Sakya’s Phuntsok Phodrang Welcomes Karmapa to Seattle Monastery
(May 9, 2015 – Seattle, Washington) Maintaining a relationship of multiple lifetimes, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa paid a visit today to the Sakya Monastery of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, the current throne holder of Phuntsok Phodrang, also commonly known as Dagchen Rinpoche. During his time at the monastery, the 17th Karmapa held a private meeting with Dagchen Rinpoche, Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya and their family, and then gave a Tara transmission to the entire Sakya community.
The welcome address was delivered by Dagmo Kusho Sakya, the wife of Dagchen Rinpoche and herself an eminent teacher in the lineage. Dagmo Kusho outlined the exceptionally close bonds between the lamas of the Phuntsok Phodrang and the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa. (Along with Drolma Phodrang headed by the current Sakya Trizin, Phuntsok Phodrang is one of the two surviving branches of the Khon family that have upheld the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism for nearly one thousand years. The heads of the two phodrangs have historically alternated in heading the Sakya lineage and serving as Sakya Trizin, or throneholder of the Sakya school.)
As Dagmo Kusho Sakya noted, Dagchen Rinpoche and the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa shared the experience of making an extended visit to Beijing in the company of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from 1954 to 1955. She explained that her own uncle His Eminence Dezhung Rinpoche had had a close connection with the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa from childhood, and traveled from Seattle to be with him when the 16th Karmapa visited North America in the 1970s and 1980. Describing the visit of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to Sakya Monastery as an indication of auspicious connection and pure samaya, she then proceeded to offer a mandala to His Holiness the Karmapa.
“I am delighted and feel very fortunate to be able to connect in this way with Phuntsok Phodrang, to meet with the great master, the glorious Sakya Dagchen along with his family and retinue, and to visit Sakya Monastery of Seattle,” the 17th Karmapa said. “It gives a boost to my spirit to be able to come to see you all.”
Following on the comments by Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho, the Karmapa too reviewed the extensive history linking successive Karmapa reincarnations and the Sakya lineage, saying he himself had heard a great deal about the closeness of the Dharma connections as well as the personal friendships between the 16th Karmapa and Phuntsok Phodrang. The Karmapa expressed his own aspiration for the unified spirit and pure samaya initiated in the past to continue and intensify life after life, generation after generation.
He explained that when Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche and Dezhung Rinpoche first arrived in the United States, Tibetan Buddhism was virtually unknown. The two were among the very Tibetan lamas to establish a base in the West, arriving in 1960. Despite the unfamiliarity of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa said, they were able to establish a stable community and serve as a vibrant source of teachings to the people of America. The 17th Karmapa described Sakya Monastery today as a strong bastion of Tibetan Buddhism in the West and an example to be followed by others. He concluded expressing his prayers for the long and stable life of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.
As part of his transmission of Tara practice to the community, His Holiness proposed reciting the praises to the 21 Taras together, and himself led the chant using a tune he himself had composed. He asked that the merit of reciting the Tara praises be dedicates to the long life and flourishing of the activities of His Holiness Jidgal Sakya and all his family members.
To conclude, the Sakya community together recited the supplication for the long life of the 17th Karmapa, which the monastery had printed and distributed beforehand to the audience along with a photo of the Karmapa. As His Holiness prepared to depart, a leader of the community quickly took the microphone and asked permission for the audience to thank him in Tibetan, which they all did, calling out in unison, “Thuk je che!”
As he departed, a brilliant sun glinted off his vehicle as it pulled away from the curb, leaving out of town visitors wondering whether Seattle’s reputation as a constantly overcast city might be overstated. Earlier that morning, shortly before His Holiness’ arrival at Sakya Monastery, a rainbow encircling the sun had been clearly visible to those gathered to receive the Karmapa at Sakya Monastery. This was the latest in the repeated appearances of rainbows during this tour, on the East Coast of the continent, in the Midwest and now on the West Coast.
Photography by Lama Sam. View a video documenting the visit here.