New Years Long Life Ceremony for His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche
By Adrienne Chan
The Tibetan astrological calendar is based on a twelve year animal cycle: mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog and boar. The Chinese lunar calendar recognizes similar twelve animal years.
According to Tibetan culture, a female will experience obstacles on her specific birth year and the year following it. On the other hand, for a man obstacles are experienced on his birth year and the year before it.
Year 2013 represents the year of the Snake. Since His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (Dagchen Rinpoche) was born in the year of the Snake, his obstacle years are 2012 and 2013. Thus, last year many special prayers were recited to help remove obstacles and extend the long life of our beloved Head Lama. Last year the following Long Life Prayer services and Tenshug ceremonies were sponsored in Seattle: January 1, 2012-- patron:Ven. Migyur Rinpoche; April 10, 2012 Gyap-shi Puja-- patron: Sakya Monastery; and June 1- 2, 2012 prayers & Tenshug-- patron:Tho Lu. During Dagchen Rinpoche’s October to mid-December 2012 Asian teaching tour, prayers and tenshug ceremonies were also offered to him. There were 5 tenshugs offered in Taiwan, 3 in Hong Kong and 7 in India. The largest tenshug was held at Dzongsar Chokyi Lodro College,India—thousands of monks and lay persons were in attendance. (for details on the various 2012 prayers and tenshug ceremonies, view the “2012 Sakya Monastery Chronicles” online).
Before Dagchen Rinpoche embarked on his 2012 Asian tour, Ven. Tulku Yeshi consulted the Tibetan Astrological calendar and determined that January 6-8, 2013 would be auspicious days for Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life prayers and a tenshug ceremony to be held in Seattle. Gillian Teichert, Tho Luu and Adrienne Chan were honored to sponsor that event.
The January 6 & 7 Long Life religious prayer services for Dagchen Rinpoche were especially exciting, for along with our resident lamas (Khenpo Jampa, Tulku Yeshi, Lama Migmar), Dagchen Rinpoche’s grandsons H.E. Avi Rinpoche, H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche and their teachers Yongzing Tashi Nyima and Yongzing Kungsang (all who reside in India) and grandson H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and his attendant monk Tashi Tenzin (both who reside in Nepal) participated in the services. On those days the Monastery was permeated with the sounds of spiritual chanting, horns, cymbals, large drums, bells, hand drums, etc. Joining the religious ensemble were Jetsun Chime Gyatso, Dagmo Kusho, Magnthu Gyatso, and other Monastery members.
The January 8th Tenshug event was even more memorable, as all of Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho’s sons (Minzu Rinpoche, Ani Rinpoche, Mati Rinpoche, Zaya Rinpoche, Sadu Rinpoche), all of their grandsons (Ananda Rinpoche, Avikrita Rinpoche, Abhaya Rinpoche, Asanga Rinpoche), 5 of their grandughters (Jetsumas), 2 of Dagchen Rinpoche’s sisters (Jetsumas) and all of their sons’ wives or Dagmos were in attendance. Specifically, Minzu Rinpoche and his wife, Dagmo Carol flew in from California. Ananda Rinpoche flew in from Vietnam.
Highlights of the Tenshug ceremony included Ven. Khenpo Jampa leading the service;
Ven. Tulku Yeshi Gyatso sharing a brief biography of H.H. JD Sakya;
HE Avikrita Rinpoche describing the complete 37 mandala offering; H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche reciting an explanation of the Body, Speech & Mind offering; HE Asanga Rinpoche requesting to H.H. JD Sakya that he live long; and H.H. JD Sakya’s response that he would live as long as he could teach. We were all ecstatic to hear that H.H. JD Sakya and the Sakya teaching would long endure!
The ceremony continued with the 7 and 8 auspicious offerings by Jetsuma & Dagmos.
Mandala offerings were then offered to Dagchen Rinpoche from the following groups: Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang, Sakya Monastery, Tibetan Association of Washington,
Sakya Heritage Foundation, Children’s Dharma School, Vietnam Sakya Center, Virupa Educational Institute, Earth Sanctuary, Nalanda Institure of Olympia, Tingkhye family, Gaga family, and Kunga Tseten from New York.
