An Exercise for Children By Terry Cortes-Vega
Here is an activity to engage in with the children of your Sangha. What you might say is in boldface. Actions for you to take are in italic — remember to take your time! The answers to questions in parentheses are the answers our children gave us.
- Bowl bell and its cushion
- Bell inviter
Hear the Buddha Calling
Did you know the Buddha calls us? Today we will listen to see if we can hear the Buddha calling us. Listen, I think he is calling us now!
Bow to the bell and if it is a small bell, mindfully pick it up. Bow to the inviter and pick it up. Smile to the bell and the inviter and breathe in and out.
Body, speech and mind in perfect oneness. We send our hearts along with the sound of the bell.
Awaken the bell by placing the inviter on the rim of the bell and holding it there. After breathing in and out, invite the bell to sound and allow it to sing.
Breathe in. I listen. I listen. Breathe out. That wonderful sound brings me back to my True Self.
Set the inviter down. Return the bell down on its cushion. Bow to them.
Did you hear the Buddha call to us? When we hear a bell, we are hearing the Buddha calling us! That is why we stop whatever we are doing and show respect to the Buddha in the bell. We stop our moving. We stop our thinking. We stop our talking and we listen to the beautiful sound of the Buddha. It is not the Buddha from a long time ago who is calling us; it is the Buddha inside ourselves; it is our Buddha nature. We smile when we hear the call. We breathe in and we say to the Buddha inside ourselves—to our Buddha nature, “I listen. I listen.” Then we breathe out and say to our Buddha nature, “That wonderful sound brings me back to my true, kind, loving self.”
Would you like to learn to invite the bell?
Guide a child through the procedure described above (in italics).
Guide other children as they learn to invite the bell, following the same procedure above. All of the children might say the “I listen” gatha together each time the bell is sounded.
Sometimes the Buddha is a bell. Sometimes the Buddha is a bird singing. Sometimes the Buddha is a baby crying or a telephone.
Can you think of other sounds that the Buddha inside you might use to call you back to your Buddha nature? (my dad calling me, an alarm clock, thunder, wind in the trees, a rooster crowing, the sound of a river, an airplane ﬂying over my house, a horn honking, my cat meowing)
Can you think of ways other than sounds that the Buddha inside you might use to call to you? Things you might see or smell or touch that will remind you to come back to your Buddha nature? (sunset, ﬁnding a lost toy, butterﬂy, storm, dinner cooking, my cat crawling up in my lap, iris, my dog wagging his tail, my favorite stuffed animal) Why do you think the Buddha inside you—your Buddha nature—wants to get your attention? (to remind me to be happy; to remind me to love the person I’m with; to remind me to be kind)
Wherever you are, it is wonderful to listen for the Buddha. Or to look for the Buddha. Or to see if you can smell or feel the Buddha calling you. When we get back together again, we will share with each other the different ways the Buddha has called us!