Sakya Chronicles

Welcome to Sakya Chronicles, Sakya Monastery's online Newsletter!

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Introducing Lama Kelsang Dukpa

Sakya Monastery is pleased to welcome Lama Kelsang Dukpa to the sangha. Lama Kelsang attended Sakya College in India where he spent many years in study, graduating in 2008. Fluent in English, Chinese and Tibetan, Lama Kelsang is a talented translator who will make the Dharma teachings accessible to Sakya devotees across the globe.

LamaKelsang

Lama Kelsang was born in 1980 in India. In his early twenties, he entered Sakya College in Dehradhun, India where he took monastic vows. There, he studied Buddhist philosophy for about five years. During these years, he also received empowerments and teachings from H.H Dalai Lama, H.H Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, H.E Luding Khen Rinpoche, H.E Thartse Khenpo, and Khenchen Kunga Wangchok. He next went to Nepal's Tharlam Monastery and completed a Manjushri retreat for three months. He received the Lamdre from H.H. Jidgal Dachen Dorjechang Sakya in 2007, and also received teachings from Khenchen Appey Rinpoche and H.E Jadral Rinpoche. He was appointed as a Chinese language tutor to H.E Asanga Rinpoche, a position he held from 2008 until 2012.

Next, he went to Penor Rinpoche Buddhist Society at Pharping, Kathmandu, Nepal where he began a three-year retreat. Before his retreat, he received the Initiation of TsaSum from H.E Talung Tsetrul Rinpoche. During his stay he received initiations, authorizations, explanations, and other teachings from Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche. He has completed five times the requisite one-hundred thousand accumulations for the preliminary practices (ngondro). He has also completed the preliminary and main practice of the two main approaches of the path of Luminous Great Perfection, trechod and thogal, and the ritual practices of the Longchen Nyingtik tradition.

We are very fortunate to have Lama Kelsang as our resident lama and translator. Please join us in welcoming him to Seattle!

Parinirvana, Holy Cremation, First Memorial

By Adrienne Chan

On April 29, 2016, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche entered Thukdam, a “Clear Light Stage” of meditation or an exalted state of meditation where realized practitioners go to when they pass. Upon receiving information that Dagchen Rinpoche had passed, H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche immediately paused his teachings on the east coast and came to Seattle to lead the profound Thukdam vigil prayers. Dagchen Rinpoche’s grandsons, Khondung Avikrita Rinpoche, Khondung Abhaya Rinpoche and Khondung Asanga Rinpoche quickly left India to come to Seattle and join the Thukdam prayers. The vigil prayers began on April 30th and continued until the Parinirvana of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang on May 5, 2016. That evening, Seattle experienced a most rare and awesome celestial event; a glorious display of Northern lights surrounded Seattle. How unusual, everyone thought, as the Northern lights typically manifest in Alaska or even further north. Then, it came to our attention that Dagchen Rinpoche once responded when asked by his devoted student Carolyn Massey, “What’s going to happen when you die?” He nonchalantly replied, “I will show fireworks.” The sighting of the Northern lights was incredible and prophetic. It was so like Rinpoche—unassuming but powerful. Tibetans called such realized masters “druthop,” a person of great spiritual power and strength.

H.H. Trizin Rinpoche appointed Khenpo Kunga Dondrup from Sakya Pema Ts’al Monastery, Nepal, to lead in the preparation of the Holy Body “ku dhung” so that on May 6, 2016, the ritually prepared Holy Body was placed into a beautifully decorated palanquin built by John Vichoreck. The Holy Body was then transferred from the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang to the Monastery for the traditional 49 days of prayers. The Holy Body remained in its palanquin at the Monastery in front of H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang’s throne for 3 days. During that time, the royal family, lamas, tulkus, members and friends were able to view and pay their respects. After 3 days the Holy Body was carefully placed into a decorated cooler near the altar. Before H.H. Trizin Rinpoche returned to the east coast to resume his May 8th teachings, he appointed Khondungs Avikrita Rinpoche, Abhaya Rinpoche and Asanga Rinpoche to assume leadership of the remaining 47 days of ritual services. Khenpo Drakpa from France was appointed Dorje Lopon or Vajra Master and Ven. Punlop Tashi Rinpoche from Taiwan assumed the role of omze.

