Saturday, October 12, 2013

Murder of Akong Rinpoche: The Murderer and the Motive

The following release has just been received here:


Now that the Chengdu Police have released the names of the men who killed Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, his nephew and attendant, we are in a position to confirm that one of the suspects named by the police, Tu Dan Gu Sha also known as Thubten Kunsal, had previously spent more than five years in the UK, and returned to China two years ago. 

Whilst residing in the UK he made religious statues at our monastery in Scotland and our London centre. He left very happy and there was no question of any economic dispute. My brother, Chuje Akong Tulku Rinpoche had always been very kind to Thubten Kunsal and welcomed him into the heart of our community.

According to an official microblog post by the Chengdu police force, the three suspects confronted my brother and the other two victims, with knives, at his home in Chengdu in what is being described as an “economic dispute.”

We strongly refute any claims that Thubten Kunsal was owed money by Akong Rinpoche, the monastery or our London centre. When he was with us in the UK we supported his living expenses as agreed in writing, and there was never any dispute about that. 

We are therefore very shocked that two years later he came demanding money, knowing that Akong Rinpoche was about to send funds to the ROKPA charitable projects in the Tibetan areas of China. As we have already stated, Akong Rinpoche died defending those funds. 

It has been reported in the press that the driver who was killed was a monk from Samye Ling. This is not correct. It was Akong Tulku Rinpoche's Tibetan attendant, from his Monastery Dolma Lhakang, who has not been to the UK.

I hope this statement will clear up any misunderstandings,

With thanks for your prayers and kind wishes,

Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche

Abbot of Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery, Scotland.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Long Life Wishes for Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche

We are sending expressions of loving respect, and deep devotion to the great Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche. By tradition, his birthday is generally observed "around this time."

Rinpoche is either 79 or 80 this year, or timeless, depending upon how you like to think.

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Murder of Akong Rinpoche: Chengdu Police Have Three In Custody

Police in Chengdu, China, have reportedly issued a statement that Akong Rinpoche and his two companions were stabbed to death in a residential area of that city. Three suspects, said to be Tibetans, one from Derge, and the two others from Chamdo Joda, are in custody. Police speculated that the incident was an "argument over money." Later reports indicate the three suspects "have confessed."

Knives are frequently the weapon of choice in Chengdu. In the above photograph, Chengdu CSI responds to a recent, wholly unrelated "stabbing in a residential area," arising from an "argument over money."

As of our local time here, an unidentified spokesperson for the Foreign Office extends us the courtesy to inform that "consular assistance is currently being rendered."

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The Murder of Akong Rinpoche: Party Line Reporting?

The following story, originating with Chinese sources massaging British reporting, sets forth the conditions of Akong Rinpoche's murder much in the manner one stacks a deck of cards. We must be very careful not to accept any version of these events, until a detailed investigation is conducted by professionals. In the meantime, idle speculation in social media only serves the interests of those who bear hostility. Please note carefully the linkages proposed by this story. Here is the headline and the text:

Founder of first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Europe stabbed to death in Chengdu

Choje Akong Rinpoche, the founder of Europe's first Tibetan Buddhist monastery, was killed along with his nephew and driver in a stabbing in Chengdu on Tuesday morning. Akong's family have dubbed the killing as an 'assassination.'
Akong's brother posted a message to the monastery's website, as found by The Telegraph:
To all dear friends of Samye Ling and Choje Akong Rinpoche, I am very, very sorry to inform you all that tragically, my brother Choje Akong Rinpoche, my nephew and one monk who was travelling with then, were all assassinated in Chengdu today.
“Rinpoche’s body has been taken to hospital where a post mortem will be carried out. That is all the news I have so far. If I receive further news I will let you know.
The victims were stabbed by three ethnic Tibetans who have now been detained by police. The incident was apparently sparked by "a dispute about money." Akong, who was 73, fled Tibet in 1959 and lived a controversial life in exile, only to eventually reestablish good relations with the Chinese government:

