Ani Marcia is a Western medical practitioner and midwife, who within the past few days was able to witness the genuine tugdam of Kyabe Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche. In order to inspire practitioners around the world, we have shared Ani Marcia’s account below. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche would like us to know that if any of us practice the Dharma with sincerity and devotion, we too can manifest the signs of realization.
Tugdam of Kyabe Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche
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Dear Sangha Friends,
I am a sangha member, a nurse practitioner, and a midwife, and I recently had the incredible opportunity to visit Kyabje Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche while Rinpoche was in tugdam. In my profession, I have seen several deaths, and as a dharma student I’ve heard stories of great practitioners in tugdam—but I wasn’t certain what to expect.
A few weeks ago, prior to his passing, the local sangha organized a video call with Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche to say prayers and make aspirations. I noticed that Rinpoche’s face was relaxed and full of colour.
When I arrived at the house, it was very quiet, with only a few people present due to COVID restrictions. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche led me and another practitioner up to the third floor, where Chokling Rinpoche lay in bed and where we could offer prostrations. There, in the fifth day of tugdam, Chokling Rinpoche maintained the same relaxed visage I had seen earlier, just paler. His skin looked soft and without wrinkles. There was no rictus, nor rigor mortis, usually seen in the body after circulation ceases. There was no odour or shrinkage. A sensation of peace filled the room.
I have no accurate description for witnessing this state — it was utterly astounding. The condition of Rinpoche’s body five days after his passing defies the logic of Western medicine and philosophy. Dr. David Shlim, who examined the tugdam of Lama Putsi years ago, attributes this to the power of accomplishing the realization of Buddhist practice, 'rangjung yeshe', self-existing wakefulness. There is simply no material explanation in the prevalent medical system.
Many of us have witnessed remarkable occurrences around Chokling Rinpoche—windstorms, spontaneous rainbows, and other such phenomenon. However, with a little bit of effort one could attribute these events to other causes. Rinpoche’s tugdam however, is remarkable and wondrous.
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche said that this tugdam clearly reveals that Kyabje Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche is a supreme practitioner. Yet, most importantly, Rinpoche also said that all of us can manifest tugdam if we practice with diligence and devotion.
Rinpoche asked me to share my experience, with the wish that each of us find inspiration and confidence in our practice through Chokling Rinpoche’s example.
As a final note, I want to share the incredible blessing of being able to see all of the brothers and their sons in the same room—Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Phakchok Rinpoche, and Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche. Their mutual support and their kindness towards each other was touching, and it filled me with delight to so clearly see that we are all karmically linked to a truly remarkable family.
Best wishes for your practice, and for confidence to increase,
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