Advice from Geshe Thupten Rinchen Rinpoche on the Passing of Lama Zopa Rinpoche 









Photo by: Ven. Roger Kunsang

May 31 marked the forty-ninth day since Lama Zopa Rinpoche showed the aspect of passing away. A very moving and powerful puja occurred at Kopan Monastery with all the Kopan monks and nuns, hundreds of non-Tibetan students, and many Sherpa and Nepalese individuals. 

After Lama Zopa Rinpoche passed away, many people from all the traditions of #Tibetan #Buddhism & from monasteries, organizations, high lamas, #Nepalese government officials & individuals offered prayers for Rinpoche’s swift return. 

Geshe Thubten Rinchen Rinpoche was a close friend of Lama Zopa Rinpoche from an early age, and mentioned this to some of the Kopan sangha that same day, “From 1961, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and I stayed together in this place called Buxa for about seven years. There were many monks there, but among them Rinpoche and I lived together very intimately as part of a small group of monks. We stayed there close together, so I really know him and understand him.”

Below is the advice offered by Geshe Thubten Rinchen Rinpoche, to the monks and nuns of Kopan and to students of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, on April 13, 2023 at Kopan Monastery:

Hello, I thought to send one or two words to you all. This is the one called Thupten Rinchen of Sera Mey Monastery, Tsangpa Khangtsen. You are all probably familiar with me. The thing I want to speak about is the very sad and tragic news that I heard today at about one o’clock in the afternoon, that the one with a great altruistic mind, Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche, has passed into parinirvana. I heard this very sad, disheartening news today.

At that time, in my mind I became like a person who’s gone blank. Then, as I gradually reflected on his enlightened deeds and activities over all these years, my grief became greater and greater. There’s nothing to be done, really. But thinking foremost of Rinpoche’s main secretary, Venerable Roger, and all the other staff and monks and nuns at Kopan Monastery, I thought to offer a few words of condolence. I’m nobody to say anything, but, from this afternoon when I first heard until now tonight, about 10:00 pm, I’ve been reflecting on what’s happened. Finally, an intention to say something came. Uncontrollably, my mind has been as if going in circles. I can’t help but say something. Please don’t be upset with me.

There is the future in general, but then too I wouldn’t really know what to say. In any case, thinking of the enlightened deeds and activities of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s holy body, speech, and mind, just the deeds and activities of this holy life are truly something beyond comprehension. In general, the way he has benefited the Buddha’s teachings by spreading them to many foreign countries where they did not exist before, and continues to do so, and especially with regard to the teachings of the Riwo Ganden lineage, is truly something amazing. Rinpoche has spread these teachings widely to many places where they had not spread before. We all know about this.

In my observation, although there are many veritable holy lamas, among them the activities to serve and spread the Buddha’s teachings that are the most extensive and most widespread are just those of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche himself. This is what I think. Therefore, he has been inconceivably kind to us. In addition, as we can directly see, Rinpoche has been incredibly kind in supporting the Great Seats and countless particular groups within those. You may not believe it, but when I heard the news this afternoon, thinking of what an inconceivably kind and great holy being has passed away, I became immeasurably sad and inexpressibly grief-stricken. I thought to send a message then, but have been thinking about it until now. Now I can’t help but say a few words. Apart from offering this message, I have no other aims.

Venerable Roger and all of you have, from a very young age, lived at Kopan, Jangchub Choling Monastery, following the discipline and serving the monastery until becoming advanced in age. There are many senior monastics in your community. In any case, to all of you, headed by these elders, I have a few words of hope and thoughts to share. There’s no need for me to say that for a long time all of you have sincerely served Rinpoche. But at this time, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s unfinished deeds need to be continued. Some of the projects I know about are construction of a Guru Rinpoche statue and the project in Kushinagar, and there are other similar projects yet to be completed, right? Although Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche is no longer with us now, still, I request you to please bring these types of projects, these unfinished holy deeds of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, to completion. An incarnation will definitely come.

It’s certain that you all are very downhearted at this time, however, there’s no benefit in just remaining downhearted. Whatever the case may be, what I want to say is that it is extremely important to make every effort to continue with the unfinished works of Lama Zopa. So, I request and pray that you will do this. Certainly, you are sad at heart, and I’m together with you in feeling great sorrow. I want to let you know this. This is primarily to all the staff.


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