Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 11th May

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 11th May

In today’s episode of Practicing Buddhism, Geshe Tashi continues his commentary on A Harvest of Powerful Attainment by Lama Tsongkhapa. 


Geshe Tashi reviews the first three verses where Lama Tsongkhapa invokes blessings, explaining how this “close lineage” worked for Lama Tsongkhapa, with Pawo Dorje or Lama Umapa making introductions to Manjushri on his behalf.


Verse 4 deals with our relationship with all our spiritual teachers, who together are the source or root of all our good qualities. How can we best relate to our spiritual teachers?   Geshe la gives a fuller translation here than the text can offer.  In place of “devotion”, the original Tibetan pinpoints two distinct mental states, aspiration and respect.  An aspiration to have the same qualities as our teachers, and a respect for them that is not couched in submission, but rather suffused with a sense of joy.


In the first two lines of a richly packed verse 5, Geshe la again gives us a fuller translation and commentary from the original text, highlighting the basic necessities or ingredients required for spiritual success.  Here he goes to the heart of a chief concern many of us have, how can we find more time for practice, what practical steps can we take?  And as students, what qualities are we aiming to cultivate to make us fit for purpose?  How do we approach contentment?  Using the analogy of a fertile field, he shows us what it looks like to have a mind that we have tamed or mastered.


Here we have a “how to” manual from the fourteenth century, presented in its original verse form, and unlocked by a Tibetan master into twenty first century colloquial English.  What more can we ask for?


A Harvest of Powerful Attainment (verses 4 &5)

Prayer for Blessings of the Close Lineage


By merely calling him to mind,

bless me that I develop for all time,

effortless devotion toward my master most kind,

source of all virtue, worldly and beyond.


Bless me that I be of few desires, at peace, a mind controlled,

of sincere quest for freedom, honest in speech,

practiced in awareness, reliant upon the best of friends,

and of pure view that falls not to bias.


p.111 The Splendour of an Autumn Moon, Lama Tsongkhapa, trans. Gavin Kilty.


Further news

We have heard from Geshe Tashi that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be teaching live online this weekend and it will be hosted on his own website here.  An early start for those of us in the U.K., but we are hoping the teachings will be posted on his YouTube site.  We’ll let you know if and when we know more.  Because of this, we most likely won’t be hosting a teaching ourselves over the weekend.


Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering taught in London for over 25 years and is currently Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery in Karnataka State, India.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Rosalyn Williams

    Dear Geshela
    I have to say something about devotion the first line In A Direct Meditation on the Graduated Path containing all the important meanings regarding Guru Devotion.
    ‘ Essence encompassing all the Buddhas’ and it invokes in me all the numerous devotional works and accomplishments of all sentient beings throughout the ages. Geshe’la said devotion is to do with motivation and I think of one friend who was amazing looked like. small reflection of Lama Yeshe a big smile white teeth and a round face. Her name was Doreen and she lived in Wigan. She was like the sun completely devoted to friends and family , lived in the same house had the same friends throughout her life, wasn’t interested in politics , had a drink and a smoke occasionally, it was as if she didn’t have an ego the whole focus was on others she never mentioned what she had achieved or regretted in life and had no ambitions that I know of.
    So devotion in all things especially to the guru’s conveys it for me.

  2. Alison

    Dear Geshe-la
    Thank you for this, and all the previous videos. So much food for thought (is that an English saying?) , so nourishing . And your sharing of some of your own challenged such as panicking is appreciated too! And thank you too for your words about Mary. We will miss her at Jamyang, as will her family of course. May you and all at Sera May stay safe and well.

  3. Jane

    Dear Geshe la
    Echoing others’ appreciation and thanks. Very helpful and practical advice. The translation is good but it is very helpful to have the original meaning of the words with their various nuances, particularly to go beneath the surface of translations such as ‘devotion’. This allows us to come closer to the original which seems to have a very different feel, conjuring up a more participatory role of a student actively wishing and striving to emulate good qualities through understanding and deep appreciation. Thank you so much. I do hope all remains stable and well. Love to all, Jane

  4. Liz Dickson

    Dear Geshe-la, thank you again for very precious teaching. It’s wonderful to have such a frequent connection with you and with Lama Tsongkapa, on a level at which I can easily engage. Today’s reminder not to get distracted and to limit one’s desires was very timely. Thank you and best wishes Liz

  5. Rosalyn Williams

    Dear Geshe’la
    Lama Tzong Khapa is obviously expecting us and encouraging us to develop the very best qualities of mind. As he has done so should we be inspired to do the same.
    Wonderful that we have such detailed and also vast teachings. Surely he wouldn’t go into such detail if they weren’t achievable.
    Thank you Geshe’la for never tiring of bringing these extraordinary lineage teachings to us.

  6. Galia Saouma

    I have the feeling each time that a close and ever so kind family member cares so much and has taken the time to open my mind with such simple joyful and profound words. It is such a pleasure and blessing to listen to your talks. Kindness and wisdom.So comforting

  7. Sandie Burland

    Dearest Geshe Tashi,
    Precious teacher; just listening to your voice fills me with joy and hope.
    I am so grateful for these recordings. I will always appreciate your kindness and treasure it. You are a spiritual inspiration.
    What I love about these recordings is not only the messages but the excellent way you present them with humour and humility.
    As I get older, and my mind more forgetful I need to hear the dharma more frequently. Studying and practicing the dharma alone has its challenges, and as I do not have a local sangha in the tradition I practice, your recordings are even more precious. Deepest thanks and respect. I aim to have less desires, more contentment, more diligence and the wish for my mind to be more spiritually fertile. May you remain well. I look forward to your next recording. Thank you sincerely.

  8. Sam

    Dear Geshe la,
    These explanations of Tsongkhapa’s texts are so valuable. Although I cannot read the Tibetan without the translation, I’m finding it immensely enriching having the English and Tibetan side by side in the book as you pick out and explain some of the key Tibetan words. It brings Tsongkhapa’s beautiful writing much closer than the translation alone (although it seems Gavin Kilty has done a lovely job and the English also reads beautifully). A real gift – thank you so much!

  9. Shirley

    Tashi delek
    Once again, thank you for a great teaching. I can literally feel your joy. Since I began to study buddhism, the one thing that has always resonated with me, is to control the mind, not the other way about. This you have stated here. Desire is always going to be around, despite our meagre efforts not to succumb to it; the result of living in a desire realm I guess. Best we can do is to recognise it when it arises, and take appropriate action. Comparing the mind to a fertile field makes sense. I want my mind to be filled with ripe golden wheat, not stones and dust, so lots more Tsongkhapa please; in fact, lots more teachings!

  10. Susan McKenna

    Dear Geshe la, thank you for your teachings and also the laughs! I like to listen before I go to sleep at night as it makes me feel so happy to see and hear you. Hope the virus stays far away from Sera and wishing everyone good health. Sending love and bows, Susan, (Brighton)

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