Floral Notes and Bardo: Family and Family — Circle


Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident
 is a regular 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 take refuge in the sangha, as support for traveling the path.

This morning I met with the Care Council, to open and share a deep, murky, entangled, situation that I am doing my best to navigate well.

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It has to do with kin in dire straits.

We sat in a circle — I used to sit as a member of the Care Council and offer space and feedback to people who are in states of like I have been experiencing recently.

I opened up and spoke all about the situation, offering information and a bit of emotional tone.  It was a vulnerable feeling, especially before we began.  Sitting in the room waiting for the others to sit on their cushions.  I was contemplating the teachings on emptiness, and considering how solid things can feel.  But the solidity was only a flash, and dissolves into flavored space.

Arising.

So, my drama arose gently for us all to see.  And then, my friends offered feedback.  They offered their perspective.  Reported what they were seeing from their side of the circle.  And it was so helpful.

I went in with a bowl of spaghetti, and came out with some olives in a row.  Some understanding and some action items.

The main dharmic point seems to be exploring the distinction between compassion and idiot compassion.  That has been the dharmic theme recently, but I hadn’t put words to it.

Fearless beyond idiot compassion.

That’s one of the eight slogans of the Dorje Kasung.  Rusung Edwards offered it into the circle, and it reminded me of the dharma.

The Care Council assured me that they would be there to support me as I work through this.  I know, and I appreciate it.  We bowed, and Rachel said that the merit would be dedicated to helping myself and kin move swiftly through this challenging spot.

  — January 30, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Come with Me — Haiku and Katharine


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

Deep tissue, heavy with ocean — blink and it’s mist.

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I had accumulated some savings, stability, now all gone to help kin.

Yesterday at my desk, and Scott knocked on the door.  I opened and he took me by the arm: “Come with me.”

I went with him, wearing the slippers that I wear inside the office.

Katharine Kaufman — Zen teacher, poet, spontaneous movement angel, coolest person — had ordered him to do so, saying “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

So I spent the morning with her studying and practicing haiku.

I wrote:

Wind is cold
I am sitting in the shade
I’m going indoors

and then…

The door is ajar
The floor is cool
People made these things

Someone else wrote:

Wind outside
Fart inside
Such suffering

I said “That was the best haiku I have ever heard.”

After our session, at lunch, the guy who wrote that poem engaged with Danny, our resident magician, in a little card-trick showdown.  It was awesome.

Before lunch, after haiku session, I spoke with Katharine for a while in the shrine room — about poetry, buddhism, and the possibility of attending Jack Kerouac School at Naropa when I leave SMC.

She was enthusiastically supportive of the idea.  She was under the impression that I am already an accomplished poet.

“I don’t know anything about poetry,” I said.

She told me that her “knowledge is spotty also.”

I told her that it’s always been like that with everything I do: I’ve made music for two decades now and I don’t know how to read music.  I’ve never memorized scales.  I don’t know what a circle of fifths is.

It’s that way with dharma too: I am not a scholar, but I practice a lot.

She said she’s the same: “I’m a practitioner.  I practice a lot, whatever I get into.  And Buddha said, teach from experience.”

She said she thinks there is a place for people like us, in the univeristies — as students and teachers.

Hearing that helped to resolve some hesitation that I’ve been feeling about the idea.

Okay.

I’ve written a lot and only read a very little.

“That’s good to acknowledge,” Katharine said.

So, I’m going to start engaging with JKS, poetics, texts, and see where it goes.

– January 29, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Poo Hat (Armchair Philosopher)


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

Years ago I dreamt of being an armchair philosopher.

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Last night, in my armchair, studying a scholoarly Buddhist text while a group of people in the next room over acted rambunctiously — I was intent on chewing on subtle language, and they were swigging booze. I was quiet, and they were not.

I was grumpy old man, imagining myself poking the ceiling with a broomstick (in this case it would have been pounding on the wall):

“Keep it down!”

Just a joke.

I’m not a jerk.

But, I’d rather be studying the dharma.

Heather was on the love seat working on her Pillow Leaf project.

