May I present my condolences to you all.
It was with great sadness that I learned of Gene’s death in December. In August when we last talked at IATS Vancouver, he told me that his diabetes was following its inexorable course. Ostensibly, only dental symptoms were seen but the physical shell was fraught with others. Gene’s morale was stalwart. He was happy at IATS conference – optimistic about the future growth of Tibetan studies, about intellectual progress in the discipline. He praised recent trends in publishing in Tibetan studies, such as Serindia Publications’ volume Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas, where I studied the Tibetan manuscripts of a remote Dolpo library in a book combining the printed page replete with text and illuminations of Tibetan manuscripts as well as a DVD of digitized scans/all historical documents of the library as complementary appendix for the reader. He said such publishing was ideal, close in spirit to TBRC. Gene was profoundly happy, we laughed many times, yet he expressed to me one over-riding concern: that funding for the Tibetan Buddhist Research Center was not fully guaranteed for years to come, and this was his constant endeavour to ensure the survival of TBRC and the goal of diffusion of Tibetan literary heritage. It is my hope that you, his family and his friends, will be pleased to read these memories of Gene’s vision of the future of TBRC and his idea of how publications could and should fruitfully combine print and digital techniques.
Gene was born under the light of the Perseid, during the few days each year, August 10-13, when the earth passes through a range of meteors which gives rise to a sky full of light with many shooting stars. Like the Perseid meteors, like the butter lamps in the temples of Lhasa, may the luminous after-glow of his wisdom inspire us all to excellence, to generosity, to boundless joy. To paraphrase the song: “Catch a falling star an’ put it in your pocket, never let it fade away! “
Amy Heller, 2 february, 2011, on the 49th day of the bardo of E. Gene Smith
(music and lyrics by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance, sung by Perry Como 1958)