Floral Notes and Bardo: Wild and Dignified


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.

I-Ching toss last night–“stillness.” The image of a mountain–first hexagram. Second: progress. The image of the sun rising.

Greg said: Taming the mind, meditative stillness, and waiting until the right moment to act. And, when I do, it will be effective. Something about the hexagram saying: Don’t allow your hips to become frozen. You’ve got to boogie. No cave-dwelling yogi life for you right now, Ngejung Tachok.


And, be with the peeps. Being a leader, you’ve got to be with the peeps, not separate from them. You are a peep.

Greg was giving me an I-Ching reading upstairs in the library, meanwhile downstairs in the shrine room, the Beastie Boys, dance party. Pounding electronic music. I’d been dancing then saw Greg in the hallway and asked for a reading.

He’d given the ceremonial reading for SMC earlier in the day.

Shambhala Day (or, Losar)… The New Year. Big day of celebration.

It began at 6am toast to the new year, then we marched up to the Stupa–Kasung-style:

“Left, left, left, right, left…Eyes on the horizon!” and the sun was coming up–orange, radiant. The weather was lovely, clear, crisp.

At the Stupa–lahsang ceremony. Clouds of smoke and offerings, group chanting, juniper, waving flags. Then inside the Stupa for Elixr of Life sadhana, bathing ourselves in saffron water, reminding ourselves of death, preciousness of life, making aspirations to not sleep through it. To use our lives to wake up and help the world.

Lovely breakfast, socializing and then we gathered in the shrine room for the webcast of the Sakyong‘s Shambhala Day address–beautiful. Funky mountain-internet connection made it comedy.

Later in the evening, a formal dinner and the Shambhala Ball (Bhal?).

I dressed in tights, tie, and tu-tu. At dinner I toasted the Sakyong, from the bottom of my heart. Greg asked me to make the toast. When he told Director Gayner that I’d be doing it, Mr. Gayner said:

“In his tu-tu?”

and Greg said:

“He’s wearing a tu-tu?”

It went well.

These sorts of things can happen at SMC. That’s why I know I’m in the right spot. This may be the wildest spot in the mandala. Yeah…

The Bahl began with a choreographed waltz. Several of us had been rehearsing, lead by Greg (who is so darn graceful), in the week leading up to the event. So magical… So fairy tale.

Shambhala really has this whimsical, fairy tale quality to it. Dragons and kings, and ball gowns, horses, magic… And it’s all grounded in authentic buddhadharma. Ahh…

After a few waltzes, DJ Stephen Extro, who lives here and is a hot-as-shit awesome DJ, played music for us. Really high energy awesome electronic music. A bunch of us on the dance-floor together–Joshua, Director Gayner, Kaleigh-boss, Heather, friends–my peeps. Everyone together enjoying this high energy dance vibe.

A moment with Mr. Gayner, as he was doing weird powerful martial arts moves, directing energy with his hands. I joined him. Such a mystical scene. All of us holding and playing with, all of us within this, potent energy field. So much good energy from the day erupting in this dance experience.

May SMC always be wild and dignified.

Towards the end of the night, while the music was still pumping, a few of us set up the meditation cushions for this morning’s session. Just the slightest tinge of a hangover this morning and I rang the gong only 5 minutes late.

–March 3, 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. 

SMC 2013 I Ching Reading

watersnakeBy Steven Whitacre, Image by Sarah Lipton

I Ching (aka the Book of Changes): An ancient Chinese book of divination and a source of Confucian and Taoist philosophy. Answers to questions and advice may be obtained by referring to the text accompanying one of 64 hexagrams, selected at random.


At the evening feast on Shambhala Day, the beginning of the Year of the (always female) Water Snake, February 11, 2013, we cast the I Ching for Shambhala Mountain Center for the Year.  The result obtained was hexagram #3 Difficulty, with three changing lines, resulting in the second hexagram #7 the Army.  The first hexagram may represent either the recent past or the first part of the year, whereas the second may represent the future or the second part of the year.  Overall, this result suggests that the Shambhala Mountain Center is either experiencing difficult new growth as we return to normal following the High Park fire last summer, or perhaps it’s experiencing difficult growth in new directions with the new director and other changes to the staff, governance, and programs.

#3 Difficulty:Text: Difficulty followed by sublime success!  Persistence in a righteous course brings reward, but do not seek some (new) goal (or destination); it is highly advantageous to consolidate the present position.

Symbol: This hexagram symbolizes lightning spewed forth by the clouds- difficulty prevails!  The Superior Man busies himself setting things in order.

The commentary on the first changing line is fairly clear:

But, despite prevailing uncertainty, the way of righteousness must be pursued with firm determination. Men in high places, by cooperating with those under their care, will thereby win the support of their people.

The second changing line suggests that if we wait patiently for a gradual return to normal conditions, we will be able to make progress. Alternatively, perhaps there are persons or groups whose help or investment could help us move forward with our goals, but they are reluctant to commit, and we must be patient with them.

The third of the changing lines presents more concern:

Persistence in small things will bring good fortune; in greater matters it will bring disaster. This passage indicates that we have wrought insufficiently for the public good.

Some combination of seeking more modest goals and doing more work for the public good, seem likely to avert the misfortune this line warns against.

Via the three changing lines, the second hexagram is obtained:

#7 The Army: Text: The Army.  Persistence in a righteous course brings to those in authority good fortune and freedom from error.

Symbol: The hexagram symbolizes water surrounded by land.  The Superior Man nourishes the people and treats them with leniency.

Depending on the interpretations, it might seem that we are heading towards a situation either where the proper employment and governance of the Shambhala version of the Army, the Dorje Kasung, will be important, or where very large numbers of people will be on the land and need to be nourished and governed well. The latter would seem to dovetail with the very large numbers expected for the Three Pillar Leadership Training and the Scorpion Seal Assembly Years 3-4-5 Garchen, as well as the multitude of other large major dharma programs to be held here in the summer. Then again, being that the I Ching is in some sense an oracle, it is possible that both interpretations have some relevance.  However, it is important to keep in mind that the changing lines are often the most specific response and guide to action for the particular inquiry.