What is the Sound of One Hand???

Ah, trick question no doubt! Tasty question though from the Zen Master Hakuim Ekaku (1685-1768)...he came up with this neat little koan.

Known first as a spiritual seeker and teacher he was immersed into Zen Buddhism at the age of 14. He gained considerable fame as monks and ordinary people flocked to hear him lecturing, etc. It was not until he was 60 that he began painting. (So who says age has something to do with learning?). He was no dabbler as he created abstract works containing mythological figures and something of a satirical touch. Hakuim was named a 'master' of it, however.

One of his calligraphy pieces depicts a monkey writing on a wall and another of a blind man consulting a one-eyed goblin. His poetry, however, is very much in-line with all that Yoga talks about (not yoga exercise but yoga yoga....just to be clear).

An ant goes round and round without rest
Like all beings in the six realms of existence,
Born here and dying there without release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand.
These are still resonant words.
Take a break from the clamorous rat race of modern life.
Just listen.

Rats, squirrels and other rodents remind me of my father. Losing his self-control and almost out of desperation he said quite passionately to me,

"I just don't want you to end up like me. Like a squirrel going around in a cage."

He was talking about his life in the corporate world.

Funny, what you remember...and what a poem can uncover.


The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


My Photo
Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
View my complete profile



Must Reads

  • Eleven Minutes
  • Illusions: Handbook for Advanced Souls
  • Le Petit Prince
  • Letters to a Young Poet
  • The Philsopher and the Wolf
  • The Witch of Portobello