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The Sound Of One Hand Clapping

February 1, 2013

Given my particular “religious” preference I think am pretty tolerant of other religions. It is not my place to tell you what you should or shouldn’t believe in. The only time I tend to get uppity about it is when people try to convert me or ridicule my “lack of enlightenment.” Which, brings me to the point at hand. The question some Buddhists like to torment the “unenlightened” with is the trite question of “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Now before I proceed allow me to say that of all the religious beliefs out there Buddhists are the least likely to get in your face. In fact some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across are Buddhist. That being said, there was a time about 7 years ago where I had a most unfortunate encounter with a Buddhist whose ego could have filled the oceans of the world without issue. I had gone to visit a friend of mine over in Northville as he was having his annual Summer kickoff BBQ. Among those in attendance was his neighbor Jens. After a few beers Greg (my friend), Jens and I got to talking about the meaning of life. It was then that Jens dropped that hideous question. “Do you know the sound of one hand clapping?” I looked at him and said “Honestly I dont care what the sound is. It has no bearing on my life.” He laughed and put his hand on my shoulder. He looked at me with what I construed to be pity before saying “How are you going to understand something so meaningful like life if your arrogance and stupidity won’t allow you to see the truth?” I asked him if this meant that I was somehow less intelligent and by proxy less of a person because of this. He shrugged his shoulders and said “What do you think?” So I set my beer can on the grass and told him that in fact I did know the sound of one hand clapping. I straightened out my left hand raised it up and smacked him in the ear. His beer can went flying as he screamed. “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT???” he yelled. “That” I said “was the sound of one hand clapping.” I apologized to Greg for smacking his neighbor, grabbed my beer can, and headed for the pool.There is a moral to that story and that moral is this: No matter how much you think you know there is always a place for teaching. A lot of us come on here and post the knowledge we know. What good is that knowledge though if we don’t teach it to those who don’t?

By the way, that Buddhist, became a good friend of mine.We had a discussion the following day and instead of being a dick about it he taught me a few things. Both of us became wiser because of the incident.  Oh, and apparently the sound of one hand clapping is NOT a bitch slap. Go figure.



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