This week the community has been shocked and saddened by the sudden and violent death of its founder Akong Rinpoche. He was a man of few words who escaped from Tibet as a teenager, founded the monastery at Samye Ling, handing over its running and development to his younger brother Lama Yeshe. He gave up being a monk and married in Scotland believing that was the best way for him to spread the message of Buddhism. He remained a very influential figure in Samye Ling while putting time and energy into the Rokpa Charitable Foundation to serve the poor in Nepal and Tibet and encouraging his followers to engage in charitable works wherever they found themselves. This was a man who, as a Buddhist, lived out the virtues of compassion and loving kindness. As a Buddhist all his meditation and actions would have been dedicated to the relief of suffering and the good of all sentient beings. How terrible, then, that he should have been killed while visiting his charitable projects in China.
For the next 49 days prayers will be said for his happy rebirth. Whether one believes in rebirth or life after death the life and the compassion that has flowed from Akong Rinpoche will continue through the Samye Ling community and the charities he has founded. It's as though he has set in motion a great stream of love and positive energy which can't be contained. It has been set loose on the world and will continue to affect the world after he has left it. I cannot help but compare this with Tommy Robinson who this week left the English Defence League. While he now declares that he wants to combat extremism in more peaceful ways he has set up a movement that seems motivated by hate and which he admits he can't control. The energy that he has sent out into the world is so different from that of Akong Rinpoche and much work will need to be done to counteract it. Is this not a lesson for us all?