Well-respected Buddhist teacher Ani Zamba Chozom, one of the first fully ordained Western women monastics, has died after a long illness. She was 75 years old.
According to statements from close friends and associates, Ani Zamba died on December 23 in a hospital in Sao Paolo.
Ani Zamba was born Susan Dawn Belanda in London in 1948. Growing up, she suffered from a serious illness which awakened in her the desire to dedicate her life to the benefit of others. In 1969, seeking answers to life's sufferings, she traveled to India, where she eventually began to study the Buddhadharma. She was then able to travel extensively, studying and practicing several Buddhist traditions.
She received the Dharma name Jampa Chozom when the famous scholar and meditation master Geshe Rabten ordained her as a monastic in Dharamsala in 1972. In 1975, she received the full name Jampa Chozom. bhikshuni ordination in Hong Kong, and from 1978 she spent a long period working in a drug rehabilitation center at Wat Thamkrabok in Thailand.
Ani Zamba spent a total of nine years in India and Nepal, where she received teachings from many great Gelugpa, Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingma lamas. She has studied and practiced under some of the most revered modern masters of Tibetan Buddhism, including Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dungsey Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, Lama Wangdur and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
In 1983, Ani Zamba received full ordination again in South Korea, and then received further ordinations in Taiwan and China. While living in Thailand from 1978 to 1982, she met many of the great teachers of the Thai forestry tradition of the time, while also working in a Khmer Rouge refugee camp and in child prostitution.
Ani Zamba's work and travels would later see her established in the Philippines, Hong Kong's Lamma Island and the United States.
Eventually, she settled in Brazil, where Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche had founded a Dharma center, thus becoming its representative in the north of the country. After Rinpoche's death in 2002, she became an independent teacher with her own community of students, offering practical teachings in the Dzogchen tradition, particularly on direct observation of the nature of the mind, and establishing a retreat center.
Ani Zamba has been widely praised for her courage in the face of the many obstacles faced by Western women monastics studying Buddhadharma in Asia. Messages were widely posted online mourning his passing. Information about services and memorials should be shared on social media.
In a post shared on Facebook, her close friend Ani Jinba said in part: “Yesterday, one of my oldest friends since the early 70s, British nun Ani Zamba (Jampa Chozom), died in a hospital in Brazil after a long illness. . . . Her passing is a great loss to the Dharma and she will be missed by many, may the blessings of her great masters continue to guide her. . .”