The glorious 49 days of prayers and services included: Hevajra, Vajrakila, Guru, Kunrik, and Vajrayogini pujas. On the 49th day, June 23, 2016, traditional prayers concluded with a Grand Tsok and in the evening, a majestic candlelight vigil. Many of these devotional prayer services were highlighted by amazing celestial sightings and miraculous personal stories. H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang was truly a Buddha. In life and in death he taught us the power of compassion, prayer, faith, and humility.

 

Supplication for Quick Return: Drumbeat of Compassionate Exhortation

Composed by H.H. Sakya Trizin

 

Discriminating insight of the Lord of Speech—the waxing moon,

Totally sating disciples—friend of joy,

Come as the glory of merit—divine lineage:

I pray to the honorable Dagchen Jigdal.

 

On November 5, 2016, the Holy Body, the entire royal Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang family, Ven. Khenpo Jampa Tenphel, and Monastery members journeyed to India for the sacred cremation. It was our beloved guru’s wish to be cremated in India, the holy site of Lord Buddha’s teachings and parinirvana. At New Delhi airport, the Holy Body was placed into a holy palanquin and escorted in a truck surrounded by hanging garlands of gorgeous marigold flowers and topped with a royal golden umbrella of a Sakya Gongma. A procession was formed-- in front, was a flatbed truck carrying H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang’s granddaughters (Jetsun Soyang, Jetsun Dechen, Jetsun Mamaki) and his daughter in law Dagmo Chimey. From their truck, they tossed colorful flower petals, which paved the way for the Holy Body to travel from the airport to the Sakya Phodrang, site of the cremation. The Khondungs of both the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang and Drolma Phodrang were in the truck with the holy palanquin. Another 7 cars joined the 20-mile procession.

On that day, hundreds of Sakya monks also arrived at the Sakya Phodrang. They greeted the procession at the last half mile before reaching the Phodrang. A beautiful stream of maroon robed monks with katags lined both sides of the alley as we approached our destination. Finally, the entourage stopped and amidst the sounds of welcoming cymbals, drums and gyalings (horns) and the six Khondungs carried the Holy Palanquin to the Phodrang Temple.

Three days later, H.H. Ratna Vajra Rinpoche (now newly enthroned Sakya Trizin) led tulkus, khenpos, and monks in a 3-day practice of Vajrasattva Guru Yoga. On November 11th, H.H. Sakya Trichen (formerly H.H. Sakya Trizin) led the holy cremation rituals. He and about 100 lamas and monks performed the Hevajra puja. Simultaneously, in the other 3 directions, H.E. Luding Khenchen Rinpoche led 100 lamas and monks in the Vajaryogini prayer. On the opposite end of the huge field, H.E. Luding Khen Rinpoche led another set of 100 lamas and monks in the Kunrik puja. Lastly, H.H. Ratna Vajra Rinpoche led 100 lamas and monks in the Vajrasattva puja.

In the center of the large field, was the elaborately painted Cremation Stupa, which held the Holy Body of H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang. Hence, the Holy Stupa was surrounded in the 4 directions by esteemed head lamas, and their retinue of ritual lamas and monks. The atmosphere was indeed grand and sublime. It was a majestic farewell to a Living Buddha, our beloved Guru, H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang. Over two thousand lamas, monks, nuns, devotees, distinguished dignitaries and friends attended the Sacred Cremation Ceremony. High Lamas from each sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan officials from the Tibetan government, and devotees worldwide came to pay their deepest respect to a greatly beloved holy teacher, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang.

According to H.E. Avikrita Sakya Rinpoche, grandson of H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang, on one occasion, he overheard a conversation between his Holy grandfather and H.H. Sakya Trichen. His Holy grandfather revealed that he felt most happy that he brought from Tibet and thus, was able to share with the West, the rich and profound Chenrezi meditational practice of loving kindness and compassion. At Sakya Monastery, H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang led the practice of Chenrezi at Sakya Monastery continually for over 30 years. Thus, in celebration of the First Anniversary of H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang’s Holy Parinirvana (passing), HE Avikrita Rinpoche decided it would be appropriate for lamas, devoted students and friends to gather and recite the Chenrezi Drub Choe prayers to honor H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang.

