In this extraordinary series, Geshe Tashi gives us regular updates on the Coronavirus Pandemic amongst the Tibetan diaspora in India through the lens of Sera Monastery, home to around 6,000 monks. In response to emails requesting advice on Coronavirus and Buddhist practice, he generously shares his observations, thoughts and teachings in his usual warm-hearted and accessible style.
In this episode, Geshe Tashi begins by reviewing the previous verses, giving us a concise, thorough and approachable overview of the initial stages of the path, or lam rim teachings. Those of us setting up a practice or re-vitalising the essential touchstones of a daily practice may well find Geshe Tashi’s teachings here extremely valuable.
Commenting on what is in effect the next stage of the path, in Verse 9 of Lama Tsongkhapa’s The Essence of a Human Life, Geshe Tashi emphasises the importance of discernment in what we take up or adopt. We should be very careful, through the three doors of our body, speech and mind, what we engage with. We are encouraged not to act like a dog coming across a piece of meat, just swallowing down whatever we are exposed to.
In Verse 10, Geshe la takes this opportunity to give detailed instructions on how to carry out the daily Seven Limb Practice. Again, this will be especially helpful for those planning on setting up a daily practice, as well as those of us seeking fresh inspiration.
As part of Geshe Tashi’s teachings on the Eight Fears that Tara helps us overcome, today we look at wrong views. We have plenty of wrong views, philosophies, theories and beliefs in our society today: cultural, academic, scientific, economic, it is a long list, and often we swallow these blind. These wrong views and beliefs are described in the text as being like a thief, stealing our basic human goodness and wholesome instincts.
Once again, Geshe la ends with the familiar and reassuring Praises to 21 Taras followed by two verses of dedication. It is lovely to hear the dedication to His Holiness again, isn’t it?
The Essence of a Human Life (verses 9 & 10)
Words of Advice for the Lay Practitioner
If what you do brings on suffering eventually,
though it may appear in the moment as happiness,
then do not do it.
After all, food beautifully cooked but mixed with poison
is left untouched, is it not?
To the Three Jewels make prayers and offerings each day,
work hard to be wholesome, confess previous wrongs,
strengthen your vows again and again,
dedicating all merit for enlightenment.
p.213-215 The Splendour of an Autumn Moon, Lama Tsongkhapa, trans. Gavin Kilty.
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering taught in London for over 25 years and is currently Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery in Karnataka State, India.