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About Karin

Yoga teacher, practicing yoga since 1997, teaching since 2003, writer/translator, global soul, world traveller (and sometimes beyond), passionate about eastern philosophy and western psychology, especially its application in mind-body practices such as yoga and somatic movement therapy, deeply in love with life, knows that our greatest teacher lies within, also sometimes a total mess - it's part of the package!

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    A Little Look at Sound

    Sunday, April 5. 2009

    If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?

    Caution: This question is a Zen Koan - try not to take it too literally! And please don't argue with your fellow seekers about what you think is the right or wrong answer. You might just miss the point altogether. :-)

    Need some spiritual hints to find the answer? Then, please read on...

    Hint #1: You might want to look at this question from a general scientific point of view.
    What is a tree? What is a falling tree? What is noise? Is noise the same as a vibration or sound wave? Does a vibration make a sound? Who hears sound, if any, and when and how? Is sound only sound as long as a perceiving entity (i.e. an ear) is present, that is to say, is sound only sound when it is perceived? Or is sound only sound when it is perceived through a perceiving entity (i.e. an ear) AND converted by something else (i.e. your brain)?

    Hint #2: You might want to look at this koan from a philosophical point of view.
    Is sound intrinsically dependent on a perceiving entity being present (the ear) to be able for you (the perceiver) to perceive it (the fall of a tree) as sound (the perception)? Can there be perception WITHOUT YOU?

    Hint # 3: You might also want to consider how your mind and memory work. Who is making the sound of a tree falling, if any, at this moment in time? Is it the tree that falls that makes the noise right now? If your answer to this question is "Yes", then please go back to hint #1 - sorry!

    If your answer is "No", then you might want to consider the following: Is your memory recalling a noise from the past that a fallen tree has made and is this recalling taking place at the same moment that the above mentioned tree in the forest is falling? And is your memory bringing that past experience into the NOW, thereby substituting the NOW with a memory recollected, making you "think" that the tree must make a noise, even though YOU are NOT there to perceive it? If your answer is "Yes", please go back to hint #2!

    If your answer is "No", then consider this: Is it YOU (the perceiver) who imparts reality (perception) to a thing that is perceived or not perceived? Can there be perception (reality) WITHOUT YOU or anyone else declaring it as their own?

    Hint #4: You might also want to go further back and consider the moral question: "Is it still wrong to do xyz, even if you don't get caught?" And is the very fact that you're asking yourself this moral question an indicator that the answer to this same question must be "Yes" or "No"?

    Hint #5: Shut out the noise of the world for a little while, discard your senses, tune into your internal dialogue, and enquire what is actually happening.

    Enjoy the silence.

    Enjoy the answer.

    p.s.: If sufficiently thought through, you should have found the answer to this koan by now. If not, you might just need to repeat this exercise with your other senses. Look. Touch. Smell. Taste. :-)
    (Page 1 of 1, totaling 1 entries)


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