A disciple passes

Tessa now.jpgTessa Logan died today at 5am GMT. She has left a lot of friends (I am just one of them) and a very kind, decent family, including a ninety-year-old mum who has nursed her for a long time. Her tiny “bird-like” mom, with the same mop of hair as Tessa, stroked her daughter’s now bald head so gently three times to allow her consciousness to leave through the crown because she knew that this is what she would have wanted.

It is not possible to do Tessa justice in one article so I’m not going to try. (Though I think it’d be lovely if you wanted to contribute in the comments.) Truncated “facts”: She was tessa-young-1one of Geshe Kelsang’s earliest disciples, meeting him at Manjushri Centre in 1979, and a reassuring, steady presence in our tradition. Bold and smart, she helped organize Manjushri Centre in the early days, she helped organize Festivals, she helped in Tharpa Publications, and over the years she taught a lot in the UK and in America, including Saraha Center in San Francisco where I once spent the best three weeks with her. People loved her. Tributes have been flowing in all day to describe with gratitude how much she meant to people with her discerning kindness, clear teachings, and reassuring constancy.

In the last five years she inspired a lot of us with her no worries attitude and growing strength in the face of the relentless ups and downs of her cancer. She seemed to be practicing everything she had spent the decades learning at the feet of her Spiritual Guide, turning what could have been a disastrous five years into something else entirely. She may not have been perfect all the time, she had stuff like the rest of us; but through her reliance and patience she was getting closer, and it was actually a joy to watch. Patience seems to be an essential practice for all of us since we all get fed up from time to time; and for me Tessa’s example has been an illustration of its power.

And I am by no means alone in this experience, but even in the midst of grueling treatments (and she had many), she would always ask about me with genuine interest, find out how I was in detail if she could, always have time for that, for others. She would praise me for whatever she could praise me for, for transforming even the slightest adversity, even though she was the one who was always being the heroine. I tessa-lynn-margaretwould laugh with her about her deflections, she was pretty much always up for a laugh.

I sort of think that if Tessa does not now end up in the Pure Land, there is no hope for the rest of us. I am kind of hoping she might send us a sign. Please help wend her on her way there with a prayer.

I knew Tessa for 35 years. And now Tessa has gone. Lekma said that the body lying there this morning was unrecognizable and certainly not her. Not even hers, it never was. Like a hair pulled from butter, her very subtle mind has left this body and this world to experience the dream-like appearances of the next life. It happens to all of us. It is as Shantideva says, we become nothing. Tess is like a rainbow that has passed. When we die, our now seemingly solid lives will be marked by Facebook likes, comments, and emojis too, before people quickly move on. However, me and Lekma agreed that her life will not easily be forgotten. Senior students of the Spiritual Guide are very precious, an object of refuge, for are they not real Sangha from whom we can continue to receive help? Just like the disciples of other great Masters in the past, tessa-meditatingpart of the ongoing lineage of blessings, Tessa will still encourage me on my own journey out of suffering and into the Guru’s heart.

So, if you feel like sharing how Tessa touched your life, write as much as you like below, it could be inspiring for the rest of us.

Transference of consciousness puja (powa) will be held for Tessa at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre this Saturday at 7.30pm, everyone is welcome.


Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

46 thoughts on “A disciple passes”

  1. Tessa was my first teacher at GP class in Lancaster in about 1992. I still recall her bringing in and dismantling a beautiful rose in order to demonstrate to us beginners the concept of emptiness. This explanation will always stay with me. Besides her teachings, she also took us all to Tharpaland in Scotland for a weekend. I’m sorry that we didn’t meet up later and that our attempt to find her at the Summer Festival in 2015 didn’t succeed. I’d have liked to have told her that, after two decades, her teachings still stay with me. Thanks to Luna for posting about her.


  2. I knew Tessa for 45 years. We were together romantically at Cambridge and afterwards and remained close throughout her life, although ironically I have lived in the U.S. since 1977. Ironic because Tess was the reason I visited the States in the first place in 1976 (she was living in a commune in New Mexico) and it seemed SHE might be the one who would live here permanently. Immediately after leaving New Mexico I met my own teacher Trungpa Rinpoche in Colorado, and on returning to England visited Manjusri Institute in the Spring of 1977. Tessa had accompanied me when I took refuge vows with Chime Rinpoche that winter, and was developing her own interest dharma. I suggested she visit the Priory, which she did shortly afterwards, and, as many of you know, stayed for something like 30 years. I did not experience strong grief when I heard of her passing, because, having spoken with her recently, I knew how deeply prepared she was for her death. Rather I felt a sense of gratitude that I had known such an accomplished being in this lifetime, had earned her love and become her dharma brother. Through all her lives may she continue to benefit numberless beings.

