Seattle Leader H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Bestows Lamdre Teachings in Nepal

Hevajra and consort Nairatmya

Hevajra and consort Nairatmya. (Click on the above image to see more accompanying photos)

The ground was moving, the statues swaying, everyone looking around in delighted bewilderment. It was the conclusion of the month-long Lamdre teachings and inside Tharlam Monastery in Boudhnath, Kathmandu, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya was leading a Mahakala puja.

When the lamas and monks began the Mahakala invocation with mantras and mudras, there was a low rumble and the earth began to shake. It was 3:30 pm on October 29th, 2007 and the earthquake measured 5.0 on the Richter scale. For the faithful, the earthquake was a clear sign that the Protector was pleased that the Lamdre had been transmitted to the next generation, ensuring the continuation of the 1300-year-old lineage.

Nine students from the Seattle area traveled to Nepal to receive the Lamdre teaching, two for the second time. All are students of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, leader of the Phuntsok Phodrang and the Khon Lineage of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of Seattle’s Sakya Monastery.

In accordance with Tibetan tradition, this Sakya Lamdre lineage transmission is passed from one generation to the next. Dhungsey Ani Rinpoche, the second son of Dagchen Rinpoche, requested this teaching on behalf of his son, Dhungsey Asanga Rinpoche who is eight years old. Dagchen Rinpoche chose Nepal for the second time as the site to bestow the Lamdre due to its auspicious excellence as a holy land. There are many sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal, namely the birth place of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. Over 2000 lamas, tulkus, khenpos, monks, nuns and lay people were present at the teaching in Nepal. Many monks, who had been waiting a lifetime to receive this extraordinary teaching, came from Tibet and risked their lives crossing the Himalayas just to see Dagchen Rinpoche and receive the teaching. Students from all over the world made their way to Boudhnath from South Africa, Europe, America, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, India and Nepal.

Lam Dre or Lamdre (Tibetan, lam-'bras ) is the central Sakya teaching meaning, literally, Path and Its Fruit. In other words, what we experience on the path actually amounts to the goal, as enlightenment itself. Based on the Hevajra tantra as a complete path to enlightenment, Lamdre is the transmission of both exoteric (sutrayana) and esoteric (tantrayana) teachings by an officially recognized lineage holder. Within each generation there are only a handful of lineage holders. Hevajra and related practices are so effective it is said that a person of even average capacity can reach liberation in 16 lifetimes.

Lamdre was revealed to the Indian Buddhist master Virupa in the 7th century by the yogini Nairãtmyã and was handed down from teacher to disciple (and later from father to son) in a lineage that reached Tibet in the 10th century and is a specialty of the Sakya Order.

Born in 1929 in Sakya, Tibet, Dagchen Rinpoche received the Sakya Lamdre Tsogshe transmission and other Sakya teachings from his father, H.H. Trichen Ngawang Thutop Wanchuk, the last Great Sakya Throne-Holder in Tibet. Following the passing of his father, he traveled to East Tibet to study in depth with two of this century’s greatest masters, Sakya Dzongsar Khyentse Jamyang Chokyi Lodro and Nyingma Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. During this time Dagchen Rinpoche bestowed numerous empowerments and teachings throughout East Tibet and established 17 Sakya colleges and 10 retreat centers in the region. In 1959 after the invasion of Tibet by the Communist Chinese, Dagchen Rinpoche fled with his family to India.

Dagchen Rinpoche and family members came to America in 1960 on a Rockefeller Research Grant at the University of Washington in Seattle. After he finished his work at the University of Washington, the Sakya family founded a Dharma center. The center is now called Sakya Monastery and is located in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.

Dagchen Rinpoche has bestowed the Lamdre teaching four times previously: at Sakya Monastery, Sakya, Tibet, in 1951; in East Tibet at Minyak Pal Lhagang Monastery in 1955; at Tharlam Monastery, Boudhanath, Nepal in 1990; and at Ghoom Monastery in Darjeeling, India in 1999. This most recent Lamdre transmission in Boudhanath was significant in that the unbroken lineage was passed to Dagchen Rinpoche’s grandsons, Dhungsey Avi Kritar Rinpoche and Dhungsey Asanga Rinpoche. As lamas in training, these young lineage holders will bestow great benefits to people and other beings when they transmit the Lamdre.

Contributor: Laura Ellis
Photos: Courtesy of Golden Lotus Arts. No reproduction permitted.