Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 26th March

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 26th March

In this blog series, Geshe Tashi gives us regular updates on the Coronavirus Pandemic amongst the Tibetan diaspora in India through the lens of Sera Mey Monastery, home to 6,000 monks. In response to emails asking after his welfare and requesting advice in these difficult times, he generously shares his observations, thoughts and advice in his usual warm-hearted and accessible style.

In this update Geshe Tashi describes a welcome visit from a local medical team on the one hand, on the other having to urge his untrained monks in the medical centre to hold their nerve.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, he finds time to give us extensive advice on the kind of contemplations and practices he thinks will be helpful for us at this time. This is a warm, engaging and uplifting message from a master practitioner.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Jenny Marshall

    Dear Geshe-la, thank you so much for taking the time to update us with news about yourself, life at Sera Mey, and Dharma teachings during the coronavirus outbreak. It’s 2nd April today, we’re only watched the first 2 posts, so Dave Richardson & I are a bit behind!

    It’s great to know that so far you’re in good health. Hope you’ll find sources of vegetables. A sobering life lesson in impermanence for the monks training in health care so they will be able to help look after those ill in the monastery. Very impressive to read of the team of health workers who came to see how the monks were who had come to Sera Mey from other parts of India. It was heart breaking to see an online video from the BBC a couple of days ago showing people fleeing New Delhi in their thousands, crammed onto buses like refugees. As one man said, ‘we may or may not die of coronavirus, but if we stay here, we’ll die of starvation’.

    In the UK, there is unlikely be starvation, but many people are struggling financially despite government measures. And altho’ there is the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London, erected in around a week, yesterday Paul Gallagher, health correspondent at the ‘I’ newspaper reported the BMA saying that many hospitals and GP practices were still facing ‘life-threatening shortages of PPE’. However, you speaking of 150 beds in the local hospital for a populations of thousands puts the difficulties here in perspective. Wherever it is in the world, we’re faced even more than usual with the suffering of suffering.

    Thank you so much for the reminder of Dharma teachings – have felt so much gratitude for many teachings over the years. So often you’ve reminded us of impermanence, thinking ‘well, I can do that tomorrow/next week/next year etc.’ Good to know that Medicine Buddha & Padmasambhava (recommended by Lama Zopa) practices are helpful. I keep thinking of the words in the Mahayana precepts ‘in order to benefit…’
    Our street has set up a WhatsApp group, with people posting & sharing things. A neighbour cut some branches into thin slices so his children could paint them, uploaded the pictures, saying he’d put some slices on his stone wall so others could take & decorate them. Dave & I have recently joined our Covid19 Mutual Support Group, and have been leafleting so people can request help for shopping/picking up prescriptions etc, then others can volunteer. We’ve been letting our friends know about the scheme, altho’ it’s not in all parts of the UK.

    Already many are questioning going back to the old ‘normal’ – hopefully we can all do our best at a local level to sow seeds for a more caring society, and foster more of a sense of community.
    Looking forward to reading your more recent posts, thank you so much for your support & words of encouragement. As someone who has had to learn lots of new technology to support my few disabled students online, very impressed with your techy skills!
    May you be well,

  2. Françoise Mandavy

    Dear Geshe-la,

    Thank you so very much for your heartfelt talks. I always deeply appreciate the total transparency with which you talk about the situation in the monastery, in your own mind, about your observations and experiences. As usual, it is always straight from your heart to ours. Personally, that is always what I am very sensitive to.
    Thank you so very much.
    All is well for me here in Nantes. Of course, as for everywhere else, we have some serious cases as well, and we are now all confined, all throughout the country, and at least until the end of April.
    A lot of solidarity is taking place as well between neighbours, through the various networks (facebook, whatsapp, etc..). We are lucky we can use those to keep us informed on people around us.
    I feel very grateful I can turn to you, to Geshe Jamphel-la, to Geshe Londen in IVY for practices and support.
    I feel very lucky I have kind neighbours all around me and everywhere in Nantes.
    I also feel very grateful that I received the means to deal with a situation like that, being confined at home. The means to deal with situations that I received from you, from Geshe Tengye-la, from Geshe Jamphel in Nalanda, from quite a few amazing teachers.
    I try, whenever the occasion arise, to bring calmness and joy to those around me who need it, to keep their spirit high. Like so many other people are doing as well, many of us do that.
    It’s a very odd time. At times, terrible outcomes, and at times, bringing all the best in people, and showing us how to reconnect in a more meaningful way.
    Take very good care of yourself. Much love. Thank you again for everything you do.

