Mingyur Yogini is a senior nun of Nangchen Nunnery in the Eastern Tibet. She is one of its oldest and most accomplished yoginis who maintains her practice in a cave and endures significant hardship living in the high mountains in the Nangchen region.
Until 1949, the area of Nangchen, where the great majority of the Tsoknyi nunneries are located, was an independent kingdom in Eastern Tibet, with its own language and its own government. It is now a county in the Qinghai province of China. The Tsoknyi nunneries were founded in the 19th century by Tsang-Yang Gyamtso, who was commanded by his teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche I to build nunneries in order to provide female practitioners with the same opportunities as men to learn and practice the most advanced teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.
Nangchen is famous for its meditators, yogis and yoginis who practice with great persistence and determination and attain great realization. The region is known as gomde, literally “land of meditators”. Even in this environment, the Nangchen yogini nuns are famous for their accomplishments in profound yogas and meditation, particularly in “tsa lung” (practices such as tummo or inner heat), dzogchen (the highest meditation), and chöd (cutting through all clinging to ego), which derive from the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The tradition of the Tsoknyi nuns thrived for a century growing to 4000 women living in 40 nunneries scattered throughout the mountains of Nangchen.
In the summer of 2005, Tsoknyi Rinpoche led a group of western students along with a photographer and video crew to Nangchen to document the lives and needs of the Nangchen Nuns. Blessings, a feature-length documentary by Victress Hitchcock, contains extraordinary footage that was collected on that journey to Nangchen. Here is a vajra song composed by Tsoknyi Rinpoche I, that was sung by Mingyur Yogini in this film:
Don’t wander, don’t wander, place mindfulness on guard;
Along the road of distraction, Mara lies in ambush.
Mara is the mind, clinging to like and dislike;
So look into the essence of this magic, free from dualistic fixation.
Realize that your mind is unfabricated primordial purity.
There is no buddha elsewhere; look at your own face.
There is nothing else to search for; rest in your own place.
Non-meditation is spontaneous perfection, so capture the royal seat.
May all be virtuous and auspiscious!
Photo of Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Yogini by James Gritz.