  3. Tessa, I remember her fondly during my fortnight stay in San Francisco – receiving immensely accessible teachings on a refuge retreat (I’ve just read the notes!) and enjoying a long walk with her along Ocean Beach. Her lightness and dedication shone through … she walked the talk. Always in my heart.

  4. My dear teacher Tessa, so kind, compassionate and unselfish. A great example of a devoted Buddhist.

  5. Tessa, you will be in our hearts forever ❤️ We feel lucky to have known you, you brought joy wherever you journeyed and you have touched so many lives with your loving and generous nature. We will miss you dear friend. x

  6. I just knew Tessa from Manjushri getting in touch only briefly, but i always knew in my heart that she was a sincere Practitioner and i admired her.
    When i read about her Mothers strokes and the promise of my Guru i cry tears of joy❤️🙏❤️ My powa for her and all mothers was blissful, iam convinced that she is in Gurus Pure Land now-thank you Tessa for all your Inspiration and practical love🙏❤️🙏

  7. Thanks Luna for the kind words about Tessa Logan the Disciple, it is a very sad day for me, or should I said the most tragic time for me?, I just read your article and my heart wants to explode from sadness, grief or pain?, My precious teacher just passed away?, hard to believe, but I have the good fortune to study Dharma with her at Saraha in San Francisco, my first night at the FP class I went straight to her, she greeted me with a very sweet smile and a warm long hug, since that moment on I was absorbed listening to her melodious accent and teachings, I was immersed in the Dharma realm, I was thinking: It is Buddha saying the words through her voice or is she the true speaker?, i always said to myself from that very moment: I want to be like this precious teacher of mine, I want to teach like she does, with that inspiration, with that knowledge, with that nature, with that accentuation, with that wisdom, with that joyful and kind manners. She was my FP precious teacher, she left the city of San Fco. at the begginings of 2011 to go back to England, from then on I kept myself praying for her every night, every time i could, I have the privilege to be close to her or near, I was sort of helper at the Temple. There is a Jewel having a happy journey to the Pure Land of Keajra, but the memory of Tessa Logan is still here inside of me, I am still thinking I am going to be like she was, my admiration goes forever with her and my practice with her in my spiritual heart. I would like to say more, as how many times we talk about Dharma, a Great and very special human being,; thanks for this space Luna K. but I am in real grief.

    1. Sending you much love at this sad time Francisco. It seems like Tessa is really deeply in your heart. I hope that is a source of real comfort for you, and continues to guide you on your path. Om Om Om….

  8. A silent prayer to honor our dear dharma sister and friend … May the clear light carry her to the Dakini Pure Land 💚💛💙❤️💜 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

    Thank so much For your words Dear Luna … 🌹

  9. She was the teacher at the first class I went to in Hayward. She was filling in for the regular teacher. This was maybe eight years ago.
    I knew immediately she was a special person. I attended that class for the next seven years.
    I wish I had gotten to know her better.
    Coincidentally she had been on my mind these last two weeks. She had also entered my dreams in this same period. She will be missed by many.

  10. Luna, thank you so much for this article! When I saw your post on FB that Tessa was near death, I was sad for a minute but then I looked at her photo again and knew she was transforming her death experience. I felt nothing but peace after that – including the next day (hours after her death) when I was meditating and trying with my feeble mind to send her prayers in the bardo. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw a rainbow reflection on my balcony. I feel so blessed to have met this extraordinary woman. Her presence was immediately calming. When she first came to San Francisco to teach at Saraha Buddhist Center, I was trying to imagine in my mind what she would be like. Just having an endorsement from you meant I already liked her before she arrived! 😉 I remember the first day she was at the temple and you were teaching. She sat in the audience and melded in with the rest of us. She seemed ordinary and yet, as I got to know her over the years she spent at Saraha, I knew she was immensely wise. She was always so reassuring and encouraging.

    She was so helpful always. She encouraged me when my Mom went into hospital for a stroke during Brazil Fall Festival in 2010. She guided us through Joyful Path of Good Fortune and, although she has studied/taught the book multiple times, her reverence for the teachings in this book were an inspiration. Some of the teachings I remember most from her were about patience. She said if we do nothing else in our dharma practice, we should practice patience with even the slightest irritations. She also struck me as having a firm understanding of renunciation. She was unafraid to repeatedly remind us of the sufferings of samsara and the grim samsaric experience we will all have continuously if we don’t practice dharma. Lastly, I won’t forget the day she cancelled TTP class. In San Francisco, there is a tendency to disregard time and many of us arrived late. She said it was disrespectful to not show up on time and decided to teach us a lesson. She cancelled class and went home! Looking back, I see she was emanation teaching us the importance of NOT wasting time on samsaric activities and to use our time wisely because this life is far too short to not focus intently on dharma! Enjoy Keajra, Tessa!

