Tricycle’s 30th Anniversary

Mingyur Rinpoche interviewed by Helen Tworkov

Tricycle founder Helen Tworkov is a longtime student of Mingyur Rinpoche, a master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Together, they wrote the book In Love With the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying, which documents Mingyur’s Rinpoche’s four-year wandering retreat. In this exclusive interview for Tricycle’s month-long 30th anniversary event series, they discuss his experiences during the pandemic year and advice for practitioners in today’s tumultuous world.

Access the Dalai Lama interview here

Access recordings of past 30th Anniversary events here




Helen Tworkov: So Rinpoche, I wanted to thank you so much for joining us today and helping to celebrate Tricycle’s 30th anniversary, and for taking the time to be with us and talk with us.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Most welcome.

Helen Tworkov: I thought we would start with asking you a little bit about your own life during the pandemic. It’s been almost one year now. And you have students all over the world — China, Japan, South America, Europe, North America — so you have a a very big view of what’s going on and how disruptive this has been for many, many, many lives. So I was wondering if you could share with us some of your own personal experience, your own personal life, during this time?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah, what I felt during this pandemic… Of course, there’s a lot of suffering around the world. Many people lost lives, and also, it affects the economy. And many people, it’s affecting the mental well-being. But at the same time, a lot of my students, what they report to me is that, it has been a retreat for them. It’s kind of like a spiritual journey within themselves. And I felt that for me, too. So I was kind of like, semi-retreat. And then what I did is, I did a lot of books, I’m teaching online. And at the same time, I practice meditation for myself. And I also did some farming, grow vegetables. So there’s a lot of things that I never did before, like this combination together. So for me, that was a very new experience.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, has the pandemic, especially given your very wide view from students everywhere, has it changed in any way how you see the world or how you think about what you might want to teach, what you would emphasize in dharma teachings?

Mingyur Rinpoche: I think what I see is, this pandemic helps people become more spiritual. Of course, some people, their religion becomes worse and then there’s a lot of inner well-being problem. But overall, what I sense is that this has become more spiritual, and it might help us to think about the future world. Maybe we think more about the [care of the] environment, we think about how interdependence works, because now we can clearly see the entire world, how we are connected to each other, you know.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, you often speak about befriending adversity. It’s very much a part of your teachings, a part of your path of how we can bring everything into our lives to practice and to use for our practice. There have been times in the last year, especially in the United States, ing which the pandemic has been compounded with tremendous civil and political unrest and chaos. And sometimes the adversity just feels overwhelming. Can you talk about that?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah. So I think that what while I’m here, what I hear is, there’s a lot of really kind of awareness, about the races, about partiality. People are bringing a lot of, I think, justice, in a way. This, I think… really needed to bring these things up. And we should really talk about that, we should really bring this. So I think while we are having the pandemic, [there is] not equality, things like that. In a way, although something big changed — of course, there’s always painful moments, we have to go through that — but in a way I think it is coming [in the] entire world, not only in America, in Europe, even in Nepal. We have failed around the world, everybody. So I think this is hopeful to have a new good movement in the future.

Helen Tworkov: I think all of us, Buddhists, not Buddhists, everybody has an impulse right now to try to help. No matter what side you’re on, your political view, I think we know that we’re in a lot of trouble. And our impulse wants, we want to help. And you’ve often given the metaphor with the example of the airplane pilot: when the plane gets into trouble, maybe it’s going to crash or something, put your own oxygen mask on first, in order to increase your capability and capacity to help others in this time where the agony of the world is so loud. Some people, there seems to be for some, a kind of panic, like I have to rush in to help at the expense of inner transformation. And I would like to ask you to talk about that — especially for some younger or some newer Buddhists, the Buddhist path can feel, maybe not strong enough medicine right now.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah. So Buddha is also against racism, he follows equality…. Everybody [is equal], same rights, same value, he respects across different cultures, across India, race in India, everything [is] equal. So he really fights for that. But what he did is based on non-violence, so this is really important, although sometimes it may seem that short-term, short time, you don’t see the certainly big result. But for the long-term, I think this is really, really effective. But the important [thing] is, we really need to bring wisdom and compassion together. Sometimes too much intelligence, it will have a lot of side effects. Or just compassion sometimes becomes sloppy. [Laughs] So we have to join these two together, wisdom and compassion. And persistence is really important. Buddha always persisted. Again, again, again.

