Lama Choedak's Summer Visit to Sakya Monastery

by Dennis Oliver and Stephanie Prince


Lama Choedak Rinpoche who has been living and teaching in Australia for many years visited with us July 3-8, 2012.  He was accompanied by his son Sherab. 

Lama Choedak is the author of "Lamdre:  Dawn of Enlightenment," amongst other publications.  We were delighted and honored to receive the Buddhadharma teachings on several topics from Lama Choedak who is in the Sakya Tsarpa tradition of his Root Lama, Chogye Trichen Rinpoche.

Lama Choedak's explicatory overview of the King of Prayers, The Aspiration of Samanthabhadra, was excellent.  He explained the 63 verses with great clarity and thoroughness.  Following the Buddha's teaching of good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the conclusion, he delineated the prayer in that manner.  The beginning 14 verses cover the seven fold prayer which is the preparatory stage; then the actual prayer of the aspiration through verse 54 including the benefits of saying prayers; then the dedication of merit verses.  We learned a historical point that the original prayer contained 62 verses and that the Tibetan translators added the 63rd one.  Though it was an overview, it was quite detailed at the same time.  It was an exemplary explanation that we all enjoyed.

The second lecture covered the topics of Motivation and Meditation.  Lama Choedak stressed the importance of the linkage between them, and the need for being fully focused and mentally present for meditation to be truly meditation. 

The two-day Calm Abiding Workshop/Retreat was well attended and again thoroughly engaging.  Lama Choedak continued with the theme of being present in our meditation practice during the retreat.

Lama Choedak taught what he called "active meditation," where one conscientiously engages in a dialogue between the body and the mind. He introduced us to two practices:  scanning the body and the practice of qualified breathing.  Scanning the body involves actively checking the position of the body in the meditation posture, making sure it is in proper alignment.  One checks the body in stages: the legs which are the base, then the hands in the meditation mudra, then the spine, and finally the head.   In the practice of qualified breathing, one takes the breath as the object of meditation, breaking the act of breathing into three parts:  inhalation, retention, and exhalation, and, in turn, each of these is broken down into three parts.  Using inhalation as an example, there is the beginning when the breath crosses the tip of the nostril, the middle part of maximum intake, and the end just before the inbreath stops and the retention begins.  In this practice the mind is actively involved which helps avoid dullness and sleepiness.  These two introductory practices form a firm basis for practicing calm abiding meditation.

We were completely happy to have such a wonderful teacher come to Sakya Monastery and, of course, request that he return again and again!  We thank H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche for making all this happen. 



Dhungseys Avikrita Rinpoche and Abhaya Rinpoche Visit Seattle

By Kirsten Throneberry
added Commentary by Zaya Rinpoche



The community of the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism was recently blessed with a visit from His Eminence Sakya Dhungsey Avikrita Rinpoche and His Eminence Sakya Dhungsey Abhaya Rinpoche who are the grandsons of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche and Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya—and—the sons of Dhungsey Zaya Sakya Rinpoche and Dagmo Lhanze. 

The Dhungseys were accompanied by Venerable Tashi Nyima, teacher to Avikrita Rinpoche and Gen Kunsang Gyatso, Abhaya Rinpoche’s primary teacher, and Jamyang Gyalsten, Sakya Heritage Foundation Manager.  H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche arrived in Seattle on the 20th of January 2012. Taking a break from their studies in India, the eminent Dhungseys enjoyed a reunion with family, bestowed teachings at Sakya centers in Seattle and Southern California, and performed special pujas for the protection of the dharma and all beings.



During the Dhungsey’s stay in Seattle we were fortunate to share in the birthday celebration of H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche who turned 15. In addition to this joyous celebration we were also honored February 5, with the Manjushri Vadisingha Initiation and Teaching as well as a lecture on Transforming the Mind on February 19th, both of which were bestowed by H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche.



Manjushri is considered to be the personification of the Buddha’s wisdom. Manjushri on a Lion embodies the ability to express that wisdom. Saraswati, a goddess of learning and the arts, might be thought of as the female counterpart of Manjushri. The uncommon and fortunate blessing of this Manjushri Vadisingha Initiation and Teaching given by His Eminence gives us the opportunity to enjoy a favorable environment for our own discernment to increase.

