I am writing from Rinpoche’s nunnery in Assam, Tashi Choling. The senior monks have explained to me that about a month before he passed Rinpoche spoke to the monks close to him that there would be specifically 5 incarnations. On occasions when traveling in the past he had indicated that his incarnations would be reborn even in different countries. Rinpoche had often expressed his wish to pass in the presense of his monks and nuns at the Zangdolpalri Temple site.
All indications are that he passed at will, having finished the drupchens at both the nunnery and the monastery and having given the Longevity Buddha Initiation (Tse Wang) to nearly 10,000 people. Afterwards he was not feeling well but refused to go to the hospital. Dungse and Ani Tsering Paldron determined that his condition seemed dire and took him anyway to the local military hospital; before leaving the temple project grounds his last words to his senior administrator monk, Tsewang Dondup were “ you go on putting the mantras in the statues and I will return.” Rinpoche’s vital signs ceased about an hour after arriving at the hospital. He was then returned to his room at the gompa (monastery) where Rinpoche remained in a state of deep meditational awareness sitting upright unassisted for 2 and half days (Tib: TUKDOM) When I asked the monks how they knew he had left tukdom they explained that Dungse (his son) wrote him a letter requesting him to leave tukdom as there were many students and sponsors waiting to pay respects to his body and that he knew it was not good to stay in that state of deep meditation too long. Dungse placed the letter before him and a storm rolled in during this particularly dry period. A bolt of lightening struck the pray flag pole in the center of the court yard and a down pour of rain began, and then a rainbow appeared just above his room. (See photos above). His body had than lost its luster. Now the body is packed in dry salt and puja is to be constantly performed for 49 days. The salt is changed every 5 or 6 days and distributed to the faithful. A special stupa is being constructed which will contain the body in perpetuity. Rinpoche instructed the monks in this process during the last few months.
Rinpoche passed away while preparing for another tour to the west with a group of his most accomplished nuns and monks. His goal of obtaining donations to finish the Zangdokpalri temple that the Buddha Guru Rinpoche had specifically directed him in a dream to construct in order to bring peace to these troubled times drove him to leave his Himalayan meditation retreat and travel. Now that goal is just a thought.
Should any want to contribute tax deductible donations towards the completion of Rinpoche’s project you can send checks payable to Zangdokpalri Foundation for Great Compassion, 130 7th Ave, Box 221, New York NY 10011. Or click here to donate online. Please also join the email list by clicking here to receive updates as to the progress of the temple and the possibility of an upcoming healing cho tour by the monks and nuns.