news_1 (1)To Students of Jetsun Kushok, Sakya Practitioners everywhere and all friends of Sakya Kachod Choling

2010 has drawn to a close as it always does here in the Pacific Northwest, with daylight arriving late and fading early. It rains a lot. There’s something peaceful about these misty gray days though. They bring quiet and time for reflection. I was reading something in one of Pema Chodron’s books and her use of rain as a metaphor felt appropriate so I’d like to quote it here:

“We try so hard to hang on to the teachings and ‘get it’ , but actually the truth sinks in like rain into very hard earth. The rain is very gentle and we soften up slowly at our own speed. But when that happens, something has fundamentally changed in us. That hard earth has softened. It doesn’t seem to happen by trying to get it or capture it. It happens by letting go; it happens by relaxing your mind, and it happens by the aspiration and the longing to want to communicate with yourself and others. Each of us finds our own way.”

And that’s our mandate; to provide the quiet and support individuals require so they can look inward and find their way, through their meditation practices, through the teachings and empowerments that are made available here. Year after year SKC has slowly and steadily grown, sinking Dharma roots into the rocky mossy landscape. The winter rains softening the earth, our minds softening and relaxing as well.

Anyone who has worked with small non profits of any kind, religious or secular, knows how hard it is to not only survive, but thrive. We couldn’t do it without the incredible support of so many and here I would like to acknowledge and thank these people.

First, our spiritual director and beloved teacher, H.E. Sakya Jetsun Kushok Rinpoche. Without her blessing and support it would be tough going indeed.

The board and officers: John Soderberg, Susanna Salsbury, Peggy Sue McRae, Dawn Presta McCutcheon, Alice Deane and Deborah Freeauf. These individuals unfailingly move SKC along positive paths with their good ideas and enthusiasm so that we can accomplish what needs to get done. Not the least of which was to lower our monthly operating costs and renegotiating a lower mortgage payment without adding expenses or time to the pay off of the mortgage. There’s a small but enthusiastic group of volunteers who pitch in with work projects, everything from gardening to building and grounds maintenance: Jennifer Harrington, Alice Deane, Susanna Salsbury, Sandy Cameron, John Soderberg, Ben Hainey, Mike Cull, Cyndy and Glen Baker, Paul Herbert and DeAnn Glenn. Special thanks to Tom Metke who helped with a one time project. Very special thanks to Jen DiMarco who volunteers her bookkeeping skills and does a great job keeping our bills paid, the books organized and in order.

news_2I would also like to thank those who have come for retreat, both private and group retreat, those who have become members, those who anonymously leave donations in the donation box and those who have sent us donations to pay down the mortgage (exciting news about the mortgage in a bit….) All of you are a vital part of the heart of Sakya Kachod Choling.

News on 2011 Retreats: There have been requests for information about next year’s retreat schedule. Due to His Holiness Sakya Trizin coming to the West next year, plans are fluid. We are still planning on holding White Tara and Vajrayogini retreats and we still hope Khenpo Pema Wangdak can return to teach. However, we’re waiting for firm information. As soon as confirmation and dates are received, that information will be sent out.

Report on Development Efforts:

Rennovations Completed: Thanks to some very generous donors, needed renovations to Jetsun Kushok’s apartment have been made.

Rennovations Planned: Funds are needed to build handicap access to the upper floor of the building so the shrine room can be easily reached by those who can’t manage the rocky ground and many steps. You are invited to help us provide this much needed renovation. When the final quotes are in I will send a separate e-mail with those figures and photos showing where the proposed changes will be.

Phase 1 of Facilities Development Plan: Paying off the mortgage, is within sight! Thanks to two very large donations that were recently received, the balance of the mortgage is down to $75,000.There are 378 individuals on our mailing list. A donation of $198 from each one would pay off the mortgage. Maybe there are 75 individuals out there who can afford $1000 each! However you can help, we gratefully welcome your donations in any amount. We’re so close….let’s make this happen in 2011 and secure Sakya Kachod Choling into the future!!

Phase 2 of Facilities Development Plan: Accomplishing Phase 1 will bring some very exciting news….stay tuned….

How You Can Help:

You can send your donations by check or by credit card on our secure web site page by clicking here. Mail checks to Sakya Society, PO Box 3191, Friday Harbor, WA 98250. All donations are tax deductible.

If you would like to help with work projects, just e-mail me,, and I will put you in touch with the individuals who are in charge of the various projects.

Khenpo Pema in shrine room

Khenpo Pema
in shrine room

Khenpo Pema Wangdak on John Soderberg's boat on an outing to Jones Island

Khenpo Pema Wangdak on John Soderberg’s boat on an outing to Jones Island

Thrinley inside studio

inside studio

And finally, some letters from recent retreaters.

“Ladies and Dharma Protectors:
My retreat should end at noon on Wednesday.
After that, you can consider the following:
open up a pet grooming salon in the kitchen!
Put up deer crossing signs!
Hold counseling services for cats who fight!
Organize a scavenger hunt for the raccoon!

Thank you for your loving and very respectful support. It feels good to be respected and supported. Life is a real merry-go-round out there!”
“Retreat is a test testing every aspect of the body, mind and spirit while the appreciation on Dharma and control on emotion and and physical ability gained are truly a great feast. Through precious Guru, retreat organizer and perfect environment I don’t need to study and practice Dharma vigilantly in the midst of daily chores. Therefore, during the two long retreats I joined I not only got more familiar with Dharma but also nourished aspects of body and mind. I sincerely hope within this life I can have chance to do more and longer retreats to fulfill all the past Dharma studies”.

“I always have a special fascination with woodpeckers and those great ones were a wonderful source of conversation! D. told me that she looked out her tent door one day and there was a small group of them, checking her out! My encounter was more remote. I heard them stalking through dry grass and chuckling like hens. One night I looked out my tent and the sky was full of strands of clouds in thin lines from horizon to horizon, from SE to NW, perfectly spaced with night sky of equal width. Later on, before sun rise, I checked again and they had moved with the night sky, E to W. I am so glad that i took that tent spot where I was.”
—L.L. (this was a group retreat)

“Thrinley…thank you so much for the little Buddha, who is destined for my altar. Thank you and also Diana for providing this retreat for me. It has been deeply wonderful. This place is magical and I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy it….”

Born of Rain
Peering out the window
Fading as quickly as it arose
A faint band of light
Born of rain itself.
—April Dolkar


Wishing you all a very blessed and happy Western New Year and early wishes
for a very peaceful, healthy, prosperous New Year of the Rabbit!
We look forward to supporting you in your next retreat!

– Thrinley DiMarco