Under cover of darkness and with no word of his plans, much-beloved Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche walked away from his life on the international stage to live that of a wandering yogi. Unheard of among eminent teachers today, such a practice is rife with hardships. For Mingyur Rinpoche, these challenges—begging, finding food and shelter, illness, and all the attendant risks of wandering incognito from place to place with the barest of possessions—present fertile ground for deepening insight into the true nature of the mind.

Wandering . . . But Not Lost is an intimate account of Rinpoche’s four-and-a-half-year retreat (June 2011 – November 2015) interspersed with the master’s own guidance in applying Buddhist wisdom to our daily modern lives.

The story begins in Bodhgaya, India at the monastery of this renowned meditation master and teacher, best-selling author, and abbot of three monasteries worldwide. Recounting the night of his disappearance in detail, the film follows Rinpoche through his first days and weeks, including his near-death experience and the insight he gains as a result.

In vibrant and sweeping footage, WNL then traces his path—by foot, bus, train, and rickshaw—over the plains of northern India and into the mountains, hermitages, and caves of the Himalayas. Along the way, Rinpoche shares the wisdom he gained from these experiences in candid insights.

The story turns when Tashila, long-time attendant and friend of Rinpoche, spots him in Kathmandu at the Great Stupa of Boudhanath. Tashila, filled with inspiration, implores Rinpoche to allow him to join him. Rinpoche refuses at first, but when Tashila agrees to commit to a three-year wandering retreat, Rinpoche consents. The gain is ours: Tashila provides audiences a window into Rinpoche’s compassion and kindness for others. He recounts the yogi’s interactions with strangers in which he offers meditation techniques and Buddhist philosophy to anyone who asks or shows interest.

Layered over this story is exotic footage of ancient and holy places, such as Langtang, Nubri, Dolpo, and Lapchi where Tibet’s most famous yogi and poet Jetsun Milarepa (1052-1135) lived in solitary meditation. Kushinagar, where the Buddha passed away, Varanasi, Rishikesh, Ladakh, and Amritsar are also featured, along with one of the holiest Hindu shrines on the subcontinent: Vaishno Devi, reached by an arduous 14-kilometer hike up a mountain path full of joyous Hindu pilgrims.

“The entire path is a shift in perception,” says Mingyur Rinpoche. These and other words of wisdom culled from his extraordinary wandering retreat and devoted adherence to his meditative practice will touch—and inspire—audiences everywhere.

Paul MacGowan
Director
Paul MacGowan
Producer
Paul MacGaowan
Writer
Kimberly Danforth
Writer
Cortland Dahl
Writer
Paul MacGowan
Editor
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Key Cast
Vajradhara Tai Situ Rinpoche
Key Cast
Tsokni Rinpoche
Key Cast
Lama Tashi
Key Cast
Peter Coyote
Narrator
Paul MacGowan
Camera Operators
Peter Kent
Camera Operators
David Lassiter
Camera Operators
Brian Finney
Production Assistants
Uma Helle
Production Assistants
James Hopkins
Production Assistants
Jennifer Kerker
Production Assistants
Nita Lescher
Production Assistants
Adrian Smith
Production Assistants
Liam Tata
Production Assistants
Douglas Campbell
Graphics
Craig Spoth
Graphics
Artem Mostovyi
Sound Mix

Project Type:
Documentary
Runtime:
1 hour 29 minutes 5 seconds
Completion Date:
September 1, 2020
Country of Origin:
United States
Country of Filming:
India, Nepal
Language:
English