Last week the Community, and truly the world (though we recognize that considering that scale, loss is only a temporally and geographically bounded illusion), suffered a jolting tragedy with the passing of Tsona Gontse Rinpoche. There is more to say about the leadership and humility of this human being than I can do justice to, but I’ll better leave his description to the children and distil his biography to a dear friend of Lobsang’s since his days in the monastery, a great supporter of Jhamtse Gatsal, and a deeply loved and integral member of the Community whose visits were always rich and joyful. His death is a great loss for all of us here as well as for the Mon region.
In the last week, we have been reciting many prayers in his memory, some of which mantras the children recount learning from him. In honor of his cremation yesterday, the Class VI and VII students reflect on how Tsona Rinpoche continues to inspire them and how he lives on through his many implicit lessons to us and faith in all of us here at Jhamtse Gatsal. In turn, I am perpetually uplifted and inspired to watch this generation of bodhisattvas and world-changers cultivating their kind hearts and finding their voices on a daily basis.
Photos of butter lamps by Raju Kumar, class VIII
Shanti Tamang, Class VII
Tsona Rinpoche was born here in Monyul. Tsona Rinpoche was so kind-hearted. He always talked about our school. He gave one crore [rupees] for our school. Whenever he visited in our school, he played with us and talked with us and told about how to be kind with another people. When he visited to Tawang Gonpa with his brother and some monks, he spoke very kindly to other people and told never to do bad things in our life. Tsona Rinpoche was saying that one day our school’s children will grow up and they will develop the Monyul. He also said the children of Jhamtse Gatsal are different than other people.
When we got news that Tsona Rinpoche was passed away, at that time we all were shocked. How, it is not possible. When we heard, we did prayer in our prayer room. When Genla knew, Genla was so sad that he couldn’t say anything. We were also sad and our amala was crying so much. Genla went to Bomdila to see Tsona Rinpoche’s body and Genla came back and told us about Tsona Rinpoche was not anymore in our Monyul. But he will rebirth in the world.
Mani Wangmu, Class VII
Tsona Rinpoche’s dream was for us to become a good person and to become a different person than others and to become better. Tsona Rinpoche helped to our Genla a lot. Tsona Rinpoche was a really, really good person. I have never seen a person like Tsona Rinpoche. Tsona Rinpoche took our Genla to USA for the first time. In second time, our Genla had no money to go to USA and Tsona Rinpoche had also a little bit of money. Tsona Rinpoche shared money with our Genla. And they both went to USA. And Genla built our school. And Genla took us here to study and Genla taught us how to do kind for others. Genla gave a name to our school as a Jhamtse Gatsal. It means A Garden of Love and Compassion. One day Tsona Rinpoche came to our school and we welcomed to Tsona Rinpoche.
Tsona Rinpoche’s dream was for us to become a kind person, good person, to become more better, to become a different person than others. I will do that what was his dream. I will always do prayer and remember Tsona Rinpoche. I will do kind to others. I will do better to succeed his dream.
Yeshi Lhamu, Class VI
When I grow up I will help poor people. I think Rinpoche’s dream will come true. I will teach others wisdom, love, and compassion. Rinpoche also taught us how to do wisdom, love, peace, and compassion. When Rinpoche died, I can’t believe it because he is so kind and peaceful. When amalas told us, then I felt so sad. Now also I remember his wisdom and peacefulness.
Lungta Lhamu, Class VII
Tsona Rinpoche was so kind and gentle. Whenever he used to give us some speech, then he always used to say never lose your religion. He always used to help our Genla when he was in the monastery and he knew our school very well and also he used to give speeches like Jhamtse Gatsal school is very special and one day the children of Jhamtse Gatsal will be so unique and helpful to others. Whenever he met our Genla, then he used to say how is our school going and how are the children and staff of Jhamtse. But now Tsona Rinpoche left us and the world. But in our heart he is still alive and he is with us in the world.
Dargey Phuntsok, Class VI
Rinpoche said Jhamtse Gatsal students, when you grow up then you will become peaceful and you will help poor people. When I grow up then I will help poor people and I will help for my school.
Tenzin Lhadron ‘B’, Class VII
We have to be good person. We all have to show good respect to elders. We all have to study well and we have to change our country. We in future have to say good things to others. Then we can be good person in life.
Tsering Chodron, Class VI
When I grow up I want to help poor people. I will make Rinpoche’s dream become true. I also want to build a school and I will help them. I will teach the people to do good things and love to others.
Sonam Chodron, Class VII
If we help poor people and also we help small children and we have to be honest, same like Rinpoche, then it will help in T. G. Rinpoche’s future dream. And also when T. G. Rinpoche is saying that Jhamtse Gatsal students when they grow they will make better person. If we want to make better person we have to help small child and poor people and also we have to listen to elder brother and sister and teacher and amala. Then T. G. Rinpoche’s future dream will complete and it is very good in our life and to all the people in the world.