Helen Tworkov: It also feels like, from what I know of the Buddha’s life, he did what he did in a very deliberate way, without making a big political statement about it. He just did it. So he didn’t create one side versus the other side. He didn’t create oppositional forces. He was extremely skillful in not antagonizing the opposition. We’re living at a time, at least in the United States, where everything is incredibly polarized. You know, polarized: good, bad, right, wrong, you’re this, you’re that. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of space for in between. If you’re in between, or if you don’t take a side, then you’re demonized by both sides. How do we how do we go forward in trying to help without getting very rigid, very stuck in, “This is the right way and that’s the wrong way”? How do we go ahead without that, and without attachment to results?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah. I think, for me, normally what I’m saying — people have a lot of questions about this –what I’m saying is that the really important [thing] is your own actions, your own thought. The way [you do] what you do is I think really important. It’s not that I want to follow that way and everybody has to follow my way, and if not, then you are wrong. So that is not the real fighting for equalness, because you are also trapped into another kind of sectarianism. If you really want to be free of sectarianism, you should really follow… you should be the example. And then, you know, sometimes we cannot help everybody. We try our best to use our capacity, our knowledge, our wisdom, our compassion. We try our best and then try to help. But then we should not so much fixate on the result. Sometimes there’s a good result, sometimes there’s a result not happening. So to find this balance, I think, for me is really important.

Helen Tworkov: You also speak about the balance of inner work and outer work. By outer work, I mean working on behalf of, let’s say, social reform or social justice, racial justice, financial equality and so forth. Because again, there seems to be, for some of us who have been practicing for a while, even though we don’t always have access to inner resources, you know — especially in the last year, many longtime Buddhists like myself have been overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, uncertainty — but we have some sense of knowing where to look. We have some internal, we know something about turning inward. And for some of us, meditation itself is social action and we don’t doubt that. And we can add to that or not, or work with that, or do other things besides that. But again, for a lot of people new to Buddhism or younger Buddhists, that can feel like a kind of cop-out in today’s political world and people don’t always know how to put these together, the inside, the outside, the inner work, the outer work. It can feel kind of difficult to know how to bring it together. Can you talk about that?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah. I think the most important [thing] is the motivation, deeper level of motivation, and your action is based on non-violence. This too is really important. And then, of course, how to bring this action to support the world, the society. We have to think in skillful ways. Normally what Buddha said, for a peaceful way, for the development of a creative way, or magnetizing — like becoming the source of inspiration, the source of aspiration. Or there’s some kind of powerful way, but it’s not the violence, not the harm to anybody. So [choose] from different aspects, and then follow that. When do you do that, and you’re truly who you are, and then sending that message to others to influence others, that influence, I think, becomes very strong. And then even if you can influence two people, three people, they can influence another two or three people, and that can [influence] another two or three. Then actually, we are not more than seven people away. We are always connected to each other, I think.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, I heard you say that in today’s world, you put more faith in individual transformation — in the transformation of a very few people, which can then have influence and can become contagious — than you would in, let’s say, anything else. And again, it’s a message that for some people is hard to swallow in today’s world because the need for reform seems so great.

