The 1980s: Sakya Monastery

In 1984, Sakya Tegchen Choling had outgrown its three previous homes: the Center in a house on Ward Street, followed by the Center on Burke Street and the Center in the University District. Finally His Holiness Dagchen Sakya’s vision of establishing a seat for the future of the Sakya Khön Lineage in the United States would be realized. 

When the Monastery’s building in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle was sold to the Sakyas in 1984 it had been a Baptist Church.  It was originally erected in 1928 as the First Presbyterian Church.  In choosing the former church H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche found that the building was not only spacious enough to accommodate the requisite shrines, thrones, and seating area for practitioners, there were also a number of auspicious coincidences. The building’s entrance faced south and had a flat roof typical of Tibetan monasteries, and the address was “108”, an auspicious number for Tibetan Buddhists.

In 1984 Sakya Tegchen Choling was reorganized under H.H. Dagchen Sakya and became Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism.  It took many years of hard work by dedicated volunteers to transform the building into the traditional Tibetan Monastery that it is today.

Painting the Cultural Hall

Construction of Shrine Begins

Many of the murals were painted by Tibetan artist Dawa Dhundrup (right), including the 1000-year long lineage of Sakya masters in the Lamdre lineage on the south wall of the Monastery (below).

H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche oversaw dozens of devoted students in everything from dismantling the shrine room floor (above), to digging the foundation for the Dezhung Tulku Rinpoche III’s memorial stupa (below).

For twelve years while the main shrine room underwent remodeling, the downstairs Cultural Hall was used as an interim location for the Monastery’s religious services. Over the years, the Monastery’s building and contents were consecrated by the highest lamas in Tibetan Buddhism including H.H. Dalai Lama and H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche in order to imbue them with the enlightened spirit of the Buddha.

Above: H.H. Sakya Trichen Rinpoche and H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche teaching in the Cultural Hall in 1988.

Above: H.H. Trinley Rinpoche giving a long-life blessing in the Cultural Hall in 1987.

Below: H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche visits Sakya Monastery in 1989.

H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche with Lama Kang Tso (longtime Dharma brother of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche in Tibet) in front of Sakya Monastery in 1984.

In 2014, after 30 years, Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism was completed (above).  

 “There were two purposes in my establishing this Monastery here. The main purpose was, as is clear to all people, due to the political change and climate in Tibet, we had to leave our country and bring our tradition and culture to the West.  It was important to preserve that culture and tradition, especially that of the Sakya Khön lineage.  Therefore, the two purposes were to preserve the Khön lineage and the Sakya tradition – and thereby preserve the Buddhadharma for future generations.”

  • H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya