There are many great stories and claims that surround the Singing Bowls. There are a few basic facts however that most people do not know at all. Tibetan Singing Bowls didn’t originate in Tibet. Seriously. Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet from India, also brought along with him the Singing Bowls. Yes, “Tibetan Singing Bowls” are actually “East Indian Singing Bowls” and foreigners who later learned of the Bowls didn’t really know the difference between the names of the areas.
When people would travel to the Himalayas to ask about the mysterious Singing Bowls they often met monks who claimed they had no idea what the uninitiated were talking about. This, while the monks ate rice or cereal out of the very metal Bowls for which the curious were seeking!
Never say enlightened people don’t have a wicked sense of humor.
Tibetan Buddhism is an unusual form of Buddhism that mixes typical Buddhist thought with the Magic that already had a solid hold on Tibet when Padmasambhava came to it. It was little wonder then when a Lama student of mine, who later deemed me a Lama, was thrilled when in an initiation I continually picked items related to Padamasambhava only. “I knew it! Of course you would pick the things related to him, which are about the Bowls and Magic!” He thought it surprising that I wasn’t surprised.
Then there are my friends steeped deep in various metaphysical practices. Some talk about the “Quartz Crystal Bowls” having come from Atlantis, Lemuria or the like.
The truth is, the original Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls come from Texas in the U.S. Not the most likely of places, or spiritually legendary, but that is the fact all the same. The Crystal Distributing Company made fine crystal in Houston, Texas. Eventually they hit on the idea that they could make Singing Bowls out of crystal. Today the process is very intense, but the people who still make them correctly, and which play properly, are the original innovators in Texas. There are many copied versions now, but such Bowls are rarely tuned correctly, like the ones in Texas are. If Pete Townshend and I use the original ones from Texas, and not the imitators, you can bet there is a reason.
So perhaps the truth about the placement and origins of Tibetan Singing Bowls and Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls are a little different from what your online metaphysical store might claim. The facts are fascinating all the same, it seems to me, without invented stories and claims.
I hope they speak to you when I play, as they do to me.
– Kenton Knepper