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Lions Roar : March 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 34 34 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 “Hundreds of people attended the ceremony,” he has writ- ten, “and I spent hours accepting their gifts and giving them blessings, as if I were somebody really important instead of just a terrified twelve-year-old boy. As the hours passed, I turned so pale that my older brother, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who was standing beside me, thought I was going to faint.” About a year later, Mingyur Rinpoche learned that a three-year retreat was soon to take place at Sherab Ling and it would be led by Saljay Rinpoche, a renowned mas- ter. Mingyur Rinpoche was thirteen—an age considered too young for such intense practice—but he suspected that this would be the last three-year retreat that the elderly Sal- jay Rinpoche would ever lead. Mingyur Rinpoche begged for permission to participate, and in the end permission was granted. “I’d like to say that everything got better once I was safely settled among the other participants in the three- year retreat,” Mingyur Rinpoche has admitted. “On the contrary, however, my first year in retreat was one of the worst of my life. All the symptoms of anxiety I’d ever experienced—physical tension, tightness in the throat, dizziness, and waves of panic that were especially intense during group practices—attacked in full force. In Western terms, I was having a nervous breakdown. In hindsight, I can say that what I was actually going through was what I like to call a ‘nervous breakthrough.’” Mingyur Rinpoche had to make a choice between spending the last two years of the retreat cringing in his room or fully accepting the truth of what he’d learned from his teachers—that whatever problems he was experi- encing were habits of thought and perception. Mingyur Rinpoche chose what he’d been taught and gradually, just by sitting quietly and observing, he found himself able to welcome his thoughts and emotions, to become in a sense, fascinated by their variety and inten- sity. It was like “looking through a kaleidoscope and notic- ing how the patterns change,” he wrote in Joyful Wisdom. “I began to understand, not intellectually, but rather in a direct, experiential way... how thoughts and emotions that seemed overwhelming were actually expressions of the infi- nitely vast and endlessly inventive power of my own mind.” Mingyur Rinpoche has never had another panic attack, nor has his sense of confidence and well-being wavered. That’s not to say, however, that he no longer experiences any ups and downs. He is careful to say that he isn’t enlightened, and he’s forthright about being subject to the full range of ordinary human experiences, including feeling tired, angry, and bored. What is different is that his relationship to these experiences has permanently shifted; he’s no longer overwhelmed by them. Like a criminal gaining his freedom from a dungeon hole The yogi who gives up his native country knows bliss. Like a spirited horse that’s freed of hobbling chains The yogi who slips from perceived and perceiver knows bliss. Like a deer that has been wounded will lie low The yogi who lives on his own all alone knows bliss. Like the king of birds that wings his way on high The yogi who gains command over view knows bliss. Like the wild wind that’s roaming through the sky The yogi not blocked by any obstruction knows bliss. Like a shepherd tending his flock of white-fleeced sheep The yogi tending his luminous/empty experience knows bliss. Like the massive bulk of the central king of mountain The yogi unfazed by transition and change knows bliss. Like the constant flow of a great and mighty river The unbroken-flow-of-experience-yogi knows bliss. Like a human corpse as it lies in a cemetery The yogi who shuts all activity down knows bliss. Like a stone that’s thrown into the deep blue sea The yogi who never turns back again knows bliss. Like the sun that rises and lights up the whole sky The yogi who lights up everything knows bliss. Like a palm tree when you strip it of its leaves The yogi not needing to be reborn knows bliss. This melody on these twelve kinds of yogic happiness Is a dharma gift to all of you, may it answer your question well. Translated by Jim Scott, under the direction of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Twelve Kinds of Yogic Joy Milarepa describes the happy life of the wandering yogi. Milarepa ©RUBINMUSEUMOFART/ARTRESOURCE,NY