Akong fled from Tibet into India in 1959, following the Chinese occupation of the country. But in recent years he had established unusually good relations with the Chinese government, and was able to travel in the country supervising schools and medical programmes that had been established by his charity The ROKPA Foundation. He was on a visit to these projects when he was killed.
Akong had played a key part in one of the most controversial episodes in Tibetan Buddhism in recent years In 1992, he led the search party that brought a seven-year-old boy Apo Gaga from his home in a nomad’s tent in Eastern Tibet to Tsurphu monastery, near Lhasa, where with the permission of the Chinese authorities, he was enthroned as the 17th Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje - the second most important figure after the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy.
Akong is most known for founding the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in the UK, near the English-Scottish border, and Chengdu is rapidly becoming better known for its stabbings.

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The Murder of Akong Rinpoche: A Monk Remembers

The following memoir was written by Kunga Dondrup, a monk living in Kathmandu. As he explains, he met Akong Rinpoche when he was younger, and this is his memory of that particular meeting. 

Apparently, he walked away with a jewel.


Some years ago, in Cardiff, I had an interview with Akong Rinpoche. I was feeling really low, and sorry for myself, as things were going pretty badly at that time. I told him what I was going through. 

He looked at me flatly and said, 'Welcome to Samsara.' 

And that was it.

I felt a little deflated at first. After all, I'd opened my heart to the man, revealed the anguish that was eating me, and all he could say was this? 

And then the penny dropped: What won't work in the first place can't be fixed. What else should I expect? It was a wake up call for me.

If we accept Buddha's teaching then we really do need to make its central theme our personal experience, the springboard for our outlook and practice: Life is full of suffering; the cause of suffering is clinging; but there is a way out; and this is to follow the path which arose from the Buddha's realisation. 

Samsara won't work. It can't be fixed. In other words, there will always be suffering, in as many ways as causes and conditions permit, until the very causes of suffering themselves have been overcome, and we achieve arhatship or Buddhahood.

I was very sorry to hear of Rinpoche's death today, as I am very grateful for the teachings I received from him. They were always practical, earthy and wise. And so, rather than wax emotional about how I miss him - which would be connected more with my own emotional self-indulgence, than with what he has personally experienced - I honour his memory by sharing the very same teaching he gave to me.

I am sure Rinpoche will continue to benefit many beings. If we want to do the same, as Mahayana practitioners should, then we need to remember and implement Buddha's teaching and make it bear fruit in our lives. 

Welcome to Samsara.

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Akong Rinpoche Assassinated at Chengdu, Two Others

Choje Akong Rinpoche, of Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, along with two others, has been "assassinated" near Chengdu, according to his brother, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche. We run the announcement as received here:
To all dear friends of Samye Ling and Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
I am very, very sorry to inform you all that tragically, my brother Choje Akong Rinpoche, my nephew and one monk who was travelling with then, were all assassinated in Chengdu today. Rinpoche’s body has been taken to hospital where a post mortem will be carried out. That is all the news I have so far. If I receive further news I will let you know.
My nephew Kating Lama has been able to inform His Holiness Karmapa’s sister who has informed H H Karmapa, H H Dalai Lama and Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa and they are all saying prayers.
We will have to do a lot of special prayers and make a lot of appropriate offerings on Rinpoche’s behalf and any contributions you wish to make in his name will be much appreciated.
I request you all to do whatever prayers you can.
With best wishes,
Lama Yeshe Rinpoche
Frequently noted as the friend (and occasional critic) of Trungpa Rinpoche, with whom he founded Samye Ling, in Scotland, Akong Tulku was a major figure in the transition of Tibetan Buddhism to the West.  His accomplishments are the subject of a documentary film, "Akong: A Remarkable Life."

We have no further details at this time, save to say that indigenous Chinese reporting on the incident in Chengdu is self-serving, and might well be discarded.

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