What is the sound of one hand clapping? The smart ass in me wants to answer: wind. But that would be missing the point. This is a koan, an answerless question. No matter what you come up with, you are right. And you are wrong. And that’s the point, isn’t it? We would like to wrap everything up in a nice neat little package, but it’s not that way. Life is complicated and messy. We in the western world tend to have trouble with that. In the east, in the place of Tai Chi and Yin and Yang, there was room for the messiness of life. And that’s what Ruby was trying to teach in his second lesson, with questions such as this one and another famous one: if a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
The one hand needs the other hand in order to clap. A sound needs someone to hear it. Yin needs Yang. They are not opposing forces, they are complimentary forces, working together. Yin contains Yang and Yang contains Yin. Life is not black or white, it’s a combination of both.
Before I studied Tai Chi with Ruby, I studied an ancient Chinese Oracle called the I Ching (Book of Changes). It was all about Yin and Yang and the interplay between them that influences everything in the universe. When I committed myself to returning to this path, it was the entirety of the path, and that includes working with the I Ching. Like my practice of Tai Chi, I have much to remember about the I Ching. Since my focus in this blog right now is Ruby’s Tai Chi lessons, I won’t be speaking of it much. In time, though, I plan to. Just like in time, I plan to speak more about the verses of the Tao Teh Ching. It all fits together, it’s all centered on the concept of Yin and Yang. And it’s all part of the same path.