Floral Notes and Bardo: Rise to Song

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.

Days may begin in silence which may give rise to song.  It’s one way to live.

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I’m at my desk now, once again, after having spent two weeks in beautiful retreat with 107 other people (108 total retreatants, not including staff and teachers).  We spent two weeks in a tent together, practicing kindness.  We sang, walked the land, ate meals and celebrated together.

I saw the forms of Shambhala come to life in a big way, which was reassuring and beautiful.  We received practices which I feel very good about.  I sense the potential for transformation towards more openness, love, creativity, and joyful existence — on and on.

We took vows.  We all vowed to engage socially in such a way that the whole of the earth may awaken into cheerfulness.  Some of us vowed to dedicate this and all future lives to benefiting other beings until all are liberated into bliss.

We were given a Qigong practice, and I’m so grateful.  It fits right in.  All of these practices seem to be means through which we may work with subtle energies in order to realize deeper harmony — within the body and in relationship.  It’s all relationships — the skull eventually affects the belly, the flowers affect my mood, and my touch affects my partner.

Tuning in…  So that we may glide in cosmic wind with less resistance and greater stability.  Tuning in so that paradox doesn’t cause stress, but rather, wonder.

This morning I awoke, walked on the hill at dawn (down to the outhouse and back), the sage and the flowers of late summer… I lit candles and made my vows, walked down to the shrine hall and sang with my fellows…

– August 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Shoving Off

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.

This morning on the hillside, standing — symphony dawn — witnessing: my preferences are like fleeting mosquitoes in the cosmos.  Yet, wondering… how big can I be?

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Tomorrow I’m going into a two week, group retreat: Enlightened Society Assembly.

Yesterday, I spent time in the shrine tent with Shenpen, Sensei, working on a large installation.  It felt magical in there.  It felt refreshing.  There’s good substance to the Shambhala tradition, and I pray that this two week immersion may put me into touch, a bit deeper.

Today, trying to “wrap things up” and prepare for the retreat.  Deciding what ends to leave loose.  How much to scramble in order to get things tidy, and how much to let go so I can go into this relaxed and well rested.

I’ll be settling back into Avalokiteshvara (lil’ yurt).  I’ll spend some nights with Heather.

I live here.

It’s a funny thing going into a retreat like this, which most people leave their homes far behind in order to do.  For me, it’s happening right here — where I live, work, play… I’m not leaving anything behind.

Rather than pretending that I am, I’m going with it.  We’ll see how it goes.

Gotta make an Ikebana arrangement for the yurt.  Gotta get up to the Stupa –circumambulate, refresh the offerings, light some incense, prostrate — stir up some good mojo.  I’ve ordered some real nice tea to drink during the retreat.

Ahh… excited! Going in!  Shoving off!

– July 25, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Cookin’ Onion

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.

From the fringes, inwards to the core — by rubs and punches, sweat and shatter.

Deepening familiarity is apparent in relation to fresh faces.  The longer I’m here, the more which is uncovered.  The more genuine the care that swells in my heart.  The more informed.  Less superficial.

Onion.

Meanwhile, the chipmunks are getting fat on “people food.”

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I’ll be here for two more years.  I’m just now feeling a bit settled.  I’ve experienced a wave of burnout, cynicism, resentment.  No hurtful eruptions, just boiling in my brain, bones.  It felt like purification.

Yesterday, in Care Council meeting, where a small group of us discuss the well-being of the community, I felt so raw.  I was listening and speaking with intelligence, rather than acting.  In comparison, my caring has been contrived previously.  More tainted with want for recognition — trying to be a good “me.”  Tainted in that way, but not phony.  It’s still tainted, but it’s becoming more real.

Greg Smith and I both have Ngejung in our Buddhist refuge names.  He said that it means:

“Becoming real.”

Burning through baloney notions so that I may actually connect and be helpful.

Burning through filters of conceptual jargon, and “good boy” motivations.

Shambhala Mountain Center — a great pressure cooker, an oven in which one may become more real.

Cookin’.

– July 23, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Stepping, Steeping

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.

What kind of tea?
Puerh.
Green or black?
Green.

Avajra: “Black!  Always black.  We’ve got shit to do.  Double doses of black.”

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This morning, sitting on the porch, looking out into the woods, while the sun came up over the ridge — breezy-cool thoughts about time.  The karmic implications of decisions.  How well I hold my seat and not get swept up for minutes, hours.  It adds up.

So much to do, and it remains in a cloud — lightning bolts of anxiety.

