those aspects of your own life that create this very

    soundless sound (emotion) within your own being. People who have

    truly lived with a koan for an extended period of time come to

    experience the answer. In my own travels down this path with this

    particular question, there eventually came to be a certain opening

    of awareness, and a manifestation of the heart of compassion became

    tangible within. In my experience, the sound of one hand clapping

    is the emotion of loneliness deeply felt in an increasingly self

    centered pursuit of enlightenment Experiencing this "answer" turned

    me away from relative isolation and the self-centered desire to

    "know," and towards the world and the practice of metta.

  • The simpler answer- It depends on what the hand is clapping

    against! The yin and yang of it. The Gestalt. The figure and the

    ground. The container and the contents.

  • What is the sound of one hand clapping in your own life?

  • The sound of one hand clapping is silence. The silence refers

    to the essence of being which is nothingness.

  • What is the sound of one hand clapping? Who are you when your

    thinking is silenced? .

  • Our true nature is stillness. That stillness is the same

    everywhere in everything. But like he up there... concepts won't

    teach you anything.

  • The sound of one hand clapping is a tiny sound that can be

    barley heard by humans.

  • the hand is the human heart and the clapping is emotions the

    other hand represents the one that makes us whole thus the clapping

    of both hands is the power of two people's emotions and the hands

    touching each other is the connection between the two people

  • The sound of one hand clapping is a conversation with someone

    that never connects with them so you try again and again before

    realizing you are only talking to yourself - they don't get it. If

    you never realize that, you are just insane by definition and you

    will continue to be the one hand that connects with


  • Using a sound recording device, clap with one hand. Play back

    the result

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