Ring Them Bells

On December 31 at midnight, the New Year is welcomed in Japanese Buddhist Temples with 108 bell chimes during the Joya no Kane ritual, which means “bell rings on new year eve’s night.” The rings represent 108 elements of bonō, defilements or passions and desires entrapping us in the cycle of suffering and awakening (Samsāra). The 108 bell chimes also symbolize the purification from the 108 delusions and sufferings accumulated in the past year.

A couple of years ago, I came across a Western adaptation of this ritual of celebrating the New Year:

Ingredients: close to midnight, sit in silence for an hour. Then strike a bell 108 times — ideally outside — and with each measured ring remember someone in your life: near and far, dead and alive, friend and foe. Then write on a piece of paper “One thing I want to let go off” and burn it. Then bow and drink a glass of sparkling beverage. Cheers!”

I will find myself spending time with family and friends at the stroke of midnight, but I will try to keep this ritual in mind along with an invitation from the poet, Leonard Cohen that touches on an attitude toward the sacred: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

May all your good intentions and highest wishes come to fruition in 2015.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Susan Scottreply
December 31, 2014 at 5:02 am

Thanks Luke very much – I loved this and listened to Leonard’s The Anthem – pure pleasure.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – thank you for highlighting this.

A very Happy New Year to you.

Luke Stormsreply
December 31, 2014 at 11:19 am
– In reply to: Susan Scott

Thank you, Susan. Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” is one of those uplifting songs I return to again and again. A very happy New Year to you.

December 31, 2014 at 5:44 am

Thanks ☼

Patty de Llosareply
December 31, 2014 at 7:48 am

Lovely idea, Luke! It reminds me of Marion Woodman’s way of ending her intensive weeks: a party evening in which we choose to sacrifice one habit that imprisons us, write it down, and burn it in the communal fire. There is always help.



Patty de Llosa patllosa@gmail.com http://www.practiceofpresence.com http://www.tamingyourinnertyrant.com 423 East 84th Street New York NY 10028 212-737-6469

Luke Stormsreply
December 31, 2014 at 11:17 am
– In reply to: Patty de Llosa

Thank you, Patty. I can think of a few habits I’d like to burn on that communal fire. Happy New Year!

There’s a crack, a crack, in everything | Garden of Eden Blogreply
December 31, 2014 at 9:12 am

[…] The title of my blog post are words from a Leonard Cohen live performance of ‘Anthem’ which I watched and listened to a little earlier, prompted by a blog by Luke Storms today. The words of the refrain ‘ring the bells that still can ring … there’s a crack, there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’ struck a note with me. It was a wonderful performance – as was Luke Storms’ blog. […]

Susan Scottreply
December 31, 2014 at 9:34 am

p.s. I just put up my own blog post and acknowledged your post ..

December 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm


Susan Scottreply
December 31, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Thank you – I FB’d your post, people are loving it!

January 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Thank you, Luke, for this reflection. I think of the radical act of stillness that is required–first, to sit in silence for an hour; then, to strike the bell 108 times, in measured cadence, thoughtfully, attentively, without rushing toward a conclusion. For most of us living in our own intense cities, choosing to serve in this world with such restraint and focus is the rarest form of offering.

susan scottreply
December 31, 2016 at 9:34 am

My FB gave me a memory on eve of 2014 which I re-posted (FB’d it) and which lead me to yours – So, on the eve of 2016 I am re-reading and listening to Leonard Cohen: There’s a crack a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Have FB’d it your one – All best wishes and happy 2017!

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