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In Memory of Ed Softky

Ed Softky our dear friend died on Oct. 9, 2008.

Ed is known and loved dearly by many of us, not only at Thosum Gephelling Institute but at Buddhist centers throughout this region and beyond. One of his best gifts to us was “Ed’s Most Excellent Adventure,” the stellar camping journey that he organized to His Holiness’ teachings in Pennsylvania this summer. There were many others. We know Ed for his cooking , and his dancing and singing and translating, and thinking. and joking and laughing and loving and caring. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity Ed-la.

Thukjeche Ed-la!

Thank you Ed!

Yes – a lesson on the reality
of impermanence…and, a harsh wake up call to respect and use
wisely this precious life we have as Ed most certainly did.

-Peggy Root

Someday, I hope someone might remember me as kindly as Ed.
You are also in my prayers, may his friends and family find
comfort in the days ahead.

– Patrice

Ed. He was a most wonderful, sweet man. His Tibetan was worse
than Geshe Ngawang’s English and the two of them would smile
and laugh with each other as the two languages flew back and
forth. What a lovely way to receive the most precious of the
Buddhist teaching, Loving Kindness.

-Sally Warren

I can’t tell you how shocked and sad I am to hear this news.
I did not know Ed for long, but always was happy to be in
his radiant presence, and enjoyed his good humor and his interplay
with Geshe-la and his thoughtful translations. It is a great

– Charlie Lewis

This morning I was telling my teenage children
about Ed- in trying to find words to describe him I said he
was a lot like Gandhi- a person who believed deeply in important
things and lived his life in such a way to help others and
inspire others through his example. The world needs people
like Ed, compassionate people whose generosity and loving-kindness
motivate their every action… Those still here on earth will
miss Ed, we need him here and yet we have no choice but to
move forward without his physical presence… those of us
who knew him can and should always remember the example he
set for us… and aspire to live with as much integrity and
pure motivation to benefit others as he did.

Ed not only was a person with a huge heart but also with
a lively sense of humor- he could laugh long and hard and
find joy in daily life despite the difficulties facing us
all. When I think of Ed now my own face has tears and a smile..
revealing the sadness I feel that he is no longer among us
in the form that we knew him, but also feeling blessed by
the opportunity to know and learn from such a fine, caring

Ed-la— you will be sorely missed by those of us who knew
you in this life, but I have no doubt that you, a clear bodhisattva,
will come back to our world to help others once again… May
your transitional journey be a smooth one with much bliss
along the way.

Michelle Bos-Lun

This is the Tennyson poem that the song “Crossing the
Bar” was based on. I hear this as a message from Ed,
the last song Ed shared with a group of us on the way to our
hospice bereavement volunteer training.

I bet he’d love to have this sung…


-Hope Jinishian


Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crossed the bar.

Ed was my friend.

I first met him at TGI where I saw him translate Tibetan
into English and also sing in an angelic voice. I soon learned
that these were only the least of his gifts. Ed was one of
the kindest, most gentle and giving person I have ever known.
Whatever we talked about when we met, I was always left with
the inspiration to more fully live the path of dharma. Ed
taught this by example and by the radiance of his pure heart.

The last time I saw Ed, just a few weeks ago, he showed up
at my door with home made rice pudding. We talked about our
experiences working with the dying. It was clear that the
end of life was much in his thoughts and his heart. He spoke
with joy about his recent visit to his mother and brother,
and about the wonderful experience of receiving a week of
teachings from his Holiness the Dalai Lama this summer. We
hugged and he promised to visit again soon.

Ed was my friend. He will be forever in my heart and forever
an example of living the dharma.

Carol Gallagher

Williamsville, Vermont

My heart goes out to all of you. Ed died this morning in
front of my house on High Street I came upon this sad scene
after hearing a commotion outside my window. The situation
was unfolding when I went downstairs to see what was going
on. I did not learn of the victim’s name till this evening.

I did not know Ed personally, but obviously I feel a strong
connection to the whole incident, as I do to Thosum Gephelling,
which is located just down the street from my brothers house
in Williamsville. Please know that I have everyone in my prayers
tonight. That’s all I can really say.

Love and Kindness,

-Bob Phelps

i am so sorry–ed was in my bereavement class in townshend
and we wrer terribly concerned yesterday when he did not show
up–he was a gem–i am so, so sorry–thoughts and love to
all of you and his famuly–we will miss him a lot. donna trumbull

We are terribly saddened by the loss of our good, good friend.
Ed was a wonderful man who dedicated his life to Dharma. Please
pray for Ed on your own or with us at the Chenrezig Center.
We will dedicate Saturday morning’s prayers, Sunday morning,
and Tuesday’s prayers to Ed.

Our deepest love sympathy go out to all Ed’s friends, family,
Thosum Gephelling, Kurukulla Center.

-Ted Zervas, Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist

I actually didn’t know that Ed enjoyed Morris Dance, particularly
the singing element. I have a very fond memory of sitting
in a local establishment this summer which regularly hosts
the Morris Dancers. There was a large group sitting around
a table singing their hearts out and guess who was leading
almost every single song? Ed. Of course, I knew Ed from his
spirited interchanges with Geshe-la and his loving transcription
of the Dharma. I would see at Mocha Joe’s sitting silently
at the center table just enjoying his surroundings or reading.
Ed walked down my street almost everyday. I will say that
I have asked myself in the last few days: what can I DO to
be more like Ed? What lesson would he want to me learn from
this? What lesson would he want all of us to take away? Yes,
I have great sorrow but I know that he would want me to examine
all of this a little further. I have an altar set up in my
home for you Ed, it has beautiful stargazer lilies, 2 brilliantly
colored candles, a statue of Ganesha and the Buddha. Everytime
I light the candles or incense I send my love to you, our
sad and stunned community, your family and our Institute family
and teachers. Love and blessings on your path, Ed.

-Laurie Green Keelan

From the first time I walked in to your sacred space – even
before you moved to the current location –

Ed was there.

