Floral Notes and Bardo: Met My Chest Like a Wedge


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.

Stark solidity, tender impermanence — an orange flower.  The perception met my chest like a wedge — heart so sore and radiant.

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Last night I dreamt of a hologram Ginsberg as a teacher in a classroom.  His words, display, energy, was so inspiring and brilliant — in ways that I often wish for in dharma teachers.

I said to someone near me that I’d do anything to get close to a teacher like that. I wish to attend  JKS when I leave SMC.  This is the second truly strong dream that has pointed in that direction so clearly.

Heather and I spent the weekend down in Boulder — with our friends Kitty, Matty, and baby Benny; and the Sheffield crew, who I used to travel to the Northeast to see, but now most of us live here in Colorado.

Yesterday they came up to SMC for the day and we took a nice walk around the land.  I showed them that cabin that Heather and I hope to move into in the spring, we sung in the Stupa, hugged the Grandfather Tree, and made it down to the shrine room in time for Mamo chants.  We’re officially into Dön Season now, so we’re doing extended protection rituals.

Last night I woke in the middle of the night with a sore back — hit by a dön — recalling sore dreams.

— February 10, 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: Sand, Soda Ash, and Limestone


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’m drinking
water from a glass–which is not
sand, soda ash, and limestone

I’m questioning its clarity
in hopes that my own bones and blemishes
may be revealed to be clear

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Up late studying the dharma, dialoging with Heather, and celebrating Goundhog Day.

Therefore, woke up late in the morning — did my things swiftly — write, shit, shower, vows, Qigong, kiss and sing to Heather.  Then shoveled granola, grapefruit and tea into my face and raced down the stairs so as not to miss opening gong.

Sitting on the cushion, my stomach dealing with all of the stuff I bombed it with, I felt sad and confused — how to conduct a life that is smooth, not self-centered, productive… productive?

Joy: How?

That’s the question.

Peace: How?

Bliss: How?

— February 3, 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: Come with Me — Haiku and Katharine


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.

Deep tissue, heavy with ocean — blink and it’s mist.

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I had accumulated some savings, stability, now all gone to help kin.

Yesterday at my desk, and Scott knocked on the door.  I opened and he took me by the arm: “Come with me.”

I went with him, wearing the slippers that I wear inside the office.

Katharine Kaufman — Zen teacher, poet, spontaneous movement angel, coolest person — had ordered him to do so, saying “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

So I spent the morning with her studying and practicing haiku.

I wrote:

Wind is cold
I am sitting in the shade
I’m going indoors

and then…

The door is ajar
The floor is cool
People made these things

Someone else wrote:

Wind outside
Fart inside
Such suffering

I said “That was the best haiku I have ever heard.”

After our session, at lunch, the guy who wrote that poem engaged with Danny, our resident magician, in a little card-trick showdown.  It was awesome.

Before lunch, after haiku session, I spoke with Katharine for a while in the shrine room — about poetry, buddhism, and the possibility of attending Jack Kerouac School at Naropa when I leave SMC.

She was enthusiastically supportive of the idea.  She was under the impression that I am already an accomplished poet.

“I don’t know anything about poetry,” I said.

She told me that her “knowledge is spotty also.”

I told her that it’s always been like that with everything I do: I’ve made music for two decades now and I don’t know how to read music.  I’ve never memorized scales.  I don’t know what a circle of fifths is.

It’s that way with dharma too: I am not a scholar, but I practice a lot.

She said she’s the same: “I’m a practitioner.  I practice a lot, whatever I get into.  And Buddha said, teach from experience.”

She said she thinks there is a place for people like us, in the univeristies — as students and teachers.

Hearing that helped to resolve some hesitation that I’ve been feeling about the idea.

Okay.

I’ve written a lot and only read a very little.

“That’s good to acknowledge,” Katharine said.

So, I’m going to start engaging with JKS, poetics, texts, and see where it goes.

— January 29, 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

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple

by Keith Kachtick
relationshipsIn Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke makes clear that a loving, romantic relationship is the practice for which all other mindfulness practices are the groundwork. “Love is high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become world for himself for another’s sake.” The ancient Tibetan tantric practice of Yab-Yum recognizes that romantic coupling is as an opportunity for profound spiritual awakening, a practice that invites us—deeply challenges us—to love our way to enlightenment.

Traditionally, in Buddhist thangkas and sculptures depicting Yab-Yum, the confluence of “masculine” compassion and “feminine” wisdom is presented metaphorically in the sexual union of a male deity, seated in Padmasana (lotus pose), with his female consort facing him on his lap. The symbolism is two-fold: Yab-Yum (literally “father-mother” in Tibetan) implies a mystical union within our own individual nature—the two Dharma wings that lift each of us to buddhahood; united, the two awakened beings (regardless of gender) then give birth to a romantic communion embodying the blissful, non-dual state of enlightenment.

Much easier said than done, of course. But for anyone in a committed relationship, the Yab-Yum ideal of unconditional love—borne out of opening our hearts and fine-tuning our communication skills, as well as deepening our understanding of our partner’s needs and desires—is an opportunity and wonderful challenge to recognize and celebrate the highest in ourselves and in each other.

Ultimately, it’s all about soulful harmonizing. “We know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us,” Rilke reminds us. “It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult. That something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. This more human love resembles that which we have prepared for with struggle and toil all our lives: a love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute one another.”

Keith Kachtick and his partner Camilla Figueroa will be teaching the retreat Loving Your Way to Enlightenment: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple September 13-15

Happy birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

“I met Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa, on  a street corner in New York with my father, by accident.”

Allen Ginsberg and Trungpa Rinpoche

 

From June 3rd, 1926 to April 5th, 1997 Allen Ginsberg (AKA Lion of Dharma, AKA Heart of Peace, AKA Carlo Marx in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road) roamed the earth, taking inspiration from every facet of life and giving it right back to those who would have it. One of the most controversial public figures of his times, among the most outrageous of poets, Allen Ginsberg was also a friend, lover, photographer, peace activist, king of May, and meditation practitioner in the Vajrayana tradition. At Shambhala Mountain Center, where Ginsberg’s teacher, friend, and guru Trungpa Rinpoche is buried in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, one third of Allen Ginsberg’s earthy remains are interned in a polished granite memorial in the shape of a lion, backlit by the Tibetan letter for “Ah”, the shortest form of the perfection of wisdom, and just a short distance from the remains of his life partner, Peter Orlovsky. Visitors may visit this site with a steep climb near the Stupa.

Shambhala Mountain Center staffer and graduate of Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics Jennifer Lane shares a memory of Allen Ginsberg in 1995 when he was being honored at Naropa and reflecting on his life’s endeavors. The video tells the whole story.