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!

Badminton 3

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

~~~

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.

10517504_759949517404968_5577312332589050759_nPhoto by Jim Tolstrup

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.

IMG_1446

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

~~~

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.

IMG_1582

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.

~~~

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.”

~~~

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

~~~

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.

IMG_1443B

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!

IMG_1593

“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

~~~

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: The Aliveness of Rocks (Plus Badminton)

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.

Last night, a conversation around the dinner-picnic table regarding the uncertainty about what distinguishes a ground squirrel from a chipmunk from a prairie dog.  In other news, the Delek Badminton Tournament begins next week — we’re choosing partners and awesome team names.  My partner, Avajra John, doesn’t want to be a team:

“I want to be something better than a team!”

(Team name: 2Bad Mittens)

Our approach, it seems, will be more psychological than athletic.  He and I share an affinity for weird, and costume, and weird.

I also have an affinity for this seat on the porch behind Manjushri (cabin).

IMG_1432

This morning, I had a good idea for a blog.  I forgot to put it in my thumb.  A teacher once shared a tip with me: She is a writer.  She said that when she has a good idea during meditation, she puts it in her thumb.  After her session, she looks at her thumb and it’s still there.

These days, my friend Michael is staying in my yurt, Avalokiteshvara.  He is one of my closest friends and a former yogi-resident of that same yurt.  He’s currently in Sacred World Assmebly, and is glad to be dwelling in what we both consider to be a very powerfully energetic abode.  I’m staying with Heather in Manjushri, the cabin she shares with Annabelle and Oakes.  It’s a little mini adventure of sharing a living space.  So far, good stuff…

The community gathered yesterday for a presentation on the Feng Shui of the land.  Director Michael Gayner knows quite a bit about it, as he’s been learning from Eva Wong — a master.  Eva Wong says that this particular spot is very unique and powerful, and it’s very auspicious and awe-some that there happens to be this dharma center built here.

There is a lot to it.  Here are some key nuggets:

The land is alive and comprised of energy channels, is in motion, like our bodies.

We are always interacting with the living land, whether we know it or not.

We may consciously engage with the energies of the land, and this may greatly benefit us in whatever we aspire to accomplish.

~~~

Within me is the capacity to fly completely into imagination, recognizing the aliveness of rocks.  And also, a strong skepticism, which is a bit frustrating, but also seems to be ensuring that my understanding deepens and that I don’t get stuck for too long in a superficial state of belief.

~~~

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: In the Sun, Reading Shantideva

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.

Om my way to lunch yesterday, I came across Oakes on a bench in the sun, reading Shantideva.

DSCN0137

He was in a head-on car crach the other night, while doing his evening rounds as Kasung.

Oakes was quite inspired, helpful, and strong before the accident.  The way he was speaking yesterday was more-so — more-clear, more enlightened…

He said: we have such a precious opportunity in this life to help people.

He expressed gratitude for how much the retreat we’re hosting is blessing all of us, and the land.

“It’s such an honor to help that happen.  The least we can do is give them what they need.”

His spirit of generosity was immense and folksy.  It didn’t have the flavor of spiritual pride.  Oakes is earthy, real, even gritty.  His heart is huge.  He sweats while he works without complaining.  He is available.

Last fall, we took refuge in the three jewels together — formally committing to the Buddhist path.  Next month, we’ll take our Bodhisattva vows.

Lately my mind has not been like the mind he shared while we sat on the bench.  There’s been lots of aggression, resentment, a feeling of burnout.  I know I need to turn it around 180 and put others first.  It’s not easy.  It’s counter-instinctive, somehow.  The only way to do it is genuinely.  But, there may be a “fake it till you make it” process.

So, perhaps what I’m seeking, within myself, and within my experience, is trust.  Trust in what?  Trust in my own non-existence.

– July 9, 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: Paramitas and a Mess

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.

Yesterday morning, I suited up in my baggy Kasung uniform and headed into the Court.  The Court is wherever the Sakyong is residing.  When the Sakyong is on the land, the second floor of Shambhala Lodge is transformed into the Court.  It feels imaginary and real at the same time.  The curtains are white.  Once you walk through, you’re in.  Inside, everything is sparkling.  People float around, glowing.

IMG_1595

I took my post.   When Rinpoche came out of his quarters, I held a tray for him while he made the day’s tea offerings on his way to give a talk to the Sacred World Assembly folks.

