4. The Mystique of Singing Bowls
Musical training is a more potent
instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way
into the secret places of the soul.
bowls are surrounded by a mystique worthy of sacred objects. Seven has
long been regarded a holy number. With their traditional seven metals
the singing bowls bring together the macrocosm of the planets and the
microcosm of the body. Meteorite is sometimes included to add a cosmic
dimension to the spiritual qualities of the bowls. The Tibetan monks who
used the bowls kept them secret and the true origin of the bowls is
hidden deep in the shamanic past. It is no wonder that a special dream
presented itself to me several months after my first meeting with Joska
Soos. At that time I was playing my first two bowls on a daily basis.
In my dream I walked into a room with exotic paraphernalia. In the
middle of the room was a table with different objects on it, among them
a singing bowl. I hunched over the table, looked into the big bowl, and
held my head close to it as I rang it. A particular wonderful sound
filled the room. When I woke up the sound kept coming back into my mind.
The dream urged me to look deeper.
A few weeks later while visiting
Joska Soos I told him about it, hoping he had a bowl like the one in the
dream. He brought out several big ones, but none matched the sound. Then
he said: "Wait a moment, I have a special selection in the back that
ordinarily I would not sell, but I will make an exception for you." He
returned with some nice bowls with equally nice sounds, but I kept on
nodding. "No, the sound is not the same." Finally there was only one
bowl left he was very reluctant to show it, but he did. As I struck it
and heard the deep full sound a wave of excitement filled me. This was
it! Exactly the same sound that I heard in my dream! Convinced that some
higher forces were at work, he decided to sell me the bowl. The largest
in my collection, it relaxes me deeply when I play it on my chest, and
after half an hour I am totally refreshed.
My first encounter with a
group session came two years later at a shamanic event at the Center for
Relaxation and Body Work in Mechelen, a city in Belgium. Before this I
had played the bowls exclusively for myself, so this was something new.
Two women, Martine Goossens and Liliane Boels, played singing bowls,
accented by a variety of drums and unusual musical instruments. It was a
primitive but powerful sound experience, truly archaic in character. The
event had an empowering effect on me. Turning into my inner world I
experienced impressions of demons, awesome beings connected to the
"music". In Tibetan Buddhism internal "demons" such as these are
considered to be latent fears, usually of sickness or death. The only
way to overcome them is to bring them into the forefront of
consciousness. It is for this reason the Tibetans paint demons on the
walls of their temples, to remind the monks to face their own fears. The
uninitiated find them frightful, and if encountered in the inner world,
they run away from them. Looking at the paintings serves as an exercise,
teaching one the fear resides in oneself.
After the session they
offered singing bowls for sale. I struck a small thin one that gave an
exceptionally clear and sustaining ring. Everybody in the room turned
their head. Upon hearing the sound the image of a temple immediately
presented itself in my mind. Without hesitation I decided this was a
bowl worth having in my collection.
Shamanic work with the singing
bowls and other shamanic instruments inevitably leads to work with
energy and energy beings. In the group session I noticed that Martine
was a stable woman and well rooted but Liliane was not. Because of her
extreme sensitivity Liliane ought not be occupied with this kind of
shamanic work. However, she compensated for this by wearing a protective
bronze mirror on her chest. Observing this it became clear to me that
consciousness and intent are very important when working with the
copyright 2001 by Dirk Gillabel