A tree in the forest

If a tree falls in the forest, without a human ear to hear it, does it make a sound?

No, it does not.
A human experience is required for a sound to exist. Without a human experience, there is only a potential for a sound, in fact, there are infinite potential sounds.

A human experiencing is what converts potential energy into kinetic energy, potential experience into actual experience. Without a human experiencing, there is not even a tree, or a dog, or a bird, or a world, there are only infinite potentials for trees and dogs and birds and worlds.

When a human experiences, a potential experience becomes a real experience, a potential sound becomes a sound, a potential world becomes a whole complex world full of the real kinetic experiences of all humans experiencing.


Hui-neng’s Flag

There is a well-known story of Hui-neng, a well-respected Buddhist monk who later became known as the founder of the Zen school, who one day happened to be passing by two monks.

"Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, "The flag moves." The other said, "The wind moves." They argued back and forth but could not agree.
The Sixth Ancestor said, "Gentlemen! It is not the wind that moves; it is not the flag that moves; it is your mind that moves." The two monks were struck with awe."
- The Mumonkan Case 29, translation by Robert Aitken