(This is a humble tribute to a humble lay master. I know that, irrespective of what I try to write, it will always be insignificant one. Despite that, this is all I can do to thank him.)
The ruins of Dungmanma village always used to be silent and peaceful except for the sound of prayers and recitations of mantras an old couple made all their lives. Today, it was buzzing with activities as a steady stream of people come and go somberly, some with moist eyes and others visibly in anguish.
People from nearby and some from far off villages flocked to this solitary peaceful place to pay their last respects to one of the last known accomplished local lay master Lopen Shera Wangdi of Pemagatshel Khar Dungkhar. The popular local lopen passed away at his home following a brief illness recently. He was 77.
Late lopen Shera Wangdi was known among the local population as an accomplished practitioner who spent all his life amidst the ruins of what was probably a thriving ancient village of Dungmanma with his wife. The couple’s eleven grown up children live scattered in many dzongkhags but, the late lopen and his wife found peace away from human settlements and refused to follow their children.
Despite his popularity, he never kept any students with him nor did he preach people. He just lived a simple low profile life, dedicating his time to prayers and meditations. He only taught to few people who he thought possesses genuine qualities to uphold what he taught or instructed. Those who have been closely associated with the late lopen, today feels lucky to have met him.
The late lopen knew of his impending death. Just a week prior to his passing away, he was admitted to the local hospital and shortly afterwards decided to return back to his home where he began preparing for his final journey. When his illness relapsed shortly afterwards, he instructed his family members not to take him to hospital as his time has finally come to leave.
Later he made a briefly recovery for a day. Without further delay, he asked his wife to accompany him to visit the nearby Dungkhar Lhakhang for the last time. It took almost an entire day to reach the lhakhang which was actually a mere half an hour’s walking distance. Taking rest every few steps, he made it to the lhakhang.
Once at the lhakhang he said his prayers and met the two Khenpos who are teaching at the shedra. He told the Khenpos of his impending death and he entrusted the two khenpos with the task of performing all the weekly rituals for 21 days following his demise.
He then called all his children home for the last get-together. All his children reached home in time before his passing away. He was well aware of what was happening to him even as his bodily elements began dissolving and was able to recount them to his loved ones. His last wish was that nobody at home must mourn openly and that his body be left untouched for three days before cremation. He finally breathed his last peacefully.
The late lopen may not have lived his life surrounded by followers and patrons as he kept a low profile and chose to live almost like a hermit all his life. This is exactly, how Buddhist masters live. They only exhibit their accomplishments at the time of death. For them death is not something tragic and painful, it is a smooth transition to a higher realm.
Although it was a huge loss to the community, I have the comfort of having been in close touch with the lopen over the last few years and receive some valuable instructions. I am indebted to him and can only pray for his soul to rest in peace in the blissful copper colored abode (zangdogpelri) among those enlightened beings for one last time.
Pemagatshel June 21, 2016
N.B. It has been ages since I last updated my blog. The less I write the more difficult and clumsier it is becoming to write. Bear with me, if this bores you to sleep in the middle of your reading.
Kadrinche dear readers.