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Thread: Philosophical Riddle, Zen Koan

  1. #11
    Forums Member plogsties's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloud
    "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound?"...
    If a man is standing under the tree and screams as he realizes it will be his death but nobody hears him scream, did he scream?

  2. #12
    There is no correct answer? The correct response is ... mental silence?

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  4. #14
    Forums Member plogsties's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyrobyn
    no sound will by definition be heard
    It depends on how you define "sound" If "sound" is the physical phenomenon of a dilation/rarefaction wave travelling through space then, of course, there is a "sound". If "sound" means only an entity sensed by humans - the height of egoism, I think - then no, there is no "sound". Of course, it could be that the statement is not intended to have anything to do with either interpretation of sound and cannot be read literally, in which case this sort of analysis is meaningless, which would likely be the case if it is a koan.

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    Thanks Aloka-D for the link! On that page click on the "Buddhist perspectives" link.

    The first thing it brings up is not getting engaged in subject-object duality.

    It's not about defining sound at all, though that's one of the three common answers to the riddle.

    There isn't really an actual answer, as in math. Like many Zen koans, the issue is with the question itself!

  6. #16
    Forums Member andyrobyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plogsties
    Quote Originally Posted by andyrobyn
    no sound will by definition be heard
    It depends on how you define "sound" If "sound" is the physical phenomenon of a dilation/rarefaction wave travelling through space then, of course, there is a "sound". If "sound" means only an entity sensed by humans - the height of egoism, I think - then no, there is no "sound". Of course, it could be that the statement is not intended to have anything to do with either interpretation of sound and cannot be read literally, in which case this sort of analysis is meaningless, which would likely be the case if it is a koan.

    Hi plogsties .... " heard " is the defining word rather than sound I think here - as we are humans, answering the question, and the question asks if no-one is around to hear it, to me it fails as a succesful koan ... that is all

  7. #17
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    I agree Andy. I much prefer "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" It's just as unanswerable but perhaps not (quite) as irritating.

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    To say anything is to miss the point. Koans are unsolvable. The function of the koan is to point you directly to your true nature.

    If i said yes it makes a sound. duality.
    If i said no it doesn't a sound. duality.

    What this koan is pointing to is the idea of an observer. For the tree(object) to exist you need a subject to hear it.
    It's pointing to our awareness. For there to be a noise there needs to be something aware of that noise prior and after that noise.

    Think about noise like this. Silence. Tree falls and makes noise. Silence.
    There has to be something aware of the tree falling and making the noise.
    If there wasn't something aware then there would be no tree and no noise.

    Descartes said, "I think therefore I am"

    This is implying that thinking creates a notion of self.
    In Korean Zen we say that before thinking, you and the universe are one.

    All koans point to your true nature, which is the awareness behind everything.

    Hope this makes sense.

  9. #19
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    The sound of one hand clapping. It is the sound of silence. The silence is you. The silence is where every noise goes back to and without the silence we wouldn't have sound. Think about musical notes. The spaces in-between the notes along with the notes create music.

    In zen this koan would bring you back to your true nature. I am the silence. I am the silent awareness that exist prior to all noise.

  10. #20
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    The purpose of a koan is to point directly to your true nature. In korean zen we ask, "Who are you!?" and if you're honest with yourself you will respond with "I don't know." Or one could say I am Albert, but that would be a name given to you. Who are you before that? So all koans are basically like this question: Who are you!?

    The koan is like an arrow shooting directly to your true nature. You ask who am i and you feel the koan from the neck down.
    The purpose isn't to find an answer. The point is to hit a wall. This wall is the sense of not knowing. In a way it is a nothingness.

    In korean zen we keep this not knowing mind while we walk, eat, work, etc.
    This not knowing mind is your true nature.

    When we surrender and open up to this not knowing we become aware of what we truly are. There is no path or goal because you already are what you are looking for. The seeker is sought.

    The ego is nothing but grasping to concepts and emotions.
    To have no stance or position is to be free from duality. To speak is to create duality.
    When you keep don't know mind, you cut ego automatically.

    Hope this makes sense.
    Zen is very simple. Zen isn't even zen. Words miss the mark.
    Be the silence. Don't push or pull. Where do you stand?

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