While the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing widespread lockdowns have led to untold physical, mental, financial, and social disruptions around the world, the Tergar Meditation Community. founded by the respected teacher and master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, has spent the past 11 months of uncertainty quietly working to alleviate this very particular suffering through Buddhist wisdom and guidance, aiming to “promote calm and compassion and address common anxieties and specific issues of isolation.”
“Earlier in the year, it became clear that the pandemic would disrupt our lives, but few of us could have imagined just how difficult this period would be,” Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche explained in a recent statement. “In times like this, the truth of impermanence is obvious. We don’t need anyone to remind us that things change. Change is what we experience every single day. What we really need is support. We need people by our side, walking the path with us. We need friends to help us see that we have the strength and wisdom to deal with pain, loss, uncertainty, and upheaval.”
The Tergar Meditation Community, which is focused on sharing the ancient practice of Buddhist meditation with the modern world in an accessible way, has conducted online retreats and published a series of online teachings and practice videos specifically aimed at helping people come to terms with the realities of the pandemic, and the obstacles and suffering that it has presented, through wisdom and compassion. The video channel includes teachings by Mingyur Rinpoche himself and other Tergar instructors, along with online practice sessions with Tergar’s global team of facilitators.
“We could follow the path of awakening by ourselves, but without community, we would miss so many opportunities to learn and grow, and to support others in doing the same,” Rinpoche observed. “Our friendships, the time we spend together, our conversations . . . all of these bring us together around the common cause of awakening. In a world filled with distraction, community brings us back to what is truly meaningful. With so many things to provoke fear, anxiety, and anger, community reminds us of who we want to be and how we want to live our lives.”
Meditation is an intrinsic component of Buddhist practice and for thousands of years has been a source of peace, insight, and transformation for countless people around the world. As well as offering a path to spiritual realization, meditation can also be a means of for attaining peace of mind, equanimity, and acceptance, and a means of mitigating suffering in times of crisis and instability.
“In some ways, connecting to other people is more difficult these days, but modern technology helps us feel connected in new ways,” Mingyur Rinpoche noted. “We can meditate with people on the other side of the planet. We can share our experience and form friendships with people we would never meet under normal circumstances. So while we may feel alone and disconnected at times, we are all co-creating this global community. In the months and years to come, I pray that we may all come together to support each other through these challenging times.”
Born in 1975 in the Himalayan border region between Tibet and Nepal, Mingyur Rinpoche received extensive training in the meditative and philosophical traditions of Tibetan Buddhism from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–96), considered one of the greatest modern Dzogchen masters, and subsequently at Sherab Ling Monastery in northern India. After just two years, at the age of 13, Mingyur Rinpoche entered a three-year meditation retreat and then completed a second immediately afterward, serving as retreat master. At 23, Rinpoche received full monastic ordination.
Mingyur Rinpoche famously undertook a four-year solitary wandering retreat through the Himalaya from 2011–15.* In recounting how he came to terms with the realities of his ambition to practice in the manner of a wandering yogi, Rinpoche revealed some of the many personal and spiritual challenges he faced—including at one point confronting his own mortality. He describes the years spent wandering in the Himalayas as “one of the best periods of my life.”
Mingyur Rinpoche is the founder of the Tergar Meditation Community, which now has centers and practice groups across the world, and a best-selling writer, author of The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness (2007), Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom (2009), and Turning Confusion into Clarity: A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan Buddhism (2014).
* Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche Returns from Four-year Wilderness Retreat (Buddhistdoor Global)
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche Releases Video Offering Insights Following His Retreat (Buddhistdoor Global)