Visit and Teaching of His Eminence Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

By Stephanie Prince

We were very happy and honored to have His Eminence Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche visit Sakya Monastery on June 27, 2011.  We were a large assembly to greet him.  H.E. Khyentse Rinpoche expressed his delight to be at Sakya Monastery.

H.E. Khyentse Rinpoche bestowed upon us the oral transmission of the Aspiration of Samantabhadra, which is one of the most devotional prayers recited regularly by members of Sakya Monastery under the guidance of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche.  Additionally, Khyentse Rinpoche gave us a brief explanation of the deep importance of the sevenfold branches found at the beginning of the Aspiration: taking refuge with prostrations, confession, rejoicing in the happiness of others, making offerings, requesting that the buddhas continue to turn the wheel of Dharma, beseeching that they remain for the benefit of all sentient beings, and dedication for the benefit of all beings.

He clarified for us the difference between Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva, and the Samantabhadra who is the Primordial Buddha (in the Tibetan Nyingma tradition).  He also related a memory from his youth when he was instructed to pay respect and homage to one of the Sakya Dhungseys (lineage holder) who was visiting the monastery where Khyentse Rinpoche was living and studying.   He told how very revered and important are all members of the Sakya Khon family.
At the conclusion of the Dharma teaching, dedication prayers were recited and katags were offered.  Khyentse Rinpoche specifically dedicated merit to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, praying for his long life.  We disciples, in the traditional manner, requested three times for Khyentse Rinpoche to return to Sakya Monastery.

Mandala offerings were made to Khyentse Rinpoche first by the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang family and then by the Sakya Monastery Board of Advisors.  H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche then arrived at the Monastery and Khyentse Rinpoche offered a mandala to this senior-most member of the Sakya Khon lineage.  It was a rare and auspicious opportunity for us to behold these two great masters of the Sakya tradition performing the activities of enlightenment in each other’s presence.

Pursuing Peace Together: 4th Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service

By Adrienne Chan

Leaves of the birch tree were blowing swiftly in the cool dark evening of November 20, 2011.  Inside our Tibetan Cultural Hall there were about 40 people of various faiths (Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist) gathered together for warm conversation and to sip delicious hot apple cider. After hot cider and homemade cookies made by Kathleen Ramm and Teresa Lamb, our interfaith guests all moved upstairs to the main shrine room for a viewing.  Erick Emerik gave the brief tour.  Following the tour, Venerable Tulku Yeshi and Venerable Khenpo Jampa led this beautiful array of humanity on the candlelight vigil from Sakya Monastery to Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church.  

“Pursing Peace Together” was the theme of the interfaith service, organized by the Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church.  This is the third consecutive year that Sakya Monastery has participated in the service.   The evening began with a procession of 10 religious leaders each wearing their various sacred robes. Then prayers were recited from each tradition. On behalf of the Buddhist tradition the following verses were recited:

“Turning One’s thoughts to Dharma” by Ven. Tulku Yeshi and Ven. Khenpo Jampa and
“The Four Immeasurables” by Ven. Tulku Yeshi and Eric Emerik.
Towards the end of the service, Tulku Yeshi gave a heartfelt talk on compassion.

It was a very moving service; especially hearing prayers and chants of compassion, love, and faith recited in Hebrew, Tibetan, English and Arabic. The service closed with the blowing of the Shofar (Jewish horn) and the congregation singing in unison, “World Peace Prayer”.   

H.E. Asanga Vajra Rinpoche Youngest Ever to Successfully Complete the Sacred VajraKilaya Puja Examination & Ceremonies

By Beth Johansen

On a beautiful summer day of September 11, 2011 at the Sakya Centre in Rajpur, India, His Eminence Khondung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche successfully took and passed the sacred VajraKilaya Puja examination before a packed monastery full of lamas, nuns, distinguished guests and hundreds outside the monastery courtyard.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Present on this auspicious occasion were also H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, H.E. Ratna Rinpoche, H.E. Gyana Rinpoche and H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche.  Also present were Asanga Rinpoche’s grandmother, H.E. Dagmo Kusho, his father, H.E. Ani Rinpoche, mother, Dagmo Chimey la, first cousin, Jetsunma Soyang la, sisters, Jetsunma Aloki la & Jetsunma Mamaki la, along with relatives of Dagmo Chimey la’s family from Dharamsala.

