11th May, 2014

Dear Ones, With heartfelt sadness, I wish to share with all our local and international sangha this important message. At 11:20pm Saturday night, on 10th May, Namdol Gyatso Lama—Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery’s General Secretary and my trusted personal aide of almost 40 years—passed away after a long and courageous battle with advanced lung cancer.



Last night, for several hours, I sat beside Namdol’s hospital bed during the final hours of his life leading a small group of senior monks in prayers and puja. Also present was Namdol Gyatso’s devoted wife, Edna, their son, Sonam, Namdol’s cousin, Gyatso, Namdol’s nephew, Lungtok, and Namdol and Edna’s close friend and caregiver, Marsha Dupar.
Namdol Gyatso was just 58 years old when he took his last breath. Had he made those 58 years of life in this world meaningful?
As a young boy, Namdol Gyatso pursued his earnest dream to serve the Dharma in every way possible. He journeyed to faraway Rumtek Monastery and received ordination from the master-of-masters, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa.
At Rumtek, Namdol Gyatso quickly excelled at everything the Karmapa’s renowned monastery had to offer a novice monk. Soon, he became expert in the ritual arts, exhibiting a special talent for playing the ceremonial musical instruments and effortlessly rendering beautiful murals. He diligently learned the sadhanas as well as their profound meaning.
Next, Namdol Gyatso immersed himself in his shedra studies, learning and contemplating the classical Buddhist texts. Whatever Namdol set his mind to, he mastered with ease. In his leisure, he quietly taught himself fluent English so that he could help greet and assist Rumtek’s growing stream of Western visitors.
When Namdol Gyatso reached maturity, His Holiness Karmapa dispatched this talented monk to Nepal to serve my parents, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and my mother, Kunsang Dechen. Our family monastery was new then and sorely in need of a general secretary. Perceiving Namdol Gyatso as a self-confident, dependable person with abundant qualities and a commanding presence, my parents immediately offered him this important post. Our family never regretted my parents’ choice.
For decades, Namdol Gyatso has stood firmly at the helm of all our endeavors, astutely overseeing every aspect of the monastery’s daily functioning, and helping to design, manage and implement all of our various building projects. He dedicated every fiber of his being—his entire adult life—selflessly, one-pointedly and with utterly pure intention, to serving our monastery and our sangha, both near and far. Without the slightest regard for his own personal needs, every moment of every day he devoted himself to safekeeping our monastery, nurturing our monastic activities and preserving the precious Dharma.
With time, Namdol Gyatso reaped the excellent fortune to not only receive “wong, lung and tri”—empowerment, reading transmission and Dharma teachings—on numerous occasions from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche but also from a great many distinguished mahamudra, madhyamaka and dzogchen masters.
For 19 months, Namdol Gyatso ignored his personal suffering from his terrible advanced cancer. Instead, he continued to diligently carry out his many responsibilities related to our monasteries, to our nunneries, to our retreat centres, to our projects—particularly Lumbini—to our ordained assembly, and to my brothers, their families and to myself.
Today, with immense appreciation, hundreds of our monks and nuns residing in all our monasteries, nunneries and retreat centers in Boudha, Nagi Gompa, Pharping, Chapagoan and Hetauda have come together to celebrate Namdol Gyatso’s extraordinary life, and the loss of this great and irreplaceable man, with prayers, pujas and heartfelt tears.
As I write to all of you, I’m leading a special day-long puja with an assembly of a dozen senior monks and nuns. We are crowded into the small sitting room beside Namdol Gyatso’s bedroom where he lies in state. This morning, a number of well-known high Lamas visited, sitting for a long time beside Namdol’s body
All of us have been amazed, inspired and comforted to see that, with each passing hour, Namdol Gyatso’s beautiful smiling countenance grows more radiant—an obvious reflection of his inner qualities and peaceful state of mind. The atmosphere in his small bedroom remains fresh, as though he is merely quietly sleeping.
During this special period of 49 days of mourning, here we will do our best to honor his devoted, industrious and momentous life with all the necessary rituals and pujas to benefit him now and in all future lives. I kindly beseech you all to keep Namdol Gyatso in your heart and in your daily prayers.
With tremendous love and blessings,

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche