Floral Notes and Bardo: Don’t Do That

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Growling in a cave, no one to hear, no one to blame, just the discomfort of… Or, alternatively, the bliss of no one to impress. But what if all this society stuff falls apart? What if no one shows up to ring the gong and lead chants?

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There have been times when I’ve been the only one in the shrine room for a session.  I ring the gong and chant solo.  It’s lonely, sad.  Something a bit pathetic about it.  DON’T WALLOW IN SELF PITTY And yet it feels tremendously powerful, brave, inspired.  That’s the flip.  DON’T TURN GODS INTO DEMONS

If someone misses a dish washing shift here, it is plain to see that the dishes are dirty.  So, no one can get away with it.  If I don’t meditate, my mind is like stinky dishes…

DON’T PONDER OTHERS

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Dakini Map: A Conversation with Cynthia Moku

By Travis Newbill

Cynthia Moku

Cynthia Moku

Master artist Cynthia Moku has contributed to, and drawn much inspiration from various Buddhist Stupas. In her recent exhibit Pilgrimage: A Dakini Map (on display until April 25 at Naropa University’s Nalanda Gallery, 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, Colorado) she presents close to two decades worth of artwork reflecting her mystical experience and insights.

Recently, she took some time to share a bit about this project and her journey.  Please enjoy our interview below.

Also:  in May, Cynthia will be co-leading two programs at Shambhala Mountain Center along with Acharya Dale Asrael:

Taming the Wild Horse: Riding the Energy of the Emotions, May 22-26

Touching the Moment: Indelible Presence, May 14-18

Riding the Energy of Emotions: A Conversation with Acharya Dale Asrael

By Travis Newbill

Acharya Dale Asrael

Acharya Dale Asrael

Habitually, when intense emotion arises — in our body, mind — we squirm, fidget, and ignore as best we can.  Another approach — which Acharya Dale Asrael is quite keen on and skillful in presenting — is to actually… feel it.  If we can open and fully experience our emotions, the wakeful, creative potential of the energy is unleashed.

Of course, this is a huge topic, and a great path.  Recently, Acharya Asrael took some time to have some initial discussion.  And, in May, she’ll be offering a deeper exploration as she co-leads Taming the Wild Horse: Riding the Energy of the Emotions, which is one of two consecutive “long-weekend” programs that she’ll be leading along with master artist Cynthia Moku — the other being Touching the Moment: Indelible Presence.

Please click below to hear Acharya’s profound wisdom and clarity on this ever-relevant topic.  And, if you’d like to download the audio, click here and find the “Download” button.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Held

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

On Saturday, walking around, warm and sunny, dirt and grass beneath our boots, Heather and I saw four different types of wildflowers.  That night, about a foot of snow fell.  So, we woke up in a different world.  Huge fluffy puffs of snow on the pines.  Bare aspen branches, twisting and artistic against — sky backdrop, also carrying loads of fresh white snow.

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And, Heather had become sick with an infection.  Living up in the mountains without a car, we felt a bit worried and helpless.  At breakfast we saw John Ohm, who is Desung — harmony protector.  He’s been up here for twenty-something years and is a guardian.  Heather told him she needed to go to the doctor.  I’d never driven in the snow before, and there was lots of snow.  So, the situation wasn’t apparently easy.  Yet, within twenty minutes, our friend Mike volunteered (over the walkie-talkie) to drive us an hour into town so that Heather could get fixed-up.

It turned out to be a pretty fun field trip.  We stopped at a donut shop before the doctor’s office. Throughout the day, I really enjoyed spending time with Mike, who has been up here for a while but will be leaving soon.  In the waiting room, we discussed dharma, and later, how strange it is that Wombats poo cubes and stash their babies in disguising back-facing pouches just below their anuses.

We stopped for sandwiches and made it back up to the land late in the afternoon.  Heather and I enjoyed her warm bedroom and the heavy snow everywhere, listening to music in bed.  Her roommate Oakes came in and brought her gifts of small glass prisms to hang in her east-facing window so that rainbows may shoot into her room when the sun rises in the morning, then he offered a ride to dinner.

We didn’t walk in the deep snow at all, all day long. Annabelle, Heather’s other roommate, had given us a ride down to breakfast in the morning, and, after dinner, Joshua offered a ride back up.

The whole day was this touching display of community-family care and generosity.  We felt so held.  The only way that we can sustain living on this mountain together, in the middle of nowhere, is if we take care of each other.  And, we do.  I knew that already, but Sunday’s experience has brought another level of appreciation.  We walk the walk (or, give each other rides so that we don’t have to).

