In a hundred ways, I have always loved the being and sound of a gong or bell. In the zendo, of course, the sound is more apparent since all else is silent, but anywhere will do. In the zendo, the gong or bell signals the beginning or end of a focused effort. And yet its languorous lucidity, its entrance and silvery exit, is so much more ... beckoning, beckoning, beckoning ... teaching, teaching, teaching ... teaching what cannot be taught... teaching what you always knew and yet, in some sense, had forgotten.
Smooth and obvious as mayonnaise ... how I have loved the being and sound of the gong or bell.
And yet yesterday, after seating myself for zazen, somehow I forgot what I had and have loved so much. I forgot to hit the gong. Only later did I remember with an electrical and somehow alarmed jolt. I had forgotten what I loved so much... how was it possible?!
Up until the time I remembered, the sitting was much as usual... sitting, focusing, breathing, slipping in and out of focus, easy...easy...easy. I'm not much good at zazen, but I am too old to worry abundantly about what I am not good at. I am content to let zazen do its thing, whatever that thing might be. If it has something to impart, I'm confident it will impart that something in its own good time. As God looks after God, so zazen looks after zazen ... that's enough for me.
But to forget what I have loved more dearly than chocolate?! It had slipped my mind like water through my fingers and I hadn't even noticed until I noticed. How the hell could I forget what I loved so dearly? How could I love what I so easily forgot?
But the facts were staring me in the face, crisp and clear as a bell or gong. The facts made no accusations and offered no disapproval. The facts were the facts.
I salved this open wound with a very small striking of the gong to end the sitting. There it was, not lost at all. It had not missed me any more than, at first, I had not missed it. The love was not missing or needing of my help. It was there all the time.
PS. With the help of a friend, here is an example of the sound.