Dying to Hear the Gong

The Gong has been used for centuries in almost every ritual, ceremony, and rite of passage known to humankind.

In Buddhist monasteries, gongs call the attention of the gods. In ancient Greece, they open the realm of the dead. In Borneo, they are beaten to frighten away storms. In Ceram, gongs are given as wedding gifts. In Assam, they are used as funeral pyres. During war, gongs intimidate enemies and gather troops. In peace, they celebrate festivals and accompany dances.

Perhaps one of the most powerful ways that the gong can be used is to aid in the transitioning of the soul’s journey from life to death. Playing the gong at the time of dying may be the ultimate expression of the gong’s ability to transform and lead the listener into the higher realm of consciousness.

Instinctively, the gong has been played in the East for the passage of a great soul. In the Western world, the first use of the gong in Western orchestras dates from 1791 when Gossec included a Chinese flat gong in his Funeral Music for Mirabeau. Perhaps the most moving use of the gong (or tam tam) in the Western music in relationship to dying was by composer Richard Strauss in his powerful Death and Transfiguration (1889) that depicted a dying artist’s mind and feelings as he passed through death to a rebirth, signaled by the Gong.

Connecting the Gong to the ultimate expression of human transformation is actually quite natural.

The Gong itself is a portal from the earthly realm to the other realms as its sound powerfully opens the seventh, or crown chakra, from which the subtle body or soul leaves at the time of death, according to yogic philosophy.

The sound of the gong reminds us we are greater than the limited form of the human body and it connects us to our sense of vastness and timelessness.

Playing the gong at the time of the last breath is a bliss ride to the next great adventure.

Hospice gong? Why not?

My intuitive feeling that when possible it would be advantageous to use the largest gong available yet play it softly and allow for a long sustain between each strike. Let it be like the gentle wave of a very deep ocean that goes on forever.

A bossed gong, or one with the raised center, would lend itself very well to such a sound. Flat gongs can also be used, striking in the area of the fundamental tone, in a slow rhythmical fashion.

The planetary gongs naturally suited for this sort of hospice work would be the Platonic Earth Year (for the crown chakra), Pluto (keeper of the afterworld), Saturn (the god of time), and the Sun (eternal nature of the soul).

Are you dying to hear the Gong? Plan on it.