50th Anniversary of His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche’s and H.E. Dagmo Kusho’s Arrival in America

(Speech given by David Spiekerman and the 50th Anniversary Celebration Event at Sakya Monastery on October 15, 2011)




Good Morning. On behalf of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya I would like to welcome you to our once in a lifetime celebration of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya to Seattle.  On October 12, 1960 Rinpoche and his family stepped on the ground of the Pacific Northwest in North America and changed irrevocably the course of Tibetan Buddhism forever. 

In October 1960, JFK had not been elected President of the US yet. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US was in high gear. For the white people in this country, samsara was showering them with many pleasures and economic well being. However for African Americans and most other dark skinned non-Europeans, life vacillated between the tolerable and the horrible.

In 1960 color TV was in its infancy. There were no personal computers or cell phones. FM radio was rare. I was 13 years old, and Murray Gordon was in his early 20’s.

In October 1960, the Seattle World’s Fair was two years in the future. The tallest building in Seattle was the Smith Tower. There was no I-5 or I- 405. There was no Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, or Starbucks. MacDonald’s had less than 30 restaurants nationwide. Pizza, Mexican food, and Thai food were unfamiliar to the majority of most Americans.

In 1960 in Washington State, the population of people with Asian ancestry totaled 15,500, half of whom were Filipino, and the other half Chinese and Japanese. Today 484,000 people of Asian ancestry call Washington State their home. In fact, the majority of people in this room did not live in Seattle or were not yet alive in 1960.

In 1960, if you saw an image of the Buddha in Washington State, it was probably in a small shop in the International District where you could buy a statue of a cute, wooden, fat, smiling, and happy Buddha. If you mentioned the word ‘Dharma’, people would give you a puzzled look and dismiss you as a boring nut case. In 1960, the Pacific Northwest was a virtual wasteland in terms of knowledge of the Buddhadharma.

Now please take a moment and look around you in this beautiful and peaceful shrine room and contemplate the vast distances that we have come from 1960 to 2011 thanks to Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho.

After witnessing the devastation of his homeland and fellow Tibetans in the years leading up to his flight to India in 1959, Rinpoche made a remarkable choice in 1960. Although he had to abandon the ancient sacred spaces in the monasteries of Sakya and his Tibetan homeland, he maintained with profound equanimity the most important sacred space, the one permanently residing in his mind. His omniscience empowered him to choose Seattle, of all the many other places in the Free World that he could have chosen to establish a new home for the Sakya lineage. And the kindness of strangers played a significant part that encouraged him to make his new home in Seattle

Rinpoche recognized, with his unalloyed clarity, that Seattle had fertile soil for the roots of the Sakya lineage to flourish and then to flower into great ornaments of the Dharma.

Thank you Rinpoche, for seeing the potential of Seattle to become a safe space for the Buddhadharma and the home of the Sakya lineage in North America.





New Victory Stupa to be blessed at Earth Sanctuary

A blessing ceremony for a newly completed holy Buddhist stupa monument and Tibetan prayer wheels will be held on Saturday, October 8 at 10:30 a.m. at Earth Sanctuary, a nature preserve and retreat center on south Whidbey Island. The public is invited to the ceremony at 5536 Emil Road, Langley, Wash.. The ceremony will be held outside; attendees should bring a cushion or something to sit on.  The ceremony will be held rain or shine.

A stupa is the most important Buddhist monument and is a sacred structure designed to bring peace and harmony to a community and the world.  The blessing and consecration ceremony will be led by His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, the Head Lama of Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Seattle, Wash.  H.H. J.D. Sakya will be assisted by Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya, Ven. Tulku Yeshi, Ven. Khenpo Jampa, and Lama Migmar.

Everyone is also invited to visit Earth Sanctuary and walk with reverence, prayer or meditation around the stupa.  An ADA-compliant parking space and sidewalk to the stupa enable the disabled to easily access the site and enjoy the Earth Sanctuary landscape.

Directions to the stupa:  From 525, turn onto Newman Road and drive for about ¼ mile and turn right onto Emil Road.  Drive up the hill about 2/10s of a mile and turn left into Earth Sanctuary on the gravel road.  The stupa is visible from Emil Road. 

Letter From H.H. Sakya Trizin

We're pleased to share with you a letter that we've received from H.H. Sakya Trizin! Click on the image below to download the letter in PDF form.



His Holiness Sakya Trizin's Visit

By Teresa Lamb




August was a busy and auspicious month for Sakya Monastery!  On August 13th, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and family arrived at the family residence of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.  This visit was a reunion of the two Sakya families (also referred to as Phodrang , meaning ‘palace’), Sakya Phunsok Phodrang led by H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya and Sakya Drolma Phodrang led by H.H. Sakya Trizin.  The visit would be an occasion to benefit hundreds of Dharma practitioners.  

