Sunday, 19 May 2019

In Love with the World by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

In Love with the World: What a Buddhist Monk Can Teach You About Living from Nearly Dying by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov
Published by Bluebird on the 16th May 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a Book with a Vegetarian

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A rare, intimate account of a world-renowned Buddhist monk’s near-death experience and the life-changing wisdom he gained as a result.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s experience begins the night he has chosen to embark on a four-year wandering retreat, slipping past the monastery gates. Alone for the first time in his life, he sets out into the unknown. His initial motivation is to step away from his life of privilege and to explore the deepest, most hidden aspects of his being, but what he discovers throughout his retreat – about himself and about the world around us – comes to define his meditation practice and teaching.

Just three weeks into his retreat, Rinpoche becomes deathly ill and his journey begins in earnest through this near-death experience. Moving, beautiful and suffused with local colour, In Love with the World is the story of two different kinds of death: that of the body and that of the ego, and how we can bridge these two experiences to live a better and more fulfilling life. Rinpoche’s skilful and intimate account of his search for the self is a demonstration of how we can transform our dread of dying into joyful living.

There's something very funny about the thought of a venerated Buddhist monk - an abbott nonetheless - escaping  from his monastery in the middle of the night and running away. After months of meticulous planning that's exactly how Rinpoche begins what will become several years of a wandering retreat for him. I felt it was also a great way to begin this memoir. I had been concerned that aspects of the book might be beyond my understanding as I don't have much of an understanding of Buddhism beyond the usual preconceptions (and, as it turns out, misconceptions). However to be greeted with a flawed flight which involves slipping into a muddy puddle immediately made me realise that I could understand Mingyur Rinpoche. He might come from a completely different culture, but too much haste resulting in a muddy puddle accident is an event with which I could easily identify.

In Love With The World is partly a memoir of the first month of Rinpoche's retreat and partly a tome for him to impart relevant Buddhist teachings to his readers. I did feel therefore as though I was starting to learn about the religion from the middle, but I could mostly keep up with the concepts being discussed and understood the points being made. It wasn't until the final chapters and Rinpoche's description of his near-death experience that I lost track of what he was trying to say. I enjoyed the earlier recounting of stories and the information imparted about the places visited. It was also very interesting and helpful to me to read about episodes such as Rinpoche's intense anxiety during his first ever unaccompanied train journey (he's 36 years old). I would have imagined that a Buddhist abbot would be serene under any circumstances, so to learn that he had to employ breathing and relaxation exercises to calm himself was reassuring to me.

I didn't realise that In Love With The World would only cover such a short period of Rinpoche's retreat. I would have preferred to have learned more about the whole period of travel with less religious theory, although I understand that teaching Buddhism is Rinpoche's vocation. My reading here has encouraged me to discover more about Buddhism and its history, and the whole concept of meditation.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche / Biography and memoir / Books from Tibet


  1. Ah, like with the previous memoir that I commented on, it sounds like you wanted more. But it seems brilliant that even though the person has had such a different culture and religious experience than you, you could still relate to him. Goes to show we are all human regardless, eh? :)

    1. Absolutely true! And this one opened my eyes to aspects of Buddhism that I had previously misunderstood so I now have a better understanding and am interested to find out more

  2. Replies
    1. It's an unusual memoir which got me thinking :-)

  3. Great review! Meditation is something that I learned from my times studying Buddhism and while I don't follow that path anymore, I still love meditating. Too bad it wasn't longer, I hate when books don't give you enough of what you want and too much of what you don't want.

    1. Rinpoche's descriptions and explanations of meditation did appeal to me. It's not something I've tried in many years, but I am tempted to try again