After the mandala offerings, a good wishes letter honoring H.H. JD Sakya from Khenpo Kalsang of Sakya Tsechen Kunchab Ling, NY, was read to the sangha.
Also on that special day, Dagchen Rinpoche’s two new great-grandson (3 month old twins: Dhungsey Nyima, Dhungsey Dawa) were also introduced. They are the sons of Ananda Rinpoche and Amanda.
The holy day concluded with a delicious lunch followed by traditional Khampa dancing and Tibetan songs. We merrily celebrated the Long Life of H. H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.
Entryway to the Dharma - Downloadable Translation
By Dr. Jeffrey Schoening
Entryway to the Dharma (PDF) introduces the reader to the Buddha's teachings. The text was written by the second Sakya founding lama, son of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Precious Teaching Master Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), in 1167/1168 CE. The text combines the author's concise prose with many quotations from Indian Buddhist sutras and treatises. Here is presented a translation of the first half of the text. The translation includes explanatory footnotes and endnotes concerning the texts being quoted.
The second pdf document contains a Glossary and a List of Names (PDF). The Glossary entries are bolded the first time they appear in the translation. The List of Names includes Quoted Texts, People, and Places. After each entry, its location in the text is given by using the Thematic Subdivision of the text; these Subdivisions are similar to a table of content and are found at the beginning of the text, before the translation.
The main body of the text has three general points introducing the Buddha Dharma and then five specific points explaining the practice of the Dharma and its history. The three general points concerning the Dharma are its Essential Nature, Purpose, and Divisions. The five specific points are Dharma, Spiritual Friend, Hearing (i.e. study), Benefits, and Removing Doubts. The last point, Removing Doubts, has four parts and makes up the bulk of the treatise. These are the four questions addressed by the four points, respectively: How are beings freed from suffering? Does this path have faults? Who teaches this path? How was it transmitted?
The translation concludes with the awakening of the Buddha through his defeat of Mara.
The translation of the section on the Teacher benefited from the suggestions made by Jeffrey Bennett, Tom Linder, and William Sternhagen in my Classical Literary Tibetan class.
His Eminence Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche Gives First Teachings in Taiwan and Hong Kong
By Kristine Honda and Beth Johansen
His Eminence Khöndung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche blessed the community of Buddha Dharma practitioners on his first visit to Taiwan and Hong Kong in the winter of 2012. This article will be brief and provides additional information that was not included previously in the Sakya Monastery Newsletter article entitled “H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya’s Trip to Asia.”
H.E. Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche felt very honored and privileged to be invited by his grandparents, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche and Her Eminence Dagmo Kushok la to join them along with other family members on their first trip together to Asia in October of 2012. While in Taipei, Taiwan, H.E. Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche gave the Medicine Buddha Initiation and Teachings to a large congregation of devout students. The event was organized by Lama Tashi Rinpoche and Soyang Chen at a large hall. From all accounts, this empowerment was very well received and a rousing success on many levels.
Due to the success of the Medicine Buddha Initiation and Teachings Asanga Rinpoche gave in Taipei, he was asked repeatedly requested by H.E. Chimed Dorje Rinpoche (a Kagyupa lama) and others to grant the same initiation in Taichung, Taiwan. Before Asanga Vajra Rinpoche arrived into Taiwan, this initiation was neither planned for, nor on the agenda. However, with the blessing and approval of his grandfather, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche agreed to do so. Like in Taipei, the Medicine Buddha Initiation was also very well received and all those in attendance were very impressed and felt fortunate to receive this sacred empowerment from someone only 13 years old and a Sakya lineage holder.
While also in Taichung, Taiwan, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche also headed a Mahakala Puja at the special request of H.E. Kathog Rigzin Chenpo at his monastery. As Asanga Rinpoche has performed many fire pujas in Nepal and India, this he happily and graciously granted since Kathog Rigzin Chenpo is a Nyingmapa lama with close connections to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmo Kushok la.
