Life at SMC

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 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


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