A near week long ceremony of prayers and offerings commemorated the first memorial. The sacred rituals and prayers began on April 24, 2017 at Sakya Monastery. For 6 consecutive days from 9am-4pm, Chenrezi Drub Choe (“drup choe” implies extensive or elaborate) prayers were led by Dorje Lopon Khenpo Jampa Tenpel.

The Monastery shrine room was sublimely graced with a stunning realistic Holy statue of our beloved Guru, H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang. The statue was dressed in His Holiness’ traditional robes and cloaked with his gold-treaded brocade shawl. It also wore the traditional hat of a Sakya Khon lineage holder. The Holy statue was made in Tibet and was generously sponsored by the Dekyi Palmo family. Dagchen Rinpoche once told me that when a lama passes, it is tradition in Tibet to have a statue of its founder in his Monastery.

The Shrine room and Holy statue were embellished by daily offerings of colorful spring flowers, candles, cups of saffron water, and food or tsok. John Vichoreck made two special offering tables so that we could make these magnificent offerings to our Guru and the Triple Gem.

On April 27th, the fourth day of the Chenrezi Drub Choe prayers, a most amazing thing happened. HE Avikritakrita Rinpoche entered the Monastery and joined our prayers! He astonished everyone, including his father Zaya Rinpoche and his grandmother Dagmo Kusho. Only his mother Dagmo Lhanze knew of his plans to take a 1 week study leave from Dzongsar Institute, India to participate in the First Parinirvana memorial for his Holy grandfather, H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang. We were ecstatic have HE Avikrita Rinpoche come and lead the auspicious prayers for the remainder of our program.

The Chenrezi Drub Choe prayer services were highlighted by eloquent tributes to His Holiness Dagchen Dorje Chang by his grandsons. On April 24th, a booklet entitled “Ocean of Compassionate Activity”was distributed. It is a teaching on the Chenrezi meditation by H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang, which was retranslated and compiled by H.E. Asanga Rinpoche (www.sakya.org/1012).

On April 29th, the final day of our commemoration program, each grandson wrote beautiful pieces honoring their Holy grandfather and Holy Guru. H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche wrote, “A Few Words of Praise of the Great Compassionate One” (www.sakya.org/1021), H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche composed “A Tribute to the Holy Guru” (www.sakya.org/1020), and H.E. Asanga Rinpoche compiled “Crystal Dewdrops from the Lotus Petal” a biography of his Holy Grandfather (www.sakya.org/1016).

The final day of the first anniversary of the Parinirvana of H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang, the Chenrezi Drub Choe prayer and rituals was joined by honored guest H.E. Jestun Kusho, resident spiritual director of Sakya Tsechen Thubten Ling, Vancouver B.C. and older sister to H.H. Sakya Trichen. About an hour into the prayer service, the lights in the Holy Shrine room went out; however, we all persevered without a hitch. Some thought “ Dagchen Rinpoche might be here sending us a greeting”; others thought “it’s raining, lights often go out” no matter. We called the light company and we were told that they didn’t know what happened, but in about 4 hours, lights should return, fortunately the lights returned within the hour. The Chenrezi Dub Choe prayers concluded in the afternoon with a Grand Tsok. And blessed sacred salt charms and lapel pins of H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang were distributed by H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche to everyone.

In the evening, over 100 people returned to participate in the candlelight vigil honoring H.H. Dagchen Dorje Chang. (link to article on candlelight vigil). As stated in An Ocean Of Blessings, our Guru Puja text, “May we have the good fortune of the unequaled supreme Gurus, grantors of the supreme accomplishments upon the practitioner, crown adornment of the personal deities, just as the jewel “king of kings” is the summit of the victory banner…may we have good fortune of the glorious root and lineal Gurus who never deceive the faithful!”

Candlelight Vigil Ceremony for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche Dorje Chang

By Alyssa McFarland

On Saturday, April 29, 2017, a candlelight vigil concluded the week-long Drub Choe prayers in honor of the one year anniversary of the parinirvana of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang. Over one hundred sangha members came together at the Sakya Monastery for Tibetan Buddhism to light candles in remembrance of the Sakya master and founder of the Monastery.

H.E. Dagyum Kusho Sakya explains light is both an offering and a way to provide clarity. We light candles to clear away darkness and the defilement of ignorance. In Tibet, candles are made from butter and are called butter-lamps. They burn continuously twenty-four hours a day in all monasteries and in some homes.

