Floral Notes and Bardo: Paramitas and a Mess

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.

Yesterday morning, I suited up in my baggy Kasung uniform and headed into the Court.  The Court is wherever the Sakyong is residing.  When the Sakyong is on the land, the second floor of Shambhala Lodge is transformed into the Court.  It feels imaginary and real at the same time.  The curtains are white.  Once you walk through, you’re in.  Inside, everything is sparkling.  People float around, glowing.

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I took my post.   When Rinpoche came out of his quarters, I held a tray for him while he made the day’s tea offerings on his way to give a talk to the Sacred World Assembly folks.

They’re in deep.  My friends are in the program, which was formerly known as “Vajrayana Seminary.”  They’re receiving secret teachings and formally entering into a guru-disciple relationship with the Sakyong.  It’s heavy, powerful, joyous.  The Main Shrine Tent is rocking, beaming with energy, singing, late into the night and early in the morning.

My friends are raw, inspired, minds are blown.  It’s really amazing.  The Shambhala Mountain Center staff is working hard hosting the program.  I’m feeling maxed out trying to fit in all of my day-job hours as well as many hours of Kasung volunteer work.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board for those who would like to take vows this summer — Refuge and Bodhisattva.  I’ve been waiting for the Bodhisattva vow to come around.  Here it is.  I will vow to put others before myself until all beings in the whole universe are liberated from suffering.  It’s a binding commitment.  A good one, I feel.

Yesterday evening, I attended a Kasung “Mess” — which is the military version of a soiree.  We had sake and horderves and chatted.  Then the Sakyong (Makkyi Rabjam is his Kasung name) arrived and we entertained him with goofy marching (jokes) and such.  The march leaders directed us to bump into each other and the walls, then we did “haiku drill,” reciting lines in pairs of three as we marched past Rinpoche in his chair.  He then said a few words to us about Kasungship.

My favorite part was when he said that some of us are deep into Kasungship, and we ought to go deeper.  And others are just checking it out, and we won’t remain Kasung long term, but it’s good that we’re getting a taste.  That’s me.  I’m glad to be getting a taste.  It does offer a deeper look into Shambhala, and is allowing me to learn about myself and my tendencies.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who feels similar resistance to Kasungship, but has signed up also.  We were discussing “Shambhala Boundaries.”  There are endless tasks.  There are endless positions which need filled.  How much can we take on as individuals without burning out?  How much can we take on and do joyfully, without resentment?

Joshua joked that setting boundaries is the seventh paramita.  My friend added that it must be the eighth, because the seventh ought to be humor.

– July 8, 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.  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.