In Hong Kong, H.E. Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche gave a Amitayus-Hayagriva combination long-life Initiation and a comprehensive teaching and instructions on the practice of the deities to a packed hall. Amitayus is the Buddha of Long-life and Hayagriva is the wrathful deity who protects against obstacles and misfortune. This event was attended by over a 1,000 devout students and practitioners. Among the many attendees were Pewar Tulku Rinpoche and Alak Zenkar Rinpoche from Tibet along with a group of Tibetan monks. Assisting Asanga Rinpoche were Lama Tashi Rinpoche and Asanga Rinpoche’s private tutor Gen Ngawang Rigdrol la. As Asanga Rinpoche is fluent in both Tibetan and English, he spoke Tibetan within the initiation and gave translation and instructions in English which was then translated into Chinese making it easy for the sangha members to understand. Everyone came away feeling inspired by his teachings as well as his kind, calm, and humble nature as he bestowed the initiation with both grace and poise. This initiation was on the schedule and was also very well received and helped create and build, especially in the young minds and hearts of Chinese children in Hong Kong, the way and practice of the Buddha Dharma.
While also in Hong Kong, due to the obvious presence, bearing and accomplishments Asanga Rinpoche displayed to all those who came into contact with him, many Chinese Buddhist practitioners came unannounced to Asanga Rinpoche’s hotel room to ask for special blessings and protections which he could not refuse and graciously granted whenever there was time available. Many, especially those members of the Sakya Tsechen Phuntsog Chöling, requested that due to their newfound faith they all have in Asanga Rinpoche, he return soon in the future to give more teachings and blessings.
All in all, it was obvious that Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche made quite a positive impression on all those in both Taiwan and Hong Kong. He gave concise, clear Buddhist teachings and empowerments both in Tibetan and in English. He also spoke to many in Mandarin Chinese also although he feels he is not as proficient as he would like to be. All those in attendance found him amazing, inspiring and very beneficial, especially for someone only 13 years old. Many also requested that Asanga Rinpoche return soon to both Taiwan and Hong Kong so that he may help keep the Buddha Dharma alive, well and prosperous.
On a final note, after the visit to Taiwan and Hong Kong, while in India, the family was also able to go and stay at Asanga Vajra Rinpoche’s maternal grandfather, the unparalleled master His Eminence Garje Khamtul Rinpoche’s monastery in Dharamsala by the name of Lhundrub Chime Gatsal Ling. This was the first time H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche had been able to visit it since its opening ceremony in 2009. H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche stayed in a room especially and permanently reserved for Asanga Rinpoche which had been granted to him by H.E. Khamtul Rinpoche.
Long Live the Buddha Dharma!
Long Live the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism!
Long Live H.E. Khöndung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche!
H.H. Jigdal Dachen Sakya's Trip to Asia
"Tashi Deleg" & "Greetings"!
Hello to all of you! This is an informal personal article written by myself, Zaya Rinpoche (4th son of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche), to inform interested readers on how and what transpired during the most recent trip overseas by H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche of the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang. This article is just a simple insight into what I experienced while overseas on a Far East Trip as I accompanied my parents H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche & H.E. Dagmo Kusho. My main purpose was to monitor & manage the health of my Noble Father and offer any other services which presented themselves such as translating simple Mandarin Chinese into Tibetan or English, ticket procurement, scheduling, personal requests and baggage handling. Granted, several instances I had much assistance and quite honestly, the timely assistance by Tulku Yeshe & Khenpo Jampa was always welcome.
Accompanying His Holiness on the early stage of this Far East trip was Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho, H.E. Dhungsey Asanga Vajra Rinpoche & Tulku Yeshe. I flew earlier by myself to Delhi to pick up my youngest son, H.E Dhungsey Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche, and we both joined the group when everyone landed in Taiwan. H.E. Dhungsey Mati Vajra Rinpoche flew into Taiwan and joined our entourage later remaining with us throughout Hong Kong and part of our stay in India. H.E. Dhungsey Mati Rinpoche's main focus was to accompany H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and to overseas functions at the New Delhi Phodrang. Khenpo Jhampa flew by himself to India and awaited our arrival there joining our group along with H.E. Dhungsey Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche who was attending Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's teaching just after participating in the Dzongsar Monlam in Bodhgaya.
