Today the terrible news reached us that Choje Akong Rinpoche has been murdered in China.
Akong Rinpoche was a revered Tibetan Kagyu Buddhist master who amongst other things, helped discover the 17th Karmapa and co-founded along with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche the first Tibetan monastery in the West, Samye Ling in Scotland.
I never ‘met’ Akong Rinpoche, (I took refuge with his brother, the Abbott of Samye Ling, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche) but was in his presence. I’ll never actually forget the first time I saw him ‘in real life’. It was my second visit to Samye Ling, earlier this year, and after I arrived and had settled in, I took a walk around the temple before the evening classes to see the new wing of the courtyard that had opened up. I turned a corner and saw a man up at the temple door gently swinging a sweeping brush and I thought “that looks just like Akong Rinpoche…” and low and behold it was, sweeping away some dust that builders had left behind.
Later on I randomly walked past him outside the tea shop. I caught his eye briefly and he looked back and had the sweetest smile on his face. I sadly missed the teachings he gave in Dublin earlier this year as I had a prior commitment.
I suppose everyone is blessed by having such a person live in our times, he was heavily involved in charity work, specifically the Rokpa Trust, and travelled extensively supporting such efforts. I think especially anyone who has benefited from Samye Ling will think of him fondly.
Om Mani Padme Hum.