Planting of a cherry tree in the food forest in memory of Susan
As most of you know by now, our friend Susan died on Wednesday 23rd of January 2019. On Sunday 10 Feb, a cherry tree was planted in memory of Susan in Tatjana’s food forest at TRC. Susan loved cherries – they reminded her of eating them in her early years in Germany.
Susan (white shawl) standing on top of temple hill on New Years Day 2013, watching the sun rise.
Susan connected with the Dharma in Johannesburg through the Kensington centre (KSDJ), where she attended many teachings and urban retreats. She then took refuge with Lama Tsondru in September 2009 at Tara Rokpa Centre, and again with Akong Rinpoche in Johannesburg in 2010. When she heard about the 6 month Ngöndro retreat, Susan knew that this was something she definitely wanted to do.
Susan, back right, with Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, Lama Zangmo, Gelongma Lhamo, Alan Muller and the other women in the 6 month Ngöndro retreat at TRC 2012
She completed the 6 month retreat, held from March to August 2012 at TRC, and knew that retreat and spiritual practice was what she wanted for the rest of her life, and as an ordained sangha member if possible. Susan applied to do the long retreat in Scotland, which was starting towards the end of 2015, and set about organizing her life around this. She sold her house and moved out to TRC to take on the office admin, and to complete her Ngondro practice.
Susan entered the long term retreat on Holy Isle in October 2015, and spent 2 years on retreat under the guidance of Drupon Rinpoche and Lama Katen. She had to withdraw from the retreat in October 2017 due to severe stomach pains, and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Susan then went to Germany where her daughter, brother and his wife looked after her, and where she could received good medical treatment.
In October 2018 some friends enabled her to go to Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland where Susan was blessed to receive teachings and meet up with her dharma friends. On her return to Germany, it was found that her tumour was growing again. Susan moved into a hospice shortly before her death, where her daughter, brother, sister-in-law, and friends Max, Monika and Ashley were at her side until she left her body.
Susan was a beloved part of our community, and we had hopes that she would return to SA after her retreat as a fully fledged nun. We will miss you Susan!
For Susan’s Dharma friends – her 49th day in the bardo falls on the 13th of March if you wish to continue with prayers for her. Here is a link to Susan chanting Chenrézik prayers most beautifully during the December retreat at TRC in 2014.