Many people were saddened by the passing of E. Gene Smith, a peerless champion of Buddhist learning and a walking treasure of knowledge. Gene’s incomparable scholarship of Buddhism in general, and Tibetan Buddhist history in particular, makes his passing a great loss. Like all of those whose lives and work were touched by his deeds, I, too, was incredibly saddened. I offer my heartfelt condolences and prayers to Gene’s family members, as well as to all of those who loved Gene and relied upon him as a mentor, a source of wisdom, love and an inspiration. He embodied the example of a bodhisattva who works selflessly for the benefit of others. Always personally kind and generous, he also had the courage and skill that enabled him to benefit and transform the world.
Gene acted with compassion and selfless heroism for his entire adult life: beginning as a Buddhist student and scholar at the University of Washington at Seattle and continuing as a field director for the Library of Congress in India beginning in 1968, as well as in Indonesia and Cairo. During his time with the Library of Congress, Gene accumulated an unparalleled understanding of the Tibetan Buddhist scholarly heritage. Perhaps the culmination of his legacy was the founding of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center in 1999. I was happy to serve Gene at TBRC and the wonderful moments we shared together will always remain in my heart.
I met Gene for the first time in Delhi in the 1970s and later became an admirer of his work. Over the years I was fortunate to get to know him personally and we had such a strong connection in our common interests, goals and lineage teachings. I learned a lot from his example, Gene was one of my great American friends and heroes.
I humbly request everyone to continue to support Gene’s vision and legacy which will surely bring wisdom, compassion and peace to the world.
With love and prayers,
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche