Zen masters ask their disciples to meditate upon the sound of one hand clapping. The sound of one hand clapping is not possible – but they insist on it. If a meditator says that it is not possible, the master replies that the disciple should not bother about the possibility; he says that it is possible and that the disciple should first meditate for months upon the sound of one hand clapping – the possibility is not the question.
The meditator comes back again and again and reports that it is not possible; it has already been twenty-four hours. But the master replies that he should not worry about the possibility. “My question is: How does it sound?” He says, “Go and meditate.”
Months pass – one’s head starts feeling giddy, one’s mind starts feeling dizzy, everything stops within. After thinking and thinking and thinking it appears to be sheer madness, but then a moment comes when it is clear that no further thinking is possible. Thinking stops for a moment and the meditator rushes to say, “I have heard the sound of one hand clapping.”
As soon as thinking stops, the intrinsic nature of the self is revealed.
Search for the face which was there before your birth. It is not possible, because there was no face before birth – it is birth which gives birth to one’s face also – and there will be no face after death, because death takes away the face.
Think! A moment comes after thinking and thinking and thinking when thinking stops, the chain is broken, and then what is seen is the original face – that which is your very nature, that which existed before your birth and that which will be even after your death.
The eternal consciousness,
which is beyond creation and destruction,
is called knowing.
Here knowing is equated to consciousness, not to the act of knowledge, because knowledge is always of some object. Here knowing means consciousness, enlightenment. The word knowledge has been contaminated, because we always tie it to the phenomenon of knowing some object.
If you are introduced as a man of great knowledge, immediately there will be a query about what is the subject of your knowledge.
If you say, “Nothing in particular, I am just a man of knowledge, that is all,” it will not be convincing to anybody. What does it mean? What do you know? They will want to know whether you know medical science or economics or philosophy or theology – in what subject are you a man of knowledge? But if you say, “No, I am just a man of knowledge,” this will appear to be a meaningless statement because for us knowledge always pertains to something, it is in relation to some object.