Sogyal Rinpoche: The Nature of Mind

December 14th, 2015

H.E. Sogyal Rinpoche, a wonderful, self-effacing teacher held the packed Shrine Hall of Sakya Monastery with effortless grace and humor. A masterful storyteller, he kept the crowd enthralled for a couple of hours. He met H.E. Dagmo Kusho when he was five years old so the seed of connection with the Sakya family was planted early.  He was trained by H.E. Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (JKCL) and several masters. He humbly stated “I am neither learned nor realized” and “I am fortunate to have experienced compassion from many masters”. Of course, he proved the first quote to be an understatement and the second was evinced by his immense gratitude to his teachers.

As he warmed to the subject of his talk, Sogyal Rinpoche entertained and instructed us with his pithy aphorisms:
•    “Keep the elephant at home, look for footprints in the forest”
•    “Don’t talk, show me your presence, show me your eyes”
•    “Samasara is mind lost in stories and projections, Nirvana is the mind turned inwards”
•    “Body still, breath silent, spacious mind”
•    “Hang loose but stay present”
•    “Not outwardly looking, but inwardly seeking”
•    “Retreat, somewhere between kindergarten and a mental hospital”
•    My favorite, “Our eyes are turned in the wrong direction (meaning they look outwardly, not to the inside)”

He quoted H.E. JKCL several times throughout the evening, most importantly about meditation “Leave the mind unaltered”, a pure Dzogchen concept. After relating this quote to us he repeated the two following phrases three times each as the key to meditation:
•    “Do not alter”
•    “Do not grasp”

Sogyal Rinpoche was so gracious to his audience, during his talk, he noticed that people getting uncomfortable and asked people to stand up and stretch. He ended the evening by telling us straight out that to understand the Nature of Mind, the “secret is in the turning”. He quoted H.E. JKCL again, “Don’t be distracted, look into the nature of the mind”. We left the Shrine Hall “not outwardly looking but inwardly seeing”.

Teachers Meet to Support, Learn from Each Other at Sakya Monastery


Teachers gathered, from left: George Draffan, Guo Cheen, Bill Hirsch, Carmen Rumbaut, Khenpo Jampa Tenphel, Eve Pagano, Kilung Rinpoche, Tim Tapping, Polly Trout, Mark Winwood, Anita Feng, Steve Heck, Mark R. Jones and Ngakpa Tashi Paljor. Not pictured: Tulku Yeshi Gyatso.

On a rainy day in November, 15 teachers from various Theravada, Tibetan, Zen, and Pure Land lineages gathered at Seattle’s Sakya Monastery to get to know each other and to explore together the challenges of teaching dharma practice and leading organizations.

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Dharma Talk by H.E. Khondung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche

On Sunday, February 14, H.E. Khondung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche gave a brief talk before offering the Amitayus-Hayagriva Initiation. Listen and enjoy!

Listen to the streaming audio:

Or download it: Download the mp3

2016 Losar Message from H.E. Khondung Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche

On Tuesday, February 9, H.E. Khondung Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche gave a Losar (Tibetan New Year) message in both English and Tibetan. Watch and enjoy!

Watch the message in English:

Watch the message in Tibetan:

H.H. Sakya Trizin's Visit to Seattle (March 31 - April 4)


Because of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya's poor health, we have cancelled the Kalachakra Initiation scheduled to be given by H.H. Sakya Trizin on May 18. Instead, H.H. Sakya Trizin will be visiting Seattle earlier than planned. The current schedule for his visit is as follows:

Thursday, March 31
H.H. Sakya Trizin arrives at SeaTac Airport at 12:05 pm on Lufthansa flight #490.

Saturday, April 2
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM   Mahakala Puja
Lunch break: Noon - 2:00 pm

Everyone is welcome to come and bring offerings to Sakya Monastery and the lamas. People who have received the Sakya Mahakala Initiation may follow our sadhana. Those who have not received this initiation may stay and observe the Puja.

Sunday, April 3
10:00 - 11:00 AM   Dharma Talk: Chogyal Phagpa's "Advice of the Precious Jewel Garland"

To attend in person, register online by visiting: *** EVENT IS FULL, REGISTRATION IS CLOSED ***
To stream the event live for free, visit:

Monday, April 4
8:00 - 10:00 AM   Tenshug Ceremony and Long-life Prayers for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya
Requested by H.H. Sakya Trizin.

10:00 AM - Noon   Tenshug Ceremony and Long-life Prayers for H.H. Sakya Trizin
Requested by Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang and Sakya Monastery.

All are welcome to attend both Tenshug ceremonies and pray for the long life of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya and H.H. Sakya Trizin.

Green Tara Teaching by H.E. Dagmo Kusho

Dagmo Chimey Sakya, Translator.
Notes were taken by Laura Ellis.

October 22, 2015

Prior to the Green Tara initiation at Sakya Monastery in Seattle, H.E. Dagmo Kusho gave the following commentary:

The practice of Green Tara is very important because she is the mother of all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and all sentient being.  She is also the representation of one’s own mother.  Through her loving kindness and compassion she is accessible to all practitioners, just as one’s own mother is always there for her children.  In Tibetan Buddhism there are many deities, all with their own characteristics and powers: wealth, long life, healing and so on.  Each deity fulfills all the different needs of all the different sentient beings.  Tara is the mother of all beings and fulfills all wishes.  She is known for her swiftness in fulfilling wishes.  Through the non-dual aspect of method and wisdom she represents loving kindness to all beings.  When you practice Tara, she is known for her swiftness.  She will come to your aid without any bias or delay.  She fulfills all wishes of the practitioner.

The 21 manifestations of Tara are described in the 21 Praises of Tara.  When you recite the 21 Praises you will understand each form of Tara has different attributes.  Green Tara is the embodiment of all of the twenty one Taras combined.  

In Tibetan stories Green Tara was once a princess called Yishe Dawa .  She took an oath in the presence of Buddha Amogasiddhi to practice and liberate all beings from suffering.  She vowed to always be born as a female, even though she had the ability to be born as a male and others encouraged her to be born as a male.  She wanted to be born as a female who could liberate all beings and attain enlightenment.  Another story has it that Chenrezi had vowed to Amitaba to liberate all beings but no matter how many he liberated there were always more.  When Chenrezi wept, Tara emanated as a tear from his eyes.  Therefore there is a strong connection between Green Tara, Buddha Amitaba, and Chenrezi.  Tara is also regarded as the feminine aspect of Buddha Avalokiteshwara or Chenrezig.

Green Tara is a very powerful practice.  It helps remove the 8 Fears or the 8 Obscurations which reflect the external manifestations of our fears and their corresponding mental obscurations:
1.    Lion:  pride
2.    Elephant:  ignorance
3.    Fire:  hatred and anger
4.    Snake: envy
5.    Thieves: wrong views
6.    Imprisonment:  coveting and miserliness
7.    Floods:  attachment and desire
8.    Evil spirits:  doubts and suspicions
When we have these fears we pray to Tara and she swiftly protects us from these fears.

The Great Pandita Atisha visited Tibet and later in the holy place of Bodh Gaya he composed a prayer to the beginning of the 21 Praises of Tara.  He earnestly practiced Tara and recited the mantra and she appeared to him.  She asked him to go to Tibet to benefit the people and to protect Tibet.  Since then she is regarded as the protector of Tibet.  This initiation has come all the way from Atisha in an unbroken lineage.


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