Well, summer is over. Reflecting on the last few months it occurs to me that there is a story that I intended to cover on this blog and never did.
In June, Tibetan Buddhist teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodh Gaya without taking anything but the robes on his back—no money, no food, no possessions—to embrace the life of a wandering yogi. He will likely not be seen or heard from for three years. This kind of retreat practice has been done by many great teachers of the past but is not common in modern times. A letter he left behind before leaving was posted on his website, tergar.org, and the website The Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. From the letter,
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.
Quite inspiring, but there is also a great deal over concern for his safety. Living the life of a wandering yogi was never a particularly safe practice, which is reflected in many of the life stories and myths regarding the great Mahasiddhas, and beyond that, the world has changed a lot in recent centuries and there are surely new dangers. In the video below, Mingyur Rinpoche’s brother, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, explains that upon hearing the news their mother cried for seven days out of worry for her son. Tsoknyi Rinpoche asks that people pray for his brother’s safety, and notes that the main message in his brother’s letter is that “practice is the most important thing.”
Click here to read “The Aim of Attention” by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche from the Tricycle Wisdom Collection.
Click here to read “The Easy Middle,” an interview with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, from the Tricycle Wisdom Collection.
In less inspiring news, About.com Buddhism blogger Barbara O’Brien (who we recently interviewed) pointed out that Fox news anchor Gretchen Carlson recently made some pretty ignorant statements about Buddhists and Buddhist nuns. Barbara reports,
Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson objected to the inclusion of a Buddhist nun — Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche — at this Sunday morning’s September 11 memorial service in Washington. In fact, Ms. Carlson had not known there was such a thing as Buddhist nuns.
Ms. Carlson’s gripe is that Southern Baptists were not included in the Sunday morning service. I believe Christianity is represented only by an Episcopal priest, the Bishop of Washington. However, the Sunday service is the culmination of a three-day event that begins today and includes many more Christians.”
Barbara goes on to post the entire dialogue from Fox, which includes statements about how they “didn’t know Buddhist nuns even existed,” that they “could fit all the Buddhist nuns in America into a phone booth,” and that Buddhists, along with seemingly everyone who isn’t Christian, are a “fringe group.”
While there isn’t much use in getting bent out of shape over statements made by questionable media sources such as this, I do think this conversation was significant enough to make note of. Bad form, Fox.
So, in honor of all the Buddhist nuns out there dedicating themselves to practice and service, we’d like to share this beautiful image titled “To Be a Buddhist Nun,” from the film In the Shadow of the Buddha about the “seldom seen world of Buddhist nuns” which is premiering on September 14th at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC:
UPDATE: I was informed that there was also another letter that Mingyur Rinpoche wrote to his students before leaving, which can be read on his website.
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