  11. I will never forgot the warm reception I got from Tessa every year at Manjushri. What a magnificent heart, in a loving and lively person!

  12. I first remember Tessa at manjushri, possibly about 1981/2. Tessa was singing with a friend to entertain the small group of us braving a winter course in a building that was more falling down than standing up. Her singing was beautiful.
    Later I attended a meditation session she led during one of the early summer festivals. I remember it as one of the best led meditations I have ever been part of. Lam Rim.
    And later still, I spent many evenings with her at Ulverston swimming pool where she always managed twice the number of lengths compared to me. During this time her view and sense of the absurd kept me relatively sane.
    And she made me laugh a lot.

  13. Thank you for these lovely and powerful words.

    I thank her for her kindness towards me, for her inspiring teachings, her folk singing at the festival follies, her cheeky charm and warm heart. A true Sangha jewel who is loved by many and is both missed and admired equally.

    I thank you for bringing back these memories of my brief time with her, I pray for her family and those who now moarn her passing.

    As she arises in the pure land may this Sangha jewels bond shine wisdom blessings upon all living beings.

    Gone but not forgotten x
    See you soon.
    Much love

  14. Would connect with Tessa at Summer Festivals and I’d be inspired by our short conversations. It was clear her deep faith in Geshe-la, these precious teachings, and spiritual friends acted like a buoy floating her through what appeared conventionally as a nightmare. She is definitely part of a lineage of Kadampas. Her mind, like a blacksmith’s anvil, will always be an inspiration. Thanks for the tribute Luna — beautiful as always!

  15. I first knew Tessa in the mid-1990s as that incredibly helpful, happy woman in the office at Manjushri, one of the amazingly kind people who was making all this happen for me and making my stay for two months at Manjushri every summer for 6 years so comfortable.  She was an inspiration for me to happily volunteer all my time for years to my centre and the tradition (which was always MY good fortune).  Thank you, Tessa.  May you take rebirth in Keajra immediately, and help the rest of us in our daily practice so we can as well, for the benefit of all beings.


  16. Had the good fortune to receive a teaching from her in the North Wing Gompa at one of the Festivals. Very inpsiring. A strong sense of being in the presence of an emanation of Tara. Will make Powa Prayers.

  17. Heartfelt, beautiful tribute to your friend. I am sorry for your loss, Luna and for all those who have been touched and influenced by her meaningful life. Respect for Tess’ loving devotion to our Guru and her energetic contribution to the growth of our tradition.

  18. What a lovely tribute! I did not know Tessa personally but i feel closer now through your article. Thank you.

  19. Tessa was so kind, reassuring and compassionate. Each time I would see her she would ask about my mother.

  20. Tessa is a bright star. I am glad she is in a pure land and I am glad I had the good fortune to meet her a few times. Someone else mentioned how she remembered them and that was my experience to. I didn’t know her well but she would stop at festival to say hi or to ask I was doing. I only knew her from a post festival retreat she did at my Center! I think she just genuinely cared about everyone and wanted to reach out to everyone. I am so happy that her mother will be cared for. Thanks for posting this and giving me the opportunity to pray for her family and loved ones. Thanks to Tessa for her warmth, for her love, for her example.

  21. a very lovely tribute. the last paragraph was very moving. for a long time, it’s felt for me, like time stands still and that the NKT is a certain group of people that will always be there. as i get older, i realize that this is not true. the emanations who came to help Geshela establish the NKT, the practitioners, we all shall pass. that Geshela’s senior students will continue to be part of the ‘ongoing lineage blessings’, is an idea i find comforting and inspiring.
    i did not know Tessa personally, but will pray for her fortunate rebirth. xo

  22. I have been close to many people professionally and personally who were experiencing sickness and at the end of their life. But I had never seen anyone really transform those sufferings into spiritual growth and practice. And then there was Tessa, always a Kadampa teacher for me and someone I respected from the first day we met. Tessa was always teaching by example and the end of her life was the quintessential teaching for me because she showed me directly that practicing Kadam Dharma sincerely throughout your life and relying purely upon your Spiritual Guide really does protect you from suffering. Tessa had a vicious cancer and underwent many long and uncomfortable procedures, but she never complained of pain or suffering and was always happily focused on others. Because of her close example I now have an even deeper confidence in the teachings on patient acceptance and universal compassion. You are home Tessa, blissfully abiding in the pureland at our precious Guru’s heart may you become “just like him”.
    goodbye for now dear friend,

  23. The last time I spoke on phone to Tess (in August), typically ,she seemed to only want to talk about MY health issues. All she said about her own situation was ‘Its part of life – we’ve been taught, and its true’. Tess was the best.

