Six Hands Clapping
Six Hands Clapping is a unique American family story depicting the recent rise of Zen Buddhism in the United States. The tale is told from the point of view of the children of two American-born Zen leaders. It is a story of love, utopian religious ideals, and human frailty that has been repeated in different forms on this continent since the landing at Plymouth. The novel begins when the mother invites her grown children to witness her suicide at her Women’s Meditation Center in the Yolla Bolly Wilderness of Mendocino County. The children narrate the family history in dramatic scenes as they journey from London, Brooklyn, and the battlefields of the Hindu Kush Mountains. We learn that their mother, like a good Samurai Zen woman, is determined to defeat her enemy, cancer, before it destroys her. As she awaits the arrival of her children, she completes the story of her marriage to their charismatic father, his serial seduction of his Buddhist followers, and the marital break-up..
Although the children have fled Buddhism, their lives have been profoundly altered by their parents’ practice. This final scene confirms the three most fundamental Buddhist principles of existence: impermanence, suffering, and not-self.