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Renowned Buddhist Nun and Teacher Ani Zamba Chozom Has Died

Ani Zamba Chozom. From facebook.com

The widely respected Buddhist teacher Ani Zamba Chozom, one of the first Western female monastics to be fully ordained, has died after an extended illness. She was 75 years old.

According to statements from close friends and associates, Ani Zamba passed on 23 December at a hospital in Sao Paolo.

Ani Zamba was born Susan Dawn Belanda in London in 1948. Growing up, she suffered a serious illness that aroused within her a desire to dedicate her life to the benefit of others. In 1969, seeking answers to the suffering of life, she traveled to India, where she eventually began to study the Buddhadharma. She was subsequently able to travel widely, studying and practicing in several Buddhist traditions. 

She received the Dharma name Jampa Chozom when the renowned scholar and meditation master Geshe Rabten ordained her as a monastic in Dharamsala in 1972. In 1975, she received full bhikshuni ordination in Hong Kong, and from 1978, she spent an extended period working at a drug rehabilitation center in Thailand’s Wat Thamkrabok.

Ani Zamba spent a total of nine years living in India and Nepal, where she received teachings from many great Gelugpa, Drukpa Kagyu, and Nyingma lamas. She studied and practiced under some of the most revered modern masters of Tibetan Buddhism, among them Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dungsey Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, Lama Wangdur, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

In 1983, Ani Zamba received full ordination again in South Korea, and was later given further ordinations in Taiwan and China. While living in Thailand from 1978–82, she met many great teachers from the Thai Forest Tradition of that time, while also working in a Khmer Rouge refugee camp and with child prostitution. 

Ani Zamba’s work and travel would subsequently see her based in the Philippines, Hong Kong’s Lamma Island, and the United States.

Eventually she settled in Brazil, where Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche had founded a Dharma center, becoming his representative in the north of the country. After Rinpoche’s death in 2002, she would go on to become an independent teacher with her own community of students, offering practical teachings in the Dzogchen tradition, especially on the direct observation of the nature of the mind, and establishing a retreat center.

Ani Zamba was widely lauded for her courage in the face of the numerous obstacles encountered by Western female monastics studying the Buddhadharma in Asia. Messages were posted widely online mourning her passing. Information on services and memorials are expected to be shared on social media.

In a message shared on Facebook, her close friend Ani Jinba said in part: “Yesterday one of my oldest friends since the early seventies, British nun Ani Zamba (Jampa Chozom), passed away at a hospital in Brazil after a long illness. . . . Her passing is a great loss for the Dharma and she will be missed by many, may the blessings of her great masters continue to guide her . . .”

See more

Ani Zamba (Facebook)

Related features from BDG

The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Two – Meeting Lama Yeshe
The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Three – Ordination, First Retreat, and First Teaching
The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Four – Finding the Nyingma Lineage
The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Five – Dzogchen and Meeting Her Teachers
The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Six – Thailand, Burma, and Korea
The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Seven – From Korea to the Philippines to Hong Kong
The Life Story of Ani Zamba Chozom: Part Eight – Brazil

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Robert Beer
3 months ago

Lovely to see you once again in these recent years, our dear sister and lover of ariving and leaving. Have missed you and always will, but this is not the end of our. Love from everyone who connected with you and us, but can always meet and find you once again in the longing of the heart. xxxxxxx