I loved the deep vibrant sound of the Japanese Buddhist temple bells which often filled the air of my home city in Kyoto Japan. But I have met several Japanese who do not like temple bells because they remind them of all the silly rituals that their family had to pay Buddhist priests to perform for their family. I have also met Japanese who, though they disliked their own Buddhist bells, nonetheless loved Christian church bells they had heard on their foreign travels — they felt them “romantic”. Likewise I have met many Catholic Americans living in Japan that, though did not like church bells because it reminded them of many negative memories they had of their Church experiences, nonetheless loved the Buddhist bells — they felt them “mysterious”.
Funny how we can enjoy something if it does not have baggage. Or maybe there is baggage in our pleasures. Maybe we wrap a naive idealization of another culture around the bells sounds that allows them to resonate with us. Or maybe we just wrap happiness (without idealization). I, fortunately, have no negative connotations with Christian bells but have never much liked them. But Japanese temple bells resonated with me deeply from the first time I heard them.
Are bells beautiful in and of themselves? Can we have an experience without baggage?
My bell story is a simple illustration of how experiences are not raw. The second a perception touches our minds, our minds attach feelings, ideas and past experience to the experience.
Question for Readers: What sort of bells do you like or dislike and why?
Links of Interest:
- Church Bells in Venice (YouTube, 52 sec)
- BBC Show (26 min) : Heart and Soul: Japan’s beloved huge bronze Buddhist temple bells