The respected teacher and master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche has returned to Tergar Monastery in Bodh Gaya, India, after a four-year solitary retreat wandering in the Himalayas. A statement dated 2 November on the website of the Tergar Meditation Community of global meditation centers, which was founded by Mingyur Rinpoche, announced: “We are absolutely delighted to inform you that Mingyur Rinpoche has emerged from his retreat! We were overjoyed to receive this news earlier today. As we learn more details about his plans and activities we will keep you updated.” (Tergar Learning Community)
In the letter, written in Tibetan, Mingyur Rinpoche explained that he had wanted to practice in the manner of a wandering yogi from a young age, and had finally made the decision to do so. “Though I do not claim to be like the great masters of times past, I am now embarking on this journey as a mere reflection of these teachers, as a faithful imitation of the example they set. For a number of years, my training will consist of simply leaving behind my connections, so please do not be upset with my decision.” (Lion’s Roar)
“He took no money, and no possessions,” observed his older brother Tsoknyi Rinpoche. “He didn’t take his passport, his mobile phone, or even a toothbrush.” (The Guardian)
Mingyur Rinpoche described the first year of the retreat as extremely difficult as a result of serious health issues, but once that obstacle was overcome the retreat went very smoothly and was “One of the best periods of my life.” (Tergar Learning Community) His whereabouts were almost completely unknown for much of the retreat, aside from a handful of unconfirmed sightings, although a chance encounter between Mingyur Rinpoche and his friend and attendant Lama Tashi in Nepal in 2013 resulted in confirmation of Mingyur Rinpoche’s good health and his determination to continue his retreat.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche said he had “talked briefly” with Mingyur Rinpoche after his return to Bodh Gaya. “He is in good health and doing very well. My impression from talking to him is as if nothing happened at all, nothing exciting, very ordinary, like I just saw him yesterday. Lama Tashi didn’t come with him and continues his retreat,” he said. (Tsoknyi Rinpoche)
Donald Lopez, professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, noted a clear parallel in Mingyur Rinpoche’s decision with the life of the Buddha: “Since the fall of the Tibetan monarchy in 842, incarnate lamas have served as a kind of aristocracy in Tibet, so a high-ranking tulku is not unlike a prince. Mingyur Rinpoche has renounced royal life, just as Prince Siddhartha did. This radical step that he has taken is essentially a return to the lifestyle that the Buddha prescribed for all monks.” (The Guardian)
Born in Nepal in 1975, Mingyur Rinpoche learned meditation from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who passed on the most essential aspects of the Dzogchen and Mahamudra traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Mingyur Rinpoche went on to study at Sherab Ling Monastery in northern India when he was just 11 and two years later began a three-year retreat at the monastery, completing a second immediately afterwards, in which he served as retreat master. He took full monastic ordination at 23, and received important Dzogchen transmissions from Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. In 2007, Mingyur Rinpoche completed the construction of Tergar Monastery in Bodh Gaya. He has also overseen the Kathmandu Tergar Osel Ling Monastery, founded by his father, since 2010, opening a shedra(monastic college) at the monastery. Mingyur Rinpoche is also a best-selling author, having written The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, and Turning Confusion into Clarity: A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan Buddhism.
Mingyur Rinpoche has Emerged from his Retreat! (Tergar Learning Community)
A Message from Tsoknyi Rinpoche about Mingyur Rinpoche (Tsoknyi Rinpoche)
Mingyur Rinpoche’s Farewell Letter to the Tergar Community When Entering Retreat (Tergar)
Letter from Mingyur Rinpoche after Nepal Earthquake (Tergar Learning Community)
The Wanderer (Lion’s Roar)
Mingyur Rinpoche, the millionaire monk who renounced it all (The Guardian)
A Guided Meditation on the Body, Space, and Awareness with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (YouTube)