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Floral Notes and Bardo: Death of: Friend, Ideals, Gums

We were going to spend five days with mad oneironaut LaBerge and bardo man Holecek, but then were swayed by the death.  The first night of the program though, just before a peek into the strange world that would be opened up over the course of the retreat, I had a look in the mirror and noticed that my gums had worn away a lot since the last time that I looked.  Unsettling.  And so I sat with that dreadful feeling of death while LaBerge danced around the room, exclaiming about the dreamlike nature of our experience, with a fierce image of Guru Rinpoche on the television screen in the center of the room.

Holececk is a dentist, as well as concert pianist and Buddhist teacher, so I figured I could ask him about my teeth at some point.  Yesterday, I realized I hadn’t had the chance, and that all the Dream Yoga people were leaving the land.  I made a wish that I might see him, and then, looked up and he was there.  I spoke with him.

Anyway, this heavy death has occurred, and we have been going through it.  It is present, probably more-so for some people than for others.  It comes in waves for me, and is overall less intense than the first couple of days.  A.S. described her feeling as “bruised,” “sore” — yes, I liked that description.  Sore.

It has been, in some ways, an interruption to the grumpy rut that I have spent much time in.  So burnt by the relentlessness of life — “here”? People like to say: “It’s so hard here.” I wonder if we would find things to complain about anywhere.  I remember that it was very intense, very challenging, before I came here.

Still, I am feeling cooked.  It’s different than before.  I used to be riding a wave of inspiration.  The narrative about what this place is and what my connection to it is, and how amazing and magical the whole thing is, used to be quite strong.  Now, that has faded.  I am like a dog, panting on a hot summer day, on the sidewalk… no, in the house, and I have to pee, and no one is home to let me out, and I already shit on the floor a little while ago and I can smell it, and am afraid of the consequences.

I have been here for two years solid.  I have committed to three.  So, I am now beginning my third and final year.  Feeling so salty.  A sense of having to muscle through.  But also…

A sense of relaxation.  The death of ideals.  More of a sense of reality, and sense of humor.  My attitude borders on cynicism, but I don’t feel full-of-phony-bliss-elation, which is annoying to people who aren’t similarly high.  So, it’s kind of like:

Okay.  Here it is.  I’m living.

But it’s not just that, because it’s happening… here. It’s not life as usual.  Somehow.  There is still some power to the process which seems to be happening by virtue of the land and lineage.  It still has the quality of purification.

I’m going through the shit, and I feel that as challenging as it is, it is good for me, in the long run.  But, there is a chance of smearing the shit everywhere too, which wouldn’t be good for me or anyone.  So, a sense of “hanging in there.”

I’ve become such a grumpy mofo, and yet I still try to end my blog posts on a positive note. +

— August 26, 2015

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 living as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.


PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

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