Everyone was smiling and welcoming; Ed was incandescent.

I asked questions that people seemed not to want to answer.
Ed encouraged me to keep on asking any questions that were
relevant to my concerns.

When my car developed trouble, which someone spotted in the
parking lot, and Geshe-la climbed underneath my vehicle in
his robes, on the dirty ground, to tie up the dragging part
with baling twine, Ed was there, enjoying the little drama
and the pragmatic solution, hugely, as much as anybody. (This
is still my favorite “snapshot” of everything that
has happened when I have been able to attend TGI events.)

When I encountered Ed at Brown and Roberts, in the street,
or at the produce section of the Brattleboro Food Coop, his
great, embracing smile was a hug, in itself. I always left
encounters with him feeling uplifted, celebrated, and – in
some way I don’t know how to define – more worthy as a human

I will always remember his simplicity, his skill and brilliance
and dedication in translating not only from one language to
another, but from one wholly different culture and way of
thinking to another, and always, always, his dear kindness.
In a metaphorical sense as well as the physical reality, he
was a tall, tall man!

I grieve deeply for his loss: for his family, his friends,
and for his truly loving sangha. And I will number him among
those whom I remember – people lost to me, and people whom
I love who are struggling in their lives with terrible health
and other issues – every evening, as I say my Vajrasattva
100-syllable mantra.

Thank you, Tenzin, for reaching out with the first e-mail
– before I had a chance to read about it on the front page
of the paper, which would have been even more shocking and
terrible than hearing about it in your tender words. I will
try to come this evening. At the very least, I will be there,
in spirit, rejoicing in the memory of this fine man whom we
all had the privilege to know.

Peace, brothers and sisters in the Dharma,

with love,

-Nye Ffarrabas

Ed was well known in the Buddhist communities in Brattleboro,
Northampton, Amherst, and Boston. He was an inspiration to
many of us, both in his spiritual practice, his ability to
converse in Tibetan, and simply his way of being in the world.
He was a wonderful man to be around. I regarded him as a Bodhisattva
in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In western terms, this
would be the equivalent of a saint.

I cannot say I knew him well over many years, but I can say
I knew him well for one week in our lives. That week was during
the just past summer, when he and I, and Carolyn and Peggy
from Thosum Gephelling, drove together to His Holiness the
Dalai Lama’s teachings in Pennsylvania. Together with
about 19 people, we had the incredible summer camp of 2008.

I had met Ed over the previous years, in various Buddhist
settings, but had never spent much time with him and instead
had simply noted small acts of kindness, little behaviors
that seemed to set him apart, a way of being that seemed a
bit different then the rest of us. He always seemed to have
a brightness about him when I ran into him.

One evening I sat next to him at a gathering in Northampton
to listen to chants by the Drepung Loseling monks. As the
melodious and deep voices of the monks resonated throughout
the hall, I looked over at Ed and saw him crying. It was a
silent type of cry, and he was smiling as the tears streamed
down his face. After the monks had finished their chants I
asked Ed if he was all right. He looked at me and said he
was fine, in fact everything was fine. I felt like I was with
someone who appreciated all the subtleties of being in that
room with the monks, someone who had deeply experienced every
moment of the ceremony that went along with the chanting.

Another time Ed asked me about my life and especially about
my family. I told him my family was very important to me,
but that I was the only one that was a Buddhist, and that
I had a Catholic childhood and still thought of myself as
a Christian and that I had Hindu teachers too. I told him
my wife was a very ethical person who was culturally Jewish
but also an atheist, and that my two daughters would probably
identify themselves first as ethical individuals, probably
of no particular religion, but surely feminists. I told Ed
that I regretted not being more assertive about bringing a
Buddhist tradition into our household and that although my
children had grown up to be truly caring people, they had
not embraced Buddhism. He responded by saying how the conversations
in my family must have been incredible, that there must have
been such diversity and richness in our discussions around
the dinner table each evening. Everything he said was to validate
and uphold my family, there was no doubt or uncertainty or
ambiguity. I left the conversation feeling so positive and
uplifted by the few simple words he had shared. It was that
way every time I talked to him.

Another time he asked me what I did for a living. I told
him I was a psychologist, and that one of my life goals was
to integrate western psychology and Buddhism. A week later
I received a book in the mail from Ed: a psychologist’s
attempt to integrate western psychology and Buddhism. There
was a note: “Let’s talk about this later.”

It was with these small experiences that I traveled with
Ed to Pennsylvania this summer and spent the week with him
camping at Moyers Lake with the wonderful Sangha from Thosum
Gephelling Institute. It was a magical week that I will always
remember very fondly, and Ed had a lot to do with it. Someone
from the trip sent me a picture of Ed standing in the field
where we had pitched our tents. Ed is in full motion twirling
a hula hoop around his body, yet concentrated and intense,
looking quite content. It captures who Ed was.

He organized the trip, insuring that we had provisions and
equipment and that everyone had a ride. Coordinating food
and camping and driving for 19 people is no small task, and
I never saw him lose his composure or become upset. Problems
were met with a smile and a determination to find an answer,
or else to simply let it go, also with a smile, and say oh
well, this is the way it is. His interactions with others
were always kind and full of care. He was always ready to
give whatever someone needed, either in time, effort, or material,
and if he didn’t have it he would find it. He was always
in motion working for the group, cooking, coordinating, food
shopping, insuring that Geshe-la had everything he needed.
In the evenings he sang his heart out, with a voice that was
without inhibition, deep, cheerful, powerful. He was like
a magnet bringing us all together with smiles.

