Month: July 2014

Establishing the Ground

By Ryan Stagg Ryan Stagg is a Shambhala Mountain Center community-staff member. Today I rose with the sun and trekked up to the Great Stupa to meditate within its silent sanctuary. As I moved along the path my nose and ears went numb in the cold air that had settled in the valley overnight. The creek was burbling and there was a hint of warmth in the freshening morning breeze. Then I listened to the crunching gravel as I circumambulated the stupa, letting my breath and heart slow from the hike and with any luck accruing a little merit for the day ahead. My eyes were teary from the cold and the pollen, and I had the sensation that the whole earth was made to spin about the stupa by my strolling feet. Then I bowed and sat before the enormous golden Buddha and after awhile sunlight began to flood forth through the eastern window, illuminating the chamber. I’ve never known a better way to begin the day. I stayed long at work out of …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Trip Less

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. In the dark, in the heat of Grandfather’s breath, I felt layers of frivolity dissolving.  There are more layers. So often thrown by chattering mind, entertainment-seeking — scattered.  It’s just play.  Sand slipping through fingers — colored sand.  Still, this is a precious opportunity.  So, I’d like to trip less and dance more. Yesterday, sweat-lodge ceremony.  So grateful.  It brings me into touch — with my bones, the earth, sky, elements, and my fellows.  Refreshed afterwards, and wholesomely, beautifully tired. After dinner, Heather and I went up to Avalokiteshvara.  My old friend Michael “had us over.”  It was his little yurt before it was my little yurt.  He’s been on the land recently doing a long retreat, and he’s been staying in there once again — which has cool been very cool for him, and for …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Buddhist Jokes

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. Motion and glow — nature, from my perch on the porch, the moon moving slowly across the morning sky.  Perfect arrhythmic chorus of creatures, and myself doing nothing. A couple of nights ago, community open mic.  Buddhist jokes from our host Kyle, kirtan from Cody, Danny wowed with magic tricks and contact juggling, Dorian — so soulful.  Heather, Kate and I offered some music and an interactive experience — folks holding candles and singing spontaneous verses in tribute to our friend Chris, who is moving on. “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…” Very sweet and a reminder of what art and music are all about — uplifting people, situations.  Accessing harmonious, deeper than the day-to-day, experience.  We offer vulnerability — a nod to sacredness. ~~~ Last night, Acharya Lobel gave a talk …

From the SMC Kitchen: When Life Gives You Summer, Make Lemonade

by Avajra John Russell Well, summer is here. Thunderstorms are rolling through the mountains and when they’re not, the immense sky is a crystal clear blue with the ever-changing play of puffy clouds.  And, (finally!) it’s hot this week here at Shambhala Mountain. But let me take this opportunity to recommend making the most of your summer, wherever you are spending the season.  Although planning those big outings can make your summer memorable, I think it’s just as important to enjoy the small things—not grasping but taking full advantage of this spontaneous creative moment, ripe with possibilities. Try some summer fun swinging in the hammock with a tall one, make fresh lemonade, or spend some quality time hitting the ball around with the kids. Meet an old friend, or a new one, for a walk in the park.  Making the most of this summer is an art form unto itself and although it may take a bit of doing, the potential joys are rich and manyfold. Here’s an easy and refreshing recipe for mint lemonade: …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Always Interrupted, Ocean

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. Thin waves of sweets, crisp in my fingers, crumble…  Breeze… The lightest sense of connection, an interrupted thread.  Always interrupted in spite of our wishes.  And beyond that, the ocean of all of us. Our faces arising, moment by moment.  It’s absurd to promise or expect any of us to be any kind of way… Yet, we can vow: to be kind, to refrain from certain activities, to do things.  Good things. Saturday Heather and I ran errands in town and saw cows on the way home.  We’re both in good health.  Good.  It’s nice that we have a shared community car so that we can go on errand adventures and learn things like that, and discover good Afghan food, and buy good booze, apple cider vinegar, and such. Last night after playing music on …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Having a Cow (Finally)

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. Ever since I first arrived here two years ago, I’ve been seeing cow pies… but never a cow. Where there is smoke there is fire. Where there is cow poop, there are cows. Not so! “I feel like my mind just did a somersault.  This turns everything around, on its head.” That’s what Mimi said last night when I was reading a piece of Trungpa’s dharma on the eighth consciousness, basic ground, abhidharma… Anyway, “having a cow” is a good description of my mental state recently. There’s been a fair amount of resentment and aggression.  People have always reported here that summer is a beast… So, a shift… I declared I’d be taking the Bodhisattva vow next month — picked up the lojong cards, brought tonglen into my practice.  The other day Director Gayner gave …

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Aliveness of Rocks (Plus Badminton)

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. Last night, a conversation around the dinner-picnic table regarding the uncertainty about what distinguishes a ground squirrel from a chipmunk from a prairie dog.  In other news, the Delek Badminton Tournament begins next week — we’re choosing partners and awesome team names.  My partner, Avajra John, doesn’t want to be a team: “I want to be something better than a team!” (Team name: 2Bad Mittens) Our approach, it seems, will be more psychological than athletic.  He and I share an affinity for weird, and costume, and weird. I also have an affinity for this seat on the porch behind Manjushri (cabin). This morning, I had a good idea for a blog.  I forgot to put it in my thumb.  A teacher once shared a tip with me: She is a writer.  She said that when …

Floral Notes and Bardo: In the Sun, Reading Shantideva

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. Om my way to lunch yesterday, I came across Oakes on a bench in the sun, reading Shantideva. He was in a head-on car crach the other night, while doing his evening rounds as Kasung. Oakes was quite inspired, helpful, and strong before the accident.  The way he was speaking yesterday was more-so — more-clear, more enlightened… He said: we have such a precious opportunity in this life to help people. He expressed gratitude for how much the retreat we’re hosting is blessing all of us, and the land. “It’s such an honor to help that happen.  The least we can do is give them what they need.” His spirit of generosity was immense and folksy.  It didn’t have the flavor of spiritual pride.  Oakes is earthy, real, even gritty.  His heart is huge.  He sweats …

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. 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 …

Sound and the Subtle

By Silvia Nakkach Silvia Nakkach will be co-leading Healing Sound Retreat, along with Christine Stevens, August 29–September 1 Sound as vibration has the ability to permeate all things. Sound originates in space. We live in space, breath air, receive energy from the sun and the earth at every moment, and yet, the awareness of the essential relationship with these primal elements only happens during heightened states of consciousness, when we become sensitive to the gross and subtle dimensions of these essentials. Sound travels through us, activating our bodies and our imagination, and modulating our mood in the process. We connect and process sound as information. Everything we do, think, sense, and feel, carries a vibrational frequency that creates and can change our circumstance at every moment. The most ancient cultures on the planet believed that material reality is the manifestation of primordial vibration. Even the Bible teaches that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 Early and contemporary spiritual traditions, the mystical experiences of sages …