The following article was published in the most recent edition of the Nalanda Translation Committee newsletter.
On behalf of board members, staff, and volunteers, it is with deep sadness that Karmapa Center 16 announces the passing of our beloved friend, Phuntsok Bist, Founding Board Member, Vice President, and Treasurer. Lama Phuntsok passed away in the early morning hours of December 5th near Zion, Illinois, location of the parinirvana of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. Lama Phuntsok dedicated his life to serving His Holiness Karmapa and the Karma Kagyu lineage, and kept his monastic vows from age 12 until the end of his life. His passing is a tremendous loss for us all.
After completing the monastic training at the Rumtek Monastery, he was appointed the junior chant master and soon became the teacher and administrator of Jamyang Khang, the monastery’s primary school. For many years, he served as Umdze and Chant Master at Dharma Chakra Center, Rumtek and also went into short retreats.
Due to a medical condition, in 1993 he took leave from the monastery and travelled to the United States for treatment. Lama Phuntsok worked as a volunteer teacher at the Karma Theksum Choling monastery until 2000, where he taught Tibetan language and literature, and monastic rituals. Also at this time, Lama Phuntsok was appointed the Dronyer Chenmo, Chief Public Relation Officer of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa in exile in India, and served until 2011. In 2012, Lama Phuntsok semi-retired and settled in the United States of America. Since that time he has been continually serving the Karma Kagyu lineage in a variety of ways, including the establishment of Karmapa Center 16 in Wadsworth, Illinois. The vision of this project is to commemorate the life of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa with a stupa, memorial, meditation hall, retreat center, and a place to learn and study Buddhism, and the history of the Karmapa lineage.
Lama Phuntsok will be remembered as a dedicated and devoted individual who lived his life helping others with kindness, gentleness, and a robust sense of humor. Donations for the traditional end of life practices and in memory of his life can be made at www.karmapacenter16.org/donate. May all be auspicious!
Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche
Founding Board Member & President
Karmapa Center 16
With your supreme intelligence, you realized the intention
Of the unsurpassable vehicle, the tradition of Padmakara.
Guru of unequalled kindness, I remember you from my heart.
I supplicate you—bless me with your compassion.
I, Pema Trinley Palzang, a performer of three activities,
From now on, will take control of my own discipline in thought and deed.
I make a firm commitment, as follows,
To avoid thoughtlessness and senselessness.
In physical conduct, I will not allow myself to be rootless and hurried,
Incapable of being still, carelessly following my every whim.
I will always hold my own space
And be adorned by the training in pure discipline.
In speech, whether spiritual or secular,
I will choose meaningful words
And shun unconnected talk of past events or boring discussions concerning any of the three times.
I will always exert myself in dharmic recitations, proclamations, and readings.
In mind, I will not flutter back and forth like a young bird on a branch.
Not getting absorbed in discursive thoughts of good and bad,
I will meditate, cultivating forbearance and relying on my own perceptions, not those of others.
I will reflect on how best to benefit the teachings and beings.
In particular, the vital essence of the thought of all victorious ones
Is the true nature—the uncontrived, innate dharmakaya.
Without ever lapsing, I will sustain it with one taste in equipoise and post-meditation.
In sum, I will hold myself to the sublime, dharmic conduct of the three gates,
Not falling under the influence of others.
Arrogance, haughtiness, or thoughts of self- aggrandizement—whatever of these arises,
I will not let them move me in the slightest.
I will remain dignified, and fearless, like a mountain.
Until this collection of elements has rotted away,
I will not waver from this way of being.
Of this way I will be a fearless warrior—that will be my quality.
This is my vow, like an image carved in stone.
May it be virtuous!
Gods and protectors, work to help this come to pass!
May the virtuous signs of auspiciousness excellently blaze!
Composed by the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the verses were selected by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and translated by Tyler Dewar under his guidance, from Heart Advice of the Karmapa.