Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo Passes Away

Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo, the Great Yogini of Gebchak, in 2007.

The great yogini of Gebchak Gonpa, Sherab Zangmo, passed away in the autumn of last year at the enlightened old age of 86 or so. She had been unwell for some time, but then seemed to recover and was strong and in high spirits for some days. During these days she gave meditation teachings to the nuns and often sang the prayer “Calling the Lama From Afar.”  Near the time of her death her complexion lightened, and her face and body became youthful and small like a child’s. She told those who were with her that she could see Jetsun Tara clearly before her, and that she was now going to Dewachen, the Pure Land of Amitabha. She counseled the nuns to serve their lamas well and to live in harmony with each other, and told them not to worry, and that all would go well for them in the future. The sky remained like a morning sky, bright and clear for the whole day of Sherab Zangmo’s death, and she remained in tukdam meditation for six days afterwards.

Forty-nine days after her passing, Sherab Zangmo was cremated at Gebchak Gonpa, with the great yogi Pema Drimey, Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche, and all the Gebchak nuns performing the ceremony. The sky was clear blue and the temperature unusually warm on this day, in a season of constant inclement weather. After the ceremony, many white crystalline relics of different shapes were found in her ashes.

Very sadly, four other nuns passed away as well at Gebchak Gonpa over the last year. Oser Chomtso, who was in her 50s, Choying Paldron, an elderly nun, Kunzang Jinpa, in her 20s, and Pema Palmo, also in her 20s, passed away from various sicknesses. Their deaths are a great loss, and more so of a tragedy because each of them likely could have survived had they had proper medical treatment.

The death of the young Pema Palmo, however, is another story with cause for inspiration. She passed away in the first year of a three-year retreat, in the small retreat house where 25 nuns live side by side in their meditation boxes. After her death, Pema Palmo remained for seven days in tukdam meditation and had other amazing occurrences accompanying her death, which the other nuns in the retreat all saw and experienced.

Being so remote and removed from easy access to proper medical care, the nuns at Gebchak Gonpa have always been resolved to bear with and sometimes die from illnesses that could be easily treatable in the modern world. This has been the way of life and death for most Tibetan people in the past.

With the help of the Gebchak lamas, the nuns, the local medical community, and sponsors like you, the aim now is to set in place a system of regular check-ups, providing health care training for a few of the nuns, recognizing the symptoms of disease, and monitoring that the nuns follow through with necessary treatment.

Please keep the Gebchak nuns in your mind and prayers, and remember their dedicated practice towards enlightenment for the sake of all beings. There are still places in this world where human beings reach their full spiritual potential, and the benefits very positively reach each one of us. However, these nuns need our continued support to be able to continue their practice.

Wangdrak Rinpoche and all the nuns at Gebchak Gonpa wish you a very blessed and joyful Tibetan New Year!

Very best wishes,

Tenzin Chozom

Donations for the Gebchak nuns can be made securely online here.

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