Afterwards we spoke. I told her about my mood:

We call it “Poo”

We came up with the idea that when either of us were in such a mood, we could put on a Poo Hat.

A way of owning such an emotion, expressing, without making a stink.

Humor as saviour.

– January 28, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Maybe My Farts Are Luminous Mind


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

This funky smell in the room this morning after tossing and turning all night — dreaming of my tortured kin and the futility of “helping.”

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Pema talks about letting things fall apart, and other teachers do too, and so do I, and I know I may as well because it’s inevitable.  And, I see my resistance to death manifesting as attempts to try to keep it together, or fix, or ignore reality.

So, my plans are like suggestions.

Here I am with all of my faculties, for now.  Maybe my gums are disintegrating and my teeth will shatter before I can come up with the $20,000 for surgery.  Maybe my Mom will drop dead before she discovers a good way of living.

Maybe I’ll leave Shambhala Mountain Center without having developed the skills necessary to make a good living as a marketer and I’ll go back to being a scrappy artist.  Maybe I’ll go into debt $90,000 in order to attend Naropa.

Maybe I’m in a loop of cynicism.  Maybe my cynicism is empty of nature.  Maybe my farts are luminous mind.

– January 27, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Yesterday, Sitting Beside Sensei


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

Yesterday, sitting beside Sensei…

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As she introduced Ikebana to the students from Chapman University, from LA, who are here for a week to immerse in Shambhala culture in a program called “Ancient Wisdom: Modern Madness,” which we’ve been hosting here for 25 years.

Sensei is musical in everything that she does; floral. Her speech, throughout the hour long talk — which touched on Japanese culture, Tao, Heaven, Earth, Humanity, flowers, flowers, branches, sticks and stones, meditation, avante garde, and more — was fluid.

She told me afterwards that she used to be too shy and nervous to even make an announcement that lunch was ready.

That quality of nervousness, she said, is gone.

“It’s gone.”

After the talk, my friend Noel remarked: “Sometimes I think that they shipped her in from another dimension.”

“She’s floral,” I said.

In the next session I helped her hand our flowers to the students, who sat in a large circle with their eyes closed.  She instructed them to explore the flowers through touch.  I’d done this exercise with her several times, but this was the first time that I got to watch other people explore — brushing the flower on their cheeks, smelling, tickling.

Just as I was becoming amused and delighted at watching the others she leaned over to me and said “Close your eyes.”

She handed me a flower and I enjoyed my time with it.

We all placed our flowers in small containers and then, slowly, while Sensei rung the various singing bowls, we stood and placed the flowers in the center of the room, making a large, collective installation.

Then we circled the room together, slowly.  “Moving the energy around,” she said.

We all bowed to each other, recited protector chants, and everyone went to dinner.  I stayed back with Sensei and prepared for the evening session.

I ate dinner with her and we spoke all about art, dharma, living at SMC.  I shared my ongoing frustration with her, which is that I think I should be making more art.  And I told her about the recent shift towards surrendering that, and allowing myself to focus more fully on deepening into dharma.

“That’s the best thing that you could do for your art,” she said.

Oh yeah.

Years ago, while reading True Perception (which awakened my mind and approach to life and art forever), I realized that meditation is first.  Before making art, allow mind to settle, awaken, and then simply express, go forth without trying to manufacture anything.

The big idea about coming to live at the dharma center was to deepen into dharma, and then go forth into the world, into my art, whatever.  I decided to live here as I was turning thirty.  So, in the large arc of my life, the idea was (is), as a good way to enter this next phase of creativity, I’ll first meditate for a good while.

I told her about my recent meeting with Joshua, and how he encouraged me to deepen into dharma.  And I asked, “What about music?” And he said “Sing dharma!”

And it’s funny because that’s what has been happening, even before that meeting with Joshua.  I study dharma all the time, and while I’m walking around the land, I sing verses, and I improvise, and I simply sing.

While I’m hanging around my room with Heather, I pick up the bass and groove for a while.

I make Ikebana arrangements every week. I write a blog.

Art is happening all over the place here… just not in the way that it used to.

It’s not the main focus.

Sensei said: “It’s the tea sweet.”