Asanga Rinpoche is the youngest person to ever take and/or successfully pass this puja.  Asanga Rinpoche was 12 years and 4 months old.  Those in the past have taken this exam have ranged from 14 years to 29 years old.  The actual exam and puja started at 6:00am and ended past 8:00pm with a lunch break.  In the words of H.H. Sakya Trizin, Asanga Rinpoche scored “100 plus!” meaning he was perfect, no errors and the manner in which he performed the chanting and use of religious drum, bell, dorje and mudras (symbolic  hand movements) were smooth, precise and elegant.  In addition, since he memorized all the prayers instead of reading from the pechas (Tibetan loose leaf religious texts), that allowed him to score the maximum amount of points possible.  Since he made no mistakes of any kind, he was able to score a perfect score and since he performed the puja using the drum, bell & dorje, along with the mudras in a smooth, graceful and elegant manner, all in attendance were blessed to witness not only a beautiful but an artistic performance of a remarkable nature for someone so young and poised.

Afterwards at Rajpur, then Dharamsala, Delhi and throughout Nepal, the news of how incredibly accurate, poised and graceful Asanga Rinpoche performed the VajraKilaya Puja exams and puja, and leading the entire congregation of lamas and monks in the prayer hall all day long, spread like wildfire.  Basking in this magnificent performance was none other than Asanga Rinpoche’s meditation tutor, Ven. Gen Ngawang Rigdro la who afterwards was showered with much praise and appreciation for efforts and instructions.  Gen Ngawang Rigdrol la said, however, although he was very nervous to have such a young and highly respected student, his job was made easy since Asanga Rinpoche was not only incredibly intelligent but a quick learner and joy to help prepare for the puja exam as he said later, it was as if he already knew it all or what was going to be taught.   Throughout the months of training, he excelled in training and all that remained was actually performing it live and in public.  On the actual exam day, this worry on his part was quickly dismissed once the day long exam and puja commenced and all in attendance were able to witness a performance of a truly extraordinary nature.

In the late afternoon, after Asanga Rinpoche completed the more intricate parts of the VajraKilaya Puja and in leading the congregation in the long and detailed prayer services, there was a congratulatory ceremony to conclude the event.  Representatives of all the Sakya monasteries, nunneries, educational institutions, and Tibetan settlement social groups from Dehra Dun and beyond flocked to the Sakya Centre to offer katas and good wishes to Asanga Rinpoche.  On behalf of the Dolma Phodrang, H.E. Gyana Rinpoche and H.E. Yumkusho la (wife of H.H. Sakya Trizin) make offerings.  This was followed by H.E. Lunding Khen-chen Rinpoche, Venerable and learned Khenpo Gyatso la (abbot and principal of the Sakya College), the abbot of Ghoom Shedra from Darjeeling were some of the other notables present for this wonderful ceremony.  Asanga Rinpoche was presented with many mandala offerings, katas and gifts of statues and other religious objects to commemorate his monumental accomplishment.  Also, on behalf of the Sakya Phunstok Phodrang, H.E. Dagmo Kusho (our very own Dagmola who is also Asanga Rinpoche’s paternal grandmother) and Dagmo Chimey la made offerings to all the Sakya monasteries in the area and an elaborate luncheon and dinner were hosted for all the lamas, monks and guests to mark this joyous and momentous occasion.  All in all, it was a very joyous and festive affair for all to celebrate, enjoy and remember.

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In conclusion, Asanga Rinpoche’s accomplishment in successfully completing the sacred VajraKilaya Puja exams and in leading the congregation all day long in the prayers during the ceremonies with excellence, honor, poise and grace marks a turning point for him personally and sets him apart from others, especially since he accomplished this at such young age.  In addition, he reveals to all that the blood and bone descendants of the royal  Sakya Khon lineage are alive and well, continuing on with the noble traditions that have distinguished his line of Buddhist master in Tibet’s long history of religious adepts.

Long live the Buddha Dharma!
Long live the Sakya Khon lineage!
Long live H.E. Asanga Vajra Rinpoche!

