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Secrets of Tibetan singing bowls to be demonstrated in workshops

Staff Writer

Cars run better when tuned. Stringed instruments sound better when tuned.

Next Sunday and Monday, an expert in Himalayan Tibetan sacred singing bowls will explain how the human body also has to be in tune to work right.

Photographs courtesy of Richard Rudis

These Tibetan bowls are rung like bells in Richard Rudis' workshops, to create a sound he believes has physical and spiritual healing qualities.

The idea of using musical tones to diagnosis or heal a body may sound far-fetched to westerners unfamiliar withTibetan Buddhism, but an expert in the field points out scientific experiences that have shown sound can stimulate different states of consciousness.

"Our very molecules vibrate at specific frequencies that could very easily be converted to Hertz, or sounds," said Richard Rudis, who teaches workshops on Tibetan principles throughout the country,

Rudis, who lives in Connecticut but plans to move to Encinitas in April, has studied Buddhism for 30 years and Tibetan Buddhism 15 years.

"In the course of those studies I've come across a lot of references to sound and how sound is used to alter consciousness within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition," he said.

The 51-year-old Rudis said beliefs in the spiritual and physical power of sound are not unique to Tibetan Buddhism but are a part of many cultures and traditions. Even the command "Let there be light" in Genesis can be seen as part of that power, he said.

"It's the thought of utterance, that divine vibration, that is the source of the universe," he said.

The Earth itself vibrates at a primal level as it spins on its axis, emitting a G, and revolves around the sun, emitting a C-sharp, Rudis said.

"The Earth moving around the sun creates a vibration, or sound," he said. "It's the sound of 'aum.'

"If you pronounce the syllables, you can feel your whole body vibrate. There's physical associations with all these tones."

In Rudis' workshops, he uses bowls that are rung like bells to create a sound he believes has a spiritual as well as a physical healing quality.

"The bowls are used to bring calming, centering, harmonious feelings to our body," Rudis said. "It helps attune at the very cell level and helps to bring the cells that might be out of tune with their divine nature back into their natural state."

Rudis, considered one of the foremost authorities on Himalayan sacred sound on the East Coast, regularly travels to Tibet, Nepal and India to meet with collectors who show him 200 or 300 bowls at a time. He brings back about 20 percent of what he sees and uses the bowls in workshops, where he sometimes sells them. A small bowl averages about $100; larger ones sell for up to $600.

The bowls are part of a trinity of Tibetan spiritual objects and are made of an alloy of silver, gold, mercury, tin, lead, copper and iron. Ranging in size from 4 to 12 inches in diameter, the bowls can be struck with a padded mallet or by rubbing a wooden mallet against the edge.

"The bowls produce a series of overtones and harmonics that are just mind-boggling," Rudis said. "It's quite literally a divine sound."

The other members of the Tibetan trinity are the tingshaws, which are small cymbals, and a pair of objects called the ganta and dorje, which respectively make up the female and male energies of the universe.

The ganta is a bell composed of the same alloy as the bowls; the dorje is a bronze symbol that resembles the infinity sign. It is not an instrument and makes no sound.

Rudis is scheduled to teach introductory and advanced sessions Feb. 4 in Del Mar followed by an advanced practicum the next day.

Introductory sessions include lessons in the sacred teachings of Buddha, Rudis said.

"I put that out so people will understand these instruments and where this comes from," Rudis said.

The bowls have been called the teachers of Buddhism's "four noble truths," he said. The first of the four truths is that unhappiness and suffering are intrinsic in people's lives, and the second truth is that the cause of that unhappiness is attachment to an everchanging universe.

The third truth is that people do not need to be unhappy, and the fourth truth is "essentially a road map of how to conduct one's life that will liberate us to noble space, or what we refer to as enlightenment," Rudis said.

In the advanced sessions, Rudis shows how to use the bowls, tingshaws, ganta and dorje.

"Inevitably in each workshop, there's always something new," he said, recalling an incident in his last North County visit. "A woman had problems with her ear. I don't want to sound like there's miracle cures going on, but there's definitely something physical as well as spiritual, healing that's happening during these workshops."

The woman said she was beginning to hear something changing in her ear during the exercise, Rudis said.

Tingshaws, the small cymbals, also are used as diagnostics.

"You scan the body with the waves, and the way the sound bounces off the body gives the practitioner some insight into what's going on," he said.

The Feb. 5 session will be an advanced practicum when each person works directly with a practitioner and a bowl.

"The practitioner essentially is the one who plays the bowls to induce this state of expanded consciousness," he said.

"You can physically feel the vibrations enter you," he said. "But it's more of a spiritual state entering you."

Contact Gary Warth at (760) 740-5410 or

Himalayan sacred sound workshops

10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Feb. 4, Introduction and advanced sessions 2061 Gatun Del Mar $70

7 - 10 p.m. Feb. 5, Location to be announced $35

To register, send a check to Diane Mandle, PO Box 3723, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067. Specify workshop date and level, and include a phone number and e-mail address. Checks should be made out to Illuminiarum Convergence. For more information, call Diane Mandle at (858) 759-8799 or e-mail her at


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