Annapurna: I remember her as a continued loving presence in the Dordogne in France, where we were receiving teachings first from Dudjom Rinpoche and then in later years from his son Shenphen Rinpoche. I remember Annapurna with her wonderful embroidered carpet bags, always traveling light, and seeming light in her contact with the earth. Always there, as if she had simply willed herself there, and there she was—attentive, listening, blissful to be near her teachers. She was living her dharma, a true “dzogchen yogi.” Although there were moments when her breath was labored, she never lost that lightness.
She was sitting next to me in a shelter outside Dudjom Rinpoche’s home, La Pechardie, in 1987, the summer after his death. We were there in a group to say goodbye to His Holiness, whose body was being cared for and preserved, before it would be taken to Bodhanath in Nepal to be laid in the golden stupa inside his temple. We both felt an indescribable lightness and breath of dharma, as if His Holiness had left us the gift of his transcendent being in that room.
On my last trip to Nepal for the enthronement of the reincarnation of Dudjom Rinpoche—was it 15 years ago?—Annapurna, Gita and I traveled to Pokhara to be near the great mountain Annapurna, which she had never before seen. We arose early, before sunrise, to see the snow-covered mountain range before it would be shrouded in clouds. We sat on the roof and sipped tea, as the mountain slowly materialized out of the pre-dawn darkness. All around us, on every roof, there were people there to greet the mountain. As you can imagine, Annapurna was blissful at the sight.
Although I lived in Santa Fe, I visited Annapurna many times these past ten years in her home and later in her apartment by the river. She was always caring. Our ongoing conversation, however, was mainly by email. Her email became for many people the expression of her generosity. Many times the subject line would read simply “love”, She addressed me: “lady of the luminous splendor”; “lady of light”, “Buddha girl”. “So, Lady of Luminous Light, fill your days with the sublime bliss of your true nature…” She wished to remind every person of our empty and radiant Buddha nature: that became her mission. It was her natural calling.
When I became ill with cancer in the Fall of 2004, she not only put me in touch with Michael for advice, but herself gave me many ideas of supplements I could take. She also suggested a visualization: “Every cell, atom, molecule, DNA, perfect and full of light, every breath and heartbeat benefiting others.” She also said she would release fish for me, a practice she did faithfully every month with Christine Moen and others.
Our birthdays were a day apart—hers on January 4, and she never forgot to send greetings. Many great practitioners choose to die alone. I’m sure she knew what to do.
I join all the others in feeling she is now OK, because she knew how to release her karmic tendencies and clingings while she was alive, and how much more so in the process of dying!