His Holiness Sakya Trizin arrived at Sakya Monastery to a traditional Tibetan welcome of Gyaling horns, a brightly colored parasol (udu), a red carpet and banners with eight auspicious symbols, and monastics dressed in the high red hats of Sakya tradition.  For westerners like me, this was something I have never had the opportunity to see before; an extra special treat!

The first of four public engagements began with an audience requested by the Tibetan Association of Washington.   Following the talk, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and members of the Sakya Drolma Phodrang, members of the Sakya Phunstok Phodrang, and members of Sakya Monastery were treated to Tibetan tea, fruit, cookies, East Tibetan traditional song and dance performances.  The performers, all Eastern Tibetans local to Seattle, were adorned in beautiful and elaborate clothing flown in especially for the event.

Between scheduled engagements, H.H. Sakya Trizin, his wife H.E. Gyalyum Kusho, his son H.E. Gyana Vajra Rinpoche, and entourage visited with Dagchen Rinpoche’s son’s homes.

The following day, August 14th, approximately 320 people arrived at the Center for Spiritual Living for a rare Chenresig Gyalpo-lo Empowerment in the King’s Tradition.  The Center was completely transformed;  wall hangings with beautifully colored brocade fabric embellished with gold embroidery and. prolific offerings of multi-colored flowers framed the ornamental throne where His Holiness was to be seated.  As a backdrop to His Holiness’s throne hung a large thangka of Chenresig with all of the Sakya Deities.  To the right of the throne stood a mandala of Chenresig.  To the  left sat all attending Dhungseys (sons of the Holy Sakya families).

On Monday morning, His Holiness gave a teaching on “The Non-Differentiation Between Samsara and Nirvana”.  His Holiness explained the Sakya view as it relates to the Lamdre teachings, a specialty of the Sakya Tradition. This day also marked the official welcoming of H.H. Sakya Trizin and family to Sakya Monastery.  Drums, conch shell horns, Tibetan Gyaling horns and banners were added to the ceremonial welcome as members of the Sangha lined the sidewalks offering katags to His Holiness and the Holy family. 

Later in the evening at Sakya Monastery, His Holiness’s final engagement was bestowing the Mahakala Initiation.  Mahakala is one the most revered Tibetan Buddhist protector deities.  Over 160 people came to this sold out event.

After the initiation, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and family joined H.H. Dagchen Sakya and family upstairs for refreshments and to say goodbye.  Before leaving everyone came together for a portrait of the two Phodrangs and a group photo with all of the volunteers who helped to make the event a success.  

This truly was a momentous event and a great blessing for us all!                 


Lion Statues

The new lion statues arrived at Sakya Monastery on May 5, 2011.  The statues, weighing over a half ton each, are made of marble and were custom made for Sakya Monastery by an artist in Asia.  The snow lion is a national symbol of Tibet.   H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche requested that they stand at the entrance to Sakya Monastery as a representation of Tibetan religion, culture and protection.


View the embedded image gallery online at:

Tibetan Medicine: Paltul Rinpoche’s Visit

By Teresa Lamb

As many of you may know we were very fortunate to have Dr. Paltul Rinpoche come visit us January 21st and 22nd of this year.  Dr. Paltul is a Barom Kagyu lineage holder and respected doctor of Tibetan medicine. 

Paltul Rinpoche and the Monks of Sakya Monastery

(left to right: Lama Migmar, Khenpo Jampa Tenphel, Dr. Paltul Rinpoche, Tulku Yeshi Gyatso)


Sakya Monastery members scheduled 15 minute consultations with Dr. Paltul during which time he used the Tibetan medicine technique of palpation (listening to the pulse) to diagnose health problems. Tibetan medicine pills (blessing pills) were then dispensed to treat ailments.  

At Dr. Paltul's very informative teaching on Tibetan Medicine he explained to us how much detail goes into the preparation of these Tibetan medicine pills. The methods for making them have been passed down for hundreds of years and extensive prayers and rituals must accompany the collecting, drying and preparing of these herbs. 

He also spoke about the differences between Tibetan and western medicine. For example, with Tibetan medicine faith is a key part of the treatment, knowing that this medicine is acting not only on a physical level but on spiritual and energetic level as well.  Also, Tibetan medicine typically takes longer to work but is a more complete remedy, curing the illness from the root not only the symptoms. 

Dr. Paltul kept a very busy schedule seeing people after his evening talk and all day the next day bringing great benefit to all of us here at Sakya Monastery.  The proceeds from these consultations went toward Tibetan health care development projects, thereby bringing benefit to people in Tibet as well. 

We look forward to another visit from Dr. Paltul,  hopefully next year.


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