Details from the 7th Annual Crab Release

By Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche

For seven years now, Dr. Kristine Honda and I have been organizing an annual crab release for the long life of H.H. Dalai Lama, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche, other spiritual leaders, and for world peace.

On the morning of Saturday, March 21st, 2015, some of the Sakya Sangha members gathered at the Monastery to prepare all the tents, tables, chairs and prayer books for this event. All the supplies were packed up to bring to Anacortes where the crab release event was to take place. This year, we released 170 crabs, each crab cost $14, a total value of $2,380, into the Puget Sound waters near Anacortes.

Around 8:30 in the morning, as I was standing outside the Sakya Monastery, waiting for my ride to arrive, suddenly there was a loud ruckus from a flock of birds in a nearby tree. I looked up to see a large hawk swoop down and attack a small bird. The two of them fell to the street, grappling. I ran to shoo the hawk away and he flew off, leaving the small bird on the street. The bird tried to hide himself inside the sewer grating on the edge of the street. I was worried that if he got inside, he might drown or not be able to get back out. So I grabbed him by his tail feathers just in time to pull him out of the grating. I held him in my hands and could feel his heart racing. I recited OM MANI PEME HUNG, the mantra of the Buddha of compassion, and then placed him safely under some bushes behind the Monastery. I was so sad because he almost died, but I was also so happy because I had been able to save his life!

Ngawang Choegyal-la, the Tibetan lady who was driving, and her son, Losal, arrived and we headed out towards Anacortes. Just north of Lynnwood, a heavy rain began pour down on us. We could not see more than a few feet in front of us. I thought, “Oh no! I better pray for the rain to stop!” Then I realized that Dagchen Rinpoche, such a powerful lama, is with us today so he will be able to stop the rain. As we neared Anacortes, the heavy downpour turned into just a light sprinkle. By the time we arrived at Black Rock Seafood Company the rain had completely ceased. Dr. Honda, Lama Migmar and others had already arrived. We purchased the crabs from the Black Rock Seafood Company and headed to the beach where they would be released.

At the beach, we set up a beautiful orange tent that Dr. Honda and other Sangha members had purchased with their donations. Underneath, we set up all the tables, chairs, prayer books and a photo of H.H. Dalai Lama. The business people brought four big bins full of the crabs we had purchased. After about a half hour, Dagchen Rinpoche, Dagmo Kusho-la, Sakya Dungsey, Ani Rinpoche, Zaya Rinpoche, Sadu Rinpoche, Sakya Jestunmas and Dagmos, and around 30 other guests gathered. First, katags were offered to Dagchen Rinpoche. I was very thankful because he has come to this event every year since it first began, and even now that he is 86 years old, he still comes! I am also very thankful to have Dagmo Kusho-la’s blessings every year, and the support from the Sakya family and Sangha members.

Dagchen Rinpoche began by leading the group in reciting OM MANI PEME HUNG 108 times. During this time, Lama Migmar and Tsering Gaga sprinkled the crabs with holy water which had been brought by Dagmo Kusho-la and me. I used the sound system brought by Zaya Rinpoche to lead the chant of Aspiration of Samantabhadra, the mantras of Buddha Amitabha, Medicine Buddha and Three Long-life Deities, and Long-life Prayers for H.H. Dalai Lama, H.H. Sakya Trinzin, H.H. Sakya Dagchen and HE Dagmo Kusho-la. Then we released the crabs into the ocean. Two bins of crabs were released by hand, one by one, at the water’s edge. The other two bins were taken by Trinidad and kids, Losel and Meadow-lark, by boat to be released in the deeper waters where the sea gulls could not catch them. Zaya Rinpoche took many beautiful pictures. Marsha and Keli also documented the event with photos.

Then we packed up all the supplies, put the tent and chairs and everything back in the car. Most of us went to Sakura, a Japanese restaurant in Anacortes, for lunch.  We took up 3 tables; one for the whole Sakya family. The hibachi grills were fired up in front of us and the cooks prepared our meals with much flair. We had a total of 27 people; some people had already left right after the crab release. Dr. Honda generously sponsored the meal for the whole Sakya family, Lama Migmar and me. After lunch, we returned to Seattle to find amazingly sunny weather. A few light clouds danced in the sky, a gentle breeze flowed through the tree tops. I felt so thankful, blissful and joyful for this day’s wonderful practice. May our great spiritual leaders have long lives! May there be world peace! May all sentient beings be happy!

We saved $300 for an upcoming fish release in the ocean waters of Hong Kong . We will be releasing fish in Hong Kong because it is less expensive this way and therefore the money we spend can have a greater impact; saving more lives!