Mingyur Rinpoche: The forceful change or forceful transformation, “I want to change the world” — I think that has big side effects. We can look at the world history. All the dictators, at the beginning, they have a very good motivation. They want to change the world. Then what happened? They end up in the war, end up in fighting, killing. So all this happened, [because] “I want to change the world.” So I think, from what I’m thinking, the most important [thing] is to change yourself. You are also part of this world. If everybody wants to change themselves, then the world is changed! There’s nobody, there are no people who are not individuals. We cannot look beyond that. We all are part of the world, and especially, if you transform, then you can transform others. If you don’t transform inside, you cannot really transform others, no matter how you try. It just becomes like fake, and it cannot, the positive contagion cannot come. So this is really important, that we transform. If we transform, we are part of the world, and then eventually, I think, transformation has very strong, what I believe is a very strong, genuine power.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, does the amount of noise in the world that we have today, and the amount of chaos and disruption, does this make it harder for, especially younger students? We’ve been in touch with younger students or newer students… I mean, the Buddhist path can be very quiet, it can be very subtle. The aspiration for liberation can seem very elusive, as opposed to very concrete action, political action. So, is it harder in today’s world? Do you think that younger people or newer people are having a difficult time navigating this Buddhist path in this very noisy, chaotic culture?

Mingyur Rinpoche: I think nowadays, especially for the younger people, mind has become more sensitive. What I feel is that there’s a lot of monkey brain. Because we all have a monkey mind, I have monkey mind. So I think the most important [thing] is that in Buddhism, it’s not just passive, actually. As I mentioned, [there are] four activities we have to think about, a variety of things, not just “OK, compassion. Even though you’re doing wrong, I have to say you are right.” That’s not the really Buddhist way. So we have to combine wisdom — what’s right, what’s wrong — and the motivation based on compassion together. So four activities: peaceful, develop, magnetize, powerful. But the intention is not really harm to anybody at that point. But of course, sometimes, if we do even good things, there might have sometimes, because of part of their will, it may cause problems for somebody — especially those who are not doing good, who are the opposite of contributing to the world, it may cause a problem. That’s okay. That’s a part of that. So if we think about many different skills, not just one way, I think we will have a lot of variety of choice there. I think we can do so many things. And especially, we all have unique qualities. We all have special capacities, skills, wisdom, talents. Actually we have a lot within ourselves. Lead ourselves, use all of them, try your best to use them. But at the same time, our mind is not too tight on the result. Life is like a wave of the ocean. Life is like stock market. Whatever we do, there’s no such thing as always perfect. That is impossible.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you. Rinpoche, can you talk a little bit about the role of anger in trying to understand certain aspects of the society? As you know, in the United States — I’m sure you followed this, the killing of George Floyd.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah.

