The Sound of One Hand

If you have sensitive ears, this post is for you! While reading Rajneesh Osho’s ‘The Book of Secrets’ in which he discusses around 112 techniques to meditate, I came across a wonderful story – The Sound of One Hand. I can not help sharing it!

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege, Toyo, who was around twelve years old. Toyo used to run errands for the master and everyday he would observe seekers visit the master’s room to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.

Toyo wished to do the same so one day, he put his head at the master’s feet and asked him for a Koan. 

Mokurai refused initially but the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.

Mokurai said – “Try to hear the sound of one hand. And when you have heard it, then come and tell me.”

Toyo bowed and went to his room. He tried and tried to listen to the sound of one hand but all he could hear was the music of the geishas, coming theough the window. “Ah, I have it!” he thought.

The next evening, when his teacher asked him about the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.
“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”

Toyo did not give up, every now and then he would find some sound but the master would object -“This is also not it. Go on trying, go on trying.”

Then one day, the boy didn’t come. The master waited and waited, and finally told his disciples to find Toyo. They found him sitting under a tree, absorbed – just like a newborn Buddha. They returned and told the master – “But we are afraid to disturb the boy. He is looking just like a newborn Buddha. It seems he has heard the sound.”

So, the master came, put his head at the boy’s feet and asked him, “Have you heard? It seems you have heard.” Toyo had entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” the boy said, “so I reached the soundless sound.”


Osho goes on to explain as to what had happened to the boy, “The boy had tried since he was a simple boy and had complete faith in his master. Actually, there is no sound of one hand, but just an indirect method to create sensitivity, awareness. And one day, suddenly, everything disappeared for him. He was so attentive that only attention was there, so sensitive that only sensitivity was there, so aware – not of something, but simply aware! 

This is a method to make you very delicately aware of the subtle nuances of sound. Center on the word ‘aum’ – a-u-m without any a or m. Just the u remains. You have to intone aum and feel it in three different sounds. Gradually, you will forget ‘aum’. Not only a and m will drop but there will be a state of soundlessness! The state of bliss!”

Images courtesy google

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