One Hand Clapping
by Serge Kahili King
There is a famous Zen koan (philosophical riddle) which asks, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The
student of Zen is supposed to meditate on this riddle until some degree of insight or enlightenment occurs.
The tricky part is that there is no right answer. What you are, or what you know, or what you believe, is
what you get.
Although no longer an active student of Zen, I was recently meditating of the riddle of one hand clapping
when I got an answer that might be useful to share.
The sound of one hand clapping is the same as the sound of two hands clapping.
How could that be, you ask (for the sake of this article I am assuming that you do ask)? It's simple, I
reply. The concept of clapping implies that a sound is being produced by two surfaces coming into contact,
even if only one of them is actually moving. No sound, no clapping; no second surface, no sound. Yet, the
riddle definitely states that there is a sound and that there is clapping. Therefore, my answer follows
logically. Yes, I know, the answer to a koan is supposed to be beyond logic, but rest assured that the
answer came intuitively. The logic came after.
Before you dismiss this as simply a bit of cleverness or a waste of time, let me tell you about the rest of
the meditation. After the revelation that the sound of one hand clapping must be the same as the sound of
two hands clapping, it struck me that this was a nice metaphor for two of the corollaries of the Second
Principle of Huna. The basic principle states that there are no limits, which implies that everything is in
a relationship to everything else. And that implies that if you change one side of a relationship you change
both sides. Even if only one hand changes its position relative to another, unmoving hand, a clapping sound
will be produced. We don't have to wait for both sides of a relationship to participate before bringing
about beneficial change. Change one side of that relationship and the other side has to change because the
relationship has changed.
We use this idea a lot in teaching Huna. For instance, in third-level healing work where we assume that
everything is a dream and everything is dreaming, we say that if you change one dream you automatically
change all related dreams. So you can go to an imaginary garden and make changes to symbols of your life
experience, and your life experience will change. In second-level healing work where we assume that
everything is telepathically linked, we say that if you begin to silently bless and forgive people with whom
you are having difficulties, they will know it and they will begin to change their behavior toward you
without a word being spoken. And in first level healing, where we assume that everything is separate but
potentially interactive, we teach that if you smile and hug a lot you will tend to get a lot more smiles and
hugs back, even from people who don't normally smile or hug.
Now what do you think would happen if you applied this idea to the whole of your life?
In a strained personal relationship, for example, instead of waiting for the other person to make the first
move toward reconciliation you could start the process in your own mind, either by purposely creating a
better opinion of the other person, or by imagining the two of you getting along with all of your
differences. Sorry, you can't control with your imagination what the other person thinks or does (it simply
doesn't work), but you can use imagined persuasion just as you might in a face to face meeting. As in any
form of persuasion, however, the more your persuasion is based on a benefit to the other person, the more
successful it is likely to be.
In a strained global relationship, assuming our theory is valid (which means workable), we might be able to
get together even in a smallish group and and rethink (or redream) our relationship with one or both
countries involved. Theoretically, of course, it ought to take only one person to make a change. On the
other hand, the change of one person's relationship to a country might only produce a very small change, so
the more people the better. The thing to remember, in this context, is that you are trying to change how you
think or feel about the country, not trying to change the country. It's a subtle but important difference,
and it applies to people as well as countries.
If this idea catches on we can introduce a Huna koan (the actual Hawaiian phrase is "nane huna," a hidden
riddle or conundrum): "What is the sound of one person loving?"
Copyright by Aloha International 2001