Helen Tworkov: And it shocked us, it shocked the world. It shocked America. Suddenly, we woke up to hundreds of years of injustice. It also created tremendous anger. Tremendous anger. It was very difficult to watch that footage, eight minutes, nine minutes, without, well, many different emotions, including a lot of anger. And in some ways that anger seemed to be channeled in a good way, in a positive way. Trying to make positive changes. In some cases, the anger stayed angry, stayed enraged. It didn’t dissolve so easily or didn’t get placed into action, into positive action. Can you talk about, how do we work with anger and how do we use it? How do we take advantage of it?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah. I also saw the video and I also got angry. The anger comes while watching that video, it’s not so easy. But then I asked the question to myself, what can I do? So what I can do is [learn] how to work with anger, and that is for myself and whoever asks this question, many of students, they ask me this question. They have anger. And they ask me, What should I do? How can I work with that? So as you’re saying that, in a way, the overall sense is that this anger tries to lead to the good way, to the good channel, to the positive outcome. A lot of things can escalate positively in the end, but I think if we are trapped in the anger, then anger actually will make more mistakes. And we become some as the person who’s killing George. So if we are trapped in anger, we don’t want to be that person, we want to bring the light, we want to bring the change to the world. So that anger — if you really want to change the world, if you follow the anger way, actually you cannot change the world. And that will make the world worse. It will not become support for justice. It will not become support for the transformation. And it will become war in the end, I think. It happened in the past. We go to war over so many things. At the beginning, a little bit of good motivation, then anger comes, then people trapped in anger, and in the end they got war. So it will not bring any good result. But we can bring anger with the wisdom. Although anger is very strong, what we call like  a fire burning. When we have anger, there’s a very clear image in our mind, and we don’t see actual reality. I heard that we only see 10% of the reality. 90% is our own perception. But at the same time, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of clarity there. So if we change within the anger… what we call anger, hatred is like poison. But within that poison, there’s a positive side; what we call wisdom. So what we’ve got is the wisdom of mirror-like wisdom. This mirror-like wisdom has clarity, energy, vibrance. And when we use that positively, I think that really has benefit for ourselves, benefit for the society.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you. Okay. In the last 100 years, or something like 100 years, 70 years, we’ve had a couple of great political leaders. And I’m thinking specifically of Gandhi, Mandela in South Africa, and Martin Luther King. They all advocated, or they all seem to come from… they share some similarities. One was a sense of nonduality, of not separating the victim from the perpetrator. One was a sense, I believe, that love was social action, that you couldn’t actually…. Thich Nhat Hanh also speaks about this. He doesn’t have the same role that they played. But he also speaks of this quality of social action in terms of love, and in terms of nonduality. And yet we live in a world in which some… and in all cases, it was based on a religious view, on a religiously defined view. But we’re also living at a time when religion itself has become a kind of dirty word in a large part of the society. How can we work with that? How can we make that more understood in a positive way?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Whatever we do, I think first importance is our own motivation, to try to reflect on our own motivation. And once we have good motivation, then we will see the purpose: what you’re supporting, what action you’re going to involve to support the world, to benefit  you, others, the world. So, action-wise, we cannot really [say], this is the right way. But I think what’s important is whatever those great leaders of the world… they have, as you said, the most important [thing] is they’re all following nonviolence. They all have the good motivation. And then, they have a sense of purpose. They are always energetic. They’re always wanting… no matter what obstacle comes to them, they stay with their own motivation. They stay with their own progress, meaning. And that actually changes the world. For me, what I see right now, is we still even look at their life story to inspire us. And that really affects our heart, our society. So I think this is a really powerful, in a way.

Helen Tworkov: One thing we haven’t talked about yet is climate; climate change. So, as you know, all of everything we’re talking about in terms of the society, in terms of the individual, or group or collective motivation, reform, wanting to help — all of this is against the backdrop of a very difficult climate situation. And I wanted to ask you about that in terms of the Indian Hindu legend going into Buddhism about the age of degeneration. We’ve been hearing Buddhism talk about the age of degeneration for hundreds of years. And it always says, this is the age of degeneration. Now, it sounds like this is really the age of the generation as described with enormous difficulties in climate, deserts, increasing thunderstorms, snow storms, volcanoes, tsunamis, extreme weather. It’s one of the definitions. Extreme violence, personal violence and collective political violence, extreme corruption among our political leaders, so that we cannot look to them to help us in this situation. So this is a very long-held belief that we are now in the age of the generation. How do we work with that? How do we work with climate change as one issue all by itself? And how do we use this larger image that we’re living in this degenerate age? How do we use that to maintain our aspirations?

Mingyur Rinpoche: I think the importance is, again, [that] everything starts from from yourself. So to bring awareness to the climate change, I think it’s important that we all try our best at what we can do. For example, I have some small land near the inside of my temple here, and I tried to preserve and grow trees — not just many number of trees, but also consistently helping trees grow fully, grow big trees. So right now, I’m staying in this house, and behind I have small land, and I grow trees for many years. And now the trees become very big and fully grown, so I feel quite good. If one person grows three big trees in their life, then the world will be full of trees, I think. And that really helps affect the entire planet. So we need to think about what we can do, not just complain about the leaders are not doing, and those people not doing, and who cares if I do these small things? There’s no effect to the world. So I think that we can just try our best at what we can do from the individual level. And yes, what we call now is a degeneration, so a degenerating time. The main problem for us is that what we call the monkey mind. Our mind becomes more negative, more lousy. That’s one of the signs of the degeneration time. But then, of course, environmentally, we have a lot of problems. But in general, like war or a lot of those problems, are actually less now or have become more peaceful than before. So we need to think about both aspects and looking at the positive aspect, I think, is really important. And then, bring that positive alive. Bring that positive to yourself, to the world. I think that’s really important.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, in your view, does this Buddhism have something to offer the world at this time that is unique? Or that we need to emphasize that is of particular importance to what the world needs right now?