They’re in deep.  My friends are in the program, which was formerly known as “Vajrayana Seminary.”  They’re receiving secret teachings and formally entering into a guru-disciple relationship with the Sakyong.  It’s heavy, powerful, joyous.  The Main Shrine Tent is rocking, beaming with energy, singing, late into the night and early in the morning.

My friends are raw, inspired, minds are blown.  It’s really amazing.  The Shambhala Mountain Center staff is working hard hosting the program.  I’m feeling maxed out trying to fit in all of my day-job hours as well as many hours of Kasung volunteer work.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board for those who would like to take vows this summer — Refuge and Bodhisattva.  I’ve been waiting for the Bodhisattva vow to come around.  Here it is.  I will vow to put others before myself until all beings in the whole universe are liberated from suffering.  It’s a binding commitment.  A good one, I feel.

Yesterday evening, I attended a Kasung “Mess” — which is the military version of a soiree.  We had sake and horderves and chatted.  Then the Sakyong (Makkyi Rabjam is his Kasung name) arrived and we entertained him with goofy marching (jokes) and such.  The march leaders directed us to bump into each other and the walls, then we did “haiku drill,” reciting lines in pairs of three as we marched past Rinpoche in his chair.  He then said a few words to us about Kasungship.

My favorite part was when he said that some of us are deep into Kasungship, and we ought to go deeper.  And others are just checking it out, and we won’t remain Kasung long term, but it’s good that we’re getting a taste.  That’s me.  I’m glad to be getting a taste.  It does offer a deeper look into Shambhala, and is allowing me to learn about myself and my tendencies.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who feels similar resistance to Kasungship, but has signed up also.  We were discussing “Shambhala Boundaries.”  There are endless tasks.  There are endless positions which need filled.  How much can we take on as individuals without burning out?  How much can we take on and do joyfully, without resentment?

Joshua joked that setting boundaries is the seventh paramita.  My friend added that it must be the eighth, because the seventh ought to be humor.

– July 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Squirm, Squirm, Leap

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.

There is no escaping the collective here.  The buzz in my skull is a shared reverberation.  There is internal and external chatter, and calm.

This is the shrine in my yurt:

IMG_1563

Through my comical aversion to Kasungship, I’m recognizing my inclination towards maintaining my bubble.  I have an agenda.  I’ve been so worked up about things.

I decided to plant myself for a day this past weekend.  A 24 hour retreat, to settle.  I went to the Stupa early in the morning, to be alone, in peace.  There were already people there.  I practiced for a while.

I ate breakfast by myself in an aspen grove.  I made a sign and clipped it on my shirt: “Noble Silence,” indicating that I would rather not engage in conversation with anyone.  The noble silence badge is common around here.  People wear them during retreats.

After breakfast I sat back down in my yurt for a long morning of solitary, sitting meditation.  Ahh…

About an hour into my session, I heard footsteps outside.  Kasung Kate came to my door.  I gestured for her to come in.  She had done the work of organizing a gathering for those of us who will be attending Enlightened Society Assembly later this month.  One of the teachers, Acharya Melissa Moore, was leading an online discussion.  Kate had hiked all the way up to my house to retrieve me.  Very kind.

I walked down after her and listened to the talk, asked questions.  It was a very auspicious interruption of my day’s agenda.

I ate lunch in the trees and afterwards went back up to my house for several hours of meditation, with a bit of study thrown in at the end.  I read Treatise on Enlightened Society.

There seems to be no escaping the reality that we’re all bound up in this together.  And I realize that I have an inclination toward self-protection, comfort-seeking.  There seems to be a real leap that has to occur.  I have to leap over my laziness in order to be helpful.

All the teachers say that helping others, that not being selfish, will bring true joy.  I know it’s true because I’ve experienced that before.  But I forget.

There’s a leap involved in opening up to people, to their beauty and fragility.  Lately, I’ve noticed a tendency to immediately judge negatively.  People are easier to ignore if their ugly.  It’s not helpful.  It seems that to shift things in a positive way for myself or others I have to leap, leap, leap.

I’ve been glancing at this truth with a skeptical eye recently.  And, I’m finding that resisting the truth that helping others is of utmost importance brings misery and struggle.  It’s becoming more real — because with my skepticism, I’m beating it into a pulp.  There is no squirming out of anything.  We’re all in this together.

– June 30, 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