Sunday, January 23, 2011

Koans and restoration

Slowly I have been sorting out the furniture for the dollshouse, and all the bits and pieces that have lain about for years, next thing is to restore the broken furniture, and I worked on four chairs this week.
They needed restaining and new covers for the seat, which took an age because I had to cut the cardboard out to fit the inside of the chair whilst leaving enough room for the material. 
My tools are also being expanded as well, I do have a miniature drill, which fits into a miniature lathe so that I can turn table and chair legs, but yesterday at Hobbycraft I notices they had all the little drill bits for buffing and shaping.
Why a koan, well the one below is quoted at me quite a lot when I get anxious about the myriad of things that happen, the Clapping of One Hand, has its message of course is in its title, but the explanatory story below tells more.
Yesterday I woke up thinking of roses, and realised it must be the bleak grey landscape of January, that forces one mind to remember the colour and shapes of roses, and especially their perfume at this time of the year.  The thorns that tangle in your hair and grip your clothes as you tussle with long wands that need to be cut back, and that lovely fresh green smell as you clip.  Still summer is on its way..... 

These are little kit chairs, that you put together, and very fragile, often breaking with time

 The Sound of One Hand

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master's room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.
Toyo wished to do sanzen also.
"Wait a while," said Mokurai. "You are too young."
But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.
In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai's sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.
"You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together," said Mokurai. "Now show me the sound of one hand."
Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. "Ah, I have it!" he proclaimed.
The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.
"No, no," said Mokurai. "That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You've not got it at all."
Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. "What can the sound of one hand be?" He happened to hear some water dripping. "I have it," imagined Toyo.
When he next appeared before his teacher, Toyo imitated dripping water.
"What is that?" asked Mokurai. "That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again."
In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.
He heard the cry of an owl. This also was refused.
The sound of one hand was not the locusts.
For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.
At last little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. "I could collect no more," he explained later, "so I reached the soundless sound."
Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

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