On January 3, the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office in Washington state released a statement saying the body of a deceased man had been found in the area where Geshe Tenzin Chodrak (Dadul Namgyal), 64 years old, reportedly disappeared in November. Authorities said the body was found in a frozen but recently thawed pond, noting that the clothes matched those of Namgyal, known to followers as Geshe-la, and that an autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause. time and cause of death, as well as positive identification.
Sravasti Abbey released the following statement:
Yesterday, while walking around the pond on the abbey property, two monks noticed brown colored clothing floating on the surface of the water. We immediately contacted the sheriff's department. They went out, called a boat and recovered a body which they said matched the description of Geshe Chodrak (Dadul Namgyal). The next step is that the police will carry out an autopsy to allow correct identification and further investigation into the time and cause of death. We will keep you updated as we learn more.
Please join us in continuing to make prayers and dedications for Geshela, that he may be born in a pure land or take a precious human rebirth. Please also offer prayers for his family and for his many students around the world, that they will see Geshela's death with the eyes of Dharma and engage in bodhisattva practices just like Geshela l 'did. By reciting and contemplating the “King of Prayers” and dedicating merit to Geshela, we will send Geshela with our respect and love.
Geshe-la disappeared from Sravasti Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist community in eastern Washington state, about 60 kilometers north of Spokane, on the evening of November 7 last year. According to those present, he wandered onto the heavily wooded 121-acre property and did not return.
On November 8, he was reported missing and search and rescue efforts began, using dogs, drones, a helicopter and volunteers. After a week without success, official search efforts were scaled back, while those at the abbey continued to hope for his safe return.
Interviewed just after Geshe-la's disappearance, those present at the abbey expressed their shock and their hope for his safe return. “We were all surprised. We were all very worried,” said Ven. Thubten Chonyi, a senior Buddhist nun at the abbey. “We assumed somewhere his walk yesterday. He walked in places he didn't know, or he walked in places, who knows if he fell or something. (KXLY)
On December 8, Geshe-la's family offered a missing person a US$25 reward for information leading to his recovery. However, no new information has been received so far.
Geshe-la joined the abbey in 2023 as the community's first male resident teacher, joining Abbess and founder Ven. Thubten Chodron and Ven. Sangye Khadro as the head teacher of the monastery. Before joining the abbey, Geshe-la worked for the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University. He also served as senior resident teacher at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta for 13 years.
More information will be released by the county coroner on the autopsy results. Members of the public are encouraged to report any information or leads they may have on the case to Investigator Travis Stigall of the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office at (509) 447-3151.