I Awoke to The Sound of One Hand Clapping
A short story by T. S. Dickson
I Awoke to The Sound of One Hand Clapping.
It is a very distinctive sound. It is not, in any way, just like half the sound of two hands clapping, just as two hands clapping are not one-fiftieth of the sound of one-hundred hands clapping.
I quickly got out of my bed and headed towards the noise. It was late, and I wanted to get back to sleep, but I had to see what was going on. A light was on in the kitchen, and when I got there, I saw him. Buddha. In my kitchen. Making a snack.
His legs were in a perfect Lotus position, but of course they would be. Curled up like that, he was as wide as he was tall. He floated in the air just in front of my refrigerator, and he was rummaging through it. That annoyed me. Buddha had, through mediation and self-discipline, evolved beyond desires, so I knew he didn’t desire any of the food he was taking. He was just getting a snack out of habit. I looked at the plate he was piling high with vegetables and rice.
Wow, I thought, look at all that rice. Eating all those carbs, it was no wonder he was so round.
I turned and left as quickly as I had come.
They say, ‘If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him,’ but they don’t say what to do if you meet the Buddha in your kitchen. At first, I considered going back to my bedroom and getting my shotgun. Ever since last month’s incident with the Messiah in my basement, I kept the shotgun in my closet loaded with Messianic-piercing ammunition, but Buddha was from a non-Messianic religious tradition, so it would not work on him.
I do my best thinking in bed. I know, it seems funny, but when I have a problem, I will often sleep on it, or just have a lie down, usually with some good results. I often thought if I could take my bed to work with me, I would be more productive, or at least better rested, but my boss won’t let me do it. So, off to bed I went to contemplate my current religious crisis.
The whole basement incident had ended poorly. I had gone online and bought the anti-Christ on eBay and then chucked him into the basement as well, and the reaction of Messiah with an equal and opposite amount of anti-Messiah… Well, it took me the better part of two weeks to clean up the mess. Anyway, this time I was determined to find a cleaner solution.
What did I know about Buddha? Buddha had been a prince. (As in ruler, not musician.) He gave it all up to become a wandering monk and then, while sitting under a tree (instead of wandering), he became Enlightened. After that I think he became en-heavied, probably because he was doing less walking and a whole lot more sitting without changing his diet.
Enlightenment is a sort of “Ah-Ha!” moment, when you figure out the truth about the nature of life and all that, sort of like finding the right website after a long and frustrating Google search. So, since the nature of enlightenment is understanding truth and knowledge, there is no anti-Buddha to throw around, no source of ignorance to cast shadows in the light.
Or maybe there was?
I got up. It took me only a moment to rummage through my closet and find my battery-operated radio, and only a little while longer to find the station I needed. Turning the volume up loud and holding the radio in front of me like a talisman, I walked quickly back to the kitchen.
Buddha heard the radio and screamed. He dropped his plate, spilling rice all over the floor. He unfolded his legs like a large blimp extending landing gear. He danced. He tried various poses: Happy Buddha, Sitting Buddha. He finally tried a pose I saw more often on monkey statues: that of Hear No Evil. Even with the fingers in his ears it was no use. Finally, he shifted to Traveling Buddha pose, left my kitchen and ran out the front door into the street, where I am sure someone met him on the road and killed him.
I doubted I would see him again, but just in case I left the radio playing. As I cleaned up the food from my floor I had to laugh, despite the mess, as the show continued, and I heard the voice of Rush Limbaugh complain about the nature of the universe. Yes, I had found a source of ignorance to drive out enlightenment.