Misplaced Tibetan bowl prompts search

By Daniel Hernandez, Advocate Staff

One thing that is essential when learning is having the ability to maintain focus.

In class, where learning is a top priority, both students and professors have methods for remaining focused whether it is chewing on a piece of gum, turning off a cellphone or listening to music.

Humanities professor David “Dajarah” Houston incorporates the use of his Tibetan meditation bowl to bring focus into his classroom.

Unfortunately, around four weeks ago in GE-225, he lost his bowl right after his Philosophy 120 class ended on a Tuesday.

Houston said, “Cleverly, after 35 years of using this thing — absent-minded professor just forgot it until the next class.”

He didn’t realize that after the class was dismissed he forgot to take the bowl back to his office. In the class of 22 students, the last person to use the bowl was chemistry major Alexis Ortiz. He gonged the bowl then placed it into the tote bag Houston usually brings it in.

“The last thing I did with it is place it into the fabric bags the instructor brought,” Ortiz said. “I placed the bag on the table and asked him if he wanted me to bring it to him.”

Ortiz offered to hand over the bag, but the professor said he would pick it up before he took off. The bag was left in the middle of the second row in the lecture hall for Houston to pick up.

“I actually expected that it would be somewhere here because I don’t think of the campus as dangerous place,” Houston said.

He was shocked to find out that his bowl wasn’t there when his class began on the Thursday after it disappeared. He hoped somebody would already have returned the bag with the bowl in it.

The bowl had been in Houston’s possession for more than 35 years since buying it in a shop on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.

The bowl itself is about 300 years old, made of brass and has a specialized mallet.

Its sound lasts for 30 seconds to allow for those around it to concentrate on focusing.

La Raza studies program coordinator Agustín Palacios holds his La Raza class in the General Education Building lecture hall after the philosophy class is dismissed. As he came in, Palacios noticed the bag, but was unaware of what was inside, so he left it alone and continued with his class.

Houston waited a few days after searching the class before checking the lost and found at Police Services.

After failing to find the bowl in the lost and found days after it went missing and a follow up visit to officers last week, there was still no sign of the artifact.

Houston’s final attempt in locating his bowl was to send out an email to all the faculty at Contra Costa College asking for help.

He wrote in the email, “It (the bowl) was in a library sack, is approximately 8-10 inches in diameter and has a brass complexion. I keep expecting it to magically come back to me, but it hasn’t yet. Do you have any idea of its whereabouts?”

The only responses Houston received were wishes of good luck, but no information of where it may be.

The meditation bowl is pricey but possesses plenty of sentimental value to the professor. It meant a lot to students in the class as well.

“The bowl added a spiritual aspect of the class,” Ortiz said. “It brought together the attention of all the students and made it better for the class to participate as a whole.”

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the bowl should contact Houston at [email protected] or call him at 510-215-8352.