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 asking after his welfare and 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 la’s naughty sense of humour comes to the fore. He predicts a late start and long night ahead of him as six Abbots plan a get together over Zoom. He relates a story from his early days as a prankster. Even the Coronavirus can’t escape his light touch as he brings us “dark humour” from Bhutan, a different perspective, which, as is his way, turns out to be an inspiration.
In the Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic section, Geshe Tashi turns his focus to our actual practice. From today he will be giving us a commentary on one of Je Tsongkhapa’s devotional verses, written especially as advice for lay practitioners. The first couple of verses pay homage to Tara, and in exploring how we might relate to her, Geshe la gives us a teaching on the four qualities of an enlightened being. In doing so, he goes to the heart of what it is to practice Buddhism.
The two of us have often fantasised about living in a monastery, regularly going to the teacher’s rooms for personal instruction. And listening to Geshe Tashi sitting in his room commentating on Lama Tsongkapa verses, it struck us that we are all in that situation now. We are all close students sitting together, receiving his personal advice. We are, we feel, very fortunate.
The Essence of a Human Life
Words of Advice for the Lay Practitioner
Homage to my guru, the youthful Manjushri
To those within her refuge, every happiness and joy,
For those beset by suffering, every assistance.
Noble Tara, I bow before you.
“Those adrift on great seas of suffering I will save” –
A powerful vow made good.
To your lotus feet, compassionate goddess,
I offer this bowed head.
You of fine features, you have gained
This opportune and leisured human form.
If you follow me who speaks to help others,
Listen well, I have something to say.
p.209 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.