Listening for The Bell

Uh! There goes the bell for meditation. Better run. That’s the thing about living in community, there’s structure to the day. There’s a schedule of activities which the community follows and formal meditation is very much on the list. But just how much time is enough time to be sitting in formal meditation each day? People ask that question when they are about to leave after an introductory retreat. And people continue to ask that question, after years of practice. Is spending more time sitting better than less time?

Uh! There goes the bell at the end of meditation! That’s the thing about living in community, the bell is always ringing signalling the end of one activity and the start of another. My dad said he couldn’t live in the monastery, Too much like the army! he said. Too much regimentation, too much imposed discipline I’d imagine. What he and probably most people don’t see or understand is that you don’t stop sitting when the bell rings at the end of the formal meditation period.

Uh! There goes that bell again! It is the one that rings silently, an inner prompting, calling me to the next thing – to get to bed.

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26 thoughts on “Listening for The Bell”

    1. (October 3rd) With the advantage of hindsight and with the benefit of having taken refuge, I realize I was misguided in removing this comment. Though ‘betcha’ could be described as offensive to lovers of the English language, the meaning of the phrase as has been pointed out, is not offensive. Thus I am now re-instating my original (very brief) comment in its original position. Apologies.

      You betcha!

  1. (October 3rd) With the advantage of hindsight and with the benefit of having taken refuge, I realize I was misguided in removing this comment. Though ‘betcha’ could be described as offensive to lovers of the English language, the meaning of the phrase, as has been pointed out, is not offensive. Thus I am now re-instating my original (very brief) comment in its original position. Apologies.

    You betcha.

  2. This post makes me think of the story of the monk who answered a question by putting his sandals on his head and walking away. (Smile)

  3. Oh, and I thought it was a reasonably straight forward post. Although I can see why you would have thought of the story since I did just – errm ‘walk away’ and not explain. Mostly because I thought that wasn’t needed.

    1. the bell is empty of a sound (you can’t find it, can you?)
      you are empty of a permanent self (you can’t find it, can you?);
      so, simple listening Is realizing one-ness/nothingness (even if you don’t realise it….). if you think you hear a bell, you have already created the idea and illusion of being seperated from the bell, you don’t hear a bell, but your own thought. This can’t be understood, for there is no-one to understand and even no need to understand. When the golden Bell rings (the eveningsutra) you will know It, beyond knowing.
      Years ago I asked my ordination master (rev master Hakuun) what this meant in the evening sutra: she just clapped with her hands Once.
      this is all I can say, so this is my last comment :-)
      in gassho
      wick

    1. Hello Walter, I hope you enjoyed your walk. sometimes humor can ring a bell. I don’t know what ‘you betcha’ means (I am a Dutchman) but it made me smile.
      Do you have any question on my comment? I’ll be happy to answer it.

    2. Betcha is an American term which has been removed from the comments. Sorry to cause offence. Yes indeed would say the same thing actually.

      1. The unexpected removal of just a term, made me curious to look for a source:
        http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=You%20Betcha
        You Betcha
        A Minnesotan phrase that can be translated into the following…
        1- “Yes”
        2- “I agree”

        I have read that it is also called an alteration of ‘you better believe it” and “you bet ya”. That’s all.
        So its completely innocent (in its intention) to me.
        Everybody reads words with his own mind isn’t it? So if you ‘do not’ mind: let’s not get stuck in words or terms.

  4. It seems disingenuous to me to say ‘lets not get stuck in words or terms’ when in this form of communication words are literally the only content of the discourse.
    And words are powerful things and can do great harm and cause lingering pain as this quote from a Brian Friel play about a disintegrating relationship, I think illustrates ‘and things were said that should never have been said and that lay afterwards on our lives like slow poison ‘. We need I think to take care in this as in all forms of communication and, inevitably, being human, we will make mistakes.
    Also I think it’s important to observe the proper time sequence of a thread otherwise the actual development of the ideas and comments in the thread may become distorted

    1. Thank you Veronica. All your points well received. There is quite a lot that could be said about words, their use and our response on all the levels that happens. However I’m not really up to writing much right at this moment for one reason and another. So for now I am letting this thread of comments run it’s course. Perhaps later I’ll muster what is needed to say something.