Before going to sleep, outside Heather’s room, which is in a forest, the moon was nearly full.  Thick snow everywhere, soft blue glow.  Quiet and still.  Inside the window, her room, candles flickering.  Warm.  The two environments, so complimentary.  So glad for both.  Baffled by my good fortune.  We listened to a bit of music and slept soundly.  Clear blue sky this morning, white snow.  White and blue.  Magic, magic.

~~~

Today is Heather’s fake birthday.  We listened to an Aphex Twin song before getting out of bed — according to tradition — titled “Avril 14.”  She invented a fake birthday for herself some years ago.  I can’t remember why, but I like it.  Happy fake birthday, Heather-honey.

– April 14, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: And, who knows? But living…

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Green blades of grass are popping up from the ground.

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Last night a deep discussion on death and impermanence in class with Greg — Fearlessness in Everyday life.  Afterwards, with Heather, connecting in presence, communicating, acknowledging a disconnect in… view, personality, life-approach, interests.  Acknowledging the possibility of splitting as well as the possibility of not.  Impermanence is not theoretical here.  None of the teachings are.  This whole place is a living, breathing, dharma lesson.  Teachings in 3D.  Maybe 4D.  I can taste the dharma here.  It rubs my shoulders and smacks me on the head.  Walking away from her, I felt relief — in imagining passing, freedom.  Now… What is freedom?   Solitude — free of mirrors?  Free to only dive into dharma?  What is dharma?  Sitting on a cushion and reading books?  I know that my work here, my whole life here, is the path of dharma.  I may be here for ten years.  This morning in meditation, I was contemplating impermanence.  I recalled my brother singing “All Things Must Pass” to our dad while he was dying of cancer.  There seems to be enough room — in my life, heart, mind — to let that happen.  Clinging is clear to see here, and its futility.  Beauty in arising, beauty in dwelling, beauty in passing.  And, who knows?  But living with the reality of impermanence…

– April 10, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Knowing (Not Knowing)

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Private appreciation for mystery — not exactly private, but not easily shared.  I can’t tell you.

Slipping from a rock, so, trusting air to not grip my skin and for earth to bruise me nice.

~~~

Heather doing chores:

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I was thanked just now by a teacher for what I do in the community.  He attributed it to my connection to practice, to the dharma, to the lineage.  I told him (he already knew):

“I appreciate that connection.  It’s there.  And, it’s very mysterious.  So, everything that I do here is very natural.”

It’s quite huge to be experimenting, playing with, forms such as social structures.  It’s not about being reckless and pushing people around, but with the sincere wish for harmony, I am jamming, making statements of all sorts, all the time.  In this closely interconnected situation, it’s easy to see karmic effects rippling outwards, and feedback coming around, back through.  Everything that everyone does influences the shapes, tones, colors.  Some statements are bigger, some more subtle.

The flavor of every “good-morning” affects the community.

It’s artistic on a big scale.

Friendliness cannot be contrived.

Genuine expressions of friendliness, care, humor, delight: ventilate stuffiness, allow for glow.  So, the thing is to cultivate good-mind.  I can groom my own little garden.  And, that affects everything else.  The rest comes naturally.

Teacher told me: “You’ve done a lot of work in the past.  It’s karma.  It’s no accident.  But, it is mysterious.”

We shared a knowing (not-knowing) grin.

– April 8, 2014

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Blissful Who-Knows-What (HUM HUM HUM)

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Greeting my smile at the bottom of the ocean, therefore unconcerned with flotation or undertow.  Wakeful waves — only the chatter of the depths.

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Friday evening — Feast celebration for Trungpa Rinpoche‘s Parinirvana.  Sadhana of Mahamudra.  In the middle of the triple HUM recitation — the space of rainbow magic manifest — the Sakyong and the choir of Acharyas, appeared.  We created an isle, parted the sea.  Rinpoche came in and prostrated three times to the large Buddha, which contains his father‘s skull relic, and a picture of the Vidyadhara on the shrine along with many offerings.

He gazed at the picture, whispered blessings, and tossed a khata into the seated Buddha’s opened palm (perfect shot).

He offered amrita from a skull cup to each one of us.  Then, out front, he said some words about the preciousness of us all being gathered at the Great Stupa for this occasion.  Then, we sang the Anthem and circumambulated.

I circumambulated behind Pema.

Then, back into the Stupa and resumed the feast:

HUM HUM HUM

After the feast, chants, and a video of Trungpa Rinpoche giving a talk at Naropa in 1976. Then, old-timers shared stories.

~~~

Saturday, a day of catching up with Heather. Since the move it’s been so scattered. Lots of time together. Felt great, healthy.  Anyway…

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Sunday morning, a talk from the Sakyong to the staff.  Beautiful.

In the evening, dinner in the shrine room, because we’re re-painting our dining hall.  Joshua and Greg (old dogs) telling us about consorts and yabyum deities (because we asked like curious children).  Mystical things in a fun tone.

~~~

Being around the Sakyong and Acharyas… Feels warm, big.  Glad to be a part of it.  Yesterday, before Rinpoche left the land, I was speaking with Acharya Lobel.  He expressed to me what a powerful retreat it was for all of them.  That they were grateful for the staff holding the space so well, and that, inside, they were blown away by the teachings.

