Web Author

I am writing this short information sheet for those who have asked what experience or educational background I have for publishing this Sakya Resource Guide. My name is Jeff Watt and I am from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. For the record, I have no credentials and this Sakya Resource Guide webpage is solely edited by me and does not necessarily represent any Lama or official account of the Sakya School.

I first became a Buddhist in the early seventies studying the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra at the Universal Buddhist Temple under the expert guidance of Mr.Fung. In 1973 I met Dezhung Rinpoche (biography) and received the Bodhisattva vows. He was to become my first Root Guru. In 1974 I met and received teachings from Sakya Trizin and was introduced to Jetsun Chimey Luding, the sister of Sakya Trizin. In October of 1974 I and five others took novice monks vows from Gyalwa Karmapa.

In the fall of 1975 after completing the Bhutadamara retreat under the guidance of Jetsun Chimey I traveled to India to receive the Lamdre Tsogshe along with many other teachings and initiations from Sakya Trizin. I was fortunate at this time to also meet and spend many months with both Dzongsar Khyentse and Zimog Rinpoche. After India, I spent time in Nepal with Tarig Rinpoche and recieved teachings from Gyalwa Karmapa at the time of the bestowing of the Kagyu Ngag Dzo at Boudhnath Stupa. Shortly after my return to Canada the first Sakya Centre in Vancouver was formed by Chimey and Rinchen Luding, myself and two other Dharma friends. In the fall of 1976 I entered into a six month Hevajra retreat again under the guidance of Jetsun Chimey. At the conclusion I stayed at the Luding home and conducted the one week fire puja.

The late seventies were very busy with teaching visits from many Lamas most notably Dezhung Rinpoche, Dagchen Rinpoche of the Phuntsok Podrang, Thinley Rinpoche and others. In 1979 Sakya Trizin remained in Vancouver for six weeks and taught extensively. After that, Geshe Thukje Wangchuk came to live in Vancouver and taught Tibetan language and the classic Indian text Bodhicharyavatara of Shantideva. With the help of Dezhung Rinpoche's encouragement I was able to receive from Jestun Chimey the initiations of Vajrayogini, the protector Chitipati, Sabala Garuda and the scriptural transmissions for the Eleven Yogas of Vajrayogini. These were the first initiations she gave in the West.

In 1980 I again travelled to India to receive the deeper and more extensive Lamdre Lopshe teaching and initiations from Sakya Trizin, Luding Khenpo and Chogye Rinpoche. I requested and received Bhikshu ordination at that time from Luding Khenpo, Dezhung Rinpoche and Tarig Rinpoche as the three main Khenpos. Later I spent some time in Nepal visiting Holy Sites with Dezhung Rinpoche while living at Tarig Monastery.

In 1985 I returned my monastic ordinations eleven years after taking up the begging bowl for the first time. In the mid-eighties Jestun Chimey began to take a more public role in the Sakya Centre and the name was changed to Sakya Tsechen Thubten Ling. From the founding of the Centre until 1998 I remained as either the President or Vice-President. In 1984-85 I studied Tibetan language with Jeffrey Hopkins at the University of British Columbia and in 1986 I entered the University of British Columbia as a full time student and studied there until 1991. Not having graduated from High School I did not feel it inappropriate to leave University with one course short of a B.A. Beginning in 1984 and up through the 90's was a very busy period of translating Tibetan texts. Most of these translations were completed on Jetsun Chimey's kitchen table.

To reflect back, in 1976 a monk brother with whom I had taken ordination entered into a cave retreat in the dry interior of British Columbia. At that time Dezhung Rinpoche encouraged me to provide provisions and the bare necessities required for retreat; speaking again and again of the vast amounts of merit gained by such a practice of sustaining the Sangha and Yogis. In 1983, 7 1/2 years after entering, the monk Sherab Nyima left the cave. In 1995 he resumed the retreat in the same cave although less strict than the earlier discipline.

From 1981 up to the present I have maintained a retreat cabin north of Sherab Nyima's cave. I visit three to four times a year for retreats ranging from three days to three months. It is quite common to spend several months without seeing another person. The nights are filled with the howls of coyotes and wolves and the days with the sights of elk, mountain goats, moose and bear. 2000 feet above the cabin is a cave where I often spend my days - it gives an unrestricted view - above and below. In the spring and summer the air is permeated with the fragrance of sage and ponderosa pine. Not keen on pharmaceutical drugs I pick medicinal herbs from the valley floor and the steep sides that rise three thousand feet upwards.

Aside from the kindness of those teachers already mentioned, I have received teachings and initiations from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche - in actuality Manjushri himself, Dudjom Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche and Karma Thinley Rinpoche, to mention only a few. Amongst all of those, Dezhung Rinpoche has been like a father and Jetsun Chimey like a Mother. Their kindness has never waned and they truly embody the activities and realizations of the mahasiddhas of old.

Currently working in New York, I am the Director of the Himalayan Art Resources webpage, arguably the worlds largest resource for the sacred art of the Himalayas, and particularly the religious and Tantric art of Buddhism [See Review]. The website is funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation a not-for-profit organization. I am also the senior curator at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York city. My time is largely taken up with preparing exhibitions, research, writing and when ever possible translating Tibetan texts (list of texts).

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Copyright © 1996- Jeff Watt