Be A Bell Tower

Bell Tower in Plum Village

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space
around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.


Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian mystic poet and novelist, “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets”,writing in both verse and highly lyrical prose. He lived between 1875 and 1926.

This poem about using the breath as a bell tower is wisdom you will also find in the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. He teaches us that we invite the bell to sound. We do not hit the bell, strike the ball, or use any other aggressive means to cause the bell to sound.

 Listen to the bell of Mindfulness: [podcast][/podcast]

He has written several poems for inviting the bell.

Body, speech, and mind held in perfect oneness, I send my heart along with the sound of the bell. May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.

May the sound of this bell penetrate deeply into the cosmos. In even the darkest spots, may living beings hear it clearly, so their suffering will cease, understanding arise in their hearts, and they can transcend the path of anxiety and sorrow. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.

May the sound of this bell penetrate deeply into the cosmos so that beings, even those in dark places, may hear it and be free from birth and death. May all beings realize awakening and find their way home. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.

He has also written several poems for listening to the bell:

Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.

Listening to the bell, I feel my afflictions begin to dissolve. My mind is calm, my body relaxed, a smile is born on my lips. Following the bell’s sound, my breathing guides me back to the safe island of mindfulness. In the garden of my heart, the flower of peace blooms beautifully. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.

Hearing the bell, I am able to let go of all my afflictions. My heart is calm, my sorrows ended. I am no longer bound to anything. I learn to listen to my suffering and the suffering of the other person. When understanding is born in me, compassion is also born.

At our Mindfulness in Healing sangha, we invite the bell to sound three times and intone the following invocation:

This life is the gift of the whole UniverseThe earth, the sky and many generations.
May we learn to life in mindfulness
In order to enjoy the wonders of life!

Which version of the inviting the bell verses do you like the best? Which version of the listening to the bell do you like the best? Why? Please share.

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