September 2023
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How Dakinis Die

by Khandro Kunzang

On Sept. 6, 2014, I wrote a short post below about the passing of the Sangyum, Rikzin Wangmo in New York City. On Nov. 3, I’ve updated this post and added new material at the end.

From Sept. 6: There’s been a lot of interest in  my last post about the passing of Shiva Rinpoche in Nepal, and all the rainbow phenomena that occurs when a great being dies. But don’t think that these things only happen to male practitioners! And don’t think that they only happen in remote villages in the Hamalayas! Right here, right now, the same phenomena is happening in the center of samsara – New York City.

On Aug. 27, the Sangyum Rikzin Wangmo, who was the wife of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, passed away peacefully in her home in New York City at the age of 89. She is still sitting in t’hug-dam (meditative concentration) – 10 days later – while ceremonies are being done in her home. There have been numerous reports of rainbow phenomena in New York and New York City since that time.

On the day  of her passing, this rainbow appeared over the stupa at Orgyen Cho Dzong, the retreat center in upstate New York that she and Dudjom Rinpoche founded in the 70’s.

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Her grandson, Namgyal Dawa Rinpoche, who is participating in the ceremonies in New York City, has been posting images on his facebook page of different rainbows that have been appearing over the last week. This one appeared over a clear blue sky yesterday, on Sept. 5.

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 6.21.56 PMHere’s one that was posted on New York City Alerts twitter page, on Aug. 31.

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Her son, Shenp’hen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche, has posted a beautiful biography of her on his website: tersar. org.

In it he says,
“At this moment, she is still in Thug Dam, following the tradition, as we know, of great enlightened beings’ realization in the Dharmakaya. The benefit of their deep meditation, which is the expression of their bodhisattva commitment, removes all dangers, calamities, and sufferings such as war, disease, famine, and earthquakes. As well, from that meditative state, they empower us in our practice and multiply our purification practice to the fullest extent.

Currently, we are holding her 49 day ceremony at Yeshe Nyingpo in New York city by offering the Khater Dor Sem puja, discovered by His Holiness.

We are indeed fortunate she lived for 89 years. Generally in our tradition, it is known that when a terton leaves his body, his Dakini consort follows. She had many visions and situations where she was invited by the Dakinis to leave her body to come to their Buddhafields, but she refused, saying she still wanted to be with her children. Once again I thank her for her consideration for being with us as long as she has been. I have no doubt that she has the full power to leave her body whenever she chooses.

It is now my ardent prayer that she will swiftly reincarnate and we have the good fortune to once again be in the midst of her presence. May her reincarnation be free of obstacles and may she grace and bless us soon.”

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Update Oct. 14, 2014
Today is the 49th day of the traditional ceremonies being held for the passing of the Sangyum at Yeshe Nyingpo, in New York City. Lama Dawa Rinpoche and I have had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the Dorsem (Vajrasattva) pujas. I drove out to New York City the weekend 0f Oct. 4, to attend, and was granted the great good fortune to make katag offering to her holy kutung, which was being kept in her private quarters upstairs. This was the first and only time HH Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche allowed devotees to make personal offerings and view the kutung. The energy was palpable and many left the room in tears. A few days later, her body was cremated in a crematorium in New Jersey.

Oct. 14 was the 49th and last day of the ceremonies being held at Yeshe Nyingpo. Lama Dawa and I drove straight from Chicago to New York City to attend. It was a beautiful and powerful experience and the center was packed. At the end HH Shenphen Dawa gifted us all with Dung-tsa – embalming salt and pieces of fabric from her clothing.

Attending ceremonies at Yeshe Nyingpo. From right to left: Lama Tenzin Samphel, Lama Dawa Chhodak, Khenpo Karpo, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. HH Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche.
From right to left: HH Dudjom Yangsi, HH Katog Situ Rinpoche, HE Namgyal Dawa Rinpoche, Tulku Rangdrol.

HH Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche has posted some amazing accounts of the some of the miraculous displays that occurred since her passing, including the rainbows, cloud formations, the spontaneously arising lotus shapes in the butterlamps, and of course, the relics that manifested at the cremation. You can read Rinpoche’s beautiful account of this miraculous phenomena on his website.

Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche states, “I personally feel that the Sangyum, because of her realization, remained in Thug Dam in this country as a sign of blessing so that future students may connect to the essence of the Dudjom Tersar Teachings. It is unprecedented that we were able to obtain permission for her to be undisturbed at our New York center, Yeshe Nyingpo, for all 49 days, which allowed us to continue making extensive offerings to her Kudung”

“From the moment the Sangyum passed into parinirvana on August 27 to the 49th day to the cremation, many miraculous things happened. I don’t want to go into more detail, but nevertheless strange phenomena appeared, and even “nature” acknowledged her passing.”

Click here for some images of some of the phenomenal appearances, from the tersar. org website.
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Click here for more descriptions on the relics.
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Click here fore more links on the Sangyum Rikzin Wangmo.

One important bit of information about the Sangyum, which is a story that rarely gets told, is that she was instrumental in having all the collected works of Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje published and printed into the twenty-two volumes of his Sung-Bum. If it wasn’t for her tireless contribution, we would not have such access to his terma texts, and written teachings, which are now being translated all over the world. We owe her a great debt of gratitude for helping to make Dudjom Rinpoche’s teachings available to all.

Lama Dawa Rinpoche often tells a story of an incident he witnessed in Kalimpong, in the 1960’s when Dudjom Rinpoche was offering the Nyingma Kama. At that time, Dudjom Rinpoche had called Lama Sherab Dorje to his residence, and when he arrived, the Sangyum greeted him and had him wait in the foyer. But he waited for over an hour, then he began to get upset at the Sangyum, thinking she was being bossy and rude to make him wait so long. Before long, HH Dudjom Rinpoche came and in his hand he carried a box. He showed Lama Sherab Dorje a tooth that was inside the box, explaining that this was one of her teeth that had been extracted by a dentist. Many relics were growing from the tooth, and when Lama Sherab Dorje saw this, he immediately felt regret for his wrong views towards her, and also realized that HH Dudjom Rinpoche had read his thoughts, knowing he was feeling angry. He brought the tooth relics down to show him. Lama Sherab Dorje immediately apologized and remarked how the Sangyum was not an “ordinary lady.”

Lama Dawa was very young when this happened, but it is a memory that is forever etched in his mind as a reminder that we should be very careful to judge people and to always maintain pure view towards that Lama and his consort, as Yab and Yum – inseparable.

Nov. 3: From Namgyal Dawa Rinpoche’s facebook page:
“Today concludes the final ceremony for our Grandmother. The Tshe tsas or the ashes that are mixed in clay and made in to these little stupas which will be placed all over holy sites around the world.”