Tsechu Gonpa: August 18, 2007
I want to write to tell you a little bit about this time at Tsechu Monastery. My teacher, Adeu Rinpoche, passed away on July 27, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. It is a special time and I would like you to feel some connection.
The atmosphere in this quiet, spacious valley is marked, day and night, by the poignant song of monks and nuns chanting ‘Calling the Guru From Afar,’ while mingling their minds with the wisdom mind of Adeu Rinpoche. When Tashi Lama and I were at Lerab Ling, France, we heard the news of Adeu Rinpoche’s stroke. We traveled more than 60 hours by plane and car to reach Tsechu Monastery. By the time we arrived, Adeu Rinpoche had already passed.
It is a very powerful and emotional time for everyone here to see Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Adeu Rinpoche’s Kundun (body), together. I personally feel the deep loss of my last living teacher with whom I have such a strong connection and also the deep sadness of all the monks and nuns and thousands of lay people who feel this great loss in their lives. With time, we are accepting his passing and working together to take care of the many responsibilities that Adeu Rinpoche carried in so many different ways for so many.
With the sudden passing of Adeu Rinpoche, the Buddha’s profound teachings on impermanence have become very vivid and clear. We are all subject to impermanence, and reflecting on this reality in the presence of Rinpoche’s Kundun is very powerful.
It is Tibetan custom that when a great lama passes away, to perform virtuous actions to fulfill his wishes. Thousands of people, near and far, have come to honor Adeu Rinpoche. Many, many have taken vows in his presence to perform positive and meritorious actions for the benefit of all sentient beings. For example, approximately 500 people vowed to give up eating meat and become vegetarian for a year or more (very difficult for Tibetans). Those who kill animals have promised to stop doing this. Many have vowed to quit smoking and to stop drinking alcohol. Lamas, monks and nuns have promised to go into long retreat. Monks at Tsechu are becoming vegetarians for at least one year. Adeu Rinpoche’s death, as well as his life, have had a profound effect on all the people of this region. I invite all of you to join to with us to make a vow to change specific negative behaviors and to dedicate positive actions with good motivation. Commitment is the main point here.
With Rinpoche’s passing, the monks of Tsechu Monastery have requested me to take care of the monastery. I cannot refuse this responsibility. To accomplish this in the most effective way, I am creating an administrative structure that will best serve the monastery. Although it is not remotely possible for us to do all that Adeu Rinpoche was capable of doing, we are organizing a responsible committee to oversee the day-to-day functions for the 140 monks.
I have asked Saptul Rinpoche, Adeu Rinpoche’s nephew who has lived with him for many years, to head up this committee and continue the rebuilding work that is only partially finished. I will continue to offer financial support with the aim of creating self-sufficiency through wise investment and allocation of funds in the local area. Although I was asked to come two times every year, I have committed to only coming one time per year in coordination with my visit to the Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns.
One thing that I am particularly sad about is that we were helpless to save Adeu Rinpoche. Precious wisdom beings like Rinpoche are extremely rare and benefit us all in untold ways. If there had been a good hospital nearby, perhaps 4-6 hours away, doctors have told me that he could have survived the stroke. Unfortunately, the only hospital was 18 hours away in Xining. We tried to find a helicopter from the next region, but it wasn’t possible. We just really had no good choices. We decided to take him to Yushu, which has only basic medical care, but the only option available. Just before arriving there, he passed away in the car, so they simply turned the car around and returned to Tsechu Monastery with the Kundun of Adeu Rinpoche.
Because of this, one of my really strong wishes is to build a modern western-style hospital in the Nangchen region within 2-3 hours of most of the major monasteries and populated areas that have no real medical care. I realize this is a huge undertaking, especially in a remote region like this, but feel it is necessary to keep the Dharma alive and help so many people in desperate situations who suffer needlessly due to lack of most basic care. It is hard for people in the West to fully grasp how many women die from giving childbirth here, or from ulcers, or kidney stones. So many things conspire to take this precious human life away unnecessarily.
Therefore, I have this long-term wish to dedicate to Adeu Rinpoche a good hospital that can serve the nunneries of the Tsoknyi Lineage, many lamas, monks, and their families and thousands of villagers. I know this is a project much too big for Pundarika to do, but perhaps we can find a foundation or organization that would be interested in helping so many lives. It is clear that this is not just an individual’s work, but also a big foundation’s work. I will begin to talk and look for who could do this, and I ask you to please join me in helping to find this special foundation that will be of such benefit.