Kensur Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, Spiritual Advisor to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has passed away this morning at 5:45 in the morning at his residence in Dharamsala India at the age of 88 years old. He authored several books on Tibetan Buddhism, including: “Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism“, “Mind in Tibetan Buddhism“, “Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism” and “Dharma Teachings: Bliss and Emptiness in the Gelug Tradition”
The following description of his last moments is from the blog Life of Lopsided 8:
This morning when Rinpoche woke up, he did his usual prayers and told his personal assistant, Sopon-la, he wanted to take his bath. This was unusual as Rinpoche normally had his breakfast before his bath each morning. Prior to that, he had also circumambulated His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s temple. (Below photo, Lati Rinpoche with his personal assistant for decades, Sopon-la). After his bath, Lati Rinpoche instructed Sopon-la to leave his room, and said: “it is time for me to go”. With that, Rinpoche entered into clear light meditation.
Rinpoche’s body is currently still warm and in the meditative state. This is a sign of an Enlightened being. We do not know how long Rinpoche will be in this state, can be 3 days, 7 days, 21 days etc… As and when his consciousness leaves him, Rinpoche’s body will then be brought back to Mundgod, his monastery, for the fire puja (cremation). Arrangements are in the process to construct Rinpoche’s stupa which is expected to house his relics when the time comes. About 10,000 lamas (Sangha) and many more students are expected in his monastery to attend his fire puja as well as to pay their last respect to Rinpoche.
Born in Eastern Tibet in 1922, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche was recognized by Gongkar Rinpoche who recognized him as a reincarnation of a “great practitioner”. He then joined a local monastery at the age of eight.
At fifteen he enrolled in Gaden Shartse Norling College, located in central Tibet and pursued an extensive study of Buddhist scriptures earning high honours with additional of study in Pramana Vidya (Logic), Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom), Madhyamika (Middle Philosophy), Abidharma (Treasure of Knowledge), Vinaya (Spiritual Rules and Moral Law).
In 1959, he sat for the Geshe Lharmapa examination in the summer palace of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama located in the capital, Lhasa. The following year, he was conferred as “Geshe Lharampa” ( the Buddhist equivalent of a Ph.D.). Due to the communist occupation of Tibet, Rinpoche followed His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile in India. He lived in Dharamsala where he mostly taught students at Namgyal Monastery as well as other interested monks and laypersons.
In 1964, he was appointed as Spiritual Assistant to the 14th Dalai Lama. Lati Rinpoche gave several dharma talks in India and America to monastics and lay-persons alike. In 1976 he was invited to the United States to teach on a wide range of Buddhist subjects at the University of Virginia and other centers of higher learning. Rinpoche also taught at the Dalai Lama’s personal monastery and served as the Abbot of Shartse Norling College of Gaden Monastery for eight years.
Rinpoche has since taught in many countries in Europe and America to the benefit of his students and while I am not a student of his or in any real capacity able to do him any credit in this post, I honor and am thankful for his striving, ability and willingness to wear some kick-ass shades. You can read the full bio at the Buddhist Channel.
A excerpt from Rinpoche’s teachings from “Bliss and Emptiness in the Gelug Tradition“…
As one looks into one’s present situation, one is controlled by one’s mind, one’s way of thinking. One’s mind has been dominated by or controlled by the defilements or afflictive emotions such as attachment and anger. This is why one encounters many difficulties and problems. Because one’s mind is not under one’s control, one is captivated by the mind and one’s mind is captivated by defilements. This is how one encounters all difficulties. This is like a child as a child who is very nice but spoiled. The defilements and afflictive emotions have spoiled one’s mind so to speak. When children find themselves in bad company they learn bad manners and when we see those children we think how sad the way they behave.
In a sense the defilements and delusions have made one just like those spoiled children. One’s mind has very much been spoiled by them and this is why one hears of people committing suicide. When one pauses to reflect on why someone would do that, one has no answer. This seems inconceivable to us. The fact of the matter is that one has no control over one’s mind and one’s mind has been ruling one. The mind in turn is dominated by the negative emotions and this is how one can go to such an extreme.
You can read a moving tribute to Rinpoche on Tsem Tulku’s blog…