Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Every day for 40 years at dawn the monk listened.
He was determined to find the answer 
to the koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" 
Religiously, he stood still before the sun,
eyes closed, breath controlled, ears perked. 
He thrust out his hand, flapping it in nothing.
Initially, he was annoyed at thoughts, 
a marching band that constantly paraded across his mind. 
When he was able to ignore them, he heard the breeze, 
the birds, the brook, the butterflies, the bugs, the falling twigs, 
even the tiny groan of pain
that trees make when they grow. 
The monk himself grew 
He never stopped listening to the flap of his empty hand,
though his intention had no logic.
On the day he died he scribbled in the earth,
"everywhere and nowhere."
The old monk's disciple saw the writing.
He shrugged his shoulders, watched as the wind
erased the letters.  Then he took the old man's place.
Every morning you can see him, 
one hand clapping.


  1. Maybe too his disciple will learn the same thing.
    That when you are a noticer, the world is really alive.
    When we can still the noise, we can hear the music.

  2. When we stop to listen and observe.. the silence around us can speak volumes.
    Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,

  3. An interesting concept really! Never thought about the idea that if only ONE hand was clapping one would have more time to listen to what was going on in one's environment! Nice that the monk had a disciple to follow him...and the tradition can continue.

  4. This is food for thought..everywhere and hear the greater sounds of life we need to still the noise...clapping with one hand..

  5. This is a really wonderful story, Myrna.............I especially love the tiny groan of pain trees make when they grow. I make those sounds myself now. LOL. I call them Groaning Pains.

  6. Love the way you've written this.....sounds like something out of an ancient spiritual text.

  7. Your words are always beautiful. Poignant and powerful. And I love x's comment. A truth.

  8. There is such beauty in silence but mankind is not happy unless a sound is heard for them even a scream is better that quiet of innocence. A beautiful post Myrna.

  9. Recently, I read a book by the name Quiet which speaks of the importance of silence in a world which doesn't stop awesome narrative, so beautifully penned to help us understand the importance of silence!

  10. how very interesting!! has to have direct knowledge in spiritual the monks' way of quietening himself.."When he was able to ignore them, he heard the breeze, / the birds, the brook, the butterflies, the bugs, the falling twigs, / even the tiny groan of pain / that trees make when they grow." favorite lines...

  11. This seemed to suck my breath away....

  12. i love what he hears while listening to something else...his senses sharpened and maybe that's what it all was about... becoming aware of the many sounds and secrets around him

  13. Wow... absolutely engaging, wonderful and influential piece....!! Love this, Myrna!

  14. What an evocative poem. I imagined one hand clapping with nature, with the energy of life, with God

  15. Beautifully written, Myrna. The sound of one hand clapping is silence, which is nothing and nowhere, but the echo of it in our soul is everything and everywhere...