17 November 2009


I enjoy sounds: rain hitting the roof, crickets chirping on a warm summer night, the sound of a warm crackling fire, wind chimes blowing gently in the breeze (see 9/30/09 post), clothes tumbling in a dryer, the sound of cardinals and many others.

Another sound that people usually don't think of as gentle is that of a gong. They have been around for centuries and have served many purposes. It's assumed that gongs originated in China in the 6th century and were used for ceremonial functions, to announce when the Emperor was coming, for important religious and military figures and to gather men for battle. Gongs then migrated to Java and Africa and arrived in Europe in the 9th century. Two types of gongs are the suspended kind usually suspended from a stand and bowl gongs which rest on cushions. They can be made from many materials including wood and metal.

Gongs are used for many purposes in today's culture. German radio uses the gong sound to tell the exact time. The group Aerosmith uses a gong at the end of their song "Dream On". In the television series The Adams Family, they would summon the family butler Lurch by banging a gong. In concert, Pink Floyd ended their song " Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" by having a gong burst into flames. The flashing traffic signal at railroad crossings is triggered by a warning bell (also known as a gong).

A meditation gong plays a major role in the meditation practice especially within the Buddhist culture. The term"invited" is used when a gong sound is made (never "hit" or "strike"). The harmony between a gong and person into a contemplative experience that will guide the believer toward Nirvana and Buddahood. Tibetan and Buddhist sound gongs for festivals, individual meditation and calls to worship.