This butter-lamp prayer, entitled “An Ocean of Offering Clouds,” was composed by Gaton Ngawang Legpa Rinpoche (1865-1941), who was a great Sakya lama and the root lama of Dezhung Rinpoche III. The prayer was translated and transliterated by Khondung Avikrita Vajra Sakya, with the assistance of Gelong Ngawang Khyentse, at the express request of Dagyum Kusho Jamyang Sakya.

At 8pm, we gathered together and first watched a film by Lama Kunga Rinchen and the Sakya Monlam Foundation about Rinpoche’s life, his passing, and his cremation ceremony in New Delhi. The movie brought tears to many eyes.

 After the video, we lit candles and chanted “An Ocean of Offering Clouds,” led by Ven. Khenpo Jampa, as we circumambulated the shrine once then proceeded to circumambulate the Monastery in the faint Seattle drizzle.

An Ocean of Offering Clouds

The container of finest metal,

Equivalent in extent to the three-thousand worlds, within which

Is contained the best butter, completely filling,

In the center of which are wicks like Mount Meru.

Having been placed, they blaze with a tongue of flame

That has the essence of the five wisdoms;

Their aspect, the dazzling radiance

Of a hundred million suns. This butter lamp:

It pervades the space in the ten directions through every realm.

From the expanse of the light, clouds are projected;

An ocean of Samantabhadra’s offering clouds

Offered for eternity, until the end of existence.

May I and everyone connected to me,

The observed objects, whether living or deceased,

Complete the two accumulations, clear away the two obscurations,

And swiftly attain the unsurpassed bodhi!

H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and the Auspicious Rainbow

HE Asanga Rinoche rainbow1

On the 27th of April, when H.E. Asanga Rinpoche was on the rooftop of his residence in Manali preparing for the Guru Yoga Puja for the 29th of April, Rinpoche was looking at the text. Then, as if knowingly, he suddenly looked up at the sky and said: now let's look up and see what's there. And when everyone looked up, they all saw a circular rainbow above them. Rinpoche said that he knew there would be something special because usually when doing things in relation to H.H.Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche, such as making offerings on his parinirvana, or even preparing for such occasions, such things occur.

HE Asanga Rinoche rainbow2

 

H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche Bestows the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada Teachings

By Kirsten Throneberry

 

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On February 5th, 2017 the Sakya family, ordained sangha, and Sakya Monastery members were overjoyed to welcome His Eminence Khondung Avikrita Vajra Sakya Rinpoche and His Eminence Khondung Abhaya Vajra Sakya Rinpoche back to Seattle. The Dhungseys were warmly greeted by Her Eminence Dagyum Kusho, their paternal grandmother, and wife of our precious guru the late His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang as well as their parents H.E. Zaya Vajra Sakya Rinpoche and Dagmo Lhanze Youden. Traveling with the Dhungseys were their teachers.

It has become a much-anticipated tradition for the Dhungseys to visit Seattle during their university’s winter recess. Both are attending Dzongsar Institute in Bir, India where they are engaged in rigorous studies of the varying aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. Even though the visit took place during their break, the Dhungseys, as usual (and in true bodhisattva fashion) gave tirelessly of themselves in order to bring benefit to others.

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On February 12th H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche arrived at the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism an hour before the scheduled Sunday Chenrezig practice in order to spend time with the youngest members of the Monastery. Children from the Sunday Dharma School spent time with both of the Dhungseys in a relaxed environment talking and working together to create origami. On the same day, after Chenrezig practice, Avikrita Rinpoche offered a refuge ceremony.

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A few days later, H.E. Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche bestowed the initiations of the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada over a three-day period, starting on February 18th and lasting through the 20th. The teachings began with a preliminary teaching given by H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, which focused on the importance of creating the proper state of mind before taking part in the initiations (or any similar Vajrayana practices).

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Abhaya Rinpoche reminded us that as Vajrayana practitioners, we must consider the suffering not only of ourselves and those we love, but of all sentient beings. He reminded those present that the Mahayana is called the “greater vehicle” because it asks its practitioners to consider the greater goal of enlightenment for all, rather than the liberation of just oneself.

