Yesterday, Rolpey Dorje Rinpoche VI passed away amidst the violence of an inundation in Yushu (Jiegu) that swept through Kham and brought the roof down on himself and his wife, killing them both. The Rolpey Dorjes are one of the three tulkus (incarnate lamas) of Surmang Dutsi til, the others being Chetsang (Aten) Rinpoche and the Surmang Trungpas.
We’d known Rinpoche since he first appeared on the scene in ‘92, about the same time as the 12th Trungpa, Chokyi Senggey. I was probably the first Westerner he’d met. It didn’t seem to matter to him.
Moustached and over 6 feet tall, he was an outside-the-box Rinpoche, a big playful bear of a man, reminding me of some long-lost pal from summer camp. He was recognized somewhat late in life by Tai Situpa in ‘91, during his visit to Palpung Monastery. It was during this trip that Tai Situpa recognized Trungpa XII, Chokyi Senggey, and his choice of Karmapa 16 (Orgyen Tinley) along with over 200 tulkus.
I met with TSR in Beijing at the Minzu Hotel in Beijing (and Akong Rinpoche whom he had traveled with) right after and was told about the recognitions.
I personally liked Rolpey Dorje and found him to be warm, quirky, intuitive, uneducated — some lamas were taken aback by his quirkiness. Whenever I saw him, he would throw his enormous arms around me and wrestle me to the ground. The only thing I could fight back with was tickling.
He certainly was a lama who was direct in expressing his affection and his needs and Surmang Foundation did contribute to his welfare.
We need to pay special attention to his passing, draw our own conclusions, and generate the enlightened attitude for sake of his family, his colleagues and all beings who are affected by this inauspicious event.
~by Lee Weingrad, Amara: The China Rural Health Alliance, Surmang Foundation