And despite all the motion and busy-ness and spontaneity
and constant concern for others, late at night I saw him take
out his prayer book and complete his practices. His tent was
next to mine, so it was easy to see that 24/7 Ed was a practitioner
of the Buddha Dharma. And in the rides across New York to
and from the Pennsylvania teachings the car was full of mantras
and prayers, even if they were silently and privately expressed.
As I drove I could look in the review mirror and see Ed behind
me. It was a nice feeling, having a companion on the journey,
in all the ways that means. It was easy to see, during that
week, that Ed embodied the Bodhisattva ideal, that he was
a significant practitioner at a time when it is not easy to
integrate practice and living in the world. He found a way
to make Buddhism work both for himself and the people around
him, without dogma or spiritual materialism, but pure and
caring, always ready and intent on alleviating the suffering
of others.

I had thought the week in Pennsylvania would be the beginning
of a deepening relationship with this man, I had hoped to
make him a more regular part of my life. It is with sadness
that I continue the journey without him, but I will always
remember him as a reference point in my own efforts to practice


-Michael Childs

Ed’s kindness, humor, and positive spirit were so pure. He
was an inspiration to us all, and he will certainly continue
to be an inspiration.

-Sandy Stark

I am terribly sorry to hear about Ed. We were friends from
Kurukulla Center, and he visited me here at KTC a couple of

All of us including our abbot, Lama Norlha Rinpoche, and both
the mens’ and womens’ three years retreats are doing prayers
for Ed.

I wish I could be there to participate in the services, however
we are all praying and practicing at the same time so our
minds are very much united.

Much love.

-Ven. Thubten Gendun (Noel McKenna)

I am sending warm and healing thoughts… I know that Ed’s
voice, generosity, gentleness of spirit, and kindness will
continue to thrive in our hearts.

-Muriel Wolf

My friend Ed, where are you now? I went out dancing the other
night and you weren’t there. I missed your infectious laugh
and crazy dance moves. I tried, but couldn’t dance without
you. You must be here, somewhere, because I feel your presence
all around. The chair you sat in at my house while drinking
tea, the brilliant bloom of the purple amaranth you gave me,
the sister to the tomatillo I gave you, the spectacular lotus
flower we gazed at in awe while walking one July day…
I want to share more with you, but that is no longer possible,
so I must resolve to be grateful for the times we did share.
How fortunate I was to have you in my life. How fortunate
I was that we shared time on this earth together. How fortunate
I was to have the opportunity to learn from you and to grow
in your presence. How fortunate I was to simply have you as
my friend. I will miss you, Ed. Be in peace wherever you are.

-Kim Hall

I remember one dance with Ed, our hands clasped, winding
through the gentle rhythms of a Brazilian song, eyes utterly
bare to each other, singing to each other throughout with
abandon and utter transparency. What a miracle, I thought
then, simply being with another being with no defense, just
simple joy. When Liza called me Thursday night with the news,
for a while I just kept saying No, No No! That lasted several
minutes, until I was hit with the force of his spirit, spreading
out as it is through the world. Suddenly I was so happy. The
next day, my sadness was interupted by a clear voice in my
head saying “Do you have any idea how much your Being
adores you?” That was Ed talking to me, I could tell
by the way it felt. Friday evening, in my car, I said out
loud, “Ed, talk to me” “Not right now”
came the response, “I’m too busy” “OK”,
I said, feeling peaceful, knowing he is involved now in a
great adventure, and will get back to me when he is more settled.
What a privelege to have encountered such a man in this precious

-Molly Melloan

Ed was the most supportive, nurturing man I have known. The
pitches of his voice encouraged me to soar in song with him,
although my voice is not often encouraged by others he is
able to make a harmony with anyone reaching out to join him.
His dinners are so delicately spiced that he could even make
a meal considerate of my many food allergies taste exotic
and homey altogether. I shared a home with him for a while.
My early morning walk would often find him, even on a cold
night, asleep outside pressed against the earth, open to the
sky. I thought of this as a universal hug that he was giving/receiving
and often wondered if it was this connection that kept him
so vibrantly alive, so intelligent, so capable on many fronts,
and so very present moment after moment. This is a terrible
loss for all of us.

-Grace Christine Cabot

To those who read this, thank you for passing on this very unfortunate
and mournful news. I didn’t know Ed well, but my strongest memory of
him is from The Tara long life tantra initiation a few months back. I
remember him crying, weeping very strongly and also praying more
loudly then any other in the room. His crying gave me the impression
that he felt as if he wasn’t practicing enough, or that he was somehow
purging himself or being purged right in our presence. His confident
prayers illustrated to me his fervent desire to be good and to leap
head first into the dharma. Both of these caused me to ponder my own
actions and thoughts in positive ways, so just on that day he helped
make me better or want to be better.

Thank you for letting me know, so I could pray for him. I miss all of
you greatly, and for those that knew Ed well…I am so deeply sorry
for your loss…for all of our loss. I’m sure there is not a shortage
of kind words to be said, but if someone needs one more story about
him to make them smile in his memory then you have mine.

may he be abiding in light and have a happy rebirth.

Much love

-Dan Griffith

I am so saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Ed Softky. I met him last Spring in Keene when Hallowell sang at the “Holding Our Own” film screening. I am a new-ish member of the Hallowell hospice chorus, and I distinctly remember Ed’s intensity and authentic earnestness as he talked with us afterward about how much he loved the evening’s music, and the ideas behind it for helping those who are afraid or suffering, with song. He said he was involved with hospice work, too. I almost felt uncomfortable, at that first moment, with his unmasked, exquisite goodness being there, ego-less, so nakedly exposed. How rare that is to see in someone right away. I thought he seemed like a bright, unshielded flame burning with joy.

Later I saw him at the VT Hospice and Palliative Care Conference in Fairlee. And then again in the River Singers, where he was now a new member, and he remembered me, greeting me warmly on the first night of singing, and he was clearly so happy to be there. I sat directly across from him in River Singer rehearsals (sopranos face the tenors) and I feel fortunate to have had a front seat to his smiling face those few brief weeks of September and early October. I was looking forward to getting to know him better, he was clearly an old soul and had so much to bring to any group dynamic. I felt at once that we were already friends. Even more, Ed had taught me in just a few meetings not to doubt my deepest intuition about another’s essence, nor judge anyone based on old, cynical pre-conditions. How lucky am I for that delightful gift!

