In early June, 2011, Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodhgaya, India to begin a period of extended solitary retreat. He departed in the middle of the night without telling anyone. He did not take any money or belongings, just the clothes he was wearing. The day after he left, his close friend and attendant, Lama Soto, found this letter in Mingyur Rinpoche’s room.
I write this letter to all the wise and pure-intentioned individuals who rely on me, both the monastic communities and lay practitioners throughout India, Nepal, and Tibet.
From a young age, I have harbored the wish to stay in retreat and practice, wandering from place to place without any fixed location. I also received an ocean of instructions from my glorious and kind root gurus. Though I have attempted to stay in retreat and practice, I have passed the rest of my time in laziness and diversions, letting my life come to nothing more than a distraction.
I have made a firm decision, based on the advice of the great masters of times past and my own heart’s desire, to, as the example goes, take the reins into my own hands. Our lives are as fragile as a bubble and the activities of this life are as endless as the waves of the ocean. Yet whatever we do, we should rely upon and place our hopes in the Buddha’s sacred and divine teachings. It is the Dharma that will benefit both us and other sentient beings. For this and other reasons, I have become disillusioned with the experiences of this life.
With genuine conviction in the lineage and instructions I have received, along with a motivation to be of benefit to others, various causes and conditions have prompted me to make the decision to wander alone, without fixed location, in remote mountain ranges. 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.
As I have recommended before, throughout this period it is important to study, contemplate, and meditate. With a sense of harmony and pure discipline as a basis, it is important to study and contemplate the traditional scriptures of the Buddhist tradition, and [to learn] the traditions, practices, fields of knowledge, and other disciplines [taught in our lineage]. It is especially important to not always focus your attention outward, but to apply the teachings to your own mind. You should calm and pacify your own mindstream. It is important to bring benefit to the Buddha’s teachings and to your fellow sentient beings.
There is no need to worry about me. After a few years, we will meet again and, as before, gather together as teacher and student to enjoy a feast of the Dharma. Until that time, I will continually pray to the Three Jewels and make aspirations on your behalf.
Written on the 3rd day of the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar in the year 2011
To download the original version of the letter, click here.
The following letter was written by Mingyur Rinpoche’s teacher, Khenting Tai Situ Rinpoche:
To all those connected with pure samaya to the sacred Dharma,
On June 9th, 2011, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s attendant, Lama Soto, arrived with the letter that Mingyur Rinpoche left behind. Based on the intent of this letter and on the account provided by Lama Soto, [it seems that] Mingyur Rinpoche has left to practice for a number of years, wandering without any fixed location like the yogis of times past.
To help ensure that Mingyur Rinpoche’s pure intention meets with success, and that his efforts to emulate the deeds of the holy beings of the past do not meet with any outer or inner obstacles, I myself will pray to the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and enjoin the enlightened activities of the ocean of oath-bound Dharma protectors.
All the students in the Dharma communities and monasteries connected to Mingyur Rinpoche should do their share by continuing to practice the Dharma and continuing to nurture, and not lose sight of, the root of the Buddha’s teachings. As stated above, to ensure that Rinpoche’s profound efforts to practice for the benefit of the teachings and beings, the following should be performed: a single recitation of the entire Kangyur (the Collected Teachings of the Victorious One), one hundred thousand Tara recitations, the guru yoga practices of Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, one hundred million recitations of the Seven Line Supplication, one hundred million recitations of the hundred-syllable mantra, and one hundred thousand amendment and feast offerings to Mahakala and Mahakali. In addition, it is also important to perform on a vast scale whatever Dharma practices one deems appropriate.
This was written at the monastic seat of Palpung Sherab Ling Monastery by Khenting Tai Situpa on June 24th, 2011. May it be meaningful.
Shambhala Sun article, “The Wanderer” about Mingyur Rinpoche’s Retreat.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s reaction to Mingyur Rinpoche’s departure on Tergar Learning Community.
Sogyal Rinpoche’s reaction to Mingyur Rinpoche’s retreat on Tergar Learning Community.