As seen in Shining Bright Magazine, Australia
Extracts from an article by Don Conreaux
The Way of the Gong
It was in 1948 just before attending Granite City High School in Southern Illinois, a few miles east of St. Louis, Missouri, that I read a book, written by Paramahansa Yogananda called Autobiography of a Yogi. Everything in his story seemed to speak to me on a very deep level.
My own life was nothing like Yogananda. I grew up in a small Steel Mill town and lived across the street from a noisy, smoky plant that smelted ore 24 hours a day. Nobody I knew had any clue about this kind of life. It was an epiphany for to have been introduced to such a mystical adventure. Although I just 12 years old, I somehow knew that my destiny was connected to this world of which Yogananda spoke.
Immediately after graduation, I went to Los Angeles to study with Yogananda, but there to my disappointment I found out that Yogananda was no longer in physical body. It was 1952 and although I was to be deprived of a physical guru, his spirit became my teacher and during the next two years I took my Kriya Yoga Initiation while studying Theatre Arts in Los Angeles City College.
Jumping ahead 15 years to 1969, I was introduced to a tall turbaned yogi by the name of Yogi Harbhajan Singh, who lead us through a particularly strenuous but ecstatic kundalini yoga kriya followed by his playing a 28 inch Paiste Symphonic Gong while we were lying on the floor. The next thing I knew, I astrally projected up to the ceiling and was looking down at my body. After years of meditating, I had never experienced that. Instantly, I fell in love with this instrument of profound power. Yogi Bhajan became my first in-the-flesh yoga teacher and under his guidance I began to study the gong as a student teacher.
The discovery of the gong coincided with the Age of Bronze, 6000 years ago, and has been used by many gurus ever since as an instrument of spiritual "Initiation." Its remarkable power is similar to the flow of energy that gurus project into their disciples in order to give them a boost of spiritual energy. This blissful energy was called the transfer of Shakti Pad which even today is given by gurus to their deserving chelas. It also had the effect of placing the Master and disciple in strong telepathic resonance with each other.
In 1976, after training and sending out many kundalini yoga teachers from my Phoenix ashram, it came time for me to leave and I returned to my theatrical roots in Los Angeles. From then on, I continued to teach, creating what I now call the dance of the gong, gong yoga, gong baths and gong meditations. By the time the 80's came around I had joined two yoga masters and together created on of the first Himalayan singing bowl and gong ensembles, One Hand Clapping. Now based in New York, I continue to travel world-wide to teach the art and power of the gong, and to conduct ceremonial performance rituals. It is my great good fortune to inspire others to become gongmasters and holistic sound healers.
Gonging! The Gift That Keeps On Giving.
Gong vibrations are gifts from the universe called:"free energy." Sonar energy comes through the gong in a continuous flow in every direction, emanating from its center. Dane Rudhyar, better-known for his astrological expertise than his musical philosophy, once speculated that a gong would have to be kept sounding for many thousands of years before it would finally dissolve, dematerialize and disappear. His theory was that the atomic lattices, the living particles that make up the gong would finally, after eons of gonging, be spent and burned up through natural friction, causing the gong to disappear. Therefore, as the body of the gong outlives a human by thousands of years, in comparison to our short lives, it is an immortal.
The gong is named after the sound that it makes: it "is" what it "does" which is the prerequisite of being considered a shamanic powertool, likened to the mythic philosopher's stone. Its energy of immortality, and re-youthing attributes, bestow upon us a sustained, heightened curiosity, an important gift that can enhance the quality needed for a productive "late" human life.' It is even possible that the process of aging may be suspended in a gong bath, and because of its element of unresolved suspense, the food of curiosity, is very much in abundance. So it stands to reason that as we soak up the vibrations of gong tones, our youthful curiosity is amply nourished as well.
Cleansing the mind and emotions with gong tones creates a sort of exorcism that results in what we call spontaneous healing and transformation. Initiation, as we know it, is a quickening of the soul which, when we look back along our memory time track, is always recognized as a higher sensory experience. When the senses of hearing and feeling sound are mixed, a blissful mood occurs which science calls "synaesthesia". In this altered state, with our eyes closed, it is possible to behold the Invisible Light of Illumination, and also experience various levels of samadhi, ecstasy and enlightenment.
During the gong experience, we are in the completely awake while completely asleep meditative state, what I call the 4th dimensional dreambody. In this state, which is also known as the completely neutral yogic state of "Turiya," we greatly increase the re-youthing efficiency of our innate intelligence that operates 24 hours a day. After a gong tone immersion, when the personal ego returns to material consciousness, one seems better able to attain a condition of non-judgment or neutrality, the quality of total body/mind harmony.I believe the gong experience improves our spiritual "quality of life" because it imprints the deep sound immersion event with special significance. It is in this mystical mood that we become a vessel for spontaneous creative thought and meaningful insight.