It is such a loss for our whole community that he had to take his leave of us so soon.

I hope you’re having a wonderful adventure again, Ed, wherever you are now!

-Jen Karpin-Hobbs

Here is a little poem in memory of Ed, who I will deeply miss.
I will especially miss his wonderful translations as well as
the holes in his socks.

Again, Again!

Again, again, even if we know the countryside of love,

and the tiny churchyard with its names mourning,

and the chasm, more and more silent, terrifying, into which
the others

dropped: we walk out together anyway

beneath the ancient trees, we lie down again,

again, among the flowers, and face the sky.

~Rainer Maria Rilke


-Karen Bailey Cawrse

There are people in this life that seem to enter a room with
a different stride, as if presence alone can be an intentional
gift. Ed was careful, passionate, full of light…and
with all the light he embodied he turned it out toward others.
This could be felt from across the room, and seen by just
taking a moment to watch Ed interact with others.

I have only known Ed a short while, having lived in this
area for a small time. Ed welcomed me with open arms the first
time I met him. I remember visiting his home, the delicate
way he prepared and insisted I stay for my first New England
home-cooked meal. We picked greens from his garden, tasted
others, and sprinkled flowers across our plates. We shared
stories and laughter. It was at this moment, New England felt
like home to me.

I will remember the walks I took with him in PA, the moment
after sharing a long benign dream, looking up and seeing Ed’s
tears streaming down his face. For this is the way he cared,
so openly, so full of heart and so present to the feelings
of others. He loved all beings and this was made apparent
to most anyone who met him, even the mosquitoes he let feed
off his arm while others in close proximity swatted and smacked.

I will miss Ed’s smile, his deep caring eyes, the big hugs
that burst a remembrance in my heart.

-Jennifer Harrison

singing with Ed was a lesson in breath control. This was
especially true when he was just back from a meditation retreat
of any sort. Keeping the lines of his songs alive and unbroken
required a concentration and a posture that was very specific
and often all-consuming. I never delved much into Ed’s personal
life and history, in part because harmonizing with him was
plenty. He told me more than once that he liked all the weird
and funny songs I brought to the table, because they helped
balance out all the serious ones he brought. I’m grateful
for the singing we had and sorry that I won’t be hearing either
of his voices anymore: the high voice that he seemed to create
and support by standing on his toes – that made his body move
with each change of pitch; and the low voice, which held his
body constant and still.

Goodbye Ed.

-David Kessler


Okay Ed, so you are gone from us in the “person”
of Ed, but I can still feel the essence of you surrounding
all of us who care about you.

I have been responding to your sudden, premature departure
with lots of prayers for you, joining gatherings where we
can share our expressions of love and appreciation of your
life with us, and then have my own private moments to reflect,
grieve, and open up to whatever comes into my mind.

Believing in reincarnation has been a comfort. When my daughter,
Alyse, read to me from her cell phone while on the train going
back to Philly the day after the services, the “Ode
to Ed” (see that on this page) that she wrote on the
train and which she said was inspired by trees, I felt her
and my connection to the Buddhist teachings about reincarnation,
impermance, compassion and transformation of the mind.

Because of you, my daughter and I could receive 6 days of
the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Pennsylvania together.
And what a Sangha we had there! One of my favorite moments
was when you and Alyse were playing frisbee while you were
doing the hula hoop around your neck and she was balancing
a stick on her head! What agility you both had!

Yesterday, I stopped by to visit your garden at your home
in Brattleboro, and your neighbor appeared and shared that
he was so swept up in your enthusiasm to do a garden there
this year, that he ended up growing zinnias when you offered
him space there, even though he was not really interested
in gardening prior to that. That’s the contagion of
enthusiasm you spread everywhere you went.

Below is the benediction that was read at my mom’s
memorial service 20 years ago. Alyse’s “Ode to
Ed”, reminded me of it. When I got it out today to reread
it, I realized how Buddhist it is in its message. You lived
this, and inspired me in all your actions to try to live this
path, too.

With the truth that makes us free

The hope that never dies,

And the love that casts out fear,

Let us go forward together,

Until the day spring breaks,

And the shadows flee away.

And while we labor amidst things as they are

Let the vision of things yet to be

Strengthen and inspire us.

By the way, when you are reincarnated, I have one request.
Please bring that wonderful, exuberant laugh with you into
your next life. I can still hear it resonating in my head!
(Imagine a BABY with that laugh!!)

-Jean Davis


By Sarah Pirtle

1. Tell me about your garden with the purple amaranth.


Where you sleep outside in the meadow and wake with a morning dance.
Show how the Morris Men seem to float. Sing your newest favorite song.
Help us sing together. You say no note can be wrong.
Refrain: You bring more love. You bring more love.

2. A red fox singing in the night. She heard it when you died.
A sweet song by their window. You went singing as you ride.
Your friends the monks lead the King of Prayers. We hold you in the light.
A candle set for just one day has burned for seven nights.

Refrain: You bring more love. You bring more love.

3. A door fell off its hinges, a clock fell to the ground.
The day the news would not stop, by itself a radio turned on.
There are times when we dance and grieve.
There are times we pray.
I look for you in the next chair. Don’t go too far away.

Refrain: You bring more love. You bring more love.

4. And, yes the love does count. Yes, the love does show.
Yes, the love does reach inside where something more will grow.
I hope you can hear us tonight, and I hope you hear this song.
May it fill you like rice pudding. I bet you’ll sing along.

Refrain: We bring more love. We bring more love.

5. You tell us there is golden light and there is so much more.

Love goes on and comfort comes on each side of the door.

We trust you and you trust us. We feel this love you send.

We know you want to give us gifts. We’ll keep giving all we

Refrain: We bring more love. We bring more love.


Ed loved all kinds of dancing — contra dance, waltzes, Morris Dancing
and he was frequently at Parker Huber’s house for circle dancing in Brattleboro.
The next Sunday the whole circle dance gathering had dances that honored Ed.

