Birthday Speech for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya

by David Spiekerman

To celebrate today the birthday of HHJDS is to acknowledge that we here are fortunate to know him as our true spiritual true friend.  HHJDS is that rare and precious being who nurtures our trust so that we can discern for ourselves, like Manjushri, the truth of our nature and of the impediments blocking our experience of liberation.

Each of us can count on one hand the number of friends that we can trust to always tell us the true truth.  Our friendships generally are based on emotional affinities and common interests and values that happen as a result of our circumstances.  In our lives, we have had many “fair weather” friends and friends that we out grow.  However, with HHJDS, we have carefully and consciously chosen to admit him into our lives so that we can learn to be free of fear and to be happy serving others.

We recognize HHJDs as a being who with his pristine activities and qualities accesses the universal mind.  In our friendly exchanges with him, he reflects back to us the nature of reality.  And he has the power to help us dispel, like Vajrapani, the demons dancing a war dance around our egos, scaring us to death and demanding complete loyalty.

In our service to HHJDS if we are diligent, faithful, and patient, we learn to model our behavior after his Vajrasattva like integrity.  He has taught us what the great sages of India discovered.  That is that we can rewire our brains when we devote ourselves to a guru that we can trust as a true spiritual true friend.

HHJDS, like Chenrezi, has tirelessly and kindly guided us through the beguiling and sticky morass of samsara to reveal to us the diamond like quality of the Dharma. When we truly trust the meaning of the Dharma and unequivocally incorporate its truth into our behavior, consciousness, and practice, we experience our defilements and delusions disappearing into emptiness.  HHJDS has taught us that the Dharma, the precious teachings of Lord Buddha that have been tested and revealed for over 2500 years by great spiritual masters, is a faithful spiritual friend as well.

Although birth is considered one of the imperfections of samsara,  HHJDS, through his vast spiritual activities and faithful devotion to the Buddhadharma, has transformed the “fault” of birth into a jewel.  Fortunately, his birth made it possible for the brilliance of his being to shine into our hearts and motivate us to become bodhisattvas.

Happy Birthday Rinpoche.

Birthday Speech for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya

by Khenpo Jampa Tenphel Rinpoche

Today is the 86th birthday of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche, founder of Sakya Monastery in Seattle and Lamdre lineage holder of the heavenly Khon family. When we celebrate his birthday, we are not simply celebrating the life of one man, we are celebrating the 900 year unbroken lineage of the glorious scholars of the Sakyapa tradition. We are celebrating the incredible wisdom and profound realization of the Five Founding Lamas. We are celebrating the unbroken direct transmission of the Lamdre teaching from Mahasiddhi Virupa. His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche brought our Sakyapa tradition here to America and established his seat in Seattle, Washington. Since then he has continuously bestowed teachings, empowerments and blessings for the development and cultivation of the Dharma here in this new world. With body, speech and mind he manifests the Rigsum Gonpo: Chenrezi, Manjushri and wrathful Vajrapani. I would like the thank the president, the board and the members of the Sakya Tsechen Association for hosting this event and inviting me to celebrate the life of one of our great living lamas for the first time here in New York. Let's continue our life practice in accordance with the instructions of our wonderful, compassionate gurus. Happy Birthday to His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche! Now let's dedicate the merit of our rejoicing and celebration to wish long life to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Sakya Trizin and of course His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, as well as peace on Earth and the preservation of the Tibetan culture and spirit! Thank you!

H.E. Dagmo Kusho’s Teachings at Sravasti Abbey

by Bhikshuni Thubten Tarpa , Sravasti Abbey

With great joy we welcomed back Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya to Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington in late July, August 2014. The Buddhadharma teachings with Dagmo Kusho were filled with joy, heartfelt warmth, and Dharma friendship. Dagmo Kusho, with her deep practice and devotion as well as wonderful warmth, was an inspiration to all over the four days of teachings and activities.

