INTRODUCTORY GUIDANCE FOR SANGHA ACTIVITIES
The following pages offer some guidance that a facilitator can use to introduce different practices.
Inviting the Bell
Our bell is a beloved sangha member and a good friend on the road of practice. The Sound of the Bell is the voice of the Buddha calling us home. Home to our body. Home to our life. Home to the present moment.
We ‚invite‛ the bell. We do not use the word ‚strike‛ because it sounds violent. ‚Invite‛ is something very respectful and very peaceful. We use the bell inviter to invite the bell.
Establishing a ritual relationship with the bell can help us a lot. Our quality of mind if also very important so we need to settle and calm out own minds before we invite our friend to sound.
We sit up-right and beautifully and breathe three breaths before picking up the bell. Our breath is the bell of mindfulness that is always with us. Then we join our palms at the level of our heart. When we sit at the bell we are the bell master. We need to join our body and mind in a state of reverence. We bow to the bell – which is the Buddha. We pick up the bell with both hands and rest the bell on the raised palm of our hand at the level of our heart – like a lotus. We then recite the Gatha silently or aloud:
My body, speech and mind in perfect oneness
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May the hearer awake from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.
We then ‚wake-up‛ the sound of the bell with a small tap-holding the inviter against the bell. This tells us all that the sound of the bell is coming. Then follow one in breath and out breath.
We invite the bell with our next out breath, lower the inviter and follow our breath three times – breathing with the bell.
We say silently to ourselves, ‚Listen, Listen, This wonderful sound calls me back to my true home.‛
We then invite the bell a second time, lower the inviter and breathe three breaths with the bell.
Then a third time, we bow and gently set the bell down.