Quotes from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

This clear mind of awareness is always with us, whether we recognize it or not. It coexists with confusion, and with the destructive emotions and cultural conditioning that shape our ways of seeing things. But when our perception shifts to meditative or steady awareness, it is no longer narrowed by memory and expectation; whatever we see, touch, taste, smell, or hear has greater clarity and sharpness, and enlivens our interactions.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

A conversation that took place between two American women describes this intimate relationship between physical and immaterial forms of dying. One of these women came to see me soon after her only child, a twenty-year-old son, died from an accidental drug overdose. We spoke of ways to help her live with this tragic loss. About two years later, this woman's best friend found herself struggling through a very painful divorce. The first woman explained to her friend: My son is never coming back. I entertain no fantasies about this. My relationship to myself and to how I relate to the world has changed forever. But the same is true for you. Your sense of who you are, of who is there for you and who you will travel through life with, has also changed forever. You too need to grieve a death. You are thinking that you have to come to terms with this intolerable situation outside of yourself. But just as I had to allow myself to die after my son's death, you must die to a marriage that you once had. We grieve for the passing of what we had, but also for ourselves, for our own deaths. The profound misfortune of the death of this woman's son opened her heart to an exploration of impermanence and death that went far beyond her own personal story.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

We spoke of ways to help her live with this tragic loss. About two years later, this woman's best friend found herself struggling through a very painful divorce. The first woman explained to her friend: My son is never coming back. I entertain no fantasies about this. My relationship to myself and to how I relate to the world has changed forever. But the same is true for you. Your sense of who you are, of who is there for you and who you will travel through life with, has also changed forever. You too need to grieve a death. You are thinking that you have to come to terms with this intolerable situation outside of yourself. But just as I had to allow myself to die after my son's death, you must die to a marriage that you once had. We grieve for the passing of what we had, but also for ourselves, for our own deaths.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

My body is moving…changing…this breath is coming in and going out…changing. I am breathing in new air, changing, I am breathing out old air, changing. I am part of this universe. This air is part of this universe. With each breath, the universe changes. With each inhale, the universe changes. With each exhale, the universe changes. Each inhale fills my lungs. Each inhale brings oxygen to my blood. Changing. Body changing. Each sensation is temporary. Each breath temporary, each rising and falling temporary. All changing, transforming. With each exhale, the old me dies. With each inhale, a new me is born. Becoming, renewing, dying, rebirth, change. As my body is changing, so are those of everyone I know. The bodies of my family and friends are changing. The planet is changing. The seasons are changing. Political regimes are changing. My monasteries are changing. The whole universe is changing. In. Out. Expansion, contraction ...

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

Ego is not an object; it's more like a process that follows through on the proclivity for grasping, and for holding on to fixed ideas and identities. What we call ego is really an ever-changing perception, and although it is central to our narrative story, it is not a thing. It therefore cannot really die, and cannot be killed or transcended. This tendency for grasping arises when we misperceive the constant flow of our body and mind and mistake it for a solid, unchanging self. We do not need to get rid of the ego—this unchanging, solid, and unhealthy sense of self— because it never existed in the first place. The key point is that there is no ego to kill.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

Because ego is frequently identified in negative terms, especially among Buddhists, my father made a point of reminding me that we also have a healthy ego—or a healthy sense of self. This relates to aspects of self that intuitively know right from wrong, that can discern between protection and harm, that instinctively know what is virtuous and wholesome. We trip ourselves up only when we become attached to these basic instincts and create inflated stories around them. For example, I had used ego in a positive way to explore, and then maintain, monastic discipline. But if I were to think, Oh, I am such a pure monk, I maintain my vows so perfectly, then I would be in trouble. When I examined my difficulties with too much newness all at once, I could see ego-self as a process, not as a solid thing.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

When I examined my difficulties with too much newness all at once, I could see ego-self as a process, not as a solid thing. I was not able to allow all my previous identities to die at once. I needed time. I needed to work through the layers. I accepted that the roles I wished to toss onto the pyre were fabricated, not inherent to my being. But they could not be extracted as if with a surgical procedure. I had grown into them, and I needed to grow out of them.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

The quality of emptiness that we are referring to was never born; likewise, it cannot die. This essential nature of our lives is unborn—like space itself. Space provides no place to abide, no foothold in which to secure our steps. In skylike emptiness, we cannot be stuck. Yet here we are, alive in this wondrous world of appearances, which can always benefit from wise discernment. With particularity as fine as flour, we discriminate between actions that intend to relieve suffering for ourselves and others and those that intend to cause harm.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

By habit we perceive ourselves and the world around us as solid, real, and enduring. Yet without much effort, we can easily determine that not one aspect within the whole world's system exists independent of change. I had just been in one physical location, and now I was in another; I had experienced different states of mind. We have all grown from babies to adults, lost loved ones, watched children grow, known changes in weather, in political regimes, in styles of music and fashion, in everything. Despite appearances, no aspect of life ever stays the same. The deconstruction of any one object—no matter how dense it appears, such as an ocean liner, our bodies, a skyscraper, or an oak tree—will reveal the appearance of solidity to be as illusory as permanence. Everything that looks substantial will break down into molecules, and into atoms, and into electrons, protons, and neutrons. And every phenomenon exists in interdependence with myriad other forms. Every identification of any one form has meaning only in relationship to another. Big only has meaning in relation to small. To mistake our habitual misperceptions for the whole of reality is what we mean by ignorance, and these delusions define the world of confusion, or samsara.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

Motivation included purifying the mind of any past disturbances, anything that might cast a shadow on the pure perception of luminous emptiness. It's not helpful to simply say, Everything is essentially empty, everything is essentially pure. Although that happens to be absolutely true, in order to know this absolute truth from the inside out, we must work with those thorns that cannot be plucked through intellectual reasoning or dharma philosophy. To be effective, working with subtle knots of guilt and remorse must be embodied experiences. Furthermore, these knots prevent the full expression of our compassion. In subtle ways, they keep us stuck on ourselves and hold us back from giving everything we have to the welfare of others.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

Through the practice of shamata meditation, the tumultuous habits of mind calm down; and then we can investigate the characteristics of the calm waters beyond the monkey's control. This is called vipashyana—or insight—meditation. I knew monkey mind intimately. I also knew that when we dismiss any value to knowing this monkey, it's like owning a car without knowing how to drive. The less we know about the chattering, muttering voice in our heads that tells us what to do, what to believe, what to buy, which people we should love, and so forth, the more power we grant it to boss us around and convince us that whatever it says is true.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

The term ego—or ego-self—is frequently used to describe the self-centered, fabricated outer layer of self, and we often speak of letting go of the ego, or dissolving it, or transcending it. I myself had thought of adding wood to the fire as an ego-suicide mission. However, the common usage of ego, both within Buddhist teachings and in the world at large, makes ego sound like an entity that has a shape and a size, and that can be extracted like a tooth. It doesn't work that way.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

from In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying