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

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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: Furry Creatures–Awake

 

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.

Guitar around the corner translating confusion
–mental jukebox–
who keeps pumping those quarters in?

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I woke up at 4–a bit too early but better than 6:30 so I can sing before breakfast, before
meditation. I arrived in the shrine room a minute late and saw that noone had made offerings to the shrine. I was hoping someone else would do that today.

I turned around and my pal walked in the door with a full water pitcher and I believed I may get a break.

I sat down on the cushion a bit grumpy about having to serve as umdze for the fifth day in a row. I
knew it was absurd to be grumpy–sitting in a shrine room, meanwhile war-torn Sudan, etc.

Umdze = person who–lights the shrine, rings the bell, leads chants, and keeps an eye on the time.

Mid-way through the session Avajra John entered the room. Hadn’t seen him since he left for the holidays…a week ago? A week here can feel like a month, and a day can feel like a minute.

I love Kooky Crazy Sexy (he asked to be called that) Uncle John. I felt the shrine room giggles rising.
I had to take some breaths to cool out.

Later, I glanced up–
when you are umdze, you face everyone else in the room–
I saw a friend grinning. I grinned. The contagious awake-grin.

Are all of us furry creatures awake? Fully awake already? Simply awake and profoundly forgetful?

 ~~~

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.