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Floral Notes and Bardo: “Oops,” and Apply Gentleness

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.

We’re a big, beautiful, beast!

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(Those cookies were made decorated by Kate Raddock at our community holiday cookie decorating cookie holiday event.)

Yesterday an intense Community Meeting discussing safety, substance use, and recent incidents of people having been asked to leave for various reasons.

I didn’t say a word, yet it was a very fulfilling experience.  I witnessed and felt people being very open, expressing genuine concern, and also people becoming defensive and accusatory.  But the whole thing felt civilized.

For me, safety is relative.  And, I feel very safe here.  I feel good living as part of a community that can gather and communicate in such a peaceful and open way.  People may have felt rubbed or hurt in one way or another, but no one called anybody dirty names. Nobody shut down and said “Fuck you.”  Nobody pushed or shoved.

It’s distressing to know that that stuff happens regularly elsewhere — to horrific extents.

We communicate so well here, I feel.

After the meeting, at dinner, I was discussing my experience of the meeting with Director Gayner and Kate.  I was reflecting on my first experience of a Community Meeting — back in spring 2012, when I first arrived.

Being in the shrine room, with the whole community, everyone sitting on cushions in meditation posture, in a circle… It felt like being in another realm.  It was so dramatically different from the sorts of communities I’d associated with previously.  It seemed enlightened.

Over the course of the last few years, being a part of this community, I’ve had different sorts of experiences.  I’ve been swept up in various styles of mental projection.  At times thinking negatively of the situation — thinking that people are phony, that the system is flawed.

Last night I experienced that sort of projection arising, but there was enough space around it to see it for what it was.  And, I didn’t stay caught in it.  Rather, I was able to open more fully and witness the good-heartedness of the whole thing.

The whole thing.

It’s precious to have a group of people together aspiring to bring about peace.  We all stumble, but we do so on the path of realization.  We’re one organism here.  People become aggressive towards one another in the same way that people become aggressive with themselves.  The remedy is the same: “Oops.” And apply gentleness.

— December 11, 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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

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