During the lecture on Transforming the Mind, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche explained in some detail the concept of The Exchange Practice (Tonglen) highlighting how essential it can be to our path. This Exchange Practice, he noted, refers to the exchange of our own merit for that of the suffering of others. In other words, offering up our own grace to others while striving to take upon ourselves the burden of their anguish. Among the many kernels of wisdom that he offered throughout his lecture, one was the reminder that there is no greater danger than our own afflicted emotions. When unchecked, they can create an environment where endless karma unfolds. He also emphasized the crucial importance of negative people to our spiritual growth, in their own way—he explained—they are as important in regard to our spiritual development as is the Buddha. To treat them badly is like finding a diamond and throwing it away. Their value lies in the fact that they provide us with a heightened opportunity to practice our own compassion and kindness. H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche shared that The Exchange Practice was at one time a restricted teaching, reserved only for the most advanced practitioners and that it can provide us with an amazingly powerful tool on our spiritual path. Indeed, it was an incredible blessing to have this teaching and the Manjushri Vadisingha Initiation bestowed to us by His Eminence.

On the morning of February 22, 2012 (Losar-Tibetan New Year), At the specific request of The Tibetan Association, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche gave a speech on culture & religion for the Tibetan people at Sakya monastery which was well-received. Earlier, on February 11th, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche each spoke and gave insights to a very fortunate group of teens at a special Teens only discussion group which was also held at Sakya Monastery.

Their diligent commitment to their studies required H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche to return to Nepal and India with their teachers in late February. Meanwhile, we eagerly look forward to their eventual return and to the continued gift of their presence, wisdom, and guidance in our lives.

Commentary by Zaya Rinpoche
In addition to the wonderful article written by Kirstin, I want to acknowledge the immense appreciation and gratitude to all the people who supported the events mentioned in her article. Besides the teachings in Seattle on January 28th, HE Dhungsey Avikrita Rinpoche gave a very heartfelt and moving Initiation at Rosemead Buddhist Monastery in California of the Three Wrathful Ones – Vajrapani, Hayagriva and Garuda, a sacred transmission that comes from Mahasiddha Legkyi Dorje,. He explained how to conduct a daily meditation and recitation of the Three Wrathful Ones, guiding us on how to best cultivate the benefits of this profound practice for our daily lives. It was held at Rosemead, CA organized by our Tara Ling Center members Jeffrey Wu, and many close friends of H.E Dagmo Kusho. H.E. Minzu Rinpoche, along with many supporters and friends, traveled from other parts of the country to attend the Initiation. It was a memorable moment when H.E. Dagmo Kusho introduced both Dhungseys Avikrita Rinpoche and Abhaya Rinpoche to all her Tara Ling, Santa Barbara members at the Center. This was followed by a Green Tara Puja, which made the occasion all the more auspicious.

On behalf of the Dhungseys Avikrita Rinpoche, Abhaya Rinpoche, the Venerable Teachers Tashi Nyima & Kunsang Gyatso, as well as Dagmo Lhanze & myself, I wish to express the deepest appreciation and profound gratitude for all the support, compassion, and thoughtfulness everyone provided our entourage. Numerous gatherings and family/friend functions were kindly offered to us almost daily resulting in many joyous get-togethers, which created many lasting memories.

Most importantly, with the guidance and leadership of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, may his vision carry on this most precious lineage and may his teachings continue to flourish and benefit all sentient beings.

Zaya Vajra


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H.E. Dagmo Kusho Shares Tara Teachings in Eugene, Oregon

By Amy Alcaraz

Last Month, Dagmo Kusho and Lama Migmar traveled to the Nyen-Gyud Samten Choe-Ling Center in Eugene Oregon, a Sakya Institute of Wisdom and Compassion.  Dr. James Morris, a long time helper and supporter of the center and its president, was Dagmola’s escort and constant companion. He is also a long time helper to Tulku Jigme, who is the founder of the center.  

During her first day at the center, Dagmola gave a White Tara initiation in the morning followed by a teaching in the afternoon.  On the second day she gave a Green Tara teaching and later led the group in a Green Tara practice.  She was very impressed by the devotion of the members and by the number of students who came for the teachings and stayed throughout the day.  She notes that the quality of the practicioner is more important than the quantity of the practice.  When she teaches and shares the Dharma she feels rejuvenated. Teaching is part of her commitment to the teachings and the merit gained by all who participate is wonderful.

Dagmola liked the small town feel of Eugene, especially the beautiful land and flowers.  She wants to thank Dr. Morris and Nawang’s whole family for the kindness and generosity they extended to her.

Dharma Teens Meet with H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche

By Emma Young

On February 11, 2012, Sakya Monastery welcomed H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche for a discussion with the Dharma for Teens Program. About 15 teenagers attended the event. Dharma for Teens is a group for teenagers who are interested in learning about Buddhism.

Attendees asked questions such as, how life for teens in India differs from life in the U.S.  H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche talked to the group about their daily schedule.  In India they have a very rigorous schedule that requires them to get up early in the morning and continue their days long until about 10 o'clock. In the U.S. people have much more leisure time. One cultural difference between Americans and Indians is that, in the US people don't recognize lamas and monks by their traditional dress. In India everyone knows the Tibetan culture and lamas are not viewed as being ‘different’.

