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Chapter 26: Beyond the Mind

Someone has asked a very beautiful question. The question is a really a Zen koan. It will be useful first to understand what a Zen koan is, only then can the question be dealt with.

Zen has a special method of meditation. They call it “koan” or “ko-an.” A koan is a puzzle. But it is not like an ordinary puzzle. It is a puzzle that cannot be solved. Ordinary puzzles can be solved, they are meant to be solved - they may be difficult, but they are not impossible. A koan is an impossible puzzle. You cannot solve it, there is no way to solve it.

For example, this is a Zen koan: What is the sound of one hand clapping? If you use two hands a sound is created, but if you use only one hand, what sound is created?

This is a koan. Impossible to solve! Whatsoever you say will be wrong. Unless you remain totally silent, everything will be wrong. The koan is to create a total silence in you, where no answer is coming. If answers are coming they will go on being wrong answers, because every answer is wrong. There can be no sound created by one hand.

But if you say “No sound can be created,” you have missed the point - because everyone knows that obviously no sound can be created. But the teacher is still asking you, “If a sound is created by one hand, what will that sound be?” He also knows that no sound can be created, so there is no need to tell him and to try to be wiser than he. You have missed the point. You have to meditate on the koan, and find out what type of sound will be created if a sound can be created by one hand.

You go on thinking. You have to use every way, every method, every technique to think about it. You have to dream about it, meditate on it, concentrate on it. Many answers will be given by your mind - and you already know that no answer is possible. Still, your mind will go on saying, “Try this.” “Try this.” “This may do.” You may say that no answer is possible, but the realization is not very deep because your mind goes on giving answers.

While I am talking, you must be trying to find out what type of sound can be created by one hand; that means your mind is puzzled by this impossible puzzle. Go on thinking, thinking.

When you go to your master to give him the answer, he may beat you or throw you out of the room saying “Go! This is stupid!” Whatsoever answer you bring he is going to beat you, because no answer is possible until you come without any answers, until you come in total silence. The master will know because your face will be different when there is no answer within, no thought within. When you have come in total silence, the master will know. He may bow down to you, he may touch your feet.

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