A sheriff’s office in Washington state said they found the body of a deceased male in a pond near where a 64-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk went missing in November.
Investigators have said the clothing on the body matched that of Geshe Dadul Namgyal, a senior monk and male resident teacher at the Sravasti Abbey in Newport who was reported missing on Nov. 8 after he failed to show up for a prayer ceremony a day earlier.
Investigators said they are awaiting the results of the autopsy report to confirm the identity of the body, which residents of the abbey said had been frozen over with ice and had only recently thawed.
Newport is the county seat of Pend Oreille County in the northeast corner of the state, bordering Idaho.
In a statement, the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office said they received a call on Jan. 3 from the abbey reporting that residents had sighted a body floating in a pond. Police retrieved the body, which was partially submerged in the cold water, using a canoe, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“While walking around the pond on Abbey property yesterday, two monastics noticed that maroon-colored clothing was floating on the surface of the water,” according to a Jan. 4 statement by Sravasti Abbey.
“We contacted the Sheriff’s Department immediately. They came out, called for a boat, and retrieved a body which they think matches the description of Geshe Chodrak (the ordination name of Geshe Dadul Namgyal),” the statement said.
Namgyal was reportedly last seen wearing a maroon jacket over his monk’s robes when he went missing while taking a walk around the abbey’s 300-acre grounds.
The sheriff’s office and the abbey didn’t immediately respond to Radio Free Asia’s requests for comments.
Extensive search in November
“An autopsy was requested by the Coroner to determine an estimated time of death and possible cause,” the sheriff’s office said. “Also requested was a positive identity of the deceased person.”
In November, the sheriff’s office, abbey residents and local search and rescue volunteers carried out extensive searches in the area surrounding the abbey’s grounds.
Namgyal’s family also offered a reward of up to $25,000 in cash for any information that may help find the missing monk.
Namgyal – who joined the abbey in May as one of its first male resident teachers – has been a practicing monk and a Buddhist practitioner, teacher, scholar and translator for over four decades.
He served as an English language translator for the Dalai Lama and as a speaker and interpreter at many Buddhist conferences that delve into the intersection of Buddhism with modern science, psychology and Western philosophy.
Namgyal has also made significant contributions in developing a comprehensive bilingual science learning curriculum for Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns while working with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative as one of the lead translators.
Prior to joining Sravasti Abbey, he was the senior translator and interpreter with the Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-based Ethics, while also serving as the senior resident teacher for the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta.
“Geshe Dadul was a very learned scholar,” said Tsondue Samphel, assistant director for Emory’s Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning Program. “He understood and translated scientific terminologies and jargons with ease. This, in turn, was of great benefit to the scientists as well as the monks and nuns studying science.”
Namgyal also served for several years as the principal of the Monastic School for Modern Education at Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India, and later, as a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath in north India.
He received his Geshe Lharam degree – the highest degree of learning in Tibetan Buddhism – from Drepung Loseling Monastery in South India in 1992.