Summer of 2018: Shambhala Mountain Center

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The summer is over, but the memories remain. While the summer was going on, I didn’t have time to edit photos and write up the stories to go with them, but now I do. This regular series will look back at the trips and adventures of the summer.

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During a weekend of Jeep camping with my cousin Laura and Nate, we decided to take a visit to Shambhala Mountain Center. Shambhala is a Buddhist temple in the foothills near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. They host programs and workshops and offer lodging in cabins and tents. The biggest draw, to a non-Buddhist at least, is the 108-foot tall temple, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. The temple houses, among other things, a gigantic Buddha.

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The rest of the complex was closed due to a silent meditation retreat being run at the center, but the stupa was open for visitation. While I’m not knowledgable about the religious symbology, the stupa, both inside and out, is a sight to behold. Although I’m not a Buddhist, it still felt right to practice my daily meditation on the cushions inside. Even Nate gave it a try.

As I looked at the stupa from the outside, I remembered the Buddhist practice of circumambulation, literally walking around temples. I decided to give it a shot just to see what it was like. Since I was still barefoot from my visit inside the temple, I circled the temple on hot sharp gravel without any shoes. While I’m sure the other tourists (and maybe my cousin) thought I was a weirdo, I found it quite meditative. Paying careful attention to the heat and sharpness of the gravel on my feet did drive out other thoughts and helped to focus the mind. Still, one time around was enough; I guess I’m not ready to be a monk yet.

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