As many of you already know, in June of this year Mingyur Rinpoche left for an extended period of solitary retreat. What you may not know are the details of his departure.
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.