First Dagmola gave two teachings on the topic of Refuge in the Three Jewels. She opened with teachings helping us to put our lives into a proper perspective with regards to the Dharma, our fortunate opportunity, and putting this into action each day. Then she explained preliminary practices related to refuge and how to put our hearts into the prayers and practices regardless of our individual circumstances.

The next day, August 1st, were two teaching sessions on the Aspiration of Samantabhadra. In introducing this prayer we learned that in the 8th century this was inscribed into a rock near Dagmola’s home town in Kham; and that in modern times over the course of 20-30 years it was inscribed on a bell in Lhasa. Dagmola carefully gave a commentary on all 63 verses of this incredible prayer with a text prepared by Ven. Tulku Yeshi of Sakya Monastery.

For the video playlist of the above teachings (in full) Click Here.

The Orange Mañjuśrī initiation was bestowed the next morning followed by a commentary on the practice sadhana that afternoon. And on the morning of the last day Dagmola led us in a Sur fire offering. The Tibetan word “sur” (Tib. gsur) refers to the smell of roasted flour that is offered to spirits. She kindly provided the Abbey with all the supplies and text needed to perform this offering on a regular basis which is now happening every two weeks.

One late afternoon we all had the pleasure of sitting with Dagmola and viewing the well-produced and moving video of the history and celebration of 30 years of the Sakya Monastery: Our Precious Guru and His Monastery. The feeling of spiritual friendship was palpable. Personally, this was an especially meaningful activity as it allowed our Abbey community and guests to connect more in depth with all the amazing people who have been instrumental in the founding and flourishing of the Sakya Monastery in Seattle

Speaking for our abbess, Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, and all the monastics at Sravasti Abbey, we are extremely grateful to have had the most excellent fortune to have received these teachings from H.E. Dagmo Kusho. We wish to thank the all the many people from Sakya Monastery involved in making this a possibility.

