Every breath you take
Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche gets Louise Choi on the long path to enlightenment
It’s hard to translate spiritual enlightenment into words – and even harder to describe the enigmatic presence that ‘His Excellency’ Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche manifests. Born in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in a refugee camp, the Buddhist monk has travelled the world for more than two decades in order to touch as many people as he can with his wealth of wisdom. There’s an incredible intensity in his gaze – not threatening, more a look of compassion. And that’s not surprising, as he has given talks to audiences big and small, and founded numerous meditation centres and NGOs such as Rangrig Yeshe in New York and the Tibetan Refugee’s Fund in Nepal. Now his newest venture is his book, Living Fully – Finding Joy in Every Breath, which has just been published and is already a bestseller.
Living Fully. A bright title and a bright cover. What’s it about?
This book is about a celebration of life. How to truly live life in such a way we can find total contentment and no regret whatsoever. I try to explain the ideas that people can apply to their daily lives which is truly going to help them find joy in every breath. This is very profound, very deep ancient wisdom translated [into] very simple modern language. It’s brings that wisdom alive.
Tell us about your journey with this book.
I didn’t have any inclination to write a book whatsoever. What I enjoy most is living in the moment. However, I always felt that it would be a good idea to share knowledge with people who do not have access to this kind of wisdom. So, I gave talks at universities like Harvard and Yale, in the USA. My students insisted I listen [to these recorded talks afterwards] and I found many golden nuggets of wisdom. Which surprised me! Now, where I can’t travel, this book can reach.
In hectic Hong Kong, how would you guide busy city folk to start living peacefully?
I could say this book is written for city-dwellers. As you read it you can see it – they do not need to have any spiritual background whatsoever. Basic, simple, inner things. How they can relate to their emotions, their feelings, their successes, their failures.
How can we live fully?
One of the most important things in life is to never resist anything. Complete fearlessness. To live with no resistance, we are able to completely dwell like a fish swimming in water. So, be like a fish swimming in the water if you want to live life fully!
Is this a very religious book?
Complete, pure spirituality. I consider this a sophisticated lifestyle guide. It’s even more than a self-help book because self-help sounds like there’s severe limitation. No. I think this is more a self-liberation book.
What new directions are you heading in now?
Actually, I’m not interested in writing. [But] the second and third books are on their way. This book is just a foundation. Another book is called Guidebook to Living Fully. After that, another book, which is also a very profound translation from the secret teachings from our lineage is called The Treasury of Emptiness. Then I also have another book of art. Not more religious – more artistic. The Art of Buddhism, actually.
Living Fully – Finding Joy in Every Breath is published by New World Library, priced $207.