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