  3. Sam

    Dear Geshe la,
    Thank you so much for these video updates, for the sense of perspective they bring and for your reflections. Meditating on impermanence is so central but somehow we forget to take it seriously, or at least I forget. The result is that my practice gets infected with the worldly concerns and stops being real dharma practice. So thank you for this reminder to use this situation to really take seriously the fragility and uncertainty of our lives, as well as to support others as much as possible.
    Very best wishes for you and all at Sera to stay healthy and safe!

  4. William Walker

    Thank you Geshi-la for your teaching in this and for your relaxed, uplifting humour. I hope you and all the monks in your care stay well.

  5. Alison wertheimer

    Thank you so much, Geshe-la. It is wonderful to hear your words and your laughter from so far away. It’s so generous of you to do this when you have so many demands on your time. Your suggestions for spiritual practice will help to face the inevitable fear and anxiety when we are self-isolating. My grateful and heartfelt thanks and may all at Sera be well.

  6. Danny

    Thank you so much Geshe la for taking the time to share with us the situation there, to help us get some perspective in the midst of our privileged western lives and media frenzy. Your kind sharing has really made me think much more broadly as I am sure it has the others who have seen this. Your grace, humour and insight are a real gift to us and offer clarity and focus. Thank you for even considering us, when things are obviously so much more vulnerable there than here. Best wishes to you all.

  7. Sue Godden

    Dear Geshe La,

    Thank you so much for your kind words, humour and common sense approach to the Covid 19 situation. It is so thoughtful of you to think of us so far away from Sera Mey, which must be at the front of your attention right now. We really do appreciate it. As others have said in their comments, if there is anything we outside of India can do to help, whether it be prayers or donations please let us know. Mental hygiene is very important right now, so is hearing your wonderful laugh and seeing your smile.

    With heartfelt gratitude and my wish that you and all at Sera Mey stay well.


  8. Julie

    Dear Geshe la, Thank you for the medicine of your laughter and smile : ), for both your posts this week sharing the Sera Mey situation, your experiences, and reminding us of the importance of mental hygiene. Heartfelt gratitude for being there & here!

  9. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la

    Thank you for very helpful advice with humour – we need a lot of that now! Take care and I hope you all stay well and protected. It was so lovely to hear beautiful Indian birdsong!

    Thank you again

    Warm wishes and to all

  10. m.

    Your responsibilities are great, yet you have the tools to carry out what is necessary.
    You have the teachings and practices too, which you share in your “blahs!” and in your way of being.
    Yet its your natural laugh at this difficult complex situation that warms and blesses us all, sharing an indiscriminate strength and joy that directly communicates.

  11. Brenda Fishwick

    Wow… Geshe La. Thankyou SO much for both your ‘ Coronavirus Diaries’, which keep us so connected with the life and challenges of Sera Mey at this time, but also for your personal reflections and inspiring advice. We appreciate it so much. You and your community are in our prayers. I hope that the energy of your Medicine Buddha pujas sends a healing light around our world.
    If your Western students can help in any way, through specific practices or with funding, please let us know….
    Your laughter is a tonic, as is the sweet birdsong in the background! We can also here the spring birdsong clearly now that the noise of traffic and industrial activities have subsided.
    Thankyou very much also to the Admin team who are getting these invaluable videos out to us :)))
    May all be well and happy

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