H. E. Jamyang Dagmola Sakya, known by her friends as Dagmola, was born in eastern Tibet. Her name was Sonam Tsezom and she descends from a family of lamas and doctors of East Tibet (Kham). Raised in a loving family of moderate affluence, her way of life and education were pervaded by the spirit of Buddhism. In a society in which most education was of a religious nature, available chiefly to monks, she had the unusual good fortune to receive a fine education from an early age. She is the niece of His Eminence Dezhung Rinpoche who guided her into receiving an education, the only girl in her classroom of monks. H.E. Dezhung Rinpoche, considered to be a Buddha by many, saw very special qualities at a very early age in his neice and would continue to guide her all of his life.
Sonam Tsezom’s childhood came to a swift end. As a very young woman she went on pilgrimage from Kham, her homeland, to Sakya, the headquarters of one of the four major orders of Tibetan Buddhism. She was introduced to the politics of the Sakya ecclesiastical hierarchy, and she was eagerly courted by a young religious nobleman of the Phuntsok Palace who was being prepared to become the Head Lama of the Sakya Order, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya. As a result of her marriage she accepted the heavy burden of entering the ranks of Tibetan nobility and of representing the ancient tradition of this spiritual lineage. When she married in 1950, her name became Jamyang and her title Dagmo Kusho.
When she, her husband, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and three young boys left Tibet, they thought they may someday return. Eventually the family realized that this may not happen. With an abiding faith in the Buddha, they opened themselves in trust to an unknown future which presented itself in an offer to H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya to come to the United States to collaborate in research at the University of Washington. Their story, hers from a young child in Tibet, her education and marriage, her children, and the family’s ultimate arrival in Seattle, WA is published in her book, “Princess in the Land of Snows”. It is a fascinating account rich with history, culture, faith, and commitment to spreading the Dharma.
During the years since their arrival in the United States, Dagmola selflessly devoted herself to bringing up her five sons, including Zaya Vajra Sakya, the first Tibetan to be born in the USA, and assisting her husband in his many religious activities, in particular, the establishment of Sakya Monastery. She also quietly devoted herself inwardly to spiritual practice under the guidance of her revered uncle, H.E. Dezhung Rinpoche, who also helped in establishing the new monastery. H.E. Dezhung Rinpoche encouraged her to begin teaching Buddhism and granting empowerments. Thus, Dagmola is authorized to accept the role of Lama by one of the foremost Tibetan Buddhist masters of the Sakya Order and by other esteemed Tibetan Lamas. She and H.H. Sakya Rinpoche also have a deep connection with another root teacher, Dilgo Khensye Rinpoche and his current incarnation.
H.E. Dagmo Kusho is especially known for her very strong connection to Tara. She has shared the stage on occasion with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama during Kalachakra empowerments, giving the White Tara initiation that His Holiness the Dalai Lama always offers at the end of this highest empowerment. She is a beloved Lama in her own right and has many dedicated students around the globe, many from different lineages, who seek out her counsel on Tara and spiritual guidance in general. Dagmola regularly bestows empowerments and teaches at Sakya Monastery. She has founded the Mother Tara Center/Tara Ling in San Gabriel, California and has established centers in Kona, Hawaii; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Mexico City. Recently in Santa Barbara, California a new center has formed and under the guidance of H.E. Dagmo Kusho – Tara Ling Santa Barbara. Welcome, Tara Ling Santa Barbara!
Pictured here is Dagmola’s beloved Uncle and root teacher, and about whom the popular book, A Saint in Seattle: The Life of the Tibetan Mystic Dezhung Rinpoche is written.