Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chöje Akong Rinpoche reportedly assassinated in China

Oct. 9 Update: The story has been covered by numerous news sites across the UK: ITV, the Belfast Telegraph, The Scotsman, along with those listed below and Phayul, a major Tibetan website based in India.

The police in China, as noted below, have arrested three Tibetan men, listed as “a Tibetan man from Derge and two others from Chamdo Joda region” by Phayul. According to The Scotsman, “A spokesman for the Free Tibet campaign said his organisation did not want to comment on Dr Rinpoche’s death until the full facts were made public.”

If you have further information, please comment below. Any information on the youtube video posted in the comments would also be appreciated. 

~

The following comes from the facebook page of the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Buddhist Centre:

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 

 

 

Comments and condolences are pouring in there (new/alt link) but no official report can be found at this time.  (10:50 pm update): The UK’s Telegraph reports that police in China claim to have arrested 3 Tibetans in connection with the killing, which they described as a stabbing in a resedential area in a dispute over money.

Chengdu is situated in southwest China (the capital of Sichuan Provence) with an urban area population of over 14 million people.

Born in 1940, in Dharak Village, Riwoche County, in the Chamdo area of Kham, which is part of the Tibetan areas of China, he was discovered at a very young age by the search party seeking the reincarnation of the previous (1st) Akong, Karma Miyo, Abbot of Lho Tsawagang Drolma Lhakang Monastery in Pashu County in the Chamdo area of Kham. The search party was following precise instructions given by HH 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Supreme Head of the Karma Kagyu Tradition….

In 2011 Akong Tulku Rinpoche was chosen as a recipient of the “60 years, 6 people” accolade, in which the British Home Secretary awards former refugees who have made an inspiring and meaningful contribution to Britain.

Akong Tulku Rinpoche has authored 3 books, the first of which, Taming the Tiger, has been translated into 17 languages and is widely known. He has also presented several papers on Buddhism, medicine, charity and therapy and has been interviewed extensively by worldwide media.

Akong Tulku Rinpoche is a guiding light in the transmission and preservation of Buddhism. His work has been profoundly influential in establishing Tibetan Buddhism’s place in Western society and culture,  both through his extensive projects and also through activities such as being the first Tibetan lama in Europe licensed to perform weddings and funerals.

The increasing burden of his charity work abroad has led Akong Tulku Rinpoche to appoint his brother, Venerable Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche as Abbot of Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland, who has since been  successfully strengthening the monastic community there.

(see Samye Ling for a full bio)

You can find out more about Akong Rinpoche here.

An indigogo campaign was recently launched in the UK to create a film documenting his life called AKONG, A Remarkable Life:

Further links/news will be posted as they become available. ITV in India reports the above with no further details.

5:50pm GMT, BBC news has now reported the story, again with no new details.

6:20pm GMT, there is an excellent recent back-story on Akong Rinpoche at Elephant Journal (dated Sept 7, 2013).

  • BobbyWong

    Justin, if you look on youtube, the Tibetan exiles have posted a video of Choje Akong and called him a “Tibetan Traitor”. You can search for the video on Youtube by id: axfUnXansYk

    • justinwhitaker

      Thanks for that, Bobby. The full link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axfUnXansYk

      I’ll be interested to hear what others have to say about the video.

      • Eusebius

        From his Telegraph Obit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10368123/Choje-Akong-Rinpoche.html

        “he travelled to Lhasa at the invitation of the Chinese
        Communist Party to attend the 60th Anniversary of the so-called “Peaceful
        Liberation of Tibet”, where he was greeted as a “Patriotic Tibetan”.

        “That was extremely difficult for him,” one student remembered. “It upset many
        Tibetans. He didn’t want to go, but he knew that if he refused it would be
        his projects that would suffer. And he was prepared to jeopardise his own
        reputation for the sake of that.”

        • Tenzin

          Thank you for saying this. It is sad that many Tibetans chose to believe rumors instead of trying to find out why that handful of Exile Tibetans attended this celebration. The irony is, many Exile Tibetans have never been to Tibet, nor do they plan to go there, instead, they enjoy spreading rumors that the ones who invested their lives to help Tibet, and portray them as traitors. Quite pathetic, but these are my people.

        • Guest

          Agreed. My husband and I knew Akong Rinpoche well (being involved with the Samye Ling community), and I wish to state that any negative views toward Akong Rinpoche are based on hearsay, jealousy or pure ignorance.

