The sound of one hand clapping
I’m sorry that the poll function didn’t work in the last posting! I should attend a course: “The Dao of WordPress”. But never mind, I got enough positive feedback and sure will post more articles on this topic. Thank you very much! There will always be a 2-week gap between posts to allow time for reflection and reading secondary literature.
Perhaps it was not wise to address such a difficult topic related to appearances and our consciousness in the first part of this series. The “existence of the nonexistence” challenges our Western thinking.  But it is a topic that is also well received in our western culture and that not only philosophy but also scientists. Especially physicists have dealt with.  And as already mentioned in another article, quantum physics brings a lot of enlightenment in this regard and thus meanwhile confirms views in Zen scientifically.
And then I remembered a painting I had done many moons ago in which I tried to graphically deal with the subject of the “one hand clapping”. Whether I succeeded is of no further interest to us, as long as the basic idea is understandable.
Many of us are familiar with the famous Zen kōan of Hakuin Ekaku (白隠 慧鶴, 1686 – 1769) “The sound of one hand clapping.” (However, the original title is “The Voice/Sound of one Hand”. The western translators added the “clapping”.) So my graphic reflections on this look like this:
Does it exist or does it not exist?
For me, the topic of “The sound of one hand clapping” is a prime example of the “existence of the nonexistence”. If you look up the term you will see that it has been relevant for centuries and much has been written about it.
So, since everything exists through consciousness and our thoughts formulate concepts, the thought of “The sound of one hand clapping” also exists. Can one see or hear it or otherwise perceive it with the senses or measure it with the tools of natural sciences that have been available to us so far? Certainly hardly with the “tools” that we generally use. But it can be experienced. And we can experience it by stepping back into nothingness (e.g. as part of meditation) and staying in the highest consciousness, which excludes dualistic thinking and quantifiable perception.
And so my picture was not about visually depicting one hand clapping or making it perceptible aurally, but rather to serve as a kind of meditation aid for this “paradox”. And as such, I think it’s quite useful – hopefully.
This fine little video can help to better understand the work of the most important Zen master, Hakuin (1685-1768 – mentioned above as author of The one hand clapping), or to supplement our perspective.
Please do check Daoist talks (I) too. | landscape paintings in style of old masters
 Why a topic that is more related to Buddhism and Zen Buddhism is discussed in the context of Daoism, I will cover in the next post Daiost talks (II), which will be posted on October 22nd.
 Just recently, the Austrian quantum physicist and exceptional scientist Anton Zeilinger was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, which makes me particularly happy.
 If some of my works come across as a little “funny”, they are very much in the tradition of some Daoist or Zen Buddhist schools.
Leave a Reply