both hands clapping

In all this chasing after concepts of emptiness, it’s easy to lose sight of the essentials.

“Old Lady O-San” was an enlightened student of Zen master Tetsumon.  She was later tested by Hakuin who posed the koan about one hand clapping.  Ever the pragmatist she replied:

Rather than listen
to Hakuin’s sound
of one hand clapping,
clap both hands
and do business!

from Zen Antics: 100 Stories of Enlightenment transl. & ed. by Thomas Cleary

Shall we get on with our lives?  What needs two hands to grasp, hold, hug, support?

Be kind, be sweet, take a stand, get grouchy, and if he’s not available go for dopey – he’s always been my favourite anyway.

See the universe through the reeds, the forest through the trees.

Thank you for practicing,


3 thoughts on “both hands clapping

  1. Old Lady O-San’s spirited answer to Hakuin reminds me a little of Zen Master Seung Sahn. When a student could perceive the “truth” of some kong-an situation, Dae Soen Sa Nim would then ask, “Wonderful! But how does the truth function?”

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