Our memorable Far East Trek began in the first country "Beautiful" Taiwan - filled with many precious moments and lasting memories words simply cannot convey the experience of our time there. The constant flash of picture taking and jockeying for the ideal snapshot kept ones eyes reeling from the initial impact upon our momentous arrival at Taiwan's International Airport. Many familiar & new smiling faces greeted us and elaborate offerings of flower bouquets and Khatas were offered ushering us in with a pomp and splendor afforded Dharma Royalty.
Our first host group was headed by Lama Tashi & Chen Sheh Fan from the Tsechen Dekyi Choling Center (Sakya Sect). They sponsored our lodgings at the Regent Hotel in Taipei for one week. During this time, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche was welcomed & offered the Long Life Mandala at their Center in Shinten. Everyday the schedule was filled with activities and H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche led events such as the Initiation of the Vajrakila Protectors Gauri and Marajita, the Prajnaparamita Obstacle-repelling Puja, Thangtong Gyalpo Long Life Initiation, the Initiation of the Yugu Chesum-ma (the special Sakyapa Wealth Sisters) & the Lamzab (Profound Path) Guru Yoga Blessing. In between these memorable events, H.E. Dhungsey Abhaya Rinpoche gave a Dharma Speech which was an informal insight into his personal life as a Dhungsey Rabjung (Ordained Monk of the Khon Dynasty) and vegetarianism. H.E. Dhungsey Asanga Vajra Rinpoche gave the Medicine Buddha Initiation, both of which can be viewed on Youtube. We also visited Sakya Centers in Tien Mou (Lama Ri Sengge-la) which is a Ngorpa Center founded by H.E. Ngor Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, performing the Vajrapani Bhutadamara Initiation. We then visited the Sakya Tharig Center in Taipei, where H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche bestowed the Red Dzambala Initiation and where the president of the center offered Dagmola a lovely necklace signifying our mutual bond. In addition, we visited the Karma Kagyu Center where H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche granted the Kurukulle Initiation & Dagmola gave a White Tara Initiation.
From Taipei, we traveled to Taichung where our second host group in Taiwan headed by Chimed Dorje Rinpoche (Kagyupa Sect) welcomed us and their kindness and generosity were only matched by their fierce devotion and sincere faith in H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. Being the second time I visited these specific Centers in Taichung, many fond memories and new & old acquaintances were found. In Taichung, Chimed Dorje Rinpoche kindly afforded us the entire 7th floor of the Fallon Hotel and the view and food were fantastic. H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche bestowed the Medicine Buddha & Kurukulle Initiations and Dagmola performed the Green Tara Initiation. On the last day, lungs (oral transmissions) for Phowa (transference) and Chod (severance) were also given there and many loyal Dharma students came to participate.
While still in Taichung, we were welcomed by with our third host group led by Kathog Rigzin Chenpo's Monastery (Nyingmapa Sect) where H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche performed the Red Dzambala Initiation (Union) & Vajrayogini Blessing. We stayed at Kathog Rigzin Chenpo's residence and this was the only location in Taiwan actually resembling a Tibetan Monastery. For his age he is quite knowledgeable beyond his years. He is extremely devoted to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and as others, has read in length much of who H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche truly is, which makes me feel more appreciative of the fact that I am one of his sons and have access to him so readily. Kathog Rigzin Chenpo's Monastery is enormous and has a Chorten (Stupa) in the back and a labyrinth of rooms within the Monastery as the layout was complex. The cuisine afforded us there was all unique & customized for H.H.'s special diet and much of the food was created by themselves, such as noodles & bread and, for the Dhungseys, there was always pizza available!
Our flight to Hong Kong was smooth and we were welcomed by a large group of people, a procession of Center Representatives and Followers of the Dharma Faith. The main host groups here were the Maha Sandhi Yoga Center and Sakya Tsechen Phuntsok Choling, which was opened by H.E. Dagmola. H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche gave the Guru Rinpoche Puja (Rigzin Duba Puja) at a large Buddhist school hall. This was rented by both the Maha Sandhi Yoga Center and the Sakya Tsechen Phuntsok Choling for many of the Dharma events and teachings during our visit. His Holiness also bestowed the Vajrakila Torma-Initiation of the Khon lineage, a Puja for World Peace, the Vajrayogini Blessing-Initiation & Red Dzambhala Initiation at the Maha Sandhi Yoga Center. At Sakya Tsechen Phuntsok Choling, His Holiness bestowed the Khon Lineage Vajrakilaya. .