Dhungseys Avikrita Rinpoche and Abhaya Rinpoche Visit Seattle

By Kirsten Throneberry

Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism was excited to welcome His Eminence Sakya Dhungsey Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche and His Eminence Sakya Dhungsey Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche back to Seattle on January 21st of 2014. The Dhungseys are the grandchildren of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche and Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya and are the children of His Eminence Zaya Vajra Sakya and Dagmo Lhanze Youden. Traveling with the Dungseys were their teachers Gen. Tashi Nyimala and Venerable Khyentsela. The travel party also included Yangsi Tulku Rinpoche who, in his previous incarnation, was H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya’s dharma brother, Lama Kantso, and Jamyang Gyaltsen, who manages the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang in New Delhi, India, but will join Dzongsar Institute in Bir.
     H.E. Avikrita Vajra resides in Chauntra, Bir, India for the majority of the year where he gains proficiency in the Sakya philosophical tradition at the Dzongsar Institute of Higher Buddhist Philosophy and Research. H.E. Abhaya Vajra Sakya also lives and studies at Dzongsar Institute in Bir, India.
     Although on winter break from their formal education, both H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abaya Rinpoche had a full schedule which included the second lecture of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche’s Dharma Legacy Series, an initiation bestowed by H.E Avikrita Rinpoche, an oral transmission given by H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, several pujas, a Losar gathering, and the much anticipated celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Sakya Monastery.
     The first Sunday after the Dhungseys arrived, their grandfather, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya gave his second lecture of his ongoing teachings titled The Dharma Legacy Series which they attended. These lectures were inspired by teachings that he received from his own lamas when he was still able to reside in Tibet. The primary reason H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche sited for giving these lectures was to leave something behind for his grandchildren, in particular, for H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche, H.E. Asanga Rinpoche (who was unable to be present due to his ongoing dharma studies), and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche who are all Khon Lineage holders. The lecture highlighted the importance of prostrations and the Chenrezig practice as well as the meaning of Chenrezig’s mantra. He also touched upon the importance of the lama as well as the qualities a lama should possess and of generating compassion for all sentient beings.
     Following H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche’s teachings H.E Zaya Vajra Sakya and Dagmo Lhanze Youden held a lovely celebration for their son H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche’s 16th Birthday in the Cultural Hall of the Monastery.
     The following Sunday, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche bestowed the uncommon initiation of the Three Wand Sisters which is a special practice of the Sakya Lineage and had never before been given at the Sakya Monastery. H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche explained that the Three Wand Sisters are known as protectors of the dharma who assist practitioners in clearing obstacles on the path of enlightenment by providing abundance and the restoration of balance of the elements. H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche took special care to explain that abundance, in this practice, is not synonymous to materialism. Instead, it referred to spiritual riches, which have far more value, such as faith, (in the Triple Gem, one’s guru, and in one’s own skillful reflection) charity, morality, personal and social consciousness, and wisdom.
     On the 16th of February, H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche bestowed the Tsa-Sur Teaching and Lung (reading transmission - which establishes a connection to the teaching). The Tsa-Sur is a pungent aroma ritual associated with Chenrezig. The practice allows one to make offerings that can assist the deceased as they pass through the bardos and it can also serve as an offering to the objects of refuge. H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche explained that this practice was composed by an 18th century Sakya Master as an addition to the Chenrezig Ocean of Compassion practice. In addition to allowing one the opportunity to generate merit it also has the ability to help the environment, a cause that he feels very passionate about.
     On the 22nd of February H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abaya Rinpoche joined their family and Sakya Monastery’s community of supporters in celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. The event was held at the striking Seattle Asian Art Museum located in Volunteer Park. Surrounded by beautiful Asian artifacts, the guests enjoyed light faire followed by a moving documentary which chronicled the impressive unfolding of His Holiness’ vision that would eventually become the incredible treasure we know today as the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. The documentary was a touching tribute, as well as an inspiration to all those in attendance.
     On March 2nd, both Dhungseys also attended the Losar gathering at the Sakya Monastery in honor of the beginning of the Year of the Wood Horse. There were many prayers offered as well as a few speakers, one of which was H.E Avikrita Rinpoche. H.E Avikrita Rinpoche confessed that as he prepared for his Losar talk he felt inspired to break from traditional topics and instead address two issues in particular that had moved him on a personal level. One of these was the matter of gender equality. He highlighted the fact that Shakyamuni Buddha himself declared there to be no inherent difference between men and women. He urged that as a way of truly preserving Tibetan Culture well into the future, we must begin to examine what beliefs fall under the category of custom and culture versus those of the Buddha himself.
       The second topic that H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche addressed was that of the environment. He stated that he felt strongly that the Buddha’s teachings would urge us to act to preserve our environment as a means to care for all sentient beings. He said that as Buddhists we should be leaders in this movement to care for the planet where so many forms of life reside. He said we can no longer afford to think that this problem has nothing to do with us but rather to seize the opportunity to cultivate bodhichitta in the form of environmental activism.
     The following day H.E Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abaya Rinpoche bade farewell to family and the Monastery community and flew to Hong Kong accompanied by H.E Dagmo Kusho Sakya and Dagmo Lhanze Youden.
     Blessings are not always recognized at the time they occur, often it takes wisdom and perspective to understand the true value of what has happened. Perhaps, this is the case for many of us within the lay community of practitioners in regards to our beloved Sakya Monastery and those Sangha members who grace us with their teaching and compassion. This Monastery and, more over the precious members of the Khon lineage whose spiritual dedication and mastery, for nearly 1,000 years, continues on in H.H, Jigdal Dagchen Sakya and his grandchildren H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche, H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche. By virtue of their presence and efforts we are being offered an opportunity which is as rare as it is priceless. As a means of honoring their life long, tireless efforts to keep the Buddha Dharma alive and thriving may we awaken fully to the possibility before us as it offers the chance to be of true help not only to ourselves but more importantly to all sentient beings suffering in samsara.

