Tuesday 25 March 2014

Mingyur Rinpoche, Compassionately Wise

Mingyur Rinpoche in the Mountains

These days it is not so often that someone inspires me. It is rare to come by the likes of one such as Mingyur Rinpoche. He was prepared to give up all the comforts, routines, pleasures and fame that he had secured in his life as an internationally renowned Lama and go out into the world with only the clothes on his back. He was prepared to face all the harsh conditions that such a lifestyle can throw at you and not just for a few days or weeks but for years on end.

He left behind his known, comfortable world in 2011 in order to embark on a period of intensive sadhana as an anonymous, wandering yogi, with no fixed abode, no certainties of food, no surety of shelter. He carried nothing with him, just the clothes that he was wearing and a few of the simple dharma 'tools' such as a Malla, (rosary for counting mantras) a few sacred texts and some relics from his Tsawai Lama, (root or main teacher) such as all Buddhist practitioners keep with them.

No one knew where he went and he himself would have had only the vaguest of plans, if any at all.

I remember the first time I ever heard his name. His brother Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who had just emerged from a long retreat in Tashi Jong, had just returned from visiting his brother in Sherab Ling in Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. By the way he spoke of his brother and said, "you must meet Mingyur Rinpoche," I had understood that he was someone 'special.'

Some time passed and I was staying in Boudanath, Nepal, when I visited Ka-Nying Gompa, which is very close to Shechen Monastery where my Master, the previous Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was residing. There was a Drupchen ceremony in progress at that time and I had come during the recess and was just standing near the doorway.

People were milling around inside. When I looked towards the main shrine I noticed a figure standing just in front of the alter. His back was towards me so I could not make out his face and he appeared to be praying as he stood there quietly. I could not understand why, but my eyes were in some way drawn to that silent figure. I did not recognize it as anyone I knew and yet it was deeply familiar and unusual in some mysterious way.

Later I came to know that it was Mingyur Rinpoche on a brief visit to Nepal. Even though I did not actually see his face on that occassion, yet somehow the impression of his 'presence' remained very strongly in my mind.

Several years after this, while I was staying in BodhGaya, I came to know that Rinpoche was staying in a guest house nearby. I decided I would visit and make a connection with him as, until then, I had not had the opportunity to meet him.

I went along with my offerings of fruit and kadak (a long white scarf of greeting) and awaited my chance for a private interview. At that time an old monk was attending him. It was not long before I was taken inside.

I was very eager to meet with Mingyur Rinpoche, but I was not expecting that I would have such a strong reaction. Yet the minute I began to speak a few words I found myself quite choked up with a sudden and very intense emotion and then tears began to flow down my face. My initial response was one of embarrassment and annoyance that I should react in such a way and yet I could not help it. The tears just continued to flow and in the end I could not say anything even remotely coherent.

Read more in Masters, Mice and Men
Volume Three from Shades of Awareness

Biography of Mingyur Rinpoche