Here is one I created for him.

Circle Dance for Ed:

It’s done to one of his favorite songs in Spanish,

“Si Buscabas” by Guardabaranco

that has happy life-affirming energy.

Hold hands and begin by swaying right then left.

Do a three step to the right in a waltz: side right, close, step.

Now face front and step left into the center.

Rock forward on your left foot then rock back on your right

while cradling your arms like you are rocking someone.

Step your left foot to your right with a declarative stomp

so you are upright facing center, feeling triumphant in joy.

Your arms reach upward, scattering seeds of kindness,

like Tashi’s poem about Ed.

(The song has beautiful music that stretches out so that
the lines have different lengths–you can take time with this gesture
to wait when the next words return to begin the sequence again).

When we danced this at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine class
where I led a short memorial for Ed, two people felt that
they saw him there with us, smiling.

There’s an exhultant moment in the dance where the arms

explode as the singer says, “primavera” for spring.

Here’s to the renewal of hope that comes when we remember
your heart, Ed.


All things of beauty come
to mind when I think of ED. I only spoke with him a handful
of times and each of those conversations I clearly remember.
His presence of joy was so strongly felt. My children saw
the photo of Ed and H.H. Dali Lama and both of them smiled
and with happiness in their voices they said” Oh Ed,
he is that happy, funny man we meet in town. Thank you Ed!Love,

-Kimberly McComack

It is with tears that I write this. I didn’t know Ed all
that well, mostly from Milarepa Center when Gen Singhey was
around. My last words to him were what a superb translator
he was and how lucky Gen. Singey was to have him — he smiled

I am moved and shaken even as I have recently added Pabhonka
Rinpoche’s Heartspoon to my daily recitation. All is indeed
impermanent, as was the last teaching of the Buddha who said:
“Of all the animal’s footprints that of the elephant
is largest. Of all meditations, that on impermanence is greatest.”
And so we are broght face-to-face with our own death once
again and why we practise — maybe that is Ed’s last gift
to us…

I thought of him yesterday around midday when I was at a teaching
by Gyalpo Rinpoche in Bristol, VT.. Probably because so many
others were thinking of him also. I will ask Gyalpo Rinpoche
to do some prayers on Ed’s behalf today, as well add my own
pitiful efforts.

Remember laughter, remember love, rememeber Ed. Remember our

Rich Archambault

(former monk Lobsang Tengyie)

We don’t hold on.

We believe otherwise.

There was that Wednesday evening

Hug when there was one car in the lot

And the leaves fell westerly.

I’d have that again.

Wednesday at song.

I’d have that too and

You in your perennial

Purple fleece and

Garden hammered fingers,

Ready at your post.

(You could fold yourself

With amazing precision

Into a chair!)

Sometimes you were hemmed

In by the ridiculous compactness

Of the human body:

You had to bust out of that bone

Cage and careen for wildness

like the over-blossom of sunflowers.

The growth urge, fruiting, petal on

Petal, frill on frill, to exhaustion.

We don’t hold on.

We believe otherwise.

Still, I’d have Wednesday evening back.

I’d have play and the purple fleece back.

And harmony, that rolling, ringing bell,

Vibrating in your chest.

If we find you again,

It will be among things

Spontaneous and affectionate,

Among things that flourish in the


-Emily Oberholtzer

respected Ed as a very serious dharma practitioner, full
of light and joy. I think he was a hidden yogi. He will be
sorely missed by me personally. I think he was a very deep,
true, practitioner, and it is a very sad evening indeed. There
is some reassurance to think that he will bring happiness
to others in future lives.

-Michael Childs

Both Carol and I were shocked to hear of Ed’s death. As
people through the course of their lives approach stream entry
and move towards becoming an arhant they become less attached
to this world. Ed’s life can be an example of this process
for us all. Ed was truly an old soul who affected so many
people in a positive way. Throughout the day so many different
people, including his doctor, called to talk about his death
and what knowing him had meant to them. We both know that
one of Ed’s first concerns would be for the welfare of the
person who had hit him. The karmic forces at work for him
and that person are profound. In recent conversations with
Carol, Ed spoke of death and the work that he was doing in
regard to this part of life. Little did we know that he was
on some level working towards this change for himself. Both
of find comfort in the the Christian lesson of the Beatitudes.
So many of them seem to apply to Ed. Our thoughts and prayers
are with you all.

-Neal Carter

This is so sad. I only met Ed once, when I walked down the
road from my little house on Depot Street and attended a service
one Sunday a few months ago. Ed greeted us, sat near us and
made us feel so welcome.

I live in New Jersey most of the time and had really looked
forward to the time I would be able to see Ed again.

My prayers go out to his family and friends.


-Elena Skye

There is (or was) nowhere a kinder and gentler soul on this
planet than Ed Softky. He supported everything that was good.
Unstintingly, he sought to build a community of compassionate
and imaginative Buddhists in Southern Vermont.

This news is beyond shocking: it is something no one could
have predicted.

It seems Ed has decided to teach us a lesson in impermanence.

-Michael Marantz

director, Palden Sakya Vermont

I first met Ed in Newburyport, when he accompanied Geshe
Nawang at our Healing Dharma Center to give a teaching. At
that time, i was so struck by his humility and humbleness.
As i got to know him better, i admired his understanding of
the Dharma and his open heart. We had wonderful talks in subsequent
visits about Buddhism and psychology. He had such an inquisitive
and sharp mind. I loved talking with him, for in talking with
him i learned more about what i knew….for he drew out knowledge
with astute and probing questions. I got to hear his wonderful
voice and witnessed his remarkable smile that made a somber
face into a beam of light and love. I am deeply saddened that
he has left this world. I heard in a movie the other night….that
when a person dies, a particular world crumbles and changes.
i know that this world has been changed for the better with
Ed having been in it and his leaving will leave a gap…..yet
filled with those whose lives that he has touched and changed…like

-Sheila G. West Newbury, Ma.