          He was a man who dedicated his entire life to helping the poor, homeless and hungry – not just in Tibet – but many parts of the world. (His work speaks for itself.) Contrary to what many think, he had good relations with the top echelon of the Tibetan Buddhist community, such as the Karmapa, the Dalai Lama, Tai Situpa and many others. However, many of the mid- and lower level ranks did not understand how it was that AR was allowed into China when none of the other lamas had access to it. Akong Rinpoche was an incredibly skilful man, and he used that skill in negotiating with Chinese officials in order to help his people, fully knowing that there would be idle gossip and dissension amongst the Tibetan Buddhist community regarding his motives. He was willing to take on that negativity in order to help desperate people and–very importantly–to preserve the Tibetan culture and Buddhist traditions. In addition to helping the poor, he had been tirelessly bringing back relics and sacred texts from Tibet to the West for many years–translating, transcribing and publishing many precious works that were thought to have been lost forever. Akong Rinpoche was loved and admired by all who truly knew him. The common people of Tibet loved and revered him like a Buddha and were very gratefull for all the help he did in Tibet, building and funding schools, houses, orphanages, monasteries, earthquake relief, etc. Anyone who spurns Akong Rinpoche is either ignorant of all these facts or is just evil-minded …

          Regarding the monk who purportedly killed Akong Rinpoche (Thubten Khunsol) over a squabble of money, it is hard to believe. I knew Thubten, and I don’t believe he could do such a thing. I have my own theory about what happened (I think it was an assassination), but it is only speculation. I know that Akong Rinpoche wouldn’t want us all sitting around ruminating about what happened. I know he would say: “Just get on with it; go out and do as much good in the world as you can and don’t worry about what others think.” That is the legacy he left for those of us who knew him. It is an impenetrable mystery that I must accept.

          I just wanted to share what I knew, because that is part of my healing process. I know Akong Rinpoche’s heartfelt visions and aspirations for a better, kinder world will continue on and on. They can take the body away but never the Mind.

          Je Mila Repa Dorje La Solwandepso.

    • Andrew

      Thank you for your chinese point of view, Mr Wong. Your opinion about syrian conflict on Twitter is interresting too.

      • BobbyWong

        What a bigoted reply Andrew, I’m American, ain’t never been citizen of the PRC a day in my life. My views are American views.

        • Andrew

          Oh, really? So as american citizen, you defend the freedom around the world, even in the occupied Tibet, Mr Wong? You condamn dictatorships and mass murderers, isn’t it? One brother of Akong Rinpoche was killed in 1963 during their escape from Tibet, after the invasion of Chinese army, did you know that? Akong Rinpoche was president of Rokpa International, a charity organisation who help thousands of tibetans: 61 schools, 9 hospitals, traditional medicine universities, preservation of tibetan culture: more than 200 projects developed.
          Open your eyes and your heart, Mr Wong.

          • BobbyWong

            I’m just pointing out your racist accusation against me. There are Asian-Americans who have little or no association with the PRC.
            Face it, your hate has turned you into a bigot.

            • Andrew

              Me? Racist?!? C’mon mister Wong, I’m friend with a lot of Asian-Americans like you from different origins: Tibet, Mongolia, Taiwan… (oups).

              • justinwhitaker

                Andrew, cool it. Or I delete your comments. I am pretty tolerant here, but Bobby is right. You jumped on him as giving a “chinese pov” with no reasoning whatsoever. Saying your not racist because you have Asian-American friends is BS too. Look it up (replace Asian-American with Black and you’ll get more articles).

                • Andrew

                  First of all, english is not my first language, so I apologize about the misunderstanding. Sometimes, I’m ironic (it’s bad, I know^^) but I didn’t want to insult anybody.

                  They are tens of YT video who speak about the extraordinary activities of Akong Rinpoche around the world, and you just link a video (maded by tibetan extremists who consider HH Dalai Lama as a traitor too) who insult his memory. Did you realize that you speak about a dead man? Did you realize that some friends and followers (like me) of Akong Rinpoche are shocked about that, especially on a buddhist channel?
                  Is this your buddhist principe of respect?

                  Now, you can trait me as a racist, a bigot or whatever you want and delete my comments if you wish.

  • Tenzin

    To those who did not know him, he was everything but a traitor. It is sad that people make such strong statements without knowing facts.
    Many people do not know that in order to help the Tibetans in Tibet, one has to work with the Chinese officials.
    He lived to help people around the globe and touched so many lives.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.