  24. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to our beautiful Tessa – I didn’t know her well but have sucht love and admiration for her – as one of the earliest disciples of Geshela she played an integral role in bringing the Guru into our lives. What a comfort as she’s passing to have Geshela promise to care for her mum. I suppose we should all have that same level of comfort as he always promises to pray for our families. How we are fortunate! Sangha is everything. Om Om Om ….. May Tessa be born in the pure land of Bliss.

  25. About 6 of us were coming across the pond for the first ever ITTP, and arriving at Manjushri Centre a few days early went to GP class w/ Tessa Logan… THE Tessa Logan, as one of my friends called her. She was teaching from Universal Compassion and I remember being so bowled over by how unpretentious she was… Kept saying how she didn’t really know what compassion was… But we know otherwise! Died on Buddha’s return from Heaven day, surely she is in Geshe-la’ s Pure Land already!!!!

  26. Thank you Tessa for being a true friend and wonderful teacher. Thank you for your understanding, your caring and enormous patience.

  27. I was in San Fran in 2008 visiting a friend and attending a guided lamrim day retreat with Tessa. Man her teachings were so powerful. But when we had lunch in The Mission she was completely down to earth. I couldn’t help but feel ‘if you stick with your practice for long enough, you can become like this too.’

  28. I met Tessa at Manjushri Center for summer festival 2015. She told me a story about the early days. In particular about helping Geshe-la with a book. She was beaming as she relayed how precious our Guru is. I pray for Tessa and all who loved her.
    Liza Lyon

  29. Dear Tessa was our friend and one of our first teachers, in one of her gp classes at manjushri many years ago she said ” patience is a beautiful mind you love to have ” she was that beautiful mind.

  30. Tessa is in Pure Land, how wonderful! I spent Fall Festival in Portugal with her and her 2 dedicated true friends, Margaret and Lynn, and all 3 were an inspiration.

  31. our lovely Tess bright funny always compassionate , an enduring source of joy and inspiration remaining in our hearts.
    thanks Tess x

  32. our lovely Tess, a source of joy and inspiration and will remain so, bright, funny , compassionate and so deeply devoted to our Guru.
    I will always carry you in my heart

  33. I received a teaching from Tessa at Manjushri Centre and knew immediately that she was special. We chatted after and I just loved her. Last year a friend went to visit her and I sent my love and a message. I said but she won’t remember me. But she did and I was so very happy. I love that we have all been praying for her and her Mum. But best of all she is under Geshe-la’s loving care. Now I pray she will come swiftly to help me and all of us get out of here.

    Thank you,
    Natasha x

  34. Tessa was one of the most beautiful people I have had the fortunate to meet. Every time I saw her, there was real genuine joy, sincere warmth and friendship. The world seems grayer today, knowing that I will never meet this wonderful lady again.

  35. I only had the pleasure of meeting Tessa once. She has always stuck in mind though as being so kind and so funny. An inspiration to us all. As are you Luna. A wonderful tribute x

  36. When my dad was dying of cancer he would come and visit me at Manjushri Centre and loved to sit in the Temple. On one visit the Temple was closed due to building work and barriers had been setup to stop anyone going in. On the visit he disappeared and when we found him again and asked where he had been, of course, in the Temple. How? Tessa has been walking along with vases of flowers for the shrine and asked him to help her. She took him in the Temple where he always wanted to be.

    Tessa was an incredible practitioner and good friend.

  37. When I look for memories of Tessa…I see her walking past at a festival …or entering the temple for puja….always with a smiling warmth and exuding an energy of humility and kindness…..I remember seeing her in my early days of Dharma and learning that she had been in the tradition since it’s earliest days…I remember thinking…if I too practise steadily like Tessa has…perhaps one day I can be someone like that….she was truly an inspiration and will be missed xxx

  38. When I think of our Tessa, I think of her intelligence, her courage, and her profound devotion. I think of weekend visits and long conversations into the early hours, and adventures, like Tessa’s first visit to a Walmart. But most of all, I remember her laughter.
    Safe journey dear one.
    Kelsang Gamo

  39. What a beautiful reminder of keeping in our heart the first NEW KADAMPA disciples, let’s keep Tessa as an ornament of the path, thanks Luna Kadampa for sharing!!!

    1. Tessa was a true friend and neighbour at Conishead Priory in 1990 and beyond , teaching one of my sons the piano – she had many talents including music , she was a wise supportive person whom I will never forget.

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