Floral Notes and Bardo: I Think I

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.

The tunnel towards glory collapsed
and I realized I was light.
The distraction of embarrassment became a choir of angels.
All along, it was just me and my guitar.

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Steve Seely is teaching a class on the Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, and I feel tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to study with him.  He has studied with Khenpo Tsultrim Gyaltso, who, literally, wrote the book on this subject.

Steve was glowing in our first class meeting, a couple of nights ago.  He seems glad to be able to offer the teachings.

Just now, I walked out of the shrine room, leaving Steve all alone in there.  He’d walked in a half hour earlier, and seeing that no one was serving as umdze, he took the seat.  There were only a couple of us in there practicing.  Then, the other person left and it was just me finishing my sadhana.

It can be rather sad to be the only one in the shrine room for the scheduled community practice period.  I hope that it wasn’t disrespectful for me to walk out like that.

The thing is, I am short on work hours for the week.  I want to rearrange my schedule a bit to allow for even more time meditating.  I live at a dharma center, so this seems totally appropriate.

Previously, I have taken on the informal role of Head Umdze. Basically, I took the lead on making sure that the umdze role is being covered on a regular basis.  These days, the umdze coverage is spotty and it makes the whole container feel weak — to me, at least.

It is not my job to lead the umdze core.  Actually, I believe it is someone else’s job.  But, I think I can help.

So, here’s the thing of finding the balance between “letting be” and “trying to fix.”  “Letting be” is often used in a positive way in the teachings, and “trying to fix” is used negatively.  But, of course, we’re encouraged to try to help the world.

Susan Piver wrote a beautiful piece in response to the Charlie Hebrdo tragedy, and her great advice is to feel before acting.  Perhaps, that way, it isn’t an act of aggression — trying to rid myself of the pain of witnessing discord.  Rather, it would be an act of generosity, out of good intention, without attachment to outcome.

– January 9, 2015

~~~

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: 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.