Some of the benefactors of the Sakya Centre in New Delhi are the many students and Dharma followers overseas, such as members of the Maha Sandhi Yoga Center led by Dr. Lam, Edward Wong, William Wong and several other group members from Sakya Tsechen Phuntsok Choling led by Roland Yeung, and individual gracious benefactors such as Dr. Yeung and Yangche-ma. During our visit all these groups and individuals have been very supportive to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmola during their visits to the Far East. There were numerous people met on this trip which would encompass all the Tibetan Buddhists sects. Of these, I would like to note Pewar Tulku Rinpoche, who is a highly learned Rime Lama close to both H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche & H.E. Dagmola. Decades ago, going all the way back to Tibet, many precious teachings and vivid experiences were shared by them. Therefore whenever they meet it is always a time to reflect and reminisce of their time in Tibet. We also met the very learned Nyingmapa Master Alak Zenkar Rinpoche. Both Pewar Rinpoche and Zenkar Rinpoche share the special bond through samaya of being disciples of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche as well as H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche's own Gurus, Dzongsar Dorje Chang Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Dilgo Khyentse Dorje Chang Rabsal Dawa.
In India we mostly resided at the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang in New Delhi. H.E. Dhungsey Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche returned to Dzongsar to await our entourage, which included H.E. Dagmola, H.E. Dhungsey Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche, his cousin H.E. Dhungsey Asanga Vajra Rinpoche, Tulku Yeshe, Khenpo Jampa, Mrs. Wong, Jillian Teichert and the attendants. Immediately after, H.E. Dhungsey Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche left for Lumbini to represent the Phuntsok Phodrang for the Sakya Monlam for two weeks, joining H.H. Sakya Trizin & H.E. Dhungsey Ratna Vajra Rinpoche of the Sakya Dolma Phodrang. The Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang in New Delhi, India, is a place dear to my heart for many reasons. It was the site where my eldest son, H.E. Dhungsey Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche, studied at the age of 11 from 2004, until his entry into Dzongsar Institute in Chauntra in 2009. Currently, my younger son, H.E. Dhungsey Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche, resides there with around 45 monks and around 19 others which include staff, workers and teachers.
Although my time with my sons while I was in India was limited, the life of living in the Lama World requires extreme patience and flexibility, and I remind myself these times are precious just being with my Noble Father. Juggling a variety of emotions, H.E Dhungsey Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche stated so succinctly, "I am so blessed in that I have had the fortune of being in the presence of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, H.H. the Dalai Lama & H.H. Sakya Trizin all within days!". Having spent time with my Noble Father throughout Taiwan & Hong Kong and now India, paying my respects to H.H. the Dalai Lama, then having traveled to Dehradun to visit H.H. Sakya Trizin, likewise, I too was both blessed and quite humbled. These are rare moments in one's life that are to be clearly reflected upon. Events such as these stand out as extremely precious and I will always remember the blessings and unique fortune these experiences offered.
The road to Dharamsala was long and tiresome as our attempts to secure plane or train tickets proved unsuccessful. Anyway, the road to Khamtrul Rinpoche's Monastery was clear and the welcome there was most warm as we arrived for a three-night stay.
The visit to His Holiness the Dalai Lama was brief although the time spent going to and from the residence was filled with excitement and nervousness. We spent less then 10 minutes conversing with His Holiness and then a flurry of photos took place with our group. I distinctly recall when I was assisting my Noble Father walk to the outside area for the photo op while getting into position on the top of the stairs, I had my Noble Father's hand in mine. All of a sudden, His Holiness the Dalai Lama grabbed my hand, accidentally separating my hand from my Noble Father's, presuming my hand was my Noble Father's. I followed from behind the two of them, nervously thinking how to tactfully separate my hand from His Holiness's and then place my Noble Father's hand with His holy hand. For many moments, I was thrilled to have His Holiness hold my hand with such a tight grip and at that time, I was filled with both joy and a sense of awkwardness as I still did not know how to transfer my hand with my Noble Fathers! Eventually, as we stood at the top of the stairs for what seemed like a long time, I was successful in switching their hands. All in all, I was overjoyed as I had the opportunity and blessing of having held the hands of both His Holiness and my Noble Father.
