Dalai Lama's Translator Lhalungpa's widow forgives DWI killer; Dalai Lama expresses deep condolences

In Memorial Service honoring Lhalungpa, his wife, Gisela Minke publicly stated she had no anger, only sorrow, towards Santo Domingo Pueblo DWI driver; Drepung monks chant farewells with family's speeches; serious legislation proposed for New Mexico.
May 5, 2008 - PRLog -- Please see coverage on Memorial Service:

Please also see prior press release:

The memorial was held in the Alumni Hall at the College of Santa Fe, an austere and metalic room many remarked seemed like the place folks would be found playing bingo, yet it was transformed by the generosity of Ira Seret and hung with Tangkas, and  filled with Tibetan and Persian rugs and religious temple furniture, all arranged by Santa Fe Tibetan Tangka painter, Dorje Gyaltsen, to resemble a true Tibetan Buddhist Temple, from which many would both bid farewell and assemble their memories of Lobsang Lhalungpa....

Lobsang had translated extensively over the past 40 years for the Dalai Lama. Many of Lobsang's books were introduced with a short preface by His Holiness. He was instrumental in setting up the Tibetan Government in exile, and for many years in India coordinated a Tibetan language program on All India Radio, for refugees and exiles, to keep up with the news from their former nation. He was the best translator between Tibetan and English in the world, and his scholarly works included a life of Milarepa, the first translation of Mohandas Gandhi’s autobiography into Tibetan, one of the first textbooks for Colloquial Tibetan, and many others.

This hit-and-run is a terrible tragedy for his widow, Gisela, and for his children and grandchildren, all of whom spoke at the Memorial in Santa Fe on Sunday, sharing their memories of their grandfather, and how proud because of him they were to be Tibetan.

Lobsang would not want any of us to be disconsolate; life is fleeting; death comes unpredictably, and that is much the nature at the heart of his faith in Buddhism. It was only a small surprise that Gisela spoke sympathetic words of the man who smashed into him and killed him, in essence forgiving him in a spiritual sense, but of course, leaving that to a court of law, in the temporal sense.

The memorial service was attended by 400 Santa Feans. Lobsang’s son Samphe works for the United Nations with UNICEF in Canada; he spoke at length and most eloquently, as a kind of Master of Ceremonies. Samphe discussed how excited Lobsang was to be in India when that Republic was being formed, and how many of his friends and associates were Gandhians.

11 of the Drepung Monastery monks  came all the way from Georgia for this Memorial, and chanted their farewell prayers to and for Lobsang.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's office in New York issued a statement that the Dalai Lama was personally very grieved by Lobsang’s tragic death, which was read out by his son at the Memorial Service.

The Memorial was deeply moving, and a very healing event, even for the few agnostics and skeptics who were present....
      Surely, this level of tragedy might impel the New Mexico Legislature to "tighten up the screws" on DWI, close up some looming loopholes, and keep those inevitable drunk drivers and killers off the streets and away from driving automobiles!

    I personally have asked several New Mexico State Senators to ask the Cabinet Secretary for Public Safety and the New Mexico Attorney General to prepare a report on the past 100 incidents when someone has been killed by DWI, to see what it might reveal: about repeat offenders; how many are out on appeal, which is their right when going from our failed Magistrate Courts in New Mexico to District Court, even if they were convicted and still obviously a danger to life and limb among the rest of the population. This is one of many changes we expect to see come through the legislature.

I spoke with soon-to-be-New Mexico Senator and Santa Fe Attorney Peter Wirth not long after this tragic death of Lobsang occured; he told me that he was already planning introduce legislation to close one big loophole: that of allowing DWI’s out on appeal when they appeal their case from Magistrate Court to District Court.

How many fatalities in New Mexico derive from just that loophole alone? As significant as that step is, and it is a major step, it is still a tiny incremental change compared to what we really need to do, and that is get DWI’s off the highways permanently, whether by removing their license permanently, or intimidating them into not driving,  or, in this case, throwing the book at them in terms of punishment, really serious and severe punishments.

This is what the Legislature can and must do. Just getting interlock devices installed on first time DWI's cars was a major battle which took many years, thanks to very well paid lobbyists working for the liquor industry. New Mexico's legislature is massively influenced by corporate lobbyists, perhaps like all legislatures in the USA.

Even if you don't believe in reincarnation, there is hopefully some bright light that will come from this tragedy: we must organize to pass much stronger laws concerning DWI. The driver who killed Lobsang had had 4 DWI's before, I am told, yet still kept driving drunk! If he had been taken off the streets or even feared being taken off the streets and incarcerated, might he not have been driving that fatal day and killed this international treasure, taking him from our midst? It is a classic and terrible story of two worlds colliding: the ideal and spiritual world, colliding with the drunken vulgarity world.

   Lobsang's widow, Gisela Minke, graciously and publicly forgave Roque Lucero of Santo Domingo at the wonderful memorial for killing her husband. This helps to heal the hurt in all of his friends and family;  this is Buddhism-at-its-best at work, and this is probably what Lobsang himself would have done.

   I don't forgive him, however. I hope that his punishment is swift and thorough. Getting into a car and driving when you are drunk is a deadly assault on the law and on the health and well being of all of the living. Everyone in New Mexico has been touched with the tragic effects of those who choose to drive drunk. It is time to put that to an end, and make people dare not to even take the chance of getting arrested or killing someone. We should call this statutory change we hope for LOBSANG'S LAW.

My deepest condolences to Gisela and to his family. Lobsang's life was a vital and monumental one.

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New Millennium Fine Art Founder Stephen Fox has been an art dealer in Santa Fe for 28 years, and is active in New Mexico Legislative efforts, particularly concerning consumer protection from neurotoxic carcinogenic artificial sweetener, Aspartame, and to protect New Mexicans from Drunk Drivers. His Resolution (SCR 191) written for the Hawaii Senate, was recently overwhelmed by corporate lobbyists exerting their influence in Hawaii; you can read the Resolution on Hawaii's Legislature website.
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