Floral Notes and Bardo: Into Crystals, Refracting

 

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 a stream of powerful teachings in, through, from, the Stupa. I sat within the stream, arriving nowhere, continuously–to my delight, terror, amazement.

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Here’s what happened:

Acharya Emeritus Judith Lief spent many years compiling and editing the teachings that Trungpa Rinpoche gave over the course of thirteen three-month long seminaries. Until earlier this year when “The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma” was published, these teachings were not available to the public.

To celebrate the publication and the teachings themselves, there have been “Resoundings” or “read-a-thons”–folks have been reading the books aloud all across the globe. The final “Resounding” took place yesterday, with Acharya Lief, in the Stupa.

I was moved by the words. I moved the words. The whole thing was huge and fluid.

We were resounding the vajrayana teachings, which… are utterly beautiful and shattering. I was shattered and swept into the air–crystals refracting brilliant light.

After the first session–three hours of continuous resounding–we exited the Stupa. Looking up–rainbow colors, so vivid, in the clouds around the sun, behind the Stupa. ohwow…

I went down to lunch and nearly yelled at my friend when he told me he wouldn’t be attending the afternoon session because he was going to do laundry.

Moments later another friend of mine turned a cold shoulder towards me. I don’t know why.

I felt shattered, more.

The teachings emphasise the importance of building a strong foundation in the Hinayana–cause no harm; and the Mahayana–cultivate empathy. It’s crucial to do  this before entering into the Vajrayana–sacred everything, engage.

I recently took Refuge in the Three Jewels–formally entering the Hinayana stage of the path. Historically, I have often felt anxious to “get to the good stuff”–a.k.a. the Vajrayana magical stuff. I felt so glad and inspired touching into the stream of vajrayana teachings yesterday. It feels good to glimpse it. At the same time, I am becoming more and more respectful of my current spot. I’m in less of a hurry.

The teachings are brilliantly alive here, at Shambhala Mountain, where I live. I am here. I can stay here and progress along the path at a natural pace. I can afford to go deep into each stage.

It’s happening in unexpected ways.

Things don’t need mouths to speak–communication is happening all the time. There is always feedback. There is a message in each moment. That’s what the teachings say. That’s what I say.

This morning I was sitting at the table eating breakfast. I was looking around at the few other people scattered around the room–My fellows. My community. My family.

Sangha.

I have been feeling blown-out. I have been feeling as though I have no grip on what is happening. I have been sensing that the idea that there will ever be relief is just wishful thinking. I’ve been experiencing devastating loneliness. And I KNOW… I KNOW…

I KNOW… because I have felt this before, because I am somewhat familiar with the pattern, with how things arise and give way, how insight and growth occurs…

I know that the thing to do is:

Hang in there. Be curious about it. Don’t try too hard…

We’re all hanging in there (in here) together. That insight brought relief at the breakfast table. Being kind then felt like a very simple and effortless thing.

Sitting in space, trapped in space without a home… all of us. Seeing–the source of warmth?

~~~

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: Doha Ha Ha Ha

 

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.

Bent out of–yet always, simultaneously–into
shape,
Kissed by whispering mountain dawn as if it were–which it is, always–
diamond-like infant, jeweled-eye child

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Last night was the concluding class in a five week course working with the Shambhala teachings on contentment and meekness. The class was lead by Steve Seely, who is a very experienced teacher–having served as the Vidyadhara‘s personal attendant and later completed a three year retreat. He shared lots of potent anecdotes throughout the course. He is a treasure.

Alison co-lead the course. She breathes fire. That’s what I have to say about her teaching style, her style in general. It’s blazing.

We concluded the evening by enjoying sweets, chai, and sake together and spontaneously composing a doha–at the encouragement of Steve.

Here’s the thing:

It is so sweet to connect with my fellows, my friends, my family on this mountain, in the space of exploring the teachings, each other, and ourselves. That’s why we’re here. We work hard, and also, we get together and share the curious experience of simply being.

Here’s the doha:

The Tiger

Step, step, step. Will it ever end?
Does it matter?
Feasting on crumbs all the time,
Precious prowling and a sense of presence,
The paws pause and we enter meekly.

Rippling, rippling, rippling.
How haughty and naughty I am.
moving forward to I know not what.
It’s not important, the earth is always beneath me.
Fluid the fur, it glides over strength.
That’s not a line.

Hey, we’re content. It doesn’t matter if you write it down anyways.
Origami swan, tiger, and a cookie,
where else but Shambhala?
I don’t do this kind of thinking.
Walking on the paws of the earth, sky above,
with no delusion.
No, I’m good–basically.

~~~

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: Howdy/Vanishing

 

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.

Snowflakes
vanish from palms
in a soft flash.

Thus have I heard:

Once, Trungpa Rinpoche asked William S. Burroughs:

“Why do you write?”

Burroughs:

“You’ve got to do something.”

