Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism is a place to learn from highly qualified Tibetan Lamas in a traditional setting. The Monastery occupies a beautifully renovated building which houses a pristine example of a Tibetan Buddhist shrine, one of only a few in North America. It is located in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood near the intersection of Greenwood Avenue North and North 85th Street. While called a Monastery, and monks do live there, it is primarily a lay community of practitioners, with various levels of experience in the Buddhist tradition. It was founded by His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (1929-2016) (called “Rinpoche,” meaning “Precious One” in Tibetan), and His Eminence Dezhung Rinpoche. Dagchen Rinpoche was a head Lama of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s four main Schools. Currently, the Head Lamas of the Sakya Monastery are His Eminence Khöndung Avikrita Rinpoche (Head Lama), His Eminence Khöndung Abhaya Rinpoche (Associate Head Lama), His Eminence Khöndung Asanga Rinpoche, and Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya (Acting Head Lama).
The term “Sakya” is derived from Rinpoche’s family name and spiritual lineage, and ultimately from the original Sakya Monastery in Sakya, Tibet, built in 1073. It received the name Sakya because it was constructed on a patch of earth (sa) that was pale (kya). The Monastery in Seattle is a seat of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism in North America. It is also a non-sectarian religious center, and hosts visits and teachings from leading Lamas of all four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Virupa Educational Institute (VEI) was founded by the Monastery and is its educational branch.