–  January 26, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: I’d Rather Be Practicing


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

“Maybe buns are just plumper nubs.”

That’s what Heather just said.

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Lately I’ve been picking up the bass and playing around.  Yesterday, Will, who lives in the next room over, who probably hears me playing, who is part of this third floor lodge musical awakening, requested that I give him some recordings so that he could work on them in post-production.  He wants to master my stuff…  Convenient!

So, lots of encouragement to play and produce.

Meanwhile, Jesse the awesome veggie cook offered Cinnimin Bun transmissio last night.  So, a group of people gathered in the kitchen and they all learned how to make the buns.  This morning, Heather and I reaped the rewards.

Yummy, warm buns.

So many activities like that — community fun variety.  I haven’t been participating in many, because it feels like too much.  My priority is to really deepen into dharma study and practice.

This Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness course that Steve is leading is awesome.  Last night at dinner, Nic and I were discussing it and sharing our appreciation.  He mentioned how his mind is blown, and we both agreed that it’s happening in quite a welcomed and delightful way.

On Tuesday nights, there is Essential Heart of Kasungship.  That’s where people who are serving as Kasung share their experience, teaching on the Eight Slogans of the Dorje Kasung.  Last year, I attended the class as a student.  And, this year, I haven’t gone to a single class.  There’s too much other stuff, and Kasungship isn’t what I’m into.

I’ve been meaning to have a conversation with Rusung Edwards about my lack of participation in, lack of interest in, flat out aversion to, Kasungship.

I’d rather be making music.

Earlier in the week, my Delek (I used to be the Dekyong), hosted a commuity event — playing a game of Mafia, which is a parlor game that everyone learned form Heather a couple of summers ago around a campfire.  I didn’t attend the event.  Instead I studied the PSOME material — a really great book by Andy Karr, in which he offers a friendly familiar tone, and shares deep understanding and familiarity with the teachings.  In the book, he offers his own understanding, and also throw in some really potent nuggets from the Sutras, the Rinpoches, the Saints.

Anyway… I’d rather be studying dharma.

Tomorrow morning I will watch cartoons with Heather and then meditate for the rest of the day while she works.

On my day off… I’d rather be practicing.

– January 23, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Strangely Apparent


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

Every imagined finger and face
appears to be life
on a sphere
in clear
space

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Last night we sat in a circle and acknowledged the ambiguity of our existence.  We looked at each other and objects in the room, and asked, out loud, about how it is that we are perceiving such things, and why it is that we seem to be individuals even though none of us can come up with a definite proof of separateness.

It’s strange.

It is said that we’re all here together, experiencing a similar world, because we all share a deep habit of imagining the world to be this certain way — much different than the way that fishes imagine the world.

So… here we are. And… here we are.

Finally, we acknowledged that there is a lot to explore and called it a night.

Then, up in our room, Heather and I on the love seat with the door open, Anna came skipping in and curled up on the arm chair.  Scott followed and kneeled on the floor.  I offered him some hot water from my Thermos for his tea.

We all sat around for a while and discussed our experience of the spiritual path, and so on.

At one point, a man we didn’t know walked into the room — he is a program participant, Scott is the coordinator of that program, and he had heard Scott’s voice.

“A program coordinator is never off duty,” Scott said.

After Anna and Scott left, which was after my bed time, Heather and I stayed up for a bit and spoke about relationship.  My mind was so groggy, but I spoke.

Earlier, in the Community Meeting, my mind was so spacey, but I spoke.  We were discussing transparency, communication, and so on.  It seemed like the conversation was moving towards an exploration of the “us/them” phenomena that exists between the “leadership” and those who are “not the leadership.”

I have now been on both “sides.”  So I offered my perspective.  Basically, I wish for the genuineness that flows throughout the whole structure of this community to be revealed and for paranoia to be dispelled.

This morning I’m a bit groggy and I’m thinking:

“The mind stirred by habitual tendencies,
Arises as outer appearances.”

(from the Lankavatara Sutra)

– January 22, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Be Befuddled or Change


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

Guitar music is floating out from the room across the hall.  It enters through the vent in the bathroom, and also seeps through the door, and the wall.