Mingyur Rinpoche: I think so. I think Buddhism really plays an important role, especially for the mind, the mental degeneration. So what happens now is that we all have this crazy monkey mind, so therefore, we have a lot of depression, low self-esteem, panic and insecurity. And there’s a lot of feeling about stress, competition, deadlines. Of course, deadlines are important, but then, ruminating about the deadline. Relationship problems — those are a lot of the problems in our mind. And that affects our body also, that affects our relationships, and that affects the world also. So I think there’s a lot of great teaching from the Buddha about how we can transform them; poison transforms into medicine. As I mentioned before, anger is negative. But when we know how to transform anger — and there is a lot of positive within anger — so then anger becomes wisdom. The same thing with panic. I transformed my panic, and then as well, depression, low self-esteem, stress. That helps our body, society, the world.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, I don’t know about Asia, but certainly in the United States, maybe more so even here than in Europe, the very idea that our monkey mind is creating our suffering, that is a very radical idea. Because the common idea that we are very, very attached to is to blame. Somebody made me angry, somebody made me this low self-esteem problem. Somebody made me this greedy, materialistic problem. Taking responsibility for our mind, or understanding the ways in which the mind creates our own suffering is not a prevalent idea in our own society. How do we go about… is there a way to make that more prevalent? Or are we doing a good job in terms of our Buddhist teaching and our centers and our books and our magazines? Are we doing a good enough job in communicating that to the world at large?

Mingyur Rinpoche: I looked at Tricycle Magazine the first time that I come to America. It’s very interesting, a lot of good, East and West meet together. And then there’s a lot of teaching about transformation there. So I think we are, how to say…. The first time when I came to America and now — huge difference. So many people are aware about mindfulness, love and compassion, wisdom. So there’s a lot of change, from what I see. I think in Buddhism, yes, we talk about our mind, but not only mind, of course, there’s the environment. So everything [has] causes and conditions. Of course there’s somebody out there, of course the climate change is not only in your mind. Of course there’s someone telling you there’s some problem, political leaders or whoever — the outside has problems, of course. Your friends, sometimes the problem comes from your friends, from your family, from some colleagues. But the main thing for you is whether that problem becomes a problem for you or not. Your own mind can really can solve a lot of problems, can transform problem as your personal growth, to develop yourself. Then you can help the society. So in a way, problem becomes solution actually. Mistakes become cause of achievement also. So there’s a lot of things like that if we can work with our own mind and lead to the situation, to the positive. We can do that.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you. You have a reputation for being very happy and very joyful, and many of us would like to know more about this because, especially in the last year, it’s really been difficult. So how do you maintain a joyful outlook, a joyful view, a joyful life in the midst of so much confusion? Do you have some secret to share with us?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Don’t tell anybody, I have one secret! I had panic when I was a young, so not so happy actually. My nature when I was young was very sensitive. Something slightly wrong, then I feel not happy for weeks, cannot sleep well in the night, but what really helps me is the meditation practice. So I learned this meditation technique which is there in Tibetan Buddhism over thousands of years. I learned this from my father. The main thing of meditation is the transforming poison into medicine, so panic become your friend. Panic becomes your teacher. That’s the main technique. Of course, it’s not that easy to do that at the beginning. We need to practice step-by-step first. We need to connect with our own awareness. Awareness is our own fundamental nature. Awareness is always calm, peaceful, joyful awareness. Awareness is free! But then we have panic. Panic is like… my father said, awareness is like the sky, panic is like clouds. Not only the panic, depression, not happy, blaming, stress — all these are clouds, and that cloud doesn’t change the space, that cloud doesn’t change the sky. So how to do that? We need to connect with the sky. Sky is the awareness. So to connect with awareness, at the beginning, we can connect through the breath, through the sound, through the body sensations. And slowly, slowly, we can use panic as a support for awareness. Depression,  everything. Not fighting with panic; welcome. There is love. Accept panic. Once we can accept panic, then we can accept that bad friend with you in your company or in your social circle. If you can accept panic, you can accept the challenging person or difficult environment, but at the same time, accept doesn’t mean give up. You’re not giving up, you’re transforming your friend. You’re trying to help your colleagues. You’re trying to help the world. You’re trying to help the climate. So don’t give up; accept it and let it go. Letting go is not giving up. That really helped me. When I have a problem that comes to me, I’m not looking [for the] solution in something else than the problem itself. Actually the problem can be the solution.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, I’m going to ask you — I’m putting you on the spot here because we didn’t discuss this at all — but you’re talking about meditation and how it’s the most maybe helpful, accessible thing that we have to learn about our minds, to begin to make contact, to become familiar with our minds and how crazy they are and what we can do to help. Could you lead us in a meditation for one, two minutes?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yes.

