Life at SMC

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 while he works without complaining.  He is available.

Last fall, we took refuge in the three jewels together — formally committing to the Buddhist path.  Next month, we’ll take our Bodhisattva vows.

Lately my mind has not been like the mind he shared while we sat on the bench.  There’s been lots of aggression, resentment, a feeling of burnout.  I know I need to turn it around 180 and put others first.  It’s not easy.  It’s counter-instinctive, somehow.  The only way to do it is genuinely.  But, there may be a “fake it till you make it” process.

So, perhaps what I’m seeking, within myself, and within my experience, is trust.  Trust in what?  Trust in my own non-existence.

— July 9, 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