The tragic loss of Ed is almost unbelievable to me. When
my husband saw the email and called out to me, my first clear
reaction was physical. I got up and ran immediately into the
room where the computer is, feeling like I was moving with
some kind of other-worldly energy, the earth tilting and spinning
much faster than it usually does. Since then, I find myself
just stopping whatever I am doing or thinking, putting my
head in my hands and shaking it in complete shock. What a
tragedy for our whole community and for the world. Such a
nice, wonderful, dedicated man with so much humor and gentleness.
The first time I saw Ed was at a talk in the early days of
TGI, when Geshe-la gave teachings at the Universalist Church
in West Brattleboro. I remember being very impressed with
his translating skills and being thankful for being able to
learn some Dharma because of him.

Yesterday my husband and I were having breakfast at the Chelsea
Royal Diner and our waitress brought up the accident. She
told me that Ed ate there frequently and that they always
enjoyed seeing him. It was nice meeting someone else whose
life was also touched by him.

Now I find myself going into one of those head-shaking zones

My heart aches for his family and friends, and people who
just happened to be lucky enough to meet him somewhere along
the way.

With much love,


We are told that all that we have comes from the kindness
of others. In few of my relationships has this been so clearly
visible as with Ed. Without Ed as a translator, I may have
never come in contact with the Dharma. All of these precious
teachings have come to me through him, through his kindness,
patience, generosity, and skill. Every question I asked had
to first be understood by him, and he devoted all of his concentration
and efforts to helpings others in this way. I am so profoundly
grateful for this that I am at a loss to describe it. It was
my great good karma to have come in contact with Ed in this
life, and it is a great and terrible loss to have to part
so soon after meeting him. His presence in my life is permanent,
as much as anything can be permanent. And Ed as a friend,
too, was so very important to me. I will miss his singing,
the beautiful rendition of the Sunday morning prayers and
chanting (which during hard times was reason enough to get
up and come to a teaching), his laugh, his warmth, his hot
peppers, his love of small and beautiful things, laughing
together over the inherent emptiness of chocolate Easter bunnies,
and the now-cut-short wild idea to make ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’
out of Christmas lights before the end of the year. Such a
wonderful soul must have been greatly needed elsewhere, to
have been taken from us so soon.

– Kurt White

We are reminded… through Ed’s service to the dharma
as an unstinting translator for teachers in the Gelugpa
and Kagyu lineages and as a generous servant
to those in need, giving his assistance and warmth,
(as well as his love of music and dance)…
of how much can be given, and how intrinsically

life in this human form can be enjoyed,
to the benefit of all.

Death can come at any time, without warning.

It is not my place to suggest appropriate rituals or how

receiving this message might respond on Ed’s behalf. Certainly
his own practice provided a foundation for anticipating death,
its suddenness must have given a shock to his consciousness.
Hence our prayerful attention to assist his easy release from
can undoubtedly assist him at this time and in the days to

I provide two prayers that anyone can read on
Ed’s behalf – visualising his open release into a
space of pure unconditioned light, free from all suffering.

One prayer is from Lord Atisha (980-1054) and the
other Is from Lord Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217)

I leave you with a
song by Lynn Noel
, with words by

John Masefield. Know that Ed probably once sang along with
this song.

I also request your prayers on behalf of Jean Mahoney,
allegedly the person responsible for Ed’s death.

-Michael Billingsley

Ed’s passing has inspired us to LIVE JOY

Ed loved all of our crazy art here at the gallery, and visited
us here, often many times a week to engage and inspire us
in prismatic, enlightening,frightening and hilarious conversation.
Death and altered states were favorite subjects ,especially
after Dante had experienced a near death last month when a
drunk driver sent Dante catapulting out of his body into an
unknown bardo and totaled our car. Ed immedately arrived at
our garden looking for burly chores, loaned us his car for
a month while he was away. He was, to us, the embodiment of
the true Buddy, Graceful Buddysattva, engaging in us a clear
experience of Sangha through his appreciation of the liberating
light of communication as a gateway to consciousness: the
Warm Power of the Human Heart Song. Rave on, Ed.


-Suzanne and Dante-La Corsano

I have only been to TGI a couple of times. On one of those
occasions Ed Softky was the translator. I remember less the
words he translated than Ed’s absolute humility and
his sense of grace and humor in his very sensitive position.
I felt I was in the presence of an exceptional person.

Some months later I was downtown in Brattleboro, when the
man I’d seen at TGI was asking what is interesting that
is happening in town? — Ed seemed to be new in town
and was orienting himself. The person he’d asked directed
him my way, as I happened to be standing nearby and they knew
I was “involved” in goings-on in town. I was a
bit awestruck, but managed to give him some helpful information.
He seemed very shy and his “vibe” was quite ethereal
yet grounded. I felt it to be a privilege to have had even
this small interaction. I’d hoped this was someone I
would get to know better. I’m so sorry this is now impossible.
I feel the loss to the community and personally, and extend
my deepest condolences to his family.

-Arlene Distler

Ed was one of the kindest and merriest people I have ever
met (it is difficult not to use superlatives when thinking
about him–the kindest, the gentlest, etc.). I always felt
a steady stream of love and esteem (with an undercurrent of
goodhearted mirth) emanating from him. I was frequently awed
by his generosity–both materially, and also spiritually.
I never felt uncomfortable asking questions during a teaching
because I knew he would help me clarify my thinking before
passing the question along to Geshe-la. I am deeply grateful
for the pure example of goodness that he provided in his day
to day life, and I am so deeply sorry that we have to continue
on without him. He leaves a very big and very Ed sized hole
in this world.

-Apple Gifford

We will miss Ed’s gentleness,
kindness, true joyfulness and eager laugh. His generosity
and service to others were essential parts of his life. What
a great guy!

With love,

-Peter and Caitlin Adair

My heart is so full……

-Beth Newman

I didn’t want this one to go unacknowledged, though
I’m struggling to come up with anything else to say.

