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Do You Want to Be Enlightened?

Ring your inner bell

A gold hand bell with black handle on a granite-topped bench, windows in background letting in bright sunlight.
The rediscovered handbell I used to try to bring me to a state of enlightenment at Evergreen. It didn't work.

Bell-ringing, monasteries, monks, and mountain tops are often linked in our minds to enlightenment.

But does ringing a bell lead to enlightenment?

Not necessarily.

When our five children were younger and roamed free at Evergreen until the sun went down and bats started flying to catch their personal quota of 6,000 mosquitoes each for the evening, I’d stand outside the kitchen door and ring a bell bought especially for the purpose, to let them know it was time to come inside for showers and dinner.

The high, clear sound of the bell drifting on the wind was a reminder to them to come home.

Sometimes I wish I had a way to remind myself to come home – to come home to my essential self – to be awakened – to be in the timeless state of enlightenment.

Occasionally I’m “home” for a few seconds. I am fully in the moment, an alert watcher with no agenda, no regrets, and no hopes, ready to act, not react.

But soon thoughts pop up, running hither and thither, denying the present, dragging me into the past, or dumping me into a future which is merely a figment of my vivid imagination.

When I’m feeling frazzled by life events, I wish I could ring a bell to call me home to have a shower that will cleanse me of negativity and anxiety, and drench me in spiritual nourishment.

So, today I hunted for that old bell.

Ringing the Bell

I found the bell in a box of odd but interesting objects that Rob keeps in his shed. I dusted it off and polished it with a bit of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Then I stood outside the kitchen door and rang it. The high, clear sound of the bell drifted on the wind, a reminder to me to come home, to be present, to be in the Now.

The problem was where to put the bell so I could reach it quickly whenever my thoughts went berserk. On the kitchen table? Next to the coffee machine? Beside the mouse pad? In front of my toothbrush? In the car? Under my pillow? The options were endless because I never knew where or when I’d experience my next attack of thinking too much.

I finally left it on the kitchen island where it could be easily seen. I knew where it was and it would be simple enough to run to the bell, pick it up, and ring it whenever I noticed my thoughts were carrying me away again on a wave of agitation. The reminder would help me calm down and enter a state of enlightenment.

The trouble was, I got sick of running into the kitchen to pick up the bell. I started having angry thoughts about that sassy, shiny bell.

‘Oh, no! I have to run and get that bell and ring it again! That’s the third time this hour!’

It took me a few days to realise I didn’t need to ring the bell. Just becoming aware of my mental agitation was enough. Becoming aware of it meant I was waking up. I was reminding myself by ringing my own inner bell.

Just becoming aware of my thoughts did the trick. My physical bell-ringing efforts became redundant.

Be Enlightened

I found these words from Eckhart Tolle encouraging:

Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.

To be enlightened you just have to be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behaviour.

Bells make a lovely sound, but they’re not necessary for enlightenment.

Just be silent and still and watch your thoughts.

That’s enough.

In the moments that you do this, you are enlightened.

With love, Marlane

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