He explained that although all beings are good by their nature and hold within themselves the seed to become enlightened, not all will have beneficial circumstances in which to practice the Dharma. Many experience obstacles that prevent their spiritual development including; bad habits/defilements, negative associations which lead away from the path, deprivation or being led from the Dharma, and/or being oppressed so that they cannot access the Dharma.  For others, they won’t even have had the great good fortune to attain a human birth. Even for those who have had the good fortune of a human birth, there are many who do not understand the laws of karma, the true nature of impermanence, or the reality of the pervasive suffering of samsara.

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Abhaya Rinpoche’s reminders helped elucidate the great opportunity that lay before those present. His Eminence explained that Shakyamuni Buddha taught that purification is the result of one’s conduct, not one’s birth.  Therefore, we must nurture our inner goodness and recognize the need to work to overcome defilements rather than feed them and make them stronger. He counseled those present to develop a sense of urgency about releasing oneself and others from samsara, noting that in every single moment there lies the opportunity to practice the Dharma for the sake of all beings.
 
After H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche’s preliminary teachings, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche began the instruction on the practice of Marici (the Goddess of Dawn) the first of the Six Vajrasanapada practices. He explained that these practices comprise a rare set of teachings within the Sakya traditions and were brought to Tibet by the great translator Bari Lotsawa, who later gave them to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (the first of the five founders of the Sakya tradition).

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Avikrita Rinpoche shared that the Marici practice was used with great results by many Sakya masters for centuries, and has offered vital protection on the path. He also expressed dismay over the fact that such a singularly effective method for pacifying outer obstacles isn’t more well-known and strongly hopes for its revival within the Sakya tradition.
 
Avikrita Rinpoche reminded us that, although in samsara, it is possible to experience occasional moments of happiness—these moments are fleeting and impermanent by their very nature. Whereas, Arya Marici represents true, unrelenting bliss. He shared that the introduction of Marici to the world, came from Shakyamuni Buddha himself and can offer profound help by removing outer obstacles as well as discordant emotions such as anxiety, stress, fear, and anguish. Avikrita Rinpoche said that even just by knowing her name, one’s problems could be pacified.

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However, he cautioned those present that the key to success while engaging in her practice (as well as all Vajrayana practices) is the cultivation of true bodhicitta. In contrast, when we only think of our own benefit, or the benefit of those we love, we will not be able to unlock the power or blessings of such practices.
 
The second initiation bestowed by Avikrita Rinpoche was of Blue Acala (also known as the Immovable One) in the kneeling form. Avikrita Rinpoche shared that Bari Lotsawa told Sachen Kunga Nyingpo that he needed wisdom to succeed in his spiritual endeavors and said the best way to cultivate such wisdom was through Acala’s practice (a profound endorsement of this practice indeed). Consequently, this practice was used by the Sachen Kunga Nyingpo to overcome obstructions during his first retreat. Blue Acala, he said, is the foremost in defeating Mara (the archetypal force of negativity) and offers profound efficacy in clearing away inner obstacles. By reciting daily just one mala of his mantras, one can overcome the most series degradations.

At the start of the second day of the Vajrasanapada teachings Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche, gave teachings on the Long-Life Buddha at the Bodhi Tree practice. The Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya India was where Shakyamuni Buddha manifested perfect enlightenment and his blessings, streaming through this unbroken lineage, remain available to practitioners today.  

Avikrita Rinpoche began this part of the teaching by sharing that he is often asked what the idea of the Buddha actually means. He explained that in Tibet, the word for Buddha is Sang-gye. The first syllable of the word means to purify all that needs to be purified. Whereas the syllable ‘ye’ means to develop all that needs to be developed. Therefore the Buddha, he said, is ‘one who possesses the two kayas, or wisdoms.’ The first of which is the Dharmakaya—primordial purity—an expression of clarity and voidness as inseparable.  The second is the Rupakaya and has two aspects, the Sambhogakaya—an expression of the complete enjoyment body arising through immense accumulated merit, and the Nirmanakaya—an emanation body that arises in Samsara to help ripen and liberate wandering beings.

Avikrita Rinpoche also emphasized that specific manifestations of the Buddha’s energy, i.e. wrathful, female, male and so on, should not be regarded as different in nature (less than or greater than). The variety of manifestations have to do with our disposition rather than the actual nature of that enlightened energy. He also cautioned that we should not view the Buddha as our omnipotent god but rather we should correctly see him as our teacher. And although he can point the way, we must walk the path.