-Lauri Richardson

I am so sorry to hear about
this tragic event. I met Ed at one of his first trips to Milarepa
Center with Geshe Tsulga about 10 years ago. His intelligent
and also serious and playful nature was appreciated and enjoyed
by all. He had a deep respect for all sentient beings and
for dharma which pervaded his attitude always. May his transition
and rebirth be blessed. My love to Geshe-la and all of you.

-Lois Keiser

I first met Ed at the memorial service for my sound healing teacher,
Saruah Benson, in the Spring of 2007.

Ed was with Sarah Pirtle and they both were very enthusiastic about
singing and harmonizing with any song, chant or toning that ensued, and
plenty of those did during the one hour service and the 12 hours plus of
reveling. I remember Ed’s brightness and deep peace.

Ed and Sarah and I got together several times at my home in West
Brattleboro to sing, tone and chant – Ed was full of songs to share and
toning games. We toned for the bees, for the birds and the trees. We
dreamed of sharing this music with others.

It was around this time, shortly after meeting Ed, that I found out that
he was a Tibetan translator. I had then decided to create a healing temple
on our land and the first person I called about it was a Tibetan stone
mason. I realized the night before the mason would arrive that our
conversation would be too difficult, because of the language. I left Ed an
e-mail at about 10:30 at night, wondering if he might help me by showing up
here at 8:30 am the next day, a Sunday. I felt like I was really going out
on a limb.

At 8am I looked at my e-mails and there was Ed’s saying “I’ll be there.”
At 8:30 the stone mason called. He was lost, at the bottom of the long
driveway. Ed pulled up and I handed him the phone!

The conversation with the mason, who was a Tibetan monk for years, was
so very beautiful. We were able to speak of my mother and Saruah Benson, who
the temple was being dedicated to, the choice for the temple site, the
intention of honoring the ancestors and the healing ways from a variety of
traditions. The mason shared about the expansive goals of meditation and
the more appropriate placement of eating facilities in relation with the
temple. The whole thing was lovely and it was all because of Ed!

This Friday, October 17th, Sarah Pirtle and other sound healers are
offering a fundraising concert to help with the completion of this sound
healing temple, which Ed contributed to in several ways, and we will
dedicate the concert to Ed. (254-1310)

Ed invited my family to pot luck singing gatherings at his apartment and
I loved these intimate times with him. He always said, “Don’t worry if you
can’t get a dish together, just come, and arrive anytime.” I loved singing
with Ed!!!

I remember the day Ed passed on. I had an appointment with someone at
Café Lotus and I was detoured – because of the accident. When I got there,
one of the owners was in front of his store, and told me that there had been
a serious accident and that someone had died. A drunken driver had caused
the accident … Oh my God… How dumb.

I went on with my day, fundraising for a musical theatrical production
that honors all of nature. The fundraising went extraordinarily well that
day, and I kept exclaiming out loud to bank tellers and children and others,
about how gloriously beautiful the day was. In retrospect, I attribute this
to Ed. Many times when a master passes on, the world is especially
beautiful that day.

On the evening that Ed passed on, I got a call from Hope Jinishian. I
had been getting my daughter ready for bed. Hope told me I might want to
sit down. The news was terribly unbelievable. I just wanted to deny that
it really happened, like, there must be some mistake here! I kept myself
together and told my daughter, who knew Ed, that Ed, that kind man we sang
with, had become one of the ancestors. I struggled with tears. My daughter
calmly explained to me that Ed would now have a choice about being re-born:
“He could turn into a mineral, a plant, an animal, a human, anything!” We
dropped our sleep plans and went directly to Hope’s and then to Eva and
Lawrence’s home, to gather in remembrance.

I was greatly warmed by all the positive and bliss-evoking stories that
were shared, both that evening and the days that followed; Ed had a plot of
land with the community garden people. Ed loved to dance and participated in
several dancing circles. Ed sang in choirs. Ed was taking a course with
Hospice to help the dying. Ed went to Kindred Folk Vermont singing events
at the Twilight Tea lounge. Ed was beloved especially in the Buddhist
community, etc.

Ed shared a song recently with Hope Jinishian and others. It is based
on a Tennyson poem: “Crossing the Bar.” He had been in a car with Hospice
friends and wanted to play the song for them, but for some reason could not,
so he sang it. Hope said she was so moved she went out and got it. It is a
song about dying – crossing over. I am looking forward to getting to play
that song lots, in memory of Ed. It is a bit mysterious, and incredibly

On the Friday just after Ed passed, I was on the radio, WKVT, with Steve
West and about eight other musicians. We toned in memory of Ed and shared
about our love for him. That night I went to TGI for a lovely prayer
session for Ed. The prayers were so very extraordinarily beautiful. Some
of the songs sounded like sacred Lakota songs. The chanting was beautiful.

After the praying, some of us stayed and shared that Ed would have
wanted loving kindness, compassion and healing prayers and actions extended
to the older woman whose intoxicated state had killed him. How to convey

On the following day, Saturday, several dozen people gathered in the
sacred woods of Manitou, where Ed had been a member and he had personally
walked these very special trails. A beautiful hawk, just minutes before the
event, had crashed into a window nearby, at the home of Manitou’s beloved
elder and founder, Pam Mayer. The hawk appeared dead, so it was wrapped
carefully and brought to this special gathering: Musical Magic at Manitou.
When we all opened the wrapping to admire it, we realized that the hawk was
alive!! We sang to it and offered it our blessings. It looked to have a
broken neck. We brought it to a sacred site and The Hallowell Singers sang
“Crossing the Bar” to the hawk, and to Ed. We wondered at the synchronicity
between Ed’s death and the death of the hawk, and other mysteries. The
whole beginning of our gathering it was solemn, otherworldly and strangely
beautiful and blissful, all at once. Children dressed as woodland fairies
wove in and out of the trails and up and down the trees. As we continued
our journeys through the sacred woodland paths and the labyrinth, drawn
forth by gorgeous music played by amazing musicians, we sang, toned and even
danced, in memory of Ed and in celebration of this life! At the end, Ali
Chambliss played the song “Today” (Today, while the blossoms still cling to
the vine). She said it was one of Ed’s favorite songs at the Kindred Folk
song circles! We all sang along in harmonies, as Ed would have done!

