A few years ago, when I was preparing to enter a traditional three-year retreat, the other retreatants and I had the good fortune of meeting Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. We met him during a weeklong festival, where many high-ranking rinpoches, lamas, and hundreds of practitioners gathered to pray for the flourishing of the dharma and for world peace.
I remember thinking about how approachable he was. There were none of the hierarchical barriers I’d encountered with other prominent teachers. Even at this busy gathering, we were able to talk to Mingyur Rinpoche directly. The other retreatants and I were granted a private audience, and as we all sat around him, he offered us advice for our retreat.
Contrary to what you might expect, his advice was not about the elaborate practices we’d be engaging in or even meditation. His advice was straightforward and personal; he instructed us to do our best to get along with each other. While at first glance this might seem too basic, I think it gets to the essence of who we should aspire to be. It doesn’t matter how much retreat we’ve done, or how good we are at elaborate practices and rituals. If those practices don’t translate to being kind to others, then we are missing the mark.
In this issue, Lion’s Roar editor Andrea Miller talks with Mingyur Rinpoche about his personal struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. In this in-depth interview, he discusses buddhanature, enlightenment, the role of the teacher, emptiness, and nonself, among other key Buddhist concepts. This issue also features a transformational teaching by Mingyur Rinpoche on the practice of Dzogchen, a meditation practice that helps us peel away the obscurations that stop us from realizing our own enlightened mind. And finally, in this issue, Mingyur Rinpoche offers a guided practice with step-by-step instructions to help us experience the true nature of mind.
Mingyur Rinpoche has inspired many practitioners. His approach to teaching and his understanding of the dharma reflect the humanity of his experience, because he talks openly about his own life and practice. Mingyur Rinpoche is one of those rare teachers who not only embodies the Buddha’s teachings, but who is also able to communicate them in a clear and direct manner.