When Bodhi mind, treasure mind, is activated, and you are immersed in the well-being of all sentient beings while casting your own aside, even a broken bell can be made to ring. It is said that even birds in flight will stop and rest their wings on hearing the resonance of such a bell. The Bodhi mind is a state of mind in which the spirit is fully awake, fully aware of the impermanence of all things. It is a state of mind in which we can unlock ourselves from the prison of delusive passions, compulsions and cravings. It is our true nature.
The sound of the ancient syllables of a mantra or prayer can fill our being to the top. We don’t need anything else, any thoughts or worries or self-generated sounds. This sensation is comparable to letting the power of a piece of music, which resonates with you uniquely, take you over. We all know that feeling I think. We take refuge inside the sounds without a care in the world. The sounds resonate with our spirit to bring about total repose or quiescence. We reach a sublime state which perhaps it is difficult to come back to the ‘real’ world from. But what we don’t realize is that this emptiness, this perfect contentment, is reality! And you can have that constantly in your life if you let go of your deluded mind!
All beings are potential Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The words on the lips of everyone we encounter in our lives are teachings, messages from the invisible world. We should let them flow into us like the most mellifluous of music. The same applies to all natural phenomena in the world. Look fully at a beautiful sky, an eclipse, a storm or an autumn leaf on the ground, a tear in the eye of your loved one, and you are connected to the Dharma and the greatest of teachings. Simply accept the messages and your higher self will store them as a constant resource in your wisdom bank. The Dharma is all around us constantly, eternally, but we choose instead our own mind’s views. We will never become wise and truly happy if we choose the world made by our own mind. We need to open the window or the door and go outside this limited human view.
Sound is energy, and energy can never be destroyed. It is eternal. This is why the ancient mantras and prayers from the world’s religions have survived for thousands of years. The syllables are imbued with the original utterances of their respective teachers. We intone them with sincerity and they reach back through our lineages to the eternal source to connect us.
When the Buddha was on his deathbed in the sala grove, surrounded by the multitudes who had come to pay their last respects and make precious offerings, Mara, the Prince of Demons who had plagued him with every possible distraction and temptation during his enlightenment, was also present. He humbly prostrated himself at the feet of the Buddha to make a final offering of a mantra as well as food and drink. The Buddha refused the food and drink, but he willingly accepted the mantra. Humbled by the Buddha’s enlightenment, Mara offered a mantra that could be used to eliminate all the dangers and perils faced by those who practice the Mahayana way.
Music has brought numerous realizations into my own life. As a professional musician, I reached a state of such deep immersion in the music of the Great Romantics – Rachmaninov, Wagner, Scriabin, Tchaikovsky – as a performer, that I was temporarily unable to return to so-called ‘real’ life. Like Rachmaninov himself, I had what the medics called a ‘nervous breakdown,’ what Buddhists would call a ‘realization,’ while at work on his second piano concerto. The vibrations of this sublime music consumed me to a point at which I had to cease working on it. Even today, when I hear certain music from that period, I can feel myself slipping away. I so needed to climb on to the Buddhist pathway to keep my balance in human life. The bell and the ancient chants keep me anchored nowadays.
The significance of sound must not be underestimated. The bell of awakening is rung often in our various religious traditions. It signifies the true form of all existence and has the capability of purifying bodes and minds. Let the vibrations mingle with your own. This is reality, now and here forever.