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The fourth initiation/teaching given by Avikrita Rinpoche was on Buddhalocana (the Goddess of the Buddha’s eyes). Her practice is considered to have profound healing power. He acknowledged that for some in the West, there might be feelings of skepticism about the ability of a mantra or meditative practice to heal disease. However, he reminded those present that there are different kinds of medicines, some that tend to the outer issues (or the physical) and some that address the inner issues (the mind). He explained that is important to keep in mind that even though they may appear unrelated, outer afflictions are in fact expressions of inner afflictions. Which is why it’s so important to get at the root issues of each illness. He cautioned that the aim of such healing practices is not to look for a panacea but rather to create conditions in which one can live long enough and well enough to be of help to others.
 
The fifth initiation given during the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada teachings was on the Three and a Half Syllable Avalokita mantra, a practice to help in the development of undisturbed sleep as well as cultivating peace, longevity, and healing. When speaking of the importance of Avalokiteshvara, Avikrita Rinpoche immediately referenced his precious grandfather, the founder of the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Seattle, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang. He shared that at the last meeting between his grandfather and H.H. Sakya Trizin, he carefully studied the interaction and exchanges made by these extraordinarily precious teachers. One of the things that struck him most deeply (while witnessing the beautiful and special way that they interact with one another) was when his grandfather shared that one of the things he was most grateful for in his life was having been able to introduce so many beings to Chenrezig.  Avikrita Rinpoche explained that this is why it is so important that here, in Seattle specifically, we keep this mandala.

Avikrita Rinpoche explained that Chenrezig remained H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang’s primary practice to his very last day before entering parinirvana and it also remains the main practice of the Sakya Monastery.

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On the final day of the teachings Avikrita Rinpoche  bestowed the last of the six sacred Vajrasanapada practices, Trisamayavyuha or the Buddha Establishing the Three Vows. This practice allows initiates to purify negativities that might otherwise hinder spiritual practice or the ability to maintain vows. He explained that six deities comprise the essence of practice—six aspects that we need to focus on when mediating and practicing sadhanas.  We should also keep in mind that the tutelary deity is the sum of these six deities.

He emphasized that it might feel overwhelming at times, working with the gross mind to gain wisdom, but he encouraged his students not to give up. He said that if we just apply ourselves even a little, it can cause profound effects which lead us ever closer to our Buddha nature.

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Following this final initiation, Avikrita Rinpoche bestowed (to those who were able to attend all six initiations) a special transmission and instructions for all of the practices. This was followed by a long-life mandala offering for Avikrita Rinpoche in gratitude for the profound and rare Vajrasanapada initiations that he gave with such great compassion and clarity.

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Only a few days after the completion of this retreat, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche performed a special Sakya version of the Mahakala puja on February 25th. Mahakala is the protector deity of the Sakya Monastery and although those without his initiation are typically unable to attend his practice, on this special occasion they were allowed to be present.

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On the following day, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche gave a Chenrezig initiation, the very expression of the quintessence of the Buddha’s compassion. The children of the Dharma School were invited as his special guests for this initiation, where he expounded on the importance of developing bodhicitta for the sake of all beings. The initiation was followed by a farewell potluck for the Dhungseys who returned to India (and their studies) on the 1st of March.

As students of the Buddha Dharma, we might be inclined to fantasize about what it might have been like to be in the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha over 2500 years ago, marveling at the great good fortune of those who gathered around him to directly receive the benefits of his unparalleled teachings and blessings. However, we should also marvel at our own great good fortune, our ability to gather around those who (through an unbroken lineage) allow us to have continued access to the Buddha’s profound blessings and instruction. We might mistakenly think that because this access if available now, the same circumstance will always exist. However, as the Buddha so eloquently taught, impermanence is an inherent part of existence and therefore we never know when our life will end or when our access to such teachings and teachers might be interrupted.
 
With this in mind, we can deepen our appreciation of not only our precious gurus, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang and H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, but of all of those of the Sakya lineage (and all ordained sangha) who have given so tirelessly of themselves that we might have this precious opportunity to liberate ourselves and others from the relentless suffering of samsara. It is truly impossible to conceive of, or show gratitude equal to, the efforts that have been made on our behalf but we do have something to offer in return—the cultivation of bodhicitta and our determination to practice with great dedication and devotion until we finally become like those who’ve shown us such boundless compassion.

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