    • Annie

      THANK YOU TENZIN! <3

    • justinwhitaker

      Thanks, Tenzin. I agree. It will be good to know what really happened. Though in China that’s easier said than done. No use speculating at the moment.

  • Max

    Akong Rimpotché a était une grande aide pour moi, sa
    compassion et son intention à mon égard est inoubliable, pendant que je fus
    résident à Samyé-Ling pendant 12 ans auprès de ChérabPaldenBeru. Cette tragédie
    est impensable. Je suis avec vous, tous ses disciples et prie que tout soit
    apaisé….

    Max

  • Max

    Akong Rimpotché a était une grande aide pour moi, sa
    compassion et son intention à mon égard est inoubliable, pendant que je fus
    résident à Samyé-Ling pendant 12 ans auprès de ChérabPaldenBeru. Cette tragédie
    est impensable. Je suis avec vous, tous ses disciples et prie que tout soit
    apaisé….

  • Max

    Akong
    Rimpotché has was a big help for me, its condolence and its intention towards
    me is unforgettable, while I was resident to Samyé-Ling during 12 years with
    ChérabPaldenBeru. This tragedy is unthinkable. I am with you.

  • Max

    Cette tragédie est impensable. Je suis avec vous .

  • Max

    Akong Rimpotché has was a big help for me, its
    condolence and its intention towards me is unforgettable, while I was resident
    to Samyé-Ling during 12 years with ChérabPaldenBeru. This tragedy is
    unthinkable. I am with you and ask.

    Max

  • senseless

    I knew Rinpoche for many years also but mostly in his private life. I have never witnessed him dispute anything nor could imagine that… especially about money. I do not believe the press releases. I also do not believe that people from the Tibetan Community would kill a man that has dedicated his entire life to the preservation of Tibetan culture and helping where help is needed. I was also aware that he has received many death threats in the past from the chinese sources. Draw your own conclusion.
    Rinpoche aside, I do not believe that a Tibetan person would murder a Tibetan monk.
    Akong Rinpoche was a quiet, contemplative, gentle and compassionate man. He was admirable and amazing. The press releases in my opinion are a white wash.

  • Chutso

    My husband and I knew Akong Rinpoche well (being involved with the Samye Ling community), and I wish to state that any negative views toward Akong Rinpoche are based on hearsay, jealousy or pure ignorance.

    He was a man who dedicated his entire life to helping the poor, homeless and hungry – not just in Tibet – but in many parts of the world. (His work speaks for itself.) Contrary to what many think, he had good relations with the top echelon of the Tibetan Buddhist community, such as the Karmapa, the Dalai Lama, Tai Situpa and many others. However, many of the mid- and lower level ranks did not understand how it was that AR was allowed into China when none of the other lamas had access to it. Akong Rinpoche was an incredibly skilful man, and he used that skill in negotiating with Chinese officials in order to help his people, fully knowing that there would be idle gossip and dissension amongst the Tibetan Buddhist community regarding his motives. He was willing to take on that negativity in order to help desperate people and–very importantly–to preserve the Tibetan culture and Buddhist traditions. In addition to helping the poor, he had been tirelessly bringing back relics and sacred texts from Tibet to the West for many years–translating, transcribing and publishing many precious works that were thought to have been lost forever. Akong Rinpoche was loved, respected and admired by all who truly knew him. The common people of Tibet revered him like a Buddha and were very gratefull for all the help he did in Tibet, building and funding schools, houses, orphanages, monasteries, earthquake relief, etc. Anyone who spurns Akong Rinpoche is either ignorant of all these facts or is just evil-minded …

    Regarding the monk who purportedly killed Akong Rinpoche (Thubten Khunsol) over a squabble of money, it is hard to believe. I knew Thubten, and I don’t believe he could do such a thing. I have my own theory about what happened (I think it was an assassination), but it is only speculation. I know that Akong Rinpoche wouldn’t want us all sitting around ruminating about what happened. I know he would say: “Just get on with it; go out and do as much good in the world as you can and don’t worry about what others think.” That is the legacy he left for those of us who knew him. It is an impenetrable mystery that I must accept.

    I just wanted to share what I knew, because that is part of my healing process. I know Akong Rinpoche’s heartfelt visions and aspirations for a better, kinder world will continue on and on. They can take the body away but never the Mind.

    Je Mila Repa Dorje La Solwandepso.


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