Journey to the West : Celebration of 30 Years of the Founding of Sakya Monastery

By Adrienne Chan

It’s done!--- On February 29, 1984, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmo Kusho signed the papers to purchase a church building in the Greenwood area of Seattle.  It was a gigantic step for a small congregation of 15-20 members.  In addition to the prayers and divinations performed by H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, a few auspicious signs also convinced us that this would be our home: 1) H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche had a dream foreshadowing the church building 2) the building had no steeple, instead it had a flat roof in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and 3) the building’s address was 108 (number of beads on a mala).

Now, thirty years later on February 22, 2014, Sakya Monastery celebrated its 30th anniversary at a most elegant venue, the Seattle Asian Art Museum.  As soon as guests arrived, they were treated to the viewing of magnificent Asian and Buddhist artworks and delicious Asian hors d’oeuvres.

The ambience was now set for the main event of the evening. At 8pm, everyone gathered downstairs in the auditorium to view an inspiring DVD created by Coren Lindfield.  It artfully documented the history of the renovation of a church building into a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

Following the documentary, the four people who were most instrumental in leading the renovation project were honored: H. H. Dagchen Rinpoche, H.E. Dagmo Kusho, John Vichoreck and Dawa Dhondrup Ngoche. 

Firstly, Ven. Yeshi Tulku and Ven Khenpo Jampa introduced H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. They spoke about his legacy and leadership here and abroad. Then on behalf of the Washington State Commission on Asian Affairs, Commissioner Tashi Namgyal honored Dagchen Rinpoche with a letter of commendation.

Secondly, Chuck Pettis, Co-Executive Director of Sakya Monastery, recognized H.E. Dagmo Kusho.  He spoke of her unique childhood, marriage to HH Dagchen Rinpoche, accomplishments as Buddhist teacher and her dedication to Sakya Monastery. In commemoration of the 30th Anniversary, the Monastery presented an engraved Waterford clock to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmo Kusho.

Carolyn Massey (mother of Ven Dezhung Tulku IV, assistant volunteer to John Vichoreck, life-time member of Sakya Monastery) flew in from Evansville, Indiana to attend our celebration. She eloquently introduced John Vichoreck, who was honored and given a plaque, as Master Craftsman.  Under the direction of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, John skillfully built almost every piece of hardware (large and small) at the Monastery:  the Protector Deity alcoves; the stupa; prayer wheel frames; roof top deer; the shrine altar; the thrones; conch shell lights; double dorje appliqués; destruction and construction of the shrine room parquet floor etc.

Subsequently, Dr. Jeff Schoening, (VEI teacher, Tibetan language translator, former Monastery Librarian/VEI Director, Monastery President, life-time member) introduced Dawa Dhondrop Ngoche.  In 1990, Dawa, a graduate of a Dharmasala, India thangka painting school arrived to Seattle.  In 3 years he transformed the interior of our shrine room from white walls of canvas to spectacularly vibrant and detailed spiritual murals:  9’ tall Guardians of the 4 Direction, 9’ high mural of the Wheel of Life, Lamdre lineage, 8 Mahasiddhas etc. In honor of his magnificent work, Dawa was presented a plaque honoring him as a Master Artist.

The sponsors (David Spiekerman, Tho Luu, Chuck Pettis, Gillain Teichert, Kathleen Ramm, and Adrienne Chan) of the evening’s glorious 30th anniversary event were also honored.  H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmo Kusho presented to each of them a thank you katag and a beautifully etched picture of a golden Chrenrezi or Manjushri.

