The Sound Of One Hand Clapping
A Zen Koan.
We all know what it sounds like to clap with two hands.
But what is the sound of one hand clapping?
This is a common zen problem — often given to new students on their path to enlightenment.
A new student entered the zen temple of an excellent teacher. He was given this problem on his first day.
For three years the student pondered this problem and was unable to solve it.
One night, he came to his teacher in tears — "I must go home now, for I have been unable to solve this problem."
"Wait another week, and meditate constantly" — the teacher responded.
The student was unsucceful once again.
"Try another week" — the teacher requested.
The student still failed to solve the problem.
"One more week" — said the teacher.
Again, the student returned to his teacher — having been unable to solve the problem. He begged the teacher to let him leave.
"Meditate for three more days" — the teacher sad — "after that, you'd better kill yourself".
On the second day, the student became enlightened.