Sakya Jetsun Chimey (Jetsun Kushab) was born to the Sakyas, one of the ruling families of Tibet and the founders of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. At the age of eight (in accordance with the tradition for women of the Sakya family) she became ordained as a nun, and at eleven studied in Ngor Monastery with her brother, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya School. At the age of eighteen, she gave her first teaching to monks and nuns. Jetsun Kushab is one of only a few women in the history of the Sakya lineage to have transmitted the Lam Dre, the system of contemplative and meditative practice special to the Sakya School.

Following the invasion of Tibet by China in 1959, Jetsun Kushab escaped to India, where she subsequently married and raised four children. In 1971 she immigrated with her family to Canada. Since 1980, she has worked forty hours a week as a weaver, and has taught extensively in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. She lives just south of Vancouver in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

Sarasvati is the feminine aspect of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. In Tibetan paintings she is often depicted holding a lute. This Sarasvati empowerment was performed at New York Dharmadhatu on September 9 by Sakya Jetsun Chimey. Lama Pema Willngdak, of the Palden Sakya Center of New York, functioned as interpreter.

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“If you understand ritual, it’s a powerful word; if not, it’s trivial. The whole point of empowerment is the transmission of the teachings for a particular deity. Through this personal initiation by the guru—passed down in an unbroken line—we are then empowered to do that particular meditative practice.” —Interpreter Lama Pema Wangdak

During the preliminary stages of the empowerment, Jetsun Kushab prepares alone, invoking Sarasvati, the deity whose practice she will transmit to the students. Once she has completed these preparations, the deity has, in effect, traveled from her abode to the site of the empowerment. During this time the students gather in an adjacent hall, ritually cleansing their mouths before entering the shrine room.

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