Helen Tworkov: And whatever you want to walk us through, anything that you want, and then you end it when you want.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yes.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you very much.

Mingyur Rinpoche: You’re most welcome. So I think first, I would like to share a little bit about how to meditate. Nowadays many people think meditation means thinking of nothing; concentration, no stress, no panic, no depression. Then what happens? Panic becomes stronger. So you can try, just for one minute, try that. “I’m not going to think about the pizza. I’m not going to think about pizza.” What happened? You will think about the pizza. Pizza will come in your mind. Or if you think, “I need peace,” some people think meditation is “blissing out,” you know, peace, calm, quiet, empty mind, empty brain. That is not the real meditation! When you look for something, actually our mind does the opposite. When you say “no,” mind says “yes.” When you say “yes,” mind says “no.” When you go to the exam hall looking for answer, the answer disappears. You know, mind becomes empty. Then the exam time is gone, and when you come out of the exam hall, you remember, but too late! So, therefore, what we call this truth is aversion and craving. Craving is also a cause of suffering. Aversion, resist, “no good, no good, this is no good,” that’s the problem. Our mind becomes sensitive, then in the end everything becomes a problem, so that is also a cause of suffering. So how can we let go of this truth? We cannot let go of this truth! Just thinking that, “I want to let it go,” so we have to know the skill, the technique. The technique is, we need to stay with awareness. We need to be aware. In the awareness, aversion is okay! Craving is okay! Both craving is okay and aversion is also okay. Essence of this craving and aversion is the awareness. Essence of panic is awareness . Essence of stress is awareness. Depression. The essence of all these emotions is awareness. So how do you connect with awareness? With the breath. Just be with the breath! We don’t need particularly strong focus on the breath. We don’t need to say “no pizza” also. What we have to do is we need to remember the breath. Breathing in, breathing out. That’s a glimpse. Our mind cannot be with the breath too long. A few seconds. And let it be a few seconds. So we will try this together. Please keep your spine loose and straight, and close your eyes and please try to relax the muscles in your body. Feel the gravity in your body. Feel your head. Face, neck, back, shoulders. Relax your shoulders, chest, stomach, arms and legs. Just let it be as it is. If you cannot relax, also okay. Give permission [to not] relax. When you allow that you cannot relax, that means that you’re relaxing. And knowing that you’re not relaxed is awareness. So for the awareness, it doesn’t matter if you’re relaxed or not relaxed. It doesn’t matter. Both are relax. Now, please bring your mind on your breath. Just be with your breath. With the natural breath, you don’t need to control your breath. Just normal breathing and your mind be with the breath. Breathing in, breathing out. It doesn’t matter. You might have hundreds of thoughts appear. Images, voice, blah blah, yada, yada. Okay, and let them come. Let them go. As long as you still remember your breath, you are okay. You don’t need to control anything. You don’t have to change or make any new thing. You can be yourself as it is, and remember your breath. Breathing in, breathing out. Okay. So now, wish that whatever peace and calm experience that you have, share that to others. Pray the world will be peace. And in particular, if you want to pray for your friends, family. You can dedicate this peace to all of them. May all beings be happy. May all beings be free. Okay. Thank you.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you so much, Rinpoche. Thank you.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Welcome.

