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The Great Shang That Destroys the Apostates

The Great Shang That Destroys the Apostates

an introduction to the upturned flat bell

What is a Shang? It is the ritual upturned flat bell of central Asia, first used by the Shen; and

today used by Spirit Mediums and shamans, and the monastics in the Yungdrung Bon. This

bell is very old, and its long history stretches from Yunnan and Sichuan China, across the

Tarim Basin, and into the eastern Pamir’s. Its composition, manner of making, how it is

used, and by whom is all documented in sacred texts held in monastery’s; but it’s also listed

as a musical instrument in the musical instrument texts of both Buddhism and Bon.

There are two sizes with the smaller one often called a ‘silnyen’ (general term for cymbal),

and a much larger one, preferred by the Spirit Mediums, and each Bonpo monastery today

has one “great Golden Shang.’ It’s associated with powerful deities and spirits of both

Peaceful and Wrathful classes.

The rituals specified in the texts are all healing rituals; which makes it the only true sound

healing instrument ever created. Which is both ancient and well-documented in written

texts dating back to the 10th century. Northern Treasury texts and specifically the Po Ti,

outline its use as far back as the 9th century BC (my Root Teacher said it was much older

than that) at a pre-Imperial time when priests known as Shen were performing healing

rituals with it.

These texts preserve the original intentions of the Shen which saw visualization, mantra, the

taking of Form, and the sound of the Shang “whose sound could be heard for 10,000 years”

as a gateway for restoring health and emotional sickness in humans but curing spiritual

sicknesses instigated by Naga and earth energies. So its use is paramount to healing the

earth and everything walking upon it, whether by injury, sickness, and the ability to increase

one’s Luck, Fortune, or Life Elements. This station so to speak is the position of the Loving

Mother of Wisdom and extends to the Queen of the Universe which makes this a

‘matriarchal’ approach through and through.

I suppose after reading some of this, one would be inclined to rush to find one, and

hopefully one would heed the warnings in the ancient texts which outlines ‘whom’ should

be using it. The older Northern Treasury period addresses those who “take in hand, the

Great Shang that destroys the apostates, oath breakers, and false doctrine believers” one

who seeks purification through the 5 Perfections, and is known as a Knowledge Holder. One

becomes the Master of the “door of the Good,” and possesses the ’secret meditation.’

Many Shangs today that have found their way to the public marketplace are fakes,

unfortunately. One way is to look under the centerpiece known as the lotus or gakyil, you

should see 5 tiny sanskrit letters engraved which represent the seed syllables of the 5

Families, or that the handle is white felt covered in leather symbolizing that those who grasp

it “take root in a pure life”. The entire makeup and appearance is outlined in the texts,

including the special alloy used; and its acoustics. This special alloy is also preferred by the

statue making guilds, and for decades they have bought and melted down Shangs to make

Buddhist statuary for important clients. This essentially erased the antique Shang market so

the likelihood of finding a real authentic antique piece is close to zero - regardless of what is

written or spoken about it. New Shangs are not made of the special alloy, and many other

attributes reserved for this instrument.

As far as playing it, always upturned, held a certain way, moving it so the sound is

directional to the left or right for example, or outwards “destroying obstacles reduced to

dust.” And you don’t go around waving it without the visualization, mantra, and taking of

Form, to firm the handshake to the sound. When placing it down, always knocker up.

My more than 3 decades of research (with this instrument) combined with my studies in both Tantric and Sutra

Bon has given me an insider’s view, perfumed by traditional foundational practices

providing a unique perspective among ethnomusicologists. Partnered with the sleuth of a

historian, my studies act as a time machine for the student, which creates a paradigm for

spiritual awareness about the potential of this true ancient sound tool. My research is

nearing completion and I will soon be offering Transmissions to complete my cycle with this

instrument as I’ve done prior with Himalayan Singing Bowls, Gongs, and over 100 other


©2023 Mitch Nur, Phd


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