Listen to the Eternal Sound of the Bell

The magnificent sound of the temple bell shakes the dawn and awakens all living creatures from a dream world. As the brilliant morning sun reddens the eastern horizon, wake up and listen to this bell. Its clarity sings of eternity and infinity, and it resounds endlessly throughout the universe.

The sound of the bell tells us that all forms of existence are absolute, that they were absolute before the universe came about and that they will be absolute after the universe disappears.

The sound of the bell tells us that even the most wicked forms of life are fundamentally Buddha. Ferocious tigers and gentle dogs dance together at the sound of this bell. Poisonous snakes and playful toads, cats and mice all jump merrily together at the sound of this bell.

People of all races, the young and the old, children and adults, males and females, the rich and the poor all join together in praise at the sound of this bell. When this bell resounds, all oppositions, all hostilities, all conflicts disappear. We all find our pure, fundamental nature, and we all embrace one another as a family.

Listen to the sound of this bell.
As it reverberates, the wooden roadside totems sing and people who are as cold as stone come to life. Everything in the immense universe moves happily at the sound of this bell, so happily that “heaven” and “paradise” become embarrassing terms.

If you can’t hear this sacred sound, ifs because you are deaf with desire and greed. Rid yourself of these temporal cravings, and listen to this eternal sound.

How hilarious! The planet earth is but an invisible speck of dust to most of the boundless universe; yet famous saints and scholars, men of talent, and historical heroes boast of one another’s greatness. There are no better examples of nonsense, of tiny bubbles of foam than the First Emperor of China, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and other world subjugators.

To those of you obsessed by greed and desire, who run recklessly in your pursuits—rid yourselves of these futile dreams, and listen closely to the eternal sound of this bell.

We are blessed by the cries of pairs of wild geese flying through a dear, moonlit night, and the universe is overflowing with the echoes of peace and freedom!

(New Years Message, January 1, 1987)

Ven. Tong Songchol (1912~1993), also SeongCheol, one of the great Zen masters in the last century was also called the Living Buddha of Korea.