A Wanderer Returns: Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche Speaks

Learn the wisdom behind the secret journey of Buddhist teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.

In June 2012, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche disappeared. He had been teaching at Tergar Monastery, where he was well-respected by the students and admired by his previous teachers. The rest of the world recognized Mingyur as a bestselling author. Despite all of his success, Mingyur longed to search for something beyond the ego, and took his practice to the road.

Many yogis might be familiar with Mingyur’s The Joy of Living, a book that explores the power of meditation through physics, neuroscience, and Tibetan Buddhism. The book is designed to encourage readers to use meditation as a means of navigating through everyday obstacles and recognizing the potential of a strong mind.

We choose ignorance because we can. We choose awareness because we can. Samsara and nirvana are simply different points of view based on the choices we make in how to examine and understand our experience. There’s nothing magical about nirvana and nothing bad or wrong about samsara. If you’re determined to think of yourself as limited, fearful, vulnerable, or scarred by past experience, know only that you have chosen to do so, and that the opportunity to experience yourself differently is always available.

― The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness 

The Joy of Living has been celebrated for increasing the accessibility of meditation for the everyday human. Now that Mingyur has emerged from another adventure, people are curious as to what he has to say. 

In a recent interview with The Lion’s Roar, Mingyur reveals the motivation behind his trek. He says:

I had done a traditional three-year retreat, but since childhood I have had a very strong longing to do a kind of wandering retreat. I like mountains, I like caves, and I have been very inspired by the great meditators of the past and some of my own teachers, such as Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, who have done retreats like this.

Mingyur, after talking with his father, decided not tell anyone where he was going. Instead, he lived anonymously, begging on the streets when he ran out of money. This decision put him outside the comfort of the monastery, as well as the basic necessities of life. Mingyur reports on having to adjust to let go of the ideas of food, comfort, and safety.

At one point, Mingyur reveals that his health was in such poor condition, that he had to let go of his attachment to his body. From The Lion’s Roar:

When I got sick, it felt like I went through some kind of wall of solid attachment to my body, my comfort, my robes, and even the idea of Mingyur Rinpoche. I slowly let go, let go, let go, let go. In the end, I even let go of myself. I thought, “If I’m going to die, okay. If I’m going to die, no problem.” At that moment, I didn’t have any fear.

The experience, while initially frightening, taught Mingyur valuable lessons, ones that he is happy to pass onto his students. When asked how the wandering retreat changed him, Mingyur explains that he plans on teaching in a more experiential style. Rather than solely focusing on observance and meditation, Mingyur plans on implementing conduct and behavior into his teachings.

Intellect, heart, and behavior,” Mingyur says. “All three together.”

Photo via iStock


Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel.  She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com and through Instagram.