Enlightenment – the soundless sound

Mokurai said to the young novice Toyo, “You can hear the sound of two hands clapping. Now show me the sound of one hand clapping”.


Mokurai was the Master of Kenninji Temple in Kyoto (now Tokyo), Japan. Toyo was a novice, twelve years of age. He was too young to receive a koan, as did the older monks, but he persisted in asking until Mokurai finally gave him this one. What could the sound of one hand clapping be?

Toyo meditated and meditated. He took his Master all kinds of sounds for answers: dripping water, the music of geisha girls, wind, birds, crickets, locusts, and much else. He tried for many months until, exhausted with sounds, unable to think of any more possibilities, little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. He said to his Guru, “I could collect no more, so I reached the soundless sound.”

The sound of one hand is much louder than the sound of two hands. The one-hand sound vibrates throughout the world. The nature of true enlightened is formless and beyond all the five human senses. Truth is always a harbinger for sincere humility. It is until we have let our all doubts to go that we reach a state of unconditional trust regarding what Is. Enlightenment is the place beyond prejudice, mental conceptions, thought and belief. It is a place where the sound of the mind is never heard – the place where even the envy to constantly dwell.

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