Renowned Sakyapa Teacher His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche Dies
His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche, head of the Phuntsok Phodrang Lineage of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, passed away in the evening of 29 April in Seattle, Washington, at the age of 86.
His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya school, issued a statement earlier this week recommending members of the Tibetan Buddhist community perform prayers for the swift rebirth of Dagchen Rinpoche:
“Today, I share very sad news of the passing into Parinirvana of His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche of the glorious Phuntsok Phodrang family. After undergoing prolonged medical treatment when Rinpoche’s health did not improve, I had the opportunity to visit Rinpoche in Seattle a month ago. At that time, I offered Rinpoche a long life offering for his health and well being based on the text of Chimed Lama Shitro. Rinpoche expressed great pleasure and also his health improved significantly following this long life offering. However, on April 29, 2016, at approximately 8:15 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche passed away under very auspicious conditions. From the time of his passing, Rinpoche continues to remain in the unique state of thukdam meditation invoking great devotion in all upon viewing his holy body.”
HH the Sakya Trizin postponed a scheduled visit to Tibet House US in New York on Sunday in order to fly to Seattle. Dagchen Rinpoche was known to have been in very poor health since February.
The governing council of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala also expressed its condolences at the news. “On behalf of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Kashag would like to offer its profound condolences to the family and devotees of Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche,” said the council, known as the Kashag, in a statement. “We pray for his swift rebirth so that he can continue his noble teachings and Dharma activities for the benefit of all sentient beings.” (Central Tibetan Administration)
The council added that it would hold a prayer ceremony today and that the offices of the Tibetan government in exile would close for the day as a mark of respect.
Dagchen Rinpoche was born on 2 November 1929 into the Phuntsok branch of the Khön lineage of the Sakya school in southwestern Tibet, under the guidance of his father, His Holiness Trichen Ngawang Thutop Wangchuk (the 40th throne-holder of the Sakyapa), and other distinguished teachers. After extensive study and training in Tibet, Dagchen Rinpoche bestowed empowerments and teachings throughout East Tibet and established 17 Sakya colleges and 10 retreat centers in the region.
Dagchen Rinpoche and his family fled Tibet to India in 1959 before emigrating to the US in 1960. As the first senior master of the Sakyapa to live in the US, he taught and preserved Tibetan culture and religion from the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Seattle, and its precursor (which he co-founded in 1974). His was also involved in the foundation of Tibetan Buddhist communities in Bhutan, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Taiwan, and in Southeast Asia, and gave teachings at Buddhist centers around the world.
“Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche was incredible in the way he taught, by his unshakable pure presence and by always pointing out the truth of the infallible teachings of the Buddha. He truly transmitted the geniune Dharma. I am so grateful!” said Cydney Kawamura, a student of Rinpoche since 2000.
The Sakyapa is one of four major schools of Vajrayana Buddhism, along with the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug traditions. The name Sakya, meaning “pale earth,” is derived from the landscape of the Ponpori Hills in southern Tibet near Shigatse, where Sakya Monastery, the first monastery and seat of the tradition, was built by Khön Konchog Gyalpo (1034–1102) in 1073.
Kashag Condoles Demise of His Eminence Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche (Central Tibetan Administration)
Statement from His Holiness the Sakya Trizin (Lama Rinchen Gyaltsen Facebook)
His Holiness the Sakya Trizin (Homepage)
His Holinesss Jigdal Dhagchen Speech (Tibetan, YouTube)