Used in Meditation, these unique instruments can cause the listener to
experience different mood changes depending on the Master playing them.
The actual name is called BON and this means container. Indeed it is
also used as a vessel for eating and drinking.
The Japanese Bowls are used in Zen
Buddhism for starting a chant and is
a respected sound that Craig rarely ever plays.
An Introduction to Tibetan, Himalayan-Nepalese and Eastern Singing
The sound of these bowls have impressed the Western listener for a
number of years now. The origins of these bowls and the reason they have
been made so is still a puzzle to many,
Where I am not refuting the religious significance of the use of
sound, the harmonics and the sheer enveloping peaceful all enclosing
feature of these sounds, these bowls have in most cases, no other reason
but for one of eating.
The bowls were made by travelling 'Bowl Makers' who used the local
available metals for manufacturing these simple shapes into vessels for
offering to spirits, departed or otherwise, eating vessels for Monks or
Disciples and perhaps simply cooking pots for the local stews or 'Balti's'
which is a generic word as opposed to a style of food from Baltistan.
Metal bowls are still in use when you order food in Restaurants that
specialise in Indian cookery and it is reasonable to assume that these
bowls were, in the main, used for similar purposes....except for one
Why have most of these bowls such beautiful sounds? Why have some
that sound like the very screeching of hells own devils and then why
have some the ability to raise water in a fountain or a series of little
fountains that rise in perfect form above the very rim of the bowl.
I tried to answer this question many years ago and found that any
bowl like object made of metal or glass can give out a resonating tone.
This is simply the vibration of the bowl shape building in intensity.
The obvious example is when you may have run your finger around the rim
of a wet glass. Indeed there are excellent Crystal Bowls now available
in North America which give off resonate and lasting tones although I
have still to work with these. I have worked with metal bowls for thirty
years and perhaps I am set in my ways now.
What we have in the Bronze Singing Bowl is a richer deeper version of
that range of available tones.
Used extensively in meditation and relaxing techniques today, the
Bowl or to give it its more used name among the cognoscenti, Bon, has
been recorded, played in concerts and used by therapists to relax
patients. Indeed I too use this when asked by the friends that are aware
of my interest in Bon. It is not always a comforting sound though.
Screaming bowls are used by masters to educate the students in the
understanding of Bon. When 'played, the screaming bowl can emit a high
level sound that is extremely penetrative to the ears and brain. If not
understood this particular bowl can cause great pain. So why have such a
It is used so that the listener can stop hearing the sound by turning
the received or perceived, sound off inside their own brain.
What happens is that when the sound is heard, you must not hear it.
This technique is part of the learning of Bon. Hear what is not there
and control what you wish to hear or do not wish to hear.
The various bowls can give out different feelings of mood. I will
partially describe one technique. This technique uses a number of
different bowls but the core example is as follows. Use a soft sound and
a harsh sound. Playing the soft sound allows your listener to feel
comfortable and have nice thoughts.
Playing the harsh sound immediately the soft sound gets quieter makes
the listener think of bad thoughts. Repeating these sounds with the
harsh sound retreating until only the soft sound is being played puts
the listener into a deep relaxed state that continues for up to an hour
after the sounds have stopped altogether. By the time they 'recover',
all their stress, and in nearly all instances, anxieties, have either
gone or are heavily reduced.
This is one way I use the Bon sound to help my friends.
Using one yourself will help you to achieve a personal relaxed state.
I use recordings of Bon that I overlay with Shakuhachi type sounds that
I play on my Clarinet, Didgeridoo or Native American Flutes. I use the
lovely sounds that emanate from these instruments to give the sound of
rustling leaves, gentle breezes, rain on water, pensive bird calls and
many other sounds of nature but all in harmony to the deep resonating
sounds of Bon. Recently converted to Native American Flute and the Didge, I have found
a whole new range of sounds to use in meditation.
I have given concerts on these bowls around the world followed by
individual classes as well as group classes and as more people begin to
understand Singing Bowls there simple message is now becoming a world
wide phenomena. I am asked to obtain special bowls for students and
while this does take time I am usually able to locate and supply these.
Fake or Real?
I am asked how to determine the difference. In India there are of
course new bowls being made to meet the ever-growing demand of Singing
Bowls and one way to work out is simply to hit the bowl with a striker
and listen how long the tone lasts. In a genuine bowl for BON the tone
will last a long time while in a fake the tone shuts off quickly. In a
fake the tone is high and even 'tinny' while in a genuine bowl the tone
is long and low with possible a double tone in the sound. Its experience
that counts but one that comes quickly. Old looking bowls do not mean
they are old. I quote one story where a Nepalese gentleman was asking a tourist
what they thought some young Indian men were doing to a metal tray at the other
end of the square in Kathmandu. They were hammering it then applying
dark brown lacquer to this tray. The tourist had no idea what they were
doing and was then told by the honest Nepalese man that they were making
the object look very old. Nepal is full of Indian traders selling
anything that looks old and now that India is very web savvy, and these
'Bowl Traders' are plentiful on the internet, beware of con men.
There are many recordings of Bon and these are usually available from
alternative therapy stores around the world.
Antique Singing Bowl Gallery
Check out Danny
Bechers new Album on Tibetan Singing Bowls. Buy it at Amazon.com