The visit to Dzongsar Institute was truly memorable as we were hosted by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and the Venerable Khenpos of Dzongsar Institute met several other high Lamas, such as H.E. Ngor Thartse Khen Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche and representatives of the Central Tibetan Administration. During this time we celebrated H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche's Birthday and He bestowed several precious teachings. This is the site where H.E. Dhungsey Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche has been studying for three years with his close friend, Yangsi Kantsao Tulku. Yangsi is the reincarnation of Lama Kantsao who was a very close friend and student of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and they have a Center in Hong Kong. For the first teaching, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche bestowed the Vajrakila Torma-Initiation according to the Sakya Khon Lineage; on the second day, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche granted the Tsok Initiation of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) according to the transmission of Jamgon Mipham; and on the third day, a Long Life Ceremony (Tenshug) was held, concluding with traditional Tibetan performing arts exquisitely performed by local school children. For each event, thousands of faithful Tibetan, local and international disciples flocked to receive such sacred teachings and His Holiness's abundant blessings.
After the trip back to Delhi, we prepared for the momentous reunion with the Sakya Dolma Phodrang. His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, H.E. Dagmola, Gen Jamyang Gyaltsen, Khenpo Jampa & myself traveled by plane to Dehradhun and enjoyed three extremely exciting days in Rajpur with His Holiness the Sakya Trizin and Family, including H.E. Dhungse Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, H.E. Dhungse Gyana Vajra Rinpoche, H.E. Gyalyum Chenmo la, H.E. Dagmo Sonam la and 1 and a half year old Jetsun Ngawang Tsejin Lhamo.
There are many moments with H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche that nearly took my breath away. Although I've witnessed it numerous times before, His Holinesses' poise in front of thousands of people is captivating and astonishing. I find myself in awe of how one moment we are discussing simple daily life details like the weather, then immediately, I assist him walk to a Monastery filled with hundreds of people to offer an Initiation! The innate ability to switch His mindset from one to another is staggering and requires unfathomable concentration and a uniquely stable mind. This can only be the result of precious blessings & training of realized Masters and years of experience.
If I were to state that the experiences of this trip were simple and easy then I would not be honest. There were many days which were more difficult than others and I believe it is what I can learn from these precious moments that will better define my experience. It was at opportune times I would retreat, and in solitude reflect and focus on the correct motivation and most importantly, peaceful thoughts of loving kindness and compassion - which is what H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche's activities and this trip in particular are all about.
H.E. Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmo Kusho Sakya’s travels to Vietnam
First Sakya Lamas to visit Vietnam
By Kristine Honda and Kirsten Throneberry
In September of 2012, honoring a request made by Mr. Tho Luu, His Eminence Khӧndung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche and his paternal grandmother, Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya travelled from Seattle, Washington to Vietnam for nine days. Mr Tho Luu is a longtime dedicated student of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche and founder of the Center for Buddhist Studies (in the Sakya Tradition) located in Ho Chi Minh City. The center was built in order to fulfill a commitment to expand Tibetan Buddhism, and especially the Sakya tradition, in Vietnam in honor of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. Mr Tho Luu requested the blessing and consecration of this center as well as blessings at the groundbreaking ceremony of a crematorium and temple complex. As representatives of His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, H.E. Khöndung Asanga Rinpoche, and H.E. Dagmo Kusho Sakya travelled to Vietnam accompanied by Venerable Lama Tashi Rinpoche, head of the Sakya Tsechen Choling Center in Taiwan, Lama Migmar of Sakya Monastery, and Ms. Chen Shih Fang, President of Sakya Tsechen Choling Center.
