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10/14/2017 – A Week in Pictures


Seun's Skeleton Blog

For a group of people committed to intense soul searching, the residents of Great Vow monastery can be surprisingly light hearted. When it’s time to work or meditate, their discipline is impeccable – but they also know how to kick back and relax.

On Sunday afternoon, several residents went to a nearby farm to light a bonfire and dance

I’ve lived at the monastery now for about a month, and am starting to settle into the schedule. Rising before dawn every day doesn’t feel like torture anymore.

Walking past a Buddha statue in the rain

The view from the monastery can be breathtaking

Spending time in nature goes a long way to reducing stress and angst. Much of my free time is passed wandering beneath the silent forest canopy or admiring the sunsets.

Marimba concert!

Perhaps my biggest surprise so far was learning how talented people are. Tonight they held…

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9/25/2017 – Making peace with uncertainty

I met Seun showing his documentary at Cleveland Film Festival many years ago. Now I follow his amazing life unfold. Here’s a brief summary …

Seun's Skeleton Blog

Today the monastery was closed and we didn’t have to follow any schedule. I slept in, did six hours of meditation (alternately sitting in the meditation hall and walking in the forest), and took care of miscellaneous tasks – like helping to organize a bone marrow drive in Nigeria next week.

I also watched some skeleton point-of-view (“POV”) videos from the office of the monastery, the only place with reliable wifi, and asked, “Do I really want to keep going after this Olympic dream? What’s driving me? When do I move on?”

I’ve come to Great Vow, a place of quiet contemplation, to wrestle with these questions. Tonight I reread a 2010 interview with NPR that ended with:

“There’s a strong parallel between the challenges of transplant and the challenges of being a skeleton athlete,” Adebiyi says. “There’s a time for all-out effort, and there’s a time for surrender.” Surrender…

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Guitar in Colorado

Greg Smith, guitar player in this video, led the 2009 beginners’ retreat I attended at the Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC) in Colorado. The following is a direct quote from the SMC online newsletter dated December 5, 2012.


“Stupa Serenade

Posted on December 5, 2012 by 
Painter of Thangkas, Playing Guitar.Greg Smith studied with Choyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is now a student of his son Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Of the past 33 years, Greg has spent 23 at Shambhala Mountain Center, contributing to the community and practice environment, and befriending many of the program participants. He oversaw the painting of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya during its construction and continues to relate to it on a daily basis. After all, he can see it from his bedside window.We asked Greg for an offering that we could share with our community to celebrate the richness of our sangha. He was more than happy to oblige and decided to play a song, in every floor of the Stupa!

So here is Greg Smith, practitioner, painter, guitarist, and friend.”

Metta Chant

This lovely slideshow set to music characterizes my new interest in meditation. Enjoy –