Floral Notes and Bardo: Family and Family — Circle


Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident
 is a regular 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 take refuge in the sangha, as support for traveling the path.

This morning I met with the Care Council, to open and share a deep, murky, entangled, situation that I am doing my best to navigate well.

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It has to do with kin in dire straits.

We sat in a circle — I used to sit as a member of the Care Council and offer space and feedback to people who are in states of like I have been experiencing recently.

I opened up and spoke all about the situation, offering information and a bit of emotional tone.  It was a vulnerable feeling, especially before we began.  Sitting in the room waiting for the others to sit on their cushions.  I was contemplating the teachings on emptiness, and considering how solid things can feel.  But the solidity was only a flash, and dissolves into flavored space.

Arising.

So, my drama arose gently for us all to see.  And then, my friends offered feedback.  They offered their perspective.  Reported what they were seeing from their side of the circle.  And it was so helpful.

I went in with a bowl of spaghetti, and came out with some olives in a row.  Some understanding and some action items.

The main dharmic point seems to be exploring the distinction between compassion and idiot compassion.  That has been the dharmic theme recently, but I hadn’t put words to it.

Fearless beyond idiot compassion.

That’s one of the eight slogans of the Dorje Kasung.  Rusung Edwards offered it into the circle, and it reminded me of the dharma.

The Care Council assured me that they would be there to support me as I work through this.  I know, and I appreciate it.  We bowed, and Rachel said that the merit would be dedicated to helping myself and kin move swiftly through this challenging spot.

  — January 30, 2015

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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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: “What’s Going On in Your Mind?”

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular 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 less than before, there’s a spot in the sky, the sound of footsteps is becoming more defined, the idea of destination is folding in on itself.

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Last night at dinner, sitting across the table from Annebelle — we’d spoken a bit, and now I was gazing over her shoulder.  She asked me “What’s going on when you do that?”

“In my mind?”

“Yes.”

I did the best I could to describe it: space, clouds, jumbles of thought, relaxation.  I have nothing to communicate and there is a bit of a panic to find something to say, then that dissolves.  Eventually a sense of settledness, and at that point a new moment has begun.

Something like that.

That was a nice question for her to ask me.  A real dharma-sister thing to do.  A great SMC dinner conversation starter — let’s talk about mind, very personally.

Meanwhile, David and a few others were creating the Childrens Day shrine — which is sort of like the Shambhala version of a Christmas tree.  And, on the other side of the room, there was community cookie decorating.

Heather made a whole scene with a pirate, his ship, an island, and a palm tree.  It all began with the palm tree, which she made for me as a tribute to Florida — where I came from and where I’ll be spending Christmas, cosmos willing.

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I spent most of yesterday working for Joshua at the Stupa.  It feels really good to offer in that way.

I ended up eating too many cookies and had a little stomach ache.  I went to sleep as soon as I walked in the door.  Woke up at 5:30 for Qigong, dharma study, etc.

Looking forward to this weekend — writing retreat with Susan Piver!  Many Christmas gifts to prepare before then.

Lots of icing on my cookies these days.  Lots of cookies to chew. All most too much good fortune to bear — or, at least, to keep organized.

– December 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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

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?

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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.