On September 21st, Khöndung Asanga Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho la performed the consecration and blessing of the Sakya Buddhist Study Centre in Vietnam. On September 22nd, Asanga Rinpoche also bestowed a Medicine Buddha initiation in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City with about 200 people attending. The teaching took place in the private setting of a conference room inside a 4-star hotel (Vietnam is a State controlled country, all public gathering even for religious activities must have clearance from the State in advance, and attendees are limited in numbers).
The next day, the entourage travelled to the Phu Hoa Dong Hamlet, a subdivision of Ho Chi Minh City--an area that saw much bloodshed during the Vietnam War (CuChi tunnel) in which many Vietnamese from both sides as well as American Soldiers lost their lives. According to Dagmo Kusho la, before they entered the area a heavy feeling permeated the air. She and Asanga Rinpoche, Ananda Rinpoche, Lama Tashi, Lama Migmar and their entourage participated in a groundbreaking ceremony of the Long Tho Crematorium. This future site of a cremation complex reflects a Buddhist theme in architectural designs (Long Tho is the Vietnamese name of the Bodhisattva Nagarjuna). Event organizers invited Buddhist representatives from many parts of the world. Buddhist monks and high ranking members of the Vietnamese Sangha and local congregations of all traditions, as well as delegations from Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States were in attendance. State and high ranking members of the central government and local officials joined this event as well. Altogether there were over 1000 attendees.
The program included the history of the area and the importance of the land. Some very kind and generous Vietnamese donors offered to sponsor the event, some of them being the financiers and shareholders for the project. In addition, the government benevolently granted the land use right for the project and approval for the event to carry on in such a high profile manner which was covered by the local media network (state controlled). During the ceremony, each of the Mahayana, Hinayana, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhist monastics performed prayers to help benefit the deceased and the land. Asanga Rinpoche and the Sakya lamas personally performed a blessing for the land and a fire puja during the groundbreaking ceremony. During the fire puja, there was a downpour of rain that lasted for close to thirty minutes and in spite of this, the ceremonial fire burned very bright and strong! This created a feeling among many of the attendants that a miracle was being witnessed. Some even shared that they were able to see figures in the fire during the puja.
The following day, September 24th, Dagmo Kusho la bestowed a Green Tara initiation and teaching. Approximately 150 people gathered to receive this blessing and several attendees stated that they felt at one with their local deity (Vietnam has a tradition of reverence and worship for "Heavenly Mothers" in the local temples of the natives. In fact, there is a "Green Royal Mother" figure in the legend who rules the mountain, forestry, and highland culture ...she bestows blessing on followers for protection, wealth, and health).
The next day, the entourage travelled to the Suoi Tien Amusement Park NW of Ho Chi Minh City. It was a delightful and unique Buddhist themed amusement park that had rides, a zoo, many Buddhist statues, dragons, and a Buddhist shrine. There, Asanga Rinpoche performed a dedication for the temple and performed a large Vajrapani fire puja. The local sangha welcomed the group and participated in a joint session of praying and providing ceremonial offering to the Buddhas. Then the lamas performed the puja having Asanga Rinpoche preside as the Master in charge with Lama Tashi Rinpoche of Taiwan in assistance. Many attendees participated in the event and placed offerings of food ingredients in the fire along with names of their deceased loved ones. The event went well and saw a large crowd waiting late into the night for blessings.
On September 26th, the entourage visited the Pagoda and Retreat Center located near the Suoi Tien Amusement Park. Asanga Rinpoche and the lamas performed a blessing for the land as well as a consecration. Many villagers happily greeted them and Asanga Rinpoche also gave them his blessings. The site is planned to have a Maitreya complex, on a smaller scale of the Indian version, later development.
Dagmo Kusho la remarked, “It was a very successful trip for Buddha Dharma as well as the people in Vietnam. People were very receptive to the Buddhist teachings.” The Sakya Monastery is very grateful to Mr Tho Luu, Mrs. Hong Dang, students, and local donors who generously sponsored all the events, refreshments, and meals for all the attendees of the initiations.
During their stay, there were some private visits with high ranking Vietnamese dignitaries that went well with mutual respect, goodwill, and friendship.