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Yesterday, as planned, I spent most of the day practicing meditation to give some room to the explosions occurring in my chest and brain–
Sparkle bombs.
Love bombs.
Confusion in confetti form and twinkles of smile-inspiration.

Lots happening these days.

Moments ago, at lunch, Z (my teacher) said:

“You look more excited than afraid. That’s a good sign.”

He also said:

“You’re a surfer.”

That’s true. I grew up surfing mediocre waves in Florida. Now I live at Shambhala Mountain Center. The waves here are not mediocre.

~~~

A couple of introductory notes (written in pencil on confetti):

I started a blog back in November after taking a writing program here at Shambhala Mountain Center with Bhanu Kapil–a Naropa professor who is clairvoyant and lovely in all sorts of ways. She encouraged me to do it as a way to express myself, practice writing, and share with people what must be a rather interesting experience–living here.

Here: If I may say so–as many others have throughout the decades–Shambhala Mountain is a powerful-sacred-organism. I find the experience of residing here–as a lil’ part of it–to be incredible, and I love telling stories about it.

Recently, Director Gayner (who is also lovely as well as regal, and so on) offered an idea:

He felt it would be cool for someone from our staff/community to write a daily bit about
what it’s like to live/work/exist here.

!!! !!! !!!

I gladly volunteered!

The opportunity to do this as a daily part of my adventure/life on the mountain has me giddy and grateful. I’m amazed and un-surprised. This is the latest in a series of doors to swing open–revealing perks, lessons, gifts; prickly, sparkly, blunt…

Anyway, this is not the first installment. This is the part of the concert where, a few songs in, the dude steps to the mic and says:

“Hi. It’s great to be here.”

Thanks for listening. More to come.

May this activity offer a glimpse into this magical living-situation (living situation).

~~~

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: Nothing Is Safe to Say/Not Afraid to Be a Fool

 

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.

Nothing is safe to say
unless you know every echo and utterance
in all of space.

Anyway…

The joust between altruism and fame-seeking is going to
result in a bouquet
of laughter

Onlookers liberated by witnessing boogie-beyond-embarrassment.
That’s the virtuous clown. The offering of the artist.

NOT AFRAID TO BE A FOOL

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Tonight I will take my one-year Kasung oath. The Dorje Kasung
is military as imagined by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Dorje Kasung = Indestructible Command Protector

From the outside, the Dorje Kasung are among the weirdest components to the
Shambhala tradition. Visitors to the land are often quite bewildered. I think that
may be part of the point.

What is your reaction to people in uniform?
What are your feelings about being in uniform? Maybe all of that ought to be explored… Etc.

I knew I would be going into the Dorje Kasung as soon as I first encountered it last summer–because I had such an immediate and strong aversion to doing so.

This shall be an adventure within an adventure within…

Often, I’ve heard Rusung Edwards (Rusung = Head of Kasung on the land) explain Dorje Kasung
to visitors in this way:

“Buddhist Park Rangers”

I love that.

I’ve not yet felt the desire for a less-weird life. Thus, tonight I shall formally
join the Dorje Kasung!

~~~

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. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

The Last Word at the Great Stupa

 

Trungpa RinpocheThe founder of Shambhala Publications, Sam Bercholz, described Trungpa Rinpoche as “not just another great Buddhist teacher. He was Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche, for the West.” And on September 13–14 at the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya the final reading of his The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma will occur.

In keeping with the tradition of oral transmission of important texts like The Profound Treasury, a reading tour has introduced sections of the text to the public at a variety of places like the Rubin Museum in New York City, the Harvard Divinity School, and the Halifax Shambhala Center.

judy lief reading

Between 1973 and 1986, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche conducted a series of annual study and practice intensives, called “Vajradhatu Seminaries.” The talks were organized around the three yanas, or major stages, of the Buddhist path: hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana. It was a landmark moment in a practitioner’s life to be accepted to seminary and even moreso to be able to hear the vajrayana teachings in particular. In these programs he presented heart teachings to his most senior students and transcripts were restricted at Rinpoche’s insistance. However, beginning just a few years after the seminaries started, he began talking about compiling this material and editing it for a general audience. Now, forty years after the first Vajradhatu Seminary took place, Acharya Emeritus Judy Lief has completed the work of compiling and editing the seminary material into three volumes totaling more than 2,000 pages. With the publication of The Profound Treasury, for the first time, these teachings have become publicly available.

 

the Stupa's Buddha

Rinpoche himself talked about looking at traditional literary arrangements of such teachings, referring to shila, samadhi and prajna, for example, as organizing principles for some material. But reviews of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma have been full of praise for Judy Lief’s editorial acumen. So please join Acharya Emeritus Judy Lief at the Stupa built in honor of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for the resounding, or recitation, of the final chapters of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma. This program is open to all and includes a Friday night talk, group meditation practice, listening and reciting, and discussion.