This morning, as I am finishing writing this, I called out to my
husband, who is so kindly handling all of our family’s morning routines. I
went over and explained to him that I simply had to take all this time to
remember Ed. “Do you have anything to add,” I asked him. He looked at me
and said, with tears in his eyes, “He was such a sweet man.” We both cried
and I encouraged him over to the computer and showed him the lovely pictures
of Ed that TGI folks recently sent – so great.


And may the blessing of Ed fill us all!

-Luz Elena Morey

Didn’t ed have the BEST smile in all the world?


-Donna Trumbul

Ed was a kind, dear, and tender heart. Listening to everyone
speak about him at the memorial was so moving, so deeply touching.
I only knew Ed from Sundays at Thosum Gephelling. He was welcoming
and warm and allowed me to feel home. Watching he and Geshe
Ngawang was such a joy and a wonder. Watching the interactions
between Ed and Geshe was delightful and engaging.

I once commented to Ed how much I appreciated his integrity,
his commitment to getting the meanings and translations just
right. I was struck so by his attention and passion for that.
And that’s how I think of Ed, with integrity, joyfulness,
filled with life, and clear. I am so moved hearing that he
was on his way to a bereavement volunteer training when he
was struck. On his way to learn more about how to sit and
be with another who has suffered a loss. Now here we are;
those who are bereaved. And I know Ed is helping us now, guiding
us, walking with us. He already knew how to do that, and now
I am certain, he is.

Blessings, and peace,


I met Ed just once. At a sacred circle dance at the Sirius
Community in Shutesbury, MA. I had a brief conversation with
Ed before the dancing began, but I knew immediately this was
a man who was at peace with the world, but more importantly,
with himself. As a person who has struggled with “inner
demons” most of her life, it was a beautiful gift to

When I heard of his death through a friend connected to the
Touchstone community, my heart sank. How could this happen
to someone who brought to everyone he met peace, joy and the
bliss of each day? Why would this happen to a person like
Ed? I found the answer in my heart.

A very heart-breaking call for me to make peace with my life
and to love myself and others open-heartedly, each day.

Ed… Thank you for your beauty and light.

-Holly L. Danyliw

Beautiful Ed

may your spirit fly freely and whole and happy

back to the one where all come from….

my sincere attempt to your mother and brother and family

it is so hard to bear such a loss

it was so heart braking to hear these news….

my heart still cries and feels so many memories and cannot
quiet believe that this happenned

we lived together at Touchstone Farm for nearly a year

he moved in around the Summer Equinox in 2006

bringing everyone always together to sing once or twice a

we often walked in the woods after his long days of work,
looking at the moon in the cold winter months,

shared stories and tea and sang on the radio show together

watched together Brother Sun Sister Moon with everyone on
the farm

and started to learn the songs from Donovan

Ed was always singing

we prepared food for each other and would surprise each other
with treats

when he would come home from a long day having driven from

where he worked on computers to CT where he would translate
for the Tibetan Community in the evenings and then arriving
at Touchstone late at night

to pray and get up early to go to VT to help translate there
as well

and there was he to surprise me with a treat that he had bought
at some asian store and i was there to surprise him with a

he would always share with everyone

He was always in service and everyone living with him loved
him so much and was so sad when he decided to move to VT.

It is such a huge loss to have him leave this life

as his presence brought so much light and joy to so many hearts

warmth and tenderness and kindness

i know he would want us to be happy and sing now

not to mourn and be sad

his life was his message

as the Aborigines say

we are visitors to this place this time

we are all passing through

our purpose is to

learn observe laugh grow and love

and then we return home

My heart reaches out to Ed and his mother and family

May he be free


-Anja Daniel

Remembering Ed

Ed Softky no longer leaves his footprints.

When I first heard that Ed had been killed in a hit and

run, my initial reaction was “why are always the good

taken first?” and I was Angry at this drunk driver who

him from this life.

But as i talked to my mom about the accident, and really

focused on what Ed has left behind and what he lived and stood
for, I felt those grasping emotions, that monkey mind, quiet
down. Ed is fine, still singing and dancing, and strolling

along with a big goofy grin on his face.

How much this woman is suffering entered my mind. She is

imprisoned in her addictions, and now must carry the weight

a life she had taken. Heavy. She has a hard journey ahead

right her wrongs. My heart goes out to her.

Memories: Moyer Lake, Hula Hoop and Frisbee at the same

time, Singing, Bubbles, the Grill’s vibrations resonating

through his whole body and out in to the space, and his grin

expanding continually. The Child, the Grin, the BIG KID!

I may have spent time with him for only parts of a 6 day

span, but his essence is so pure and true that I feel that

know Ed. I may not know everything about him, but I know his

warmth, his kindness, his respect, his humor, his love for

life and for people, and for all sentient beings. Those

things are what matter. Those are the most important things

to leave behind.

He is the reason that a group of individuals have a sangha,

a community of equals. He is still very much alive in

everyone’s hearts. There is no question about his return.

just hope I get to see him the next time round.

Good Love Ed! No need for good luck, because you have

already created your luck. Good Love!

At the end of a cycle

it’s true colors are shown.

Ripened by time and the environment

we see the peak of its beauty.

Witnessing this transition is breath taking,

a Stimulating Dream!

And after the heavy winds have blown

the beauty from our sight,

we still walk through the memories it has left behind.

It recycles back into the earth

laying dormant for a season,

resting, rebuilding its strength,

so it may return with a fresh vibrancy,

equally breath taking as its farewell.

One life older, it begins as a child,

ready to soak up life and give it back

to all beings on earth.

So… until the Spring Ed,


-Alyse M Landis