Teens asked other questions on their minds and learned how to incorporate Buddhism into their everyday lives with the insight of H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche. 

Dharma for Teens is led by Alden Moore and Emma Young. If you would like more information on Dharma for Teens or would like to be on our mailing list please contact Alden Moore or Emma Young by emailing the Monastery Events are announced by email.

Gyap-Shi Puja Ceremony for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya’s Long Life

By Kim Abbey

On Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, our lamas: Ven. Tulku Yeshi, Ven. Khenpo Jampa,  Lama Migmar, and Lama Lungrig from Sakya’s Nalanda Institute in Olympia performed a special Gyap-Shi puja ceremony.

This was a religious ceremony performed for the removal of the obstacles and the long life of our Head Lama, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.  The ceremony also frees beings from enemies, and summons beings to virtuous activities. The ceremony of chants and offerings lasted from 9 am until 2 pm.

Days ahead, in preparation for the puja, Ven. Khenpo Jampa taught members and visitors of Sakya Monastery how to make tsa tsas, small 3”clay sculptures.  The clay tsa tsas were formed from special miniature molds in the form of stupas.  The tsas tsas were then dried and painted bright colors representing the four directions: red for West, white for East, green for South and yellow for the North.

On the day of the puja, an elaborately decorated table was set up.  At the center of table was a miniature 6” statue of Dagchen Rinpoche, which wore the full dress of a Sakya Head Lama including the sashu hat worn by Khon lineage holders.   Additionally, on the table were tormas (cake offerings), and facing the four directions were sets of 25 lit votive candles and 25 tsa tsas.  

While Ven. Tulku Yeshi, Ven. Khenpo Jampa, Lama Migmar, and Lama Lungrig recited Gyap-Shi puja prayers, members participated by reciting Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life prayer and the Three Long Life Deities prayers:  

1) Amitayus, Buddha of Boundless Life (the Sambhogakaya aspect of Amitaba)
2) Usnisa-vijaya, one of the 21 Taras, white in color with 3 faces and 8 arms, she holds an image of the Buddha in her right hand or on her crown.
3) White Tara, also known as The Wish Fulfilling Wheel, feminine deity of long life and serenity.

Near the end of the puja the specially painted tsa tsas were carried away by Sakya members to the four directions. The Gypa-shi puja ceremony went very well and was carried out all in accordance with tradition.  It was a success and made everyone happy.

For the benefit and wellbeing of all sentient beings may His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche have continued long life, good health and success in the Dharma!

H.E. Dagmo Kusho’s California Teaching Tour 2012

By Beth Johansen

On January 20th Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya left Seattle for a 10-day trip to Southern California. Her first stop was Santa Barbara where students who hosted the event: Vidya Gauci, James Elliott and Sangay Wangmo, warmly received her.

 Dagmo Kusho gave a very special teaching on the classic Sakya treatise known as “Parting from the Four Desires”, as requested by Dr. Alan Wallace. His translations of dharma teachings are absolutely clear and brilliant. During the next few days, Dagmo Kusho bestowed the Four Armed Chenrezi Initiation and gave teachings on the Chenrezi practice, “An Ocean of Compassion”.



Dagmo Kusho left Santa Barbara for Malibu where she was welcomed at the home of her long time student and friend, Carol Moss. In Malibu Dagmo Kusho gave teachings on the Chenrezi practice, “An Ocean of Compassion”.

Dagmo Kusho was joined in Malibu by Dhungsey Zaya Rinpoche, her grandsons H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, Dagmo Lhanze and Abhaya Rinpoche’s teacher Gen Kunsang Gyatso.  The Sakya family spent three days reuniting and sightseeing together in Malibu.



While in Malibu Dagmo Kusho was invited to the Malibu Lagoon Park where many animals and birds are living.  Local residents and the students joined Dagmo Kusho in saying prayers for all the living beings in the park.



On January 27th Dagmo Kusho and the entire Sakya family went to Beverly Hills where they enjoyed lunch at the home of her son, Minzu Rinpoche and Dagmo Carol Hamilton. Dhungsey Minzu Rinpoche and Dagmo Carol played a very important part in making arrangements for this auspicious Sakya family reunion.

Dagmo Kusho would like to personally thank all of her faithful students and friends who helped with cooking, shopping and driving, and especially Jeaneen Bauer and Vidya Gauci for their tireless and enthusiastic help with driving her and the Sakya family during their ten day stay in California.

It is always a joyful experience for me to accompany H.E. Dagmo Kusho on her travels. I am deeply appreciative of the profound teachings which serve to deepen my practice and compassion.


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