Monday, December 27, 2010

The sound of one hand

Almost from the time Paul was a baby my husband read Zen parables to him at bedtime. As he grew older he developed an interest in them and especially liked the two books by Paul Reps: Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and Zen Telegrams, and Be Here Now by Ram Dass.

Coincidentally in this month of remembering Paul's birthday, I came across a New York Times article about an exhibit of the art of Zen Master Hakuin (1685-1768) at the Japan Society Gallery in Manhattan until January 9, 2011. And I am elated to know the exhibit will be at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from May 22 to August 17, 2011.

Hakuin, besides being a an artist, was a poet. And he was the Zen Master who came up with the koan "What is the sound of one hand?" It was later popularized with the addition of the word "clapping." My Paul indeed liked that koan.

Here is Zen Master Hakuin's poem that elaborates on the koan.

An ant goes round and round without rest
Like all beings in the six realms of existence,
Born here and dying there without release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand.

Perhaps Paul finally heard the sound of one hand.

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