Pend Oreille County Sheriff Asks For Public’s Help to Find Missing Monk
News Story by Tracy Simmons | FāVS News
The ground search for a monk who went missing from Sravasti Abbey last week has been suspended by the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s office.
Geshe Tenzin Chodrak (Dadul Namgyal), 64, went for a walk on the evening of Nov. 7 on the abbey’s 300-acre property and did not return.
Namgyal officially joined the Buddhist abbey earlier this year as its first male resident teacher. Known as Geshe-la, he has been a monk in the Tibetan tradition for more than 40 years. He had been leading the growing monk community at Sravasti.
He chose to reside at Sravasti after recently retiring from Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-based Ethics (CCSCBE). For the past 13 years, he also served as senior resident teacher at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta and was senior translator/interpreter with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, a branch of CCSCBE at Emory, where he helped develop a science curriculum for Tibetan monks and nuns.
The monastics noticed his absence when he did not appear for a puja and a search began immediately.
Search and rescue crews used dogs, drones and a helicopter to search for the missing monk, but Sheriff Glenn Blakeslee said they’ve exhausted reasonable efforts and are now relying on the public for help.
He said if anyone hears, sees or knows anything, they should call the sheriff’s office at (509) 447-3151. Laminated posters have also been posted in the local forest off the abbey property where hunters and hikers may see them.
Volunteers Keep Searching
In a video Ven. Thubten Chodron, founder of the abbey, said Namgyal had a jacket, winter shoes, warm socks and a hat when he went for his walk. Blakeslee said the terrain is slick from rain, but it hasn’t gotten into freezing temperatures yet and snow is mainly at the higher elevations.
Volunteers are continuing to search for the monk, including a professional tracker. Videos of his efforts are being posted to Facebook.
Buddhists from around the globe are offering prayers and holding special services for Namgyal, including Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta and Maitripa College in Oregon.
On Nov. 10 Ven. Sangye Khadro offered guidance to the Sravasti Abbey community on how Buddhists can use the Dharma to best work with their minds and grow during this time.
“It doesn’t help to let the mind get carried away with unhappy thoughts and worries,” she said. “It’s better to accept the situation and you can always do things on the spiritual level. We can always do prayers and practices and meditations, so there’s things like that we can do which are much more productive and much more helpful than useless worries and fears and anxieties.”
In a video Nov. 11 Chodron told the community to trust Namgyal.
“Gesha-la has years and years and years of experience practicing the Dharma and in those kind of situations he would go to doing the taking and giving meditation and he would do that the whole night long and just do taking and giving taking and giving,” she said. “If you’re thinking of of him suffering a lot yeah, have faith in his in his training.”
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.