Service for Gelek Rimpoche

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Dear Sangha,

I’m so sorry to have to convey very sad news: the great Tibetan teacher and our long-time friend Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche passed away yesterday, February 15, at 6:00 a.m. Please join us in a short service for him at the beginning of tonight’s meditation, at 6:oo p.m. Chanting will also be dedicated to him this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. during the Tibetan practice led by Andy Hassinger at the Zen Center.

“What I remember most were the wonderful telephone conversations in rapid Tibetan between Domo Geshe Rimpoche and Gelek Rimpoche,” Andy told me. “They felt full of good humor and friendship as I sat and listened as a foreigner. Domo Geshe Rimpoche called Gelek Rimpoche ‘Mister Gelek,’ with great fondness. Here in Syracuse, at the Garrison Institute for a retreat, and at Jewel Heart in New York for initiations, Gelek Rimpoche always greeted me with a warm and open embrace, his smile filling his whole face and being.

“I would never have met Gelek Rimpoche without my teacher Domo Geshe Rimpoche. Each one will live on in the hearts and minds of their students. But we will never see teachers such as these in our lifetime again.”

Author of many books, including Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation, Gelek Rimpoche first visited us at the Zen Center of Syracuse in the spring of 2002, speaking also at Syracuse University. He returned November 1 of that year for a public dialogue with me on Buddhism at SU, and joined the Tibetan meditation group at the Zen Center the following day; Tibetan carpets and art from Jewel Heart, Ann Arbor, MI, where Gelek Rimpoche was founding teacher, were on display, in the first of a series of annual Jewel Heart presentations at the Zen Center organized by Myoko Jennifer Waters.

Gelek Rimpoche gave a talk at LeMoyne College on a subsequent visit, and returned to Syracuse University in November 2006, speaking on “Spiritual Practice in Challenging Times” at Hendricks Chapel and joining the Tibetan practice at the Zen Center that Saturday. He spoke once again in Syracuse a few years later. His talks drew capacity audiences.

Gelek Rimpoche was born in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1939. He was recognized as an incarnate lama when he was 4 years old and went on to study at Drepung Monastery. Known for his wit, wisdom and warmth, he was particularly admired for his ability to share the ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism through contemporary language and experience. Educated in Tibet by the same masters who taught the Dalai Lama, Gelek Rimpoche had to flee Tibet for India in 1959, and settled in the United States in 1980. In 1988 he founded Jewel Heart International in Ann Arbor, MI. The educational and cultural institute now includes numerous chapters across the United States and internationally.



Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
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