Greetings from India!
It has been quite an adventure since we arrived in India and met with Mingyur Rinpoche for the first time. We spent the first few days in Delhi, where the four of us – along with Ani Miao Rong and Chin Yung from Tergar Asia – spent many hours with Rinpoche over the course of two days. He told us all about his retreat and shared his vision for the future of the Tergar Community. We were also able to tell him how the community has flourished while he was away and to ask the many questions that have accumulated over the past four years. Rinpoche has many ideas that are clearly inspired by his experiences in retreat. We look forward to the day when he shares them with the community.
For these first few days we stayed at the same hotel with His Holiness Karmapa – who was in Delhi to give some teachings. Mingyur Rinpoche met with him daily during that time. One day we were fortunate to have lunch with the Karmapa, Mingyur Rinpoche, and a few other guests, and it was wonderful to see them chatting and laughing – they were clearly enjoying each other’s presence. We also accompanied Mingyur Rinpoche to meet with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, another important teacher in the Kagyu lineage. The visit was short, but it was nice to see these two great teachers reconnecting. Throughout our stay in Delhi, many people came to visit Mingyur Rinpoche at the hotel where we were staying, so he spent part of each day receiving visitors from around the world.
On Tuesday, we packed our bags and left for Sherab Ling Monastery, the seat of His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of Mingyur Rinpoche’s four main teachers. Nestled in the Himalayan foothills in Northwest India, this majestic monastery is where Mingyur Rinpoche spent many of his early years, including many years in retreat. Upon arrival, Mingyur Rinpoche was greeted by a procession of hundreds of monks and nuns, all clearly excited to see him again after such a long time away. Rinpoche made his way through the crowd and was ushered in to meet with Tai Situ Rinpoche, who was in a month-long retreat. We were unexpectedly invited in as well and were able to witness their remarkable reunion.
The meeting began with Mingyur Rinpoche presenting a mandala offering – a symbolic gift that represents the entire universe. He then took a seat nearby Tai Situ Rinpoche. We sat quietly on the opposite side of Tai Situ Rinpoche as the two spoke quietly in Tibetan. After a few minutes, Tai Situ Rinpoche turned to us and began speaking in English. He told us about the historic connection between the previous Tai Situ Rinpoches and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoches, and also how important it is to maintain the teachings of this precious lineage so that it remains available for future generations. All the while, he was smiling and laughing, both serious and playful at the same time. We were all moved by his presence and felt incredibly fortunate to spend time with our two teachers in such a special moment. After half an hour or so, we all left and Tai Situ Rinpoche resumed his retreat.
Over the past few days, Mingyur Rinpoche has been meeting regularly with Tai Situ Rinpoche. He has also been receiving visitors for a few hours each afternoon. Despite the remoteness of the monastery, there have been hundreds of visitors coming to meet him. Yesterday Mingyur Rinpoche gave his first teachings since he completed his retreat. He first visited the monks’ three-year retreat center here at Sherab Ling and gave teachings to the retreatants. He then visited the monastic college (shedra) and gave a talk to a few hundred monks. He told the monks that studying Buddhist philosophy is not merely a theoretical exercise, but should be rooted in practice and direct experience. He also spoke of the importance of having a compassionate motivation for one’s study and practice, stressing that one should do so to help others, not merely to advance one’s own interests and ambitions. After leaving the monastic college, Rinpoche went to the nuns’ three-year retreat center and spent the afternoon there giving teachings.
We have been meeting with Rinpoche for a few hours each evening to continue our discussions. Last night we filmed a few new videos for the community. Soon you will be able to watch these videos and hear from Rinpoche himself about his experiences on retreat. It’s a remarkable story!
Tomorrow we return to Delhi with Mingyur Rinpoche. The day after that we will part ways. Mingyur Rinpoche will travel to Kathmandu, where he will visit his monastery, and also see his brother Tsoknyi Rinpoche, his grandfather, his mother (whom he also met in Delhi), and his many students in Nepal. He will be there just a few days before returning to Sherab Ling. In late December, he will travel to Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya, where he will stay for a few months. He told us that his stay in Bodhgaya will be a good time for people to come and meet him. He has not yet decided whether or not he will offer teachings while he is there.
Meanwhile, we will return to the United States and begin preparing for Mingyur Rinpoche’s visit to our communities in Europe, North America and South America. We don’t have any specific details yet, but Mingyur Rinpoche will hopefully be able to travel to the West next year.
Mingyur Rinpoche has expressed great appreciation for what the community has accomplished over the past few years. As a community, our commitment to practice, to supporting one another, and to making the world a better place has only grown while he was on retreat. On behalf of Mingyur Rinpoche, we would like to thank you for everything you have done to keep the teachings alive in your own heart.
Cortland, Edwin, Myoshin, and Tim