Asanga Rinpoche, even though young, has earned people’s hearts, especially those of the Vietnamese who were able to come close to him. On his own merits as well as his spiritual performance on behalf of the Sakya tradition, Asanga Rinpoche left a good impression of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole (Vietnam is also rooted in the Mahayana as well Hinayana traditions of Buddhism for over a thousand years...). All those who have met and received Khöndung Asanga Rinpoche’s teachings and blessings have requested that he return soon to Vietnam to give more teachings and blessings and he hopes to fulfill their wishes. As the first Sakya Khön lineage holder lama to give Buddhist teachings in Vietnam, this connection will help to spread teachings of the Buddha Dharma and thus benefit all sentient beings, especially those in Vietnam.
His Eminence Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche Gives Teachings in California for the First time
By Beth Johansen, Kristine Honda, Allen Crouch, and Kirsten Throneberry
In July of 2012, His Eminence Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche travelled to Southern California in the company of his grandmother, Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho, his father His Eminence Khöndung Ani Rinpoche, sisters Jetsunma Aloki and Jetsunma Mamaki, his mother Dagmo Chimey Dolkar, cousin Jetsunma Thupcho, and longtime Sakya students Beth Johansen and Jeaneen Bauer.
During his time in sunny California, on August 1st, Asanga Rinpoche bestowed the Oral Transmission on the Aspiration of Samantabhadra, regarded as the King of Prayers, and gave teachings about it at the Tara Center, Dagmo Kusho’s center located in San Gabriel California.
The Sakya family was warmly received there by their hostess Maria Shaw and Jeffery Chung who manages Dagmo Kusho’s center. The mostly Chinese followers at this center were very pleased and impressed to have Asanga Rinpoche teach and give them blessings, especially for someone so young in age.
On August 5th, at the Tara Ling Center in Santa Barbara, Asanga Rinpoche gave a Teaching on the Significance and Meaning of Taking Refuge as well as bestowed the Oral Transmission of Manjushri and led the congregation through the sadhana practice. As a Sakya Khön Lineage Holder and an emanation of Manjushri, Chenrezi, and Vajrapani, giving this oral transmission was auspiciously appropriate and was a great blessing to the congregation of devout Buddhist students. During the California trip, H.E. Dagmo Kusho also bestowed a White Tara Initiation and gave teachings to her students in San Gabriel and Santa Barbara. The teachings in Santa Barbara were organized by Dagmo Kusho’s devoted student and leader of the Tara Ling Santa Barbara, Vidya Gaucci and the family was hosted by Joel and Joanne Shefflin who opened up their beautiful home to the entire Sakya family.
This was the first time Asanga Rinpoche gave teachings in California and the leaders and followers of both centers expressed a strong and sincere wish that he return to give more teachings in the near future.
Together with his family, Asanga Rinpoche visited Disneyland, Universal Studios, The Getty Villa and enjoyed the sunshine of beautiful Malibu beach where the family spent the remaining days of the California trip at the home of longtime friend of the Sakya family, Carol Moss. Carol graciously allowed the children (and adults young at heart!) to play at her beautiful beach front home for three glorious days. While in Los Angeles, Asanga Rinpoche was able to spend time with his uncle, His Eminence Khöndung Minzu Rinpoche and his wife, Dagmo Carol Hamilton at their home in the Beverly Hills where the family spent a lovely day enjoying a barbeque beside their pool. Asanga Rinpoche also played the piano for the family while family members joined him in song.
While Beth Johansen provided general support and help with day-to-day preparations, Jeaneen Bauer received the Sakya Family at the airport, drove the Sakya Family to every destination during their entire stay in sunny Southern California, and back to the airport in a large rented van which could seat 15 people. Having Beth and Jeaneen made the trip not only easy and efficient but fun and entertaining and the Sakya Family was most grateful for their many contributions and help.
As this was the first time H.E. Khöndung Asanga Vajra Rinpoche has given teachings in Southern California, those that received them have asked him to return soon to give more teachings and initiations as their faith and devotion has been strengthen due to his example, leadership and guidance, especially from someone so young in age, yet so accomplished.