It’s great to hear that.  I’m glad to be contributing.  And, hearing reports of what’s going on “inside” keeps me brimming with curiosity and longing.

It’s fun.  It’s an adventure.  How to get to the next point?  Clues and questions.  Magical encounters.  Synchronicity…

So much synchronicity while they were all here.  Like, whatever was going on in that shrine room was affecting everything else.  The waves extending and stirring things into blissful who-knows-what.  Music.

– April 7, 2014

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: This Time…

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

I walked along a dirt trail, beside Rinpoche, holding a white umbrella over his head to shield him from the sun.

A feeling of cosmic friendship, preciousness, gratitude.

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Earlier in the morning I held a tray for him while he made tea offerings, after returning from his morning run, still catching his breath and sweating.

The core teachers of the Shambhala Buddhist mandala are here: The Sakyong, Ani Pema, the Acharyas, the Kalapa Council.  It’s powerful, enchanting.

The teachings that are occurring here these days are new.  There is a sense of quiet explosiveness.  It’s tangible.  There is a glow.

After one teaching session yesterday, the Sakyong ran joyfully from the shrine hall back to his quarters, his escorts had to keep up.

It’s awesome to be here for this.

A couple of years ago, my first week at Shambhala Mountain Center, the annual Acharya retreat was happening.  I was mystified.  So beautiful.  The first time I saw Rinpoche, he was being escorted down the stairs by someone holding a white umbrella.

Now, the wheel has turned a couple of times, and I’m holding the umbrella.  Where will I end up, and up, as the wheel turns and turns?  How long will I be on the planet before I die?

I like the direction things are going.  I hope to live a long life to allow for more and more blossoming.

And of course… this is it.  Maybe I will live long enough to become a close student of Rinpoche, perhaps I will be an Acharya.  Or, maybe I will die sooner than that.  Today, I am in a very fortunate position.  My dedication to the dharma has brought me here.  I wish to honor that and not let my dedication wane.  I wish to offer more and more, to become more and more sane and helpful to others, and to generally delve deeper and wholeheartedly into the dharma.

May I relate to all the flickering conditions of my life as dharmas, and know the entirety of my life to be the path of awakenment.  May I not take my good fortune for granted.  May I not seek refuge from fear and discomfort in conditional situations, but rather, take genuine refuge in the three jewels, again and again.

~~~

“This time, practice the main points”

“‘This time’ refers to this lifetime. You have wasted many lives in the past, and in the future you may not have the opportunity to practice. But now, as a human being who has heard the dharma, you do. So without wasting any more time, you should practice the main points.” — Vidyadhara, the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 – April 3, 2014

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Funny Little Crush on a Nun

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Pema Chödrön is on the land.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that her and I were walking around the land together.  At some point, we were gazing into each other’s eyes and she said something like:

“We have karma like we’ve kissed before.”

Like, in a past life, we were honey-buddies.

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A couple of days ago, when I first saw her, as we were crossing paths in our dining hall, we exchanged bows.

I wish that I may say to her, somehow: “Thank you.”

Who on this planet has been more helpful to me than her?  I don’t know.  And I’ve never exchanged words with her.

I saw her on a street corner in Boulder once.  And now I’m seeing her, in little glimpses, here.  On my way to my office this morning, I was watching her walk up the steps to the shrine room, from a distance.  She stopped and turned around, looked back at me.  I bowed and walked away.  I felt embarrassed.  A few minutes ago, walking, I saw her on a trail up ahead.  She turned to walk in my direction. I became fluttery.  I smiled and waved like a goofball while we passed each other.  She smiled and waved back.  Ahh… Hopeless..

Yesterday was April Fools Day.  Throughout the afternoon, people brought me love notes from Pema to me (created by Heather, who I told about the dream as soon as I awoke, and who has seen me swooning for the past couple of days).

It’s a funny little crush that I have on that amazing little nun.

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Connecting Tai Chi and Buddhism with Larry Welsh

By Travis Newbill

Larry Welsh will be leading Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain: Tai Chi Retreat, April 25-27

Larry-20Welsh-IMGP0429cc-(1)The ancient practice of Tai Chi Chuan has often been called the “supreme ultimate exercise.” When joined with mindfulness sitting meditation, these two forms bring forth a potent way to awaken health and restore well-being in body, mind, and spirit.

Larry Welsh, MAc, MA, has trained in the Yang-style short form, listening hands and sword form of Tai Chi Ch’uan since 1977. Larry is Senior Adjunct Professor and Mindfulness-Meditation teacher in the Traditional Eastern Arts program at Naropa University. He practices Japanese Classical Acupuncture, herbal medicine and whole-food nutrition in Boulder, Colorado.

Watch our interview with Larry Welsh below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

Larry Welsh will be leading Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain: Tai Chi Retreat, April 25-27. To learn more, please click here.