Singing Bowls -by Craig Coussins

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The history of Japan and Temple Bowls.

Tokugawa Iyasu's Bowl presented to the Horyuji Temple in Nara and now in the collection of a Meditation Group in Italy

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New film clip from the Antiques Roadshow-click line and also below

3: Images of Japan 2006

General Information on Singing Bowls

Craig has been interested in Singing Bowls since 1970 and uses them as a tool for meditation techniques. Along with Didgeridoo and Native American Flutes, his concerts are always a truly inspirational and uplifting experience for the audience.

 Singing Bowls are one of the most amazing sounds to listen to however. They have very beautiful tones and we sometimes plays them for groups of friends or use them as a relaxing method for friends who are needing de-stressed from the problems of the world. Our Bowls come from Japan, Tibet and the Himalayas. They are a bronze metal with either 5, 7 or 10 metals in their construction. Some have a high gold content and the tones are extremely variable with deep low tones being Craig's favorite. All the bowls here are from the Svetlana Coussins Collection of Oriental and Native American Instruments

Svetlana Coussins sells bowls to order while Craig Coussins demonstrates and teaches their applications.



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For sale Antique Singing Bowl Gallery - The Svetlana Coussins Collection

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Some of the hundreds of bowls in the Svetlana Coussins Collection

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 Bowls

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 thing.

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 thing?

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.

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Check out  Danny Bechers new Album on Tibetan Singing Bowls. Buy it at
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