  Two hundred guests attended the gala event. An array of special guests included:
      1)   H.E. Minzu Rinpoche and Dagmo Carol from California
      2)    H.E. Dhungsey Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche and their teachers: Gen. Tashi Nyima and Ven. Khyentse from India
      3)    HE Jestsun Kusho of Sakya Tsechen Thubten Ling, Vancouver, BC, her granddaughter, Misa and their attendant drove down from Canada
      4)    Ven. Dhontog Rinpoche, director of Sapan Institute came from Washington DC
      5)    Ven Pema Oser (Yangsi), Gen. Tsering Gonpo, Mrs. Lam ( Lama Yangsi’s teacher, and center member respectively) represented the Mahsandhi Yoga Center in  Hong Kong)           
      6)    Ven Jamyang Gyaltsen, Director of Sakya Heritage Society, New Delhi, India
      7)    Ven Tulku Jigme and entourage came up from the Eugene Sakya Center, Eugene, Oregon
      8)    Geshe Jamyang, founder of Nalanda Institue, Olympia .WA
      9)    Tashi Namgyal, member of the Tibetan Parliament North America and a Washington State Commissioner on Asian Pacific Affairs 
      10)     Kunga Tenpa, Sakya Tsechen Association, New York
      11)    Johnnie Vichoreck from Argentina
      12)    Carolyn Massey from Indiana

In conclusion, in residential north Seattle, an authentic Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, evolved before our eyes.  It is now an exquisite home for the Buddha Dharma in the West.

H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Attends Inauguration of Memphis Temple

by  Dagmo Chimey Sakya

In June 2014, His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche graciously accepted a request by the Quan Am Buddhist Temple in Memphis, Tennessee to attend the inauguration and opening ceremonies of this Vietnamese Buddhist temple.  The invitation and resulting trip to Memphis were kindly facilitated by Mr. Tho Luu, a long student and dharma friend of the Sakya Monastery.

His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche was accompanied by Her Eminence Dagmokushok la and their entourage included Jetsunma Aloki la, Jetsunma Mamaki la, Venerable Tulku Yeshi la, Venerable Khenpo Jampa la, Mr. Tho Luu and myself.  On a cool Saturday morning on June 17th, we boarded our flight for Memphis with a changeover in Atlanta.  Upon our arrival at the Memphis airport, Rinpoche was greeted by representatives of the Quan Am Temple and a delegation from Vietnam who had made the trip to attend the inauguration and have an audience with Rinpoche and Dagmola.  While we checked into our hotel rooms, Tulku la and Khenpo la went straight to the temple to prepare for the fire puja scheduled for that evening.   After a wonderful dinner with the visiting Vietnamese delegation who had previously met Dagmola and His Eminence Dhungsey Asanga Rinpoche in Vietnam in 2012, we settled in for the evening within the confines of cool air conditioned rooms of the hotel.

On June 18th, the day of the inauguration, a delegation from the temple arrived to escort Rinpoche and his entourage from the hotel to the temple.  Our first sight of the temple was breathtaking.  In the dry Memphis landscape, the temple stood out like a jewel in its vividness.  The streets leading to the temple were lined with many Vietnamese men and women in bright flowing robes of various hues and colors holding incense and flowers in their hands.  Within the temple, thousands of devout Buddhists had gathered to join in the opening ceremonies.  The Vietnamese sangha were also well represented by many monks and nuns in more sedate robes of orange, browns and greys.  The opening ceremony commenced with prayers both in Vietnamese and Tibetan, which was then followed by the cutting of ribbon ceremony.  Dagchen Rinpoche cut the ribbon simultaneously with a senior Vietnamese master representing the Vietnamese congregation.  The ribbon cutting was applauded with loud fire crackers and a ceremonial Vietnamese dragon dance.  Then all dignitaries were led to seats under a large canopy before the dais where a large Buddha statue sat with its head covered by a bright silk cover.  To our delight, we learnt that the statue was the famous Jade Buddha for Universal Peace.  The Jade Buddha fashioned after the Buddha statue inside the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodh Gaya is carved out of Jade and sits on an alabaster throne.  The Buddha a symbol of world peace and harmony tours around the world so that everyone can have an opportunity to view the Buddha.  During the course of the ceremonies, the Jade Buddha was unveiled and we had the unique opportunity to view upfront and close, such a pure work of art, beauty and devotion.  The Buddha truly had a calm and peaceful effect on all those that gazed upon its serene expression despite the Memphis heat.   Rinpoche, Dagmola and the monks recited prayers in praise of the Buddha and for the benefit of all beings.  Rinpoche then blessed and consecrated the temple along with the Vietnamese senior master who performed prayers in his native language.  The conclusion of the prayers were marked by the release of thousands of colorful balloons and by the release of white doves that soared into the blue skies above.