H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya’s 83rd Birthday Poems


Ready to guide sentient beings by

Inviting them to travel the road to liberation

Never tiring of bestowing blessings on the

Path of bliss and emptiness - you of

Outstanding wisdom and compassion -

Courageous leader who rises to

Help all to end suffering - you are the

Emanation of holiness

-Murray Gordon

The lama asked the students, “How do you know when night has ended and day has begun?” One student answered, “That’s when you can look into the distance and tell if a tree is a pine tree or an oak tree.” The lama replied, “No.” Another student said, “That’s when you can look into the distance and tell if a small animal is a cat or a dog.” “No.”, the lama said. “Tell us then!” the class asked. The lama answered, “It’s when you can look into the face of the nearest person and see that the person is your brother or sister. If you can’t, then it will always be night for you.”

-Murray Gordon

His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche’s Birthday Celebration

Speech by Allan Crouch, President of Sakya Monastery’s Board of Advisors

It is my profound honor to welcome you here today for the 83rd birthday celebration of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya. He was born in 1929 in Sakya Tibet (don’t do the math or you will be off a year).  He was educated to be the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism as well as successor to the throne of Sakya, the third most important political position in Tibet in early times.  Due to extreme changes in Tibet in the ’50s it was necessary to depart from the world that his family had known for centuries.  This change led him to a new and dynamic role as a leader in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the West.

I could continue on reciting history……but let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the unique and fortunate place we find ourselves. A Dharma King walks among us.  A part of a continuous and unbroken lineage that dates back a thousand years.  Stop and think about that and of the changes he has seen in during his life.  From a remote and largely isolated region of the world called Tibet in places where there was scarcely a path, a road or a motorized vehicle to the other side of the world in a new and strange land spreading the word and teachings of Buddha to a growing an interested audience in the West.  Most of us can only vaguely imagine the stark changes and challenges this presented.  The history that he has seen unfold. The journey from the peaks of the Himalayas to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

From early meetings in various venues and homes in the Seattle area to this Monastery that is a clear mirror of the traditional old monasteries of Tibet.  An island of Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism in the heart of Seattle

All you see around you is the result of the vision, dedication and guidance of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.

He has been a lama, teacher, student, advisor and friend to many of the greatest Buddhist minds of the 20th and now the 21st century.  

He is a beloved husband, father, brother and grandfather…..but he is also the spiritual leader, mentor, guide and father figure to the simplest among us.

Many people that pass by this Monastery every day and perhaps spin the prayer wheels may have no idea of the rich history, culture and stories that reside just inside these walls.

We are so thankful to be blessed with this precious gem and gift of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya in our lives and continue to pray for his long life and the continuation of the lineage teachings as long as time endures.

Thank you Rinpoche……..and Happy Birthday.

Sakya Monastery Celebrates His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche’s 83rd Birthday!

By Kristine Honda

It was a beautiful sunny day on Sunday, November 6th when the members of Sakya Monastery gathered to celebrate His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche’s 83rd birthday.   Praise of the Twelve Exemplary Deeds of Lord Buddha and the Sixteen Arhat prayer were recited.  Venerable Tulku Yeshi Gyatso said prayers for Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life and Venerable Khenpo Jampa Tenphel  spoke about the significance of reciting long life prayers .  Jampa Jorkhang, the President of the Tibetan Association of Washington, gave a heartfelt speech about how rare it is to have an opportunity to see and receive blessings from His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche.  Lastly, Murray Gordon, Dagchen Rinpoche’s student of 25+ years, recited two poems he had composed honoring Rinpoche (one was an acrostic poem, which read “RINPOCHE” when spelled out vertically).

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Mandalas were offered by the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang Dhungseys and family, Sakya Monastery Board of Advisors, and by Tashi Paljor. The children of the Dharma School presented a birthday cake to Rinpoche as they led the Monastery in a chorus of the happy birthday song.  Wangdu Tashi (age 12) played ‘Sakyapa Khyeno’ on the violin as the Sangha chanted the prayer.

To begin the Birthday celebration and feast (manja), Tibetan children, Sonam Yangzom (age 6)  and Sonam Tsomo (age 6), dressed in elaborate traditional Khampa clothing, recited the food offering prayers for us.  After lunch, Metta Mayes (age 7) from our Dharma School, played a beautiful violin piece titled “Long Long Ago” for Dagchen Rinpoche.  Birthday songs were offered in Chinese, Hungarian and Japanese.

We wish our precious lama a long life and good health so he can continue to guide students on the path of Dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings!


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