One foot in front of the other.

Sometimes I think I’m screwing up and sometimes I notice success.

“Success and failure are your journey.” — Trungpa Rinpoche

Everything that happens is a potent teaching.  It’s so noticeable here — my changes, hang-ups… messages in the phenomenal world.  There’s no escape and it’s clear as a bell — the ambiguity.

– July 22, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Goodminton

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.

Fly tapping, in fight, and I, sipping Red Zinger in the shade.

Outside of the poorly constructed walls of self-concern, with framed paintings of pleasure adorning them, there’s a perfectly warm summer day.  Later, heavy evening sky, ablaze with monstrous-soft fluff-beasts — glowing pinks and oranges beside purple pals and mosquitoes.

And, The Inscrutable World Skull Cup of SMC Delek badminton 2014 is rolling along… very well!

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Lots of fun, and real emotion related to competition.  It’s such a funny and absurd thing, so loose, that’s it’s quite remarkable to see people getting worked up about it.  Everything is a teaching here.  Lots of fun, of course, but undeniably dharmic as well.  Tournament bracket, team names, making up rules as we go along.  Good stuff…

Last night a nice summertime community campfire — DJ Extro inside the clubhouse, pumping tribal eletro-glitch hop tunes, Lars the Jedi swinging the light-saber (for real) with mastery, Danny with the fire poi, folks joking, talking, having beers, bonding.

It was a good scene.

Prior to heading to the party, prior to the evening badminton games, a conversation with Kasung Kate about the Shambhala teachings and the Buddhadharma — the distinctions and relatedness.  This Shantideva text is hitting me hard.  It’s a root text.  The Shambhala texts that I have access to are commentary on root texts (as I understand it).  I’m looking forward to getting the pure-punch.  That’ll be in the Spring, when I start receiving the terma.  Gotta fly through lots of (necessary) hoops before getting that stuff.

It can be frustrating — the feeling of impatience; wanting to be further along than I am.  But, that really dissolves in the light of wisdom.  It’s good that I’m coming along at the pace that I am.  It’s allowing me to really form a genuine relationship with the path, the teachers, the sangha, the teachings.  Devotion is arising along with critical intelligence.

I feel skeptical and devoted.  I want the real awakening, rather than a contrived experience of understanding, which is comfort-seeking.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

Anyway, I also observe arrogance in my being.  I wonder what will come along and crack me open, break my heart, soften me up real good…

– July 22, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Truly… Hug Trees

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.

(Notes from the Four Seasons Program: Exploring Trees and Wildflowers)

I hung out with plants all weekend.

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And Jim

In the meadows and wetlands
On the northern and southern slopes
Beneath my feet
around my house

Dating back ages…

A whole world of vibrant, fluid life in the form of plants:
ancient trees
wildflowers, brief

I met a lot
learned their names, and a bit about them
New friends!
All over the place!

There is one version of the world on the TV news
There is another version of the world in the forest, meadows, wetlands
on the southern and northern slopes

This experience is always available:
Lay on my back, face towards the sun
pretend to be a flower

The wood laying around on the ground is old:
Maybe several hundred years

The oldest living tree on the land is over 700 years old
It is vibrating with wisdom

