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).

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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.

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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.

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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: Until I Sing

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.

Mental combustion in the middle of the night, fuming while the mist hung cool over the peaks in the morning.  Soft, and myself, dense — until I sang.

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Last night a mime appeared at dinner.  Then we held a Sukhavati ceremony for distant friend.  As the ceremony was beginning, a tremendous thunderstorm rolled in.  Hail came pouring down onto the shrine tent.  Acharya couldn’t speak over the noise, so we paused.  We sat while the storm raged.  Then, continued the ceremony.

Afterwards, I realized that my shoes were soaked.  I walked barefoot on little balls of hail and dirt trail beside Acharya and we enjoyed how the whole thing had unfolded.

I woke up the in middle of the night, angry, resentful of my commitment to Kasungship.

Basically: I have to devote hours of my life to helping others, rather than doing what I feel like doing, and I’m throwing a tantrum about it.

One of my storylines is that there are plenty of ways to serve, and one of them is Kasungship.  And Kasungship is not the one that I feel most naturally inclined towards.  I’d rather be arranging flowers, making music, nurturing the Delek System.

I think that story is valid.  And, it doesn’t matter.  I took an oath.  So, it’s my job to do my duty without complaining.  Seems like a positive thing to do.  Seems like I may grow through the experience.  But, man, it’s a pain in the ass.

This is the nitty gritty of the path.  This is the pickle of devotion.  My inspiration is low.  If catastrophe were to strike, I would be singing a completely different tune.  I want to not drift so far before remembering.

My heart is calling for a refresher: retreat.  Re-connect.  When will the window open?  What will it be like on the other side?  Will I look back with clarity and shake my head, with humor, for having allowed myself to drift so far, become so worked up and muddled-dumb, before taking a step back so that I may enjoy the beauty of the whole display?

Methinks: yes.

– June 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. 

 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Doing It, Nicely

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.

Arriving back here after my recent trip to New York, I felt at once inspired, refreshed, and overwhelmed.  This whole thing is a huge project: creating enlightened society.  And, there are no guarantees.  Yet, somehow, here at Shambhala Mountain Center, it has sustained for over forty years.  An ever-changing bunch of people, with their confusions and brilliance, have been doing it together for over four decades.

Here we are.

10294346_649886888426888_1245725218225911571_nPhoto by John Russel of SMC Colorado Front Range Style

Expectations for myself.  Good inspiration versus overly-ambitious.

Yesterday at lunch time, the three Dekyongs (two dropped out recently) had a meeting.  Molly laying on a picnic bench, sunbathing.  Oakes and I pulled up chairs beside her and we talked causally for twenty minutes or so.  Good vibes.

The previous Dekyong meeting was an hour long, in a shrine room, in the morning.  Two Dekyongs dropped out after that.

It was too tight, too ambitious.  What is realistic here?  What feels good?  I’m re-approaching my duties here with a bit more gentleness.  Too tight and there is freak out.  To loose — crappy and sluggish.

At dinner time a group of us who are doing Enlightened Society Assembly in July met to discuss how we may approach studying together.  Again, it was casual.  It was not an institutional event — just living and directing our attention towards something productive.

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Earlier I sat at a table while some folks talked very negatively about Shambhala Mountain Center.  It seemed like they were getting some sort of kick out of it.  Is that helpful at all?  What are the consequences of doing that?  It seems like complainers gather like puddles of mud.  Meanwhile, the sky.

–June 6, 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: What’s Shakin’ (delek rap #2)

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.

Slowly opening channels.  No ambition, please.  Or, good ambition..  Cows digging under trees for shade and shakes.  Blubber-utter, what’s shakin’?

Delek System

This morning, first morning meeting with the new group of Dekyongs.  Feels good.  Feels relaxed.  Feels like we’re engaged, taking it seriously-enough, but not being overly ambitious.  Just putting little regular things in place is enough.

The Delek System:

Deleks are groups of people within the community, organized according to neighborhood.  The Delek System, as I currently understand it, has one main function:

To cultivate harmony within the community.

Part of that is ensuring that everyone is cared for.  Part of that is ensuring that everyone is heard.

So, the Delek System serves as a means for communication to flow through the community — inwards to the governing bodies, and back out.

Each Delek has a head, or leader, called a Dekyong.  Once a week the Dekyongs meet to discuss what has been coming up in their Deleks, community stuff, and so on.

I am the Head Dekyong, and so I have a seat on the Community Council — a decision-making, action-taking, body within the community whose precise mission and role is still being worked out.  It’s still pretty new.

Anyway, my piece, as I currently understand it, is to bring in information that I have harvested from my meetings with the Dekyongs so that the Community Council can respond to it — one way or another.  One way of responding is to suggest that a particular issue be brought into the next Community Meeting as a topic for discussion.

To be continued…

– April 24, 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: Systems Made of Sand (delek rap #1)

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.

We’re working really hard to establish systems…

I’m always working so hard to establish systems.  And, they’re like castles made of sand.

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We’re working so hard to establish systems to…  We would like for people to be cared for.  We would like for people to be heard.  We would like for this to be an interactive experience.  We do not want top-down authoritative leadership.  We would like for information to flow, for there to be no blockages or gaps.  That is the power.

Who is “we”?

I

I would like for people to be familiar with the channels for communication.  I would like for them to know that they have the power to initiate change.

They?

I know that I do.  I want everyone else in the community to know that they do also, regardless of their position within the community, their various titles, and so forth.

The delek system is a means for communication to flow and for transformative action to be initiated… (to be continued)

– April 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. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Beeswax n’ Butterfly Crown

 

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.

Gum too big to chew
Fruity truth in my vicinity
I taste the absence. I blow bubbles all day. I feel speckles
of wakeful spit in every
po
po
pop

POP

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Heather presented me with a beeswax n’ butterfly crown. My Head Dekyong crown.

After dinner I had a lil’ evening visit with Mr. Cushman, a friend and teacher.– wine and discussion of the Hinayana, Shambhala, and…the Dekyong thing.

The Dekyong thing:

The Dekyong is the head of a Delek.

Deleks are small groups of people within the community. The idea is that these people care for one another and develop friendships, relationships. The Delek system also serves as a way for communication to flow through the community.

The Dekyong is the leader of each group, putting effort into cultivating a caring, enjoyable situation for all involved.

I am the Head Dekyong. The name of my Delek is Westside Delekatessen.

I am called upon (by myself, etc.) to help good things happen.

The Hinayana teachings say:

Cause no harm.

The Shambhala teachings say:

Engage.

It’s a bit perplexing.

GO FOR IT

Amen.

~~~

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.