      1. There is stil a point running its course in the matter. Your unreserved approval of the words (“all points well received”), enforced the impact thay had on me at the time I read the comments. That includes the judgmental aspect and its harmful effect.
        This has nothing to do with a conversation, this is all about stopping a chain of causation you have also partaken in. So now its the time to adress to your responsability in the matter.

        1. I am happy to say that Wick and I have just had a pleasant conversation on the telephone. Just so you know I am always glad and happy to talk with people in person either via email or on the telephone when that seems like the best way.

    2. We need I think to take care in this as in all forms of communication and, inevitably, being human, we will make mistakes.” Certainly reasonable!
      But that “betcha” is so disgusting that it needs to be deleted? I suggest that’s a different thing.

    3. please try to understand the “if you ‘do-not’ mind” that’s connected to it. Don’t take it too literally.
      you quote some words of me and become judgmental. I did not write what you wrote. You are playing with ‘my words’ in a disingenuous projection of your mind and that distorts the context.

  5. Dear Wick,
    I think you’re right and I apologise unreservedly. In looking back over your post I see that I misunderstood and misrepresented what you said.
    The point I wanted to make was that this kind of written communication because it lacks the nuances of face to face communication – body language, tone, gesture can cause confusion -and mistakes I believe, may be more easily made -therefore we need to exercise caution in our use of language because it is powerful.
    I hope you might see the irony in that, in seeking to make that point, I did the very thing I was warning against.
    so, I’m sorry.
    best wishes
    Veronica

    1. Dear Veronica,
      Thank you for expressing your heart in this matter. What can I say? Yes, words can be powerful to a certain level. Believe me, I’ve grieved long enough to know the effects they had on me. You are an excellent writer, an eloquent one in my opinion (I say that also as a professional who studied Law). You choose your words very careful, very precise, very effective and with power. So I’ll be honest with you: there was a moment I felt strangled by your accurate words. Still your good intention is not questioned by me and I did not believe you words, so the harmful effect was not actualized on me. Your apology stopped a chain of causation. I bow for that.

      The other side of words is that they are empty, when the ‘me and you’ doesn’t get in the way. From moment to moment we fill ourselves with words, notions and so called ‘information’ to seek fulfill-ment. Maybe that proofs the emptiness of things, the “void, unstained and pure” in the scripture of Great Wisdom.

      Best wishes!
      Wick

  6. Wick,
    I’m grateful and relieved by your response to my last post. That you were willing so readily to let go of any resentment my words may have caused shows a true generosity of spirit.
    As to Emptiness, I too am drawn to the Prajnaparimita and Madhamika teachings. That things manifest with no backdrop and do not abide…. well when I’m in touch with that truth I’m filled with wonder, gratitude and joy.
    Much of the time however its not like that, I blunder about in a narcissistic bubble, inwardly aggrieved that the world will not arrange itself as I see fit.
    To know that that the joy and wonder the pettiness and stupidity are equally insubstantial and untainted is bloody elusive at at times but what can we do? as Ben said in another post we are caught by the iron hook of the Dharma.
    Thank you Rev Mugo for introducing this topic its been an interesting journey with some ruffled feathers and bruises on the way but no lasting damage I hope.

    Betcha were’nt expecting that when you originally posted{sorry couldn’t resist]

    In gassho
    Veronica

    1. This is the first time that I can remember when an actual conversation has started up in the comments section. I neither encourage or discourage such conversations and trust that if something gets going, as it has, compassion, love and wisdom will win the day. It is heartening to see the mutual bowing going on. That to me is the important thing.

      I’ve been very much involved with daily life here in the monastery so I am taking a necessary break from posting.

      1. “Discourse” has been an object of fascination to me since I discovered it at 14; the way folk treated one another on our hippie bus (1968!) was substantially different from what I experienced elsewhere, but I had a real hard time saying just how.
        This is the first time that I can remember when an actual conversation has started up in the comments section.” I’ve been “online” since the early 70s, so saw the arrival of WWW through a lot of experience, personal and professional.
        Over the past 10 or 15 years, with the advent of BlogSpot, WordPress, LiveJournal, FaceBook, Twitter and Google Plus I’ve actually seen discourse decrease though the amount of verbiage increased dramatically.

        To greet one another as persons … that’s a sensibility that we can actually lose!
        Mangalam!
        –KC:

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