The world of human drama is one world

~~~

I live with humans, plants, rocks, animals, wind, water…

– July 21, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Trip Less

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.

In the dark, in the heat of Grandfather’s breath, I felt layers of frivolity dissolving.  There are more layers.

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So often thrown by chattering mind, entertainment-seeking — scattered.  It’s just play.  Sand slipping through fingers — colored sand.  Still, this is a precious opportunity.  So, I’d like to trip less and dance more.

Yesterday, sweat-lodge ceremony.  So grateful.  It brings me into touch — with my bones, the earth, sky, elements, and my fellows.  Refreshed afterwards, and wholesomely, beautifully tired.

After dinner, Heather and I went up to Avalokiteshvara.  My old friend Michael “had us over.”  It was his little yurt before it was my little yurt.  He’s been on the land recently doing a long retreat, and he’s been staying in there once again — which has cool been very cool for him, and for Heather and I as well, as we’ve been exploring cohabitation.

So, he had us over.

He read us poetry and a story that he wrote about dragons.  After a nice walk back to Manjushri, I slept so soundly.

– July 17, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Buddhist Jokes

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.

Motion and glow — nature, from my perch on the porch, the moon moving slowly across the morning sky.  Perfect arrhythmic chorus of creatures, and myself doing nothing.

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A couple of nights ago, community open mic.  Buddhist jokes from our host Kyle, kirtan from Cody, Danny wowed with magic tricks and contact juggling, Dorian — so soulful.  Heather, Kate and I offered some music and an interactive experience — folks holding candles and singing spontaneous verses in tribute to our friend Chris, who is moving on.

“let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”

Very sweet and a reminder of what art and music are all about — uplifting people, situations.  Accessing harmonious, deeper than the day-to-day, experience.  We offer vulnerability — a nod to sacredness.

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Last night, Acharya Lobel gave a talk on Shambhala. The whole thing:

Entering the Cosmic Mirror: From Level I to Scorpion Seal

A two and a half hour talk.  He spoke freely, deeply.  I served as his Kasung guard — sitting beside him, holding space.

He spoke about Shambhala as a path to being a good husband and father and also a way to know the origins of the universe. Mmm…

Something like: “What we want, in this society, is secular mindfulness.  A practice that will easily fit into our existing worldview.  Shambhala is not that.”

He spoke of the terma tradition as being radical — a different way of experiencing reality — and one of the most profound mystcial traditions occuring on the planet at this time.

Afterwards I thanked him:

“That was huge.”

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A couple of other nice notes from teachers in the last few days:

Acharya Lyon: “You’re relaxing a lot.  Not taking things so seriously.  You’re ready for the mahayana.”

Joshua: “There is a path.  You don’t have to walk in the middle.” And then, with a big grin: “You can walk on the edge.”

– July 16, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Always Interrupted, Ocean

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.

Thin waves of sweets, crisp in my fingers, crumble…  Breeze… The lightest sense of connection, an interrupted thread.  Always interrupted in spite of our wishes.  And beyond that, the ocean of all of us.

Our faces arising, moment by moment.  It’s absurd to promise or expect any of us to be any kind of way… Yet, we can vow: to be kind, to refrain from certain activities, to do things.  Good things.

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Saturday Heather and I ran errands in town and saw cows on the way home.  We’re both in good health.  Good.  It’s nice that we have a shared community car so that we can go on errand adventures and learn things like that, and discover good Afghan food, and buy good booze, apple cider vinegar, and such.

Last night after playing music on her porch — strumming and singing, wearing a paper sun-hat she made for me — we decided to skip dinner in favor of quiet activities while the thunder roared.

I was on the carpet, on my knees, getting deep into the Bodhicharyavatara, and she was beside me, at her desk, making crafts.

We paused for dinner and gazed at each other across the sewing-machine-box picnic table.. in very different moods.  Myself so introspective, affected by the dharma.  It was reminiscent of past experiences — being in an altered state around someone who is not.  A bit awkward and difficult to connect, communicate.

Afterwards, in pillow talk, I clumsily tried to discuss the experience.  That conversation was far more awkward than the conversation I wanted to discuss.  Absurd.

Maybe it would have been better to have been like a log.

We’re on our own paths, and we’ll never completely share the experience of the other.  One question is how well we can accommodate each other as we’re going through our processes, and are necessarily introspective, even distant, maybe bewildered.

~~~

53.
Impatience, indolence, faint heartedness,
And likewise haughty speech and insolence,
Attachment to your side–when these arise,
It’s then that like a log you should remain.

– July 14, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Having a Cow (Finally)

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.

Ever since I first arrived here two years ago, I’ve been seeing cow pies… but never a cow.

Where there is smoke there is fire.

Where there is cow poop, there are cows.

Not so!

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“I feel like my mind just did a somersault.  This turns everything around, on its head.”

That’s what Mimi said last night when I was reading a piece of Trungpa’s dharma on the eighth consciousness, basic ground, abhidharma…

Anyway, “having a cow” is a good description of my mental state recently.

There’s been a fair amount of resentment and aggression.  People have always reported here that summer is a beast…

So, a shift…

I declared I’d be taking the Bodhisattva vow next month — picked up the lojong cards, brought tonglen into my practice.  The other day Director Gayner gave a great presentation on the Feng Shui of the land, the magic…

There has been a recent leaning towards skepticism, cynicism, wanting to be really straight and clear about things.  It became too tough, too hard — the attitude.

Soften into magic! …without becoming indulgent and safe.  Be joyful!  Lighten up!

Don’t have a cow!

Yesterday, I saw a cow and cheered up a lot, instantly.

It happened on my way to the Stupa for a Sukhavati ceremony, for a friend’s father.  Much of the community was gathered, and it was beautiful. Soften…

– July 11, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill