The Bell of Consciousness


Each moment of consciousness is the ringing of a bell. Our lives are a symphony – or cacophony – of bells in whose wake we try our best to swim. It is often not easy but we try our best to learn the shapes and rhythms of its currents and tides in order to navigate those ceaselessly changing seas with some degree of grace.

Ring the Bells is coming up on its first year and it is time to shift course. Since my last communique I have regained some —thought certainly not full—consistency with my daily bell ringing. In doing so I have realized I need to change my general framing of the the ritual if I am going to keep on in in my commitment. At various times I have opened the door to others being more involved in collectively steering this ship and since no one has come forward with that interest I feel authorized to turn the wheel just a bit over this way!

Most importantly for me, I want to reframe the commitment to Ring the Bells as a way to uphold the values for justice and peace, generosity and dignity, and denounce hate and oppression, cruelty and greed — but in all their forms and by all their names. Ring the Bells can no longer be about Donald Trump. If you feel like it’s about Trump for you and it’s working, great, run with it. Keep it going. I get it. It is a good way to channel what might otherwise be very destructive energy. But for me, this man is too narrow a field, too unworthy an adversary for such a beautiful commitment. I don’t want to give him any more of my energy or attention than he is already getting. The good feeling that comes from ringing the bells need not be held back from him, but it certainly shouldn’t be defined or propelled by him. I have found this year of ringing the bells to be such a powerful commitment that its scope is well beyond him and I want to reflect that in the general orientation of the practice.

One logical result of this is also to blow Ring the Bells past the 4 years of the presidency to make it an open-ended commitment to practice in our lives for as long as we are inspired. I have been so moved by this ritual, I want to deepen it by committing to this for my life and would like to offer this possibility to all of you as well. People can do it for as long as they live or as long as they like. Stick with the 4 years if that works for you. The 4 years seemed nearly impossible for most of us when we started and many of us have seen how hard it has proven to be. By opening it up to eternity, I hope we may find the counter-intuitive possibility that it is easier to commit to, because failure to ring for weeks or months won’t ever mean we can’t come back to the ritual at any time for as long as we can. My hope is that it will actually make it more sustainable.

Finally, the pressure of the social media responsibility for this has been a challenge for me. I need to reconsider my relationship to the emails and blog and facebook and twitter and instagram feeds and see what is a way that still feels good for me to be involved in it, rather than just dread and avoid it. You may very well hear from me less often, but what I offer may be more specific to my personal experience and understanding. I had initially intended to keep the voice behind the project general enough that others could step in and take over but I have come to see that if it is to stay my own, then I should own it.

The most important thing I come back to is that Ringing the Bells always feels good. I never regret it. Every time I do it, I am happy. It reminds me of all the things I want to remind myself about and I cannot see a good reason why I would not continue to do it for all of my life with as much constancy as I can. So just ring and keep ringing. Do your best. For me Trump was becoming an obstacle — and now there is no obstacle, unless I don’t have a bell handy. But when there is no bell in my hand, I know that there is a bell in my mind. And this is the most important one to keep ringing.

in love and solidarity

~ Jesse

5 thoughts on “The Bell of Consciousness”

  1. I’m still ringing with you Jesse. I love the sacredness of the practice. It has never been about Trump for me but as a reminder to live life with the values that you mentioned above i.e. peace, justice, generosity, dignity and a true love and respect for ALL of our neighbors. I love the idea of a cacophony of bells. That is such a great word. When I ring I imagine that everyone is ringing along with me and that the vibration of love and peace resounds around the world. Thank you for getting this tradition started. Peace to us all.

  2. Ringing.
    For Justice
    For learning
    For humility
    For kindness
    For solidarity
    For the potential in each one of us – bodhichitta…
    And reminded of feedback from a recent convening we hosted where a participant commented sarcastically “leave the bells at home”.
    To which I respond today and each day respectfully- no.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *