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Remembering Khandro Semo Lhanzey la

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

As Khandro Semo Lhanzey la 1 Year Mahaparanirvana Anniversary is coming up, Rinpoche la gives us a glimpse about Semo la (Edited by Dallas John Baker):

Khandro Semo Lhanzey Wangmo was born in the 1960s in Darjeeling to Yum Chime Wangmo, a daughter of Kyabjé Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, and Yab Dasho Urgyen. Even before her birth, Semo-la was recognized by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche as the emanation of his own mother, Yum Namgyal Dolma, who herself was recognized as a Dakini in human form and whose bloodline descended from the great Terton Pema Lingpa. It is reported from that time that H.H. said: "My mother's love for me was so strong that she came, even though I don't have much time left in this realm." This love for H.H. was a defining trait of Semo Lhanzey-la’s personality and would remain strong throughout her life. In many ways she embodied the profound Guru Yoga path, which by itself leads to the highest realization.

Khandro Semo Lhanzey-la began her schooling in Darjeeling at Mount Herman School and later left her formal education to study and practice with H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche. She remained close to him until his Mahaparinirvana in 1987.

Semo-la was a secret practitioner in every sense of the word. Therefore, it's not for me to reveal the details of her practice. Towards the end of Semo-la’s life, she fulfilled all of the promises she made to H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche. On completing her accumulation of the Khandro Thuk Thik she said: "I don't have more than a year now before I leave, so please take my instructions seriously." These words were not uttered to me alone, but also to Sangha members who served her. The ability to predict the time of one’s passing is a siddhi accomplished only by great practitioners and Masters.

One of Semo-la’s last wishes was: "Don't waste money on long life practices for me. Make sure that you instead serve the people equally without any discrimination.” Furthermore, she said: “Until and unless I meet Yangsi Kyabje Pema Shepa Rinpoche again, I will not leave.” Through the power of her mind she kept her word. After 40 days or so in the Intensive Care Unit, Yangsi Rinpoche finally met Semo-la and she then entered Parinirvana the very next day.

Semo Lhanzey-la remained in Thukdam (an unwavering meditation to benefit all beings only accomplished by great practitioners) for 15 days. During Semo-la’s time in Thukdam there were many auspicious omens, one every other day, such as lotus flowers appearing in butter lamps, rainbows appearing above the place where her holy body rested and yellow moon and rainbow appearing during the night. She even appeared in the dreams of practitioners as far away as Australia to give advice and comfort. Her passing inspired acts of devotion all over the world, from large pujas performed in monasteries in the Himalayas to simple acts of devotion such as the lighting of a candle by everyday practitioners in both the East and West. To further strengthen practitioners' devotion to the Dharma, she left ringsels from the burnt ashes of her bones. All of these signs show that Khandro Semo Lhanzey Wangmo had reached the state of ultimate realization in this very lifetime.

Shower of blessings during Sunny Day at OCD

We owe Semo-la a debt of gratitude because of the relentless work she did for our Dudjom Tersar, without ever seeking the limelight, and for always being there for us. I will always remember one of the things that she often told me: "It is not the height of the throne nor the amount of silk that you are draped in, nor the amount of devotees that you have around you that defines you, rather it is your service to the people with noble intentions and motivations. Don't live for the sake of showing off but live genuinely and serve humbly." This simple advice mirrors the wisdom of the Buddha as found in the Dhammapada: “To abandon all evil deeds, to cultivate much good and to cleanse one's mind – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.”



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