This is part of a series in which I conduct short interviews with teachers from different Buddhist lineages in an attempt to promote non-sectarianism while at the same time developing a deep appreciation for our differences. Myoshin Kelley is a senior student of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and an instructor within the Tergar Meditation Community.
How did you discover Buddhism? At what point did you know you had found your path?
I was 16 when I first discovered meditation. It instantly clicked in that I knew that there was something here that I found valuable. Shortly after, I started to read books about Buddhism that seemed to make sense of a world that felt so crazy. There was an inner resonance. I continued to meditate but it was not for another decade before I realized that Buddhism was my path. I had been ill for almost seven years when I did a four day meditation retreat. Although I had been meditating over this period of time, I went with a fresh mind. There was no big experience but at the end of the four days I was significantly better. I thought “If that is what four days can do for me, I had better take a closer look.” After this, I dove into doing intensive retreat as often as I could. There was an insatiable appetite as I discovered that the dharma was not something outside myself but something that my being was composed of and nothing was more interesting than looking at my own mind.
Could you describe the qualities or personality of your particular lineage?
Appreciation, joy and a lightness of being while still walking with your feet on the ground. Mingyur Rinpoche embodies this in the way that he moves through life and it becomes infectious.
What is the importance of love and compassion in your tradition?
Love and compassion are the expression of wisdom. When we are in touch with our basic goodness these qualities are naturally present. Our path naturally begins to highlight these qualities when there are less moments of being identified with the changing flow of experience. The relief has been seeing that these qualities are natural! I guess that means these qualities are central.
Has your experience of reality changed through your practice of meditation and could you say a little about that?
Earlier in my life I was very much looking for happiness in the changing conditions of life. I loved the outdoors and climbed mountains and jumped off cliffs. It was what made me feel alive. When I discovered meditation, I realized that I didn’t need to keep doing this. Being present in any moment with my inner experience and learning from what was happening brought a sense of aliveness that wasn’t limited to that moment but as well brought insights that actually started to change the very way that I live my life. There is much more acceptance when things aren’t the way I would like them to be. On a day when things are rough, I don’t find myself as defined by the experience but have begun to experience more spaciousness around it. Actually, truthfully, I can’t imagine being without my practice as life is at times just too tough. The practice helps me not to be thrown about by the experiences and a willingness to work with all that life brings.
What obstacles do you foresee for Buddhism in the west?
At first glance, it can seem too hard to maintain a regular meditation practice and who wants to make friends with and accept all the things you don’t like? We often want the quick fix, instant enlightenment. The danger is that we won’t look beyond the initial level of suffering that we encounter and believe that the practice is bringing on suffering rather than it is a good thing to see that which we so often repress or deny. If we stay with it, confusion clarifies and we are no longer bound by a limited sense of self. Only problem is, you have to keep practicing. In overcoming some of this, it is realizing that we can actually use the things that we think stop us from meditating and make a friend to these states and our own mind. It does take a willingness to be vulnerable with ourselves.
You can find out more about Myoshin Kelley, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and the Tergar Meditation Community here.