Pragmatism vs Woo Woo

There is so much misinformation and myth surrounding Gongs & Singing Bowls and their use in meditation, sound therapy, and “healing.” While the internet has been a boon to the availability of communication and information, it has also become a great place to spread heresay and “I read/someone told me” things as fact. Facebook, in particular, has become the breeding ground for so much disinformation. Not a day goes by where I read some sort of post claiming to present factual information that is more wishful thinking or outright falsehoods. 

Just because you saw it on Facebook doesn't mean it's true!

It's difficult to work with Gongs & Singing Bowls without feeling some sort of spiritual aspect or dimension to them. Face it, the sounds are transcendent. But the problem is that there are a million different versions of this spirituality. And everyone believes what they believe to be true. Where I find fault is when people let their spirituality get in the way of the facts, or when they try to push their version of spirituality on others.

My view of things is much more pragmatic.

adjective prag·mat·ic \prag-ˈma-tik\
dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories
I have my own ideas on spirituality and things of a spiritual nature. I feel a deep sort of connection to the resonance of the Gongs/Bowls and their affect on myself and others, but I've been making it more of a point to separate what I do (playing the Gongs/Bowls) from my personal ideas on spirituality. I prefer to let people attending my events get whatever they want out of them.

I've been a trained percussionist for over 40 years, so I can't help but always approach what I do from being a percussionist 1st. It's gotten to the point where, whether playing a concert, or presenting a meditation session, that I find very little difference in both my approach and the music produced. It's all become just me.

Is this a concert? A meditation? or Both?
Photo Credit: MONA/Rémi Chauvin Image Courtesy Mona, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

If you've been a long time reader of this, and my other blog, Percussion Deconstruction™, you will know that I'm not afraid to topple any sacred cows. And this whole woo woo/spiritual/'let's just make it up' thing that seems to be running hard these days is something I'm particularly not too fond of.

Be spiritual. Be deep. But be true…

~ MB

Chop Water / Carry Wood / Play Gongs™


  1. Hi I don`t often comment on blogs, but have a little to say. I come from the opposite side in respect to your post. I was a spiritual being first and then found the gongs. I have never had any formal training in percussion, so when I`m playing I approach from finding a connection with the divine 1st.

    My history includes a lifetime in structured, formal, healthcare with an emphasis on professionalism. Now I am enjoying the freedom to just`be`.

    We journey with the gongs in a slightly altered state of consciousness, and I strongly believe in the power of intention (I suppose the power of prayer). Both of these things may seem `woo woo` to many but they are my reason for picking up the mallets.

    1. Having studied mysticism for well over 40 years, I'm all too familiar with the difference between 'woo woo' and genuine mystic states and events. The problem I find is too many people who come to the Gongs and then use 'woo woo' as an excuse to not learn anything real about them. Then they use that unfaltering belief in their 'woo woo' to defend it, much like how religious fanatics cry 'blasphemy' when someone tries to have a critical discussion with them.

      If you play the Gongs, especially if you are not a musician, you should actually LEARN something about them. Too many people just believe the nonsense they were told by someone else, without ever putting a critical eye/ear to it. The freedom to just `be` is fine, but knowledge is still power today.

      For example, from the comment below: "Your views and perceptions come in tandem with the mindset of someone who strikes a gong dead centre which is where you never deliver a hit as it displays a gross lack of sensitivity." This idea of never striking the Gong in the center is pure 'woo woo' BS! This comment shows a complete lack of musical knowledge. The person most likely believes what they wrote because their Guru told them so. They take it on 'faith' without ever questioning it. Striking the center is not evil, insensitive, or wrong. It's just another sound, which happens to be the fundamental pitch of the Gong. It's also a very beautiful and useful sound.

      Thanks for your comment ~ MB

  2. For a musician, you are surprisingly heavily left brained.

    Your views and perceptions come in tandem with the mindset of someone who strikes a gong dead centre which is where you never deliver a hit as it displays a gross lack of sensitivity.


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