In the evening of June 18th, His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche bestowed the Tse-ta-zung-drel (Amitayus and Hayagriva) combined initiation to the Vietnamese congregation in the main shrine room of the Quan Am Temple.  While Tulku la and Khenpo la assisted Rinpoche in the initiation preparation, I had the privilege of translating for Rinpoche from Tibetan to English.   Mr Tho Luu then translated from English to Vietnamese.  The Vietnamese sangha received the initiation with great devotion and respect.  For the majority of them, receiving a Tibetan Buddhist initiation was a novel experience as it was their first time meeting with a Tibetan lama.  By the conclusion of the initiation, Rinpoche had won over the hearts and devotion of these people as he posed for individual photos with great patience despite the lateness of the hour.  Jetsunma Aloki la and Jetsunma Mamaki la also assisted with handing out blessing cords and found that the Vietnamese Buddhists were just like us Tibetans in that we always request extra protection cords for our family members who could not make it to the initiation.  In short, it was a well-attended event and the people were very happy to have had the opportunity to receive the long life initiation from Rinpoche and learn and receive Tibetan Buddhist teachings from a Tibetan lineage holder.  As a result, they respectfully requested Rinpoche to return soon to Memphis again to give more teachings in the future.  Rinpoche and Dagmola were also very pleased to have made such a good connection with so many devout Vietnamese Buddhist practitioners.

The next day, Quan Am Temple representatives wished to host a lunch for Rinpoche, his entourage and the delegation from Vietnam.  After enjoying a wonderful meal at a Japanese restaurant, Rinpoche and Dagmola returned to the hotel to rest for the day.  The previous day had been long and taxing for Rinpoche and so he needed some rest.  Finding some free time on our hands, Mr. Tho Luu arranged for the rest of us to visit some Memphis attractions around town.  So of course we were driven to visit Graceland, the home of the famous Elvis Presley, an American icon and a musical legend. We were duly impressed with his numerous awards, his costumes and his collection of cars.  Next, we visited the banks of the mighty and historical Mississippi River.  Being a history buff, this was truly exciting.  The Mississippi River flows through ten states in the United States and its tributaries reach even further.  As we walked up and down the banks, we reflected upon the river’s significance and its impact on American history.  We were also delighted to see an original river boat docked on the side of the river.  After a delightful day getting to see the historical side of Memphis, we headed back to the hotel to settle in for the day.

On June 20th, we were invited back to the Quan Am Temple for a traditional Vietnamese vegetarian lunch.  Rinpoche rested in one of the monk quarters until it was time for us to drive to the airport.  After saying our fond farewells, we headed back to Seattle where cooler and more tolerable temperatures awaited us.

His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, Her Eminence Dagmokushok la, the Jetsunmas, Venerable Tulku Yeshi la, Venerable Khenpo Jampa la and I had a wonderful time in Memphis.  Our personal thanks go out to Mr. Tho Luu for facilitating this trip.  Without Mr. Tho Luu, this trip and the many benefits that resulted from it, would not have been possible.  As usual, Mr. Tho Luu went out of his way to make sure everyone was comfortable and well taken care of.  Also Mr. Tho Luu has been a long-time supporter and patron of the Quan Am Temple, and so the successful inauguration of the temple is a testament to his dedication and devotion in the Buddha Dharma.


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