Floral Notes and Bardo: This Has Never Happened Before, Again

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.

The past couple of mornings, posted up at the torri gate — guarding the entrance!  Pretty much just sitting there, in my Kasung uniform — which doesn’t fit me so well.  Heather brought me breakfast.  Meditating.  Enjoying the bird songs, blue sky, trees in the breeze, chipmunks.  Sakyong comes running by with his crew.  I stand and salute.

We’re hosting Scorpion Seal VI, which means high practitioners are all over the place.  It’s very cool to be in the midst of them.  Their presence, practice, creates a heightened atmosphere.  The sounds of their rituals echo throughout the valley.  Smoke from ceremony, chanting, warrior cries.

Shenpen, Sensei is among them.  Yesterday she glided over to me and offered me a piece of chocolate, then with big bright whole-being smile, asked if I’d help uplift (clean) a small corner table in the staff mud room, so that it may properly host a flower arrangement.  She spreads flowers all over, generally, in all sorts of ways, on many levels.  She is in the bodhisattva business of beautifying.  I’m drawn to her style of contribution.

There’s all sorts of powerful teachers all over the place.

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Acharya Hessey is here.  He’s been an Acharya-homie of mine ever since we met last fall, when he and I sat together — I asked him questions about psychedelics, meditation, and what not.  He led me in meditation, incorporating Grateful Dead lyrics into the guidance.  It was beautiful.  Later that night, there was a gathering of folks around a fireplace and Acharya Hessey, Greg Smith and I played guitar, sang, jammed — played some Dead tunes, some jazz, I offered some originals.  A very fond night in my memory!

Anyway, Acharya Hessey has devoted a lot of his life to Shambhala Mountain Center.  He’s been involved for nearly four decades.  He’s lived here, worked and taught here, served as executive director, has sat on board of directors for a long time.  He’s as local as they get.  I carry around a bag I found in the free room which has his name scribbled inside.  It was his a long time ago.

Last night, Acharya Hessey sat in the Staff Living Room with a group of us, sitting in a circle on chairs and couches, and gave a beautiful talk, led discussion: What is Shambhala?  What are these “Scorpion Seal” people up to?  How may we approach living here together at Shambhala Mountain Center?  What obstacles arise?

The thing is: We can work together to create a friendly, gentle environment.

~~~

Some notes:

Always new.  This has never happened before.

Feel whatever I’m feeling, not always acting on it.

Not laying trips on others.

READ SHANTIDEVA

– June 19, 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: All Textures, Musical

 

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.

Jump–out of my body
Be–in my body
Shuffle
Grasp, oh, leggo
Pop, shine into a room
Crystal-air fingers sweeping across body–floor, air
waiting for nothing, all textures holy

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Storytelling, all the time.

The story of my weekend:

Friday evening–long journey through the snow to Elkhorn house, jamming and arts and crafts. A fun scene. Beautiful free-music and glitter all over the place culminating in a multi-person hula hoop molecule moving to the sounds of ragtime piano music (funky old out of tune piano at Elkhorn house).

Slumber party in Heather’s room. In the morning, Dorje Kasung color-guard, hoisting the flags. We stood in our pajamas and saluted out the window, joined them in singing the anthem, then:

“As you were!”

Back into bed giggling.

Chores at the Stupa, deep cleaning. Felt great. Some practice afterwards. Later group haiku valentine creation–lots of tea, chocolate and laughs in the Shambhala Lodge lounge–such a nice space. VIP.

After dinner ROTA with Heather, I was a bit antsy to finish the shift, leaving some pans dirty, getting out of there on time. She good-influenced me to relax and enjoy the shift.

Buddhism 101: There is no better place to be.

Thich Nhat Hanh: “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” (which is posted on the wall of our dish room)

While we scrubbed, the Monarch Retreat (intense retreat for Shambhala leadership) were having their closing banquet. Being in the right place at the right time (in the dish room beside the kitchen immediately after banquet prep) we tasted some amazing food while we washed dishes. The best stuffed portobello I’ve ever had and then some ridiculous gourmet desserts made by Matt Crow and Adam.

Adam is a really fun musician to jam with–a fiddle player. He was in the mix on Friday night, along with Cait, who is really into crafts, as Heather is. It all fit together nicely.

Anyway, ROTA was a good time. We stayed twice as long as we were scheduled to and sang lots of wholesome American and Gospel songs. It turned out being a really fun date and good practice.

Trungpa Rinpoche said that the point is to feel good all over the place (can’t find the source, maybe not exact quote…)

…Rather than waiting for the elusive “good parts.”

I felt so fond of Heather for having such a genuinely good attitude about washing dishes. So much so that it was contagious and doing chores became a fun activity. That’s magic. That’s bodhisattva stuff.

Sunday morning I wrote a song about it. It was the first time I’ve sat down and wrote a song in months. Heather aspires to help me sing more. She’s doing a good job of that, just by being how she is. We have fun singing together, and she inspires me to sing while I’m in my own space. I’m glad about that.

This morning Tara and I were talking about relationships while walking from breakfast over to meditation. We crossed paths with Heather. I told her how my relationship with Heather has tremendous “path” quality. How after several years of avoiding exclusive, intimate relationships, I feel so inclined to engage.

It is said that by the virtue of all the great masters who have visited here and all the practice, rituals, and blessings that have occurred, that this land is “well processed”–which means that peoples’ minds and hearts are quite available here. That doesn’t make things easier, necessarily, but potent and workable. I see that. My mental and emotional world seems to be more tangible, visible, here. I can see my mind unfolding almost in slow motion. I feel like Neo in the Matrix.

It’s a rich experience–this lil’ love thing. It’s only in the beginning, so… I sense a lot of twists and turns ahead. Sparkles and tumbles. Bruised knees, ice cream cones, and cradling.

Tara brought up the question of losing one’s individuality. I think that’s an interesting point. The play between individuality and being connected to something larger. I feel that dynamic, or tension. I feel it in relating to Heather, and also in relating to the community, the SMC organization, and the world.

I feel a sense of surrendering my territory. I feel that whatever danger there is of losing my perspective… I feel that my practice and devotion to the path will protect me against that.

Devotion to the path, for me, means that everything is path. Acharya Hessey told me:

“Practice and enjoy. Those two things.”

What is there to be afraid of? Death?

~~~

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.