Helen Tworkov: That’s a beautiful way to end our time together. But I did want to ask Danya to join us for a minute. She’s our technician. She works at Tricycle and she’s also a student of yours. But I wanted to ask her if she would like to ask you a question.

Danya Spencer: Hello Rinpoche, and thank you for this opportunity. So for lay practitioners, we face the challenge of finding the balance between livelihood, practice, and social or civic engagement as well, for many of us. So my question is, what is the role of retreat for us? Do we need to go into retreat to stabilize our practice, and then return to community to be of greater benefit to beings? I’d love to hear any of your input on working with this balance.

Mingyur Rinpoche: In Tibet, we have a household style of practice. So those householders are nomads, farmers, or, woodworkers iron workers, so many of them. So what they do is they combine this practice in their life. They have one formal session, maybe at the beginning, maybe 10, or 5 to 10 minutes per day of formal session. Then they increase later that formal session. They let go of everything, not cooking, not looking at the farm, only that formal meditation session. They totally rest and they totally dedicate their time to the practice. And that formal session tries to keep the schedule in your daily life — something which is not affecting your daily life, whatever your work, and you can do at the beginning. It’s very important, not to promise too much at the beginning. And then, combine with the informal meditation, while they are working, maybe looking after the animals, or farming, cooking. So bring the meditation just a short time, many times. And this is actually really good, especially for the beginning. Because even if you have plenty of time for meditation, you cannot practice meditation a lot. It’s like, if you have the whole day, you have good time the whole day for the gym. You cannot play gym much, you know. You will [have] really painful muscles! And then soon you will give up going to the gym. Like, for example, some people really want to swim. And when they make a swimming pool in their home, they will swim for six months, then stop. Will not swim there. So that is same way with practice. So [you are] busy with your life, but then bring meditation, bring practice, bring dharma into that life a little bit. Oh, this is time for my practice? Oh, yes, here and there, a little bit, and that increases the energy or capacity to practice. Then later, if you want, you can do retreat. The retreat, in the old days, sometimes they had special days. Like, today is the full moon day and they do one-day retreat. Or sometimes, on special occasions, they do two or three day retreat,  they go to the monastery to do retreat like that. Nowadays, we can do retreat even at home. You know, sometimes weekend retreats. In one month, we have four weekends. Maybe we can do one weekend, or one-day retreat, or a half-day retreat. Something like that is possible. So, gradually, I think that’s really good.

Helen Tworkov: Rinpoche, is there anything that you would like to say, anything in particular, that you would like to say before we end?

Mingyur Rinpoche: Yeah. I think the really important [thing], especially nowadays, with a pandemic happening around the world, is that the courage is really important. So don’t give up! Continue, learn, grow, transform. At the same time, accept there is a pandemic. There is suffering. So accept that. Let go, but don’t give up. Continue to transform. I think this is really important.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you so much, Rinpoche. It’s been wonderful to have you and to have you join the celebration. Thank you.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Thank you. Thank you very much and very happy to have celebration of Tricycle right now, which is how many years now?

Helen Tworkov: 30.

Mingyur Rinpoche: Congratulations for 30 years of the magazine, continuing to benefit many people. Thank you.

Helen Tworkov: Thank you. Thank you.