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I’ve been hanging out with the acoustic bass that Dorian gave me, and singing all over the place.  My art is not quite a discipline these days, but it’s very much part of life.  It’s a joy, and it’s very easy.

Joshua encouraged me to be a minstrel.  He said if he ran this place he’d pay someone to just walk around all day and play music — maybe a clarinet or guitar.

I asked him about finding time for dharma study and music.  He said: “Study, and then play what you studied.”

Funny… I’ve been doing that — taking a phrase from the text and then singing it all day.  It’s been beautiful.

I wondered about “Travis” music — Will all of my music here be so… formally dharmic?

“The circumstances will determine what kind of music you make.  Be amenable.

And, about the general frustration of not being able to find the time…

“You have two choices: you can either be befuddled, or you can change.”

The art is going to come out.  If it is being suppressed, it will forcefully re-aggange the surroundings in order to make space for itself.

Funny… that’s been happening also.  I recently, quite simply, decided that I’d extend my morning meditation session by 30 minutes, and also add an hour of art-making to my morning right afterwards.  When I sat down and looked at the calendar, there’s no reason why I can’t do that and also get my work hours in.

And… be flexible.  Some days, he said, the thing to do will be to just go deep into the music.  Other days, maybe not.

I told him about my ongoing efforts to schedule out my whole life to ensure that everything I want to do happens.

“Schedule is good, and breaking the schedule is better,” he said with a huge grin.

– January 21, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Layth Matthews on the Four Noble Truths of Wealth (Video/Audio)

 

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts The Four Noble Truths of Wealth: The Path to Genuine Prosperity with Layth Matthews February 20-22

The way we think about wealth affects our personal experience and our world dramatically. Yet we rarely contemplate the heart of prosperity, which may be why it feels like we are running in place personally, and accelerating toward crisis globally.

In this recent interview with Shambhala Mountain Center, Layth Matthews discusses the connection between contemplative practice and a wealthy outlook. Through this fresh perspective we can make more accurate financial decisions, magnetize genuine prosperity into our lives, and extend compassion to others in many ways, including through the economy.

Watch our interview with Layth 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.

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LaythMatthewsLayth Matthews is the author of The Four Noble Truths of Wealth: a Buddhist view of economic life. He is a Shambhala Buddhist teacher, economist, and a financial professional. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia with his wife and three children.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Blobs of Impossible Tar and Joy

By Travis Newbill

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

The appearance of muddy terrain — my toes have been squishing around, and there seems to be broken glass and blobs of impossible tar and joy mixed in.

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It’s been a “glitchy” few days.  That’s Heather’s word.

Technology on the fritz, wave-like moods, trouble concentrating, odd dreams, surprise interruptions of all sorts.  Me thinks that Dön Season is upon us!

I’ve been doing alright, rolling with it.  Trying to keep my mouth shut when it may well spew forth subtle toxins.

On another note — such a nice note, series of notes — art has been arising all over the place.  Conversations with artist friends, spontaneous jams, piano music pouring out into the hallway in the lodge.  And, I’ve blocked off some time in the morning to get into some music.

Last night, while Heather was under the weight of an ugly Dön, I pulled out my guitar for the first time in a while and offered some spontaneous songs.

Earlier in the evening, a nice social mixer with the Elephant Journal staff and the SMC staff, in the Shambhala Lodge, by the fireplace, with wine, chocolates, and delicious desserts made by the kitchen folks.  Lots of loving toasts and conversations.

Good to connect with Waylon, a true sangha-homie and legendary Colorado character.

Meanwhile, continuing the contmmplations on emptiness.  According to the Cittamatra school (via Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche):

“…when one wakes up, one realizes that there were no outer perceived objects other than the mind itself.”

And it’s like that with “waking” reality as well.

There’s lots that could be said about the “mind only” school.

Anyway, I’m going to study a bit, send out a big email broadcast, meet with the umdzes for lunch, do some Ikebana for the staff shrine room, do some chores at the Stupa, and the exhale into the day of rest.  TBIF.

– January 16, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill