Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 20th April

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 20th April

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.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la

    Many thanks – such a beautiful text and, like Tri and others have said, so very welcome to have the chance to have teachings again from you. I know we may not understand the Tibetan but it would be lovely to hear the music of the Tibetan verses as well as the English translation – maybe no time.

    Sending warm good wishes and thank you again

    Love to all


  2. Sam

    Thank you once again Geshe la! I have found all of your reflections on the ‘pearls’ very helpful, but now to hear your teachings on Je Tsongkhapa’s poetry is such a delight!

  3. Brenda

    Dear Geshe La
    I do hope your first Zoom meeting went well, without too many hiccups! We had our first Yeshe Buddhist Group Zoom meeting last Sunday morning! It worked pretty well and it was lovely that Cath could join us online from Manchester too. So we can go global now…haha!
    Even more to look forward to with Tara teachings and recitation. We shall have our copies at the ready for next time!
    Yes, tricky to keep up with the Tibetan chant but inspiring to feel the energy and be swept into the current and powerful tradition of hundreds of years of prayer.
    Thankyou again for your time Geshe La and for these very special conversations.

  4. Alison

    Dear Geshe-la
    Your thoughts about humour as a survival mechanism are very apt. Not only in Bhutan, comedians here are also using corona virus as material for their (online) performances and doctors often resort to “dark humor as a defence (i.e survival mechanism) when faced with trauma (not only at the present time).
    I was also reminded of an evening at Jamyang quite a few years ago, when a student asked you, “Why do we chant the Praises to Twenty-One Taras”. You smiled and said “Because I like it”. I’m unable to keep up with the tempo in the evenings, but maybe I’ll look for it in German as I think I’m more fluent than in Tibetan, especially when my brain is tired.
    Thank you Geshe-la – and thank you Peter and Tri for including the Advice for the Lay Practitioner in the email. Really helpful.

    1. admin

      It’s a pleasure Alison. And thank you for your great comments!

  5. Ani Barbara

    Thank you so much for today’s teachings
    I so enjoyed chanting the 21 Tara’s with you
    Keep well
    Thankyou so much for these blogs
    They keep me sane in my isolation!

  6. Geshe la! Might it be a good idea to set up a weekly zoom 21 Tara Practice? Chanting together around the world? The timing might be tricky. Maybe groups and centres could do independently. Yeshe Buddhist Group will definitely do this with your guidance and inspiration. It would be a powerful offering at this time. And no-one need worry about their flip flops! 🤣

  7. Brian

    Thanks Geshela – really appreciate your informal style of presenting these short talks…it almost seems like a personal teaching..

  8. Thank you Geshela, for an inspiring teaching, .
    Even in these troubled times , we can be happy, it has been advised in the teachings.
    To all beings everywhere, infinite blessings.

  9. Shelley

    I’ll look forward to the next instalment! Wonderful to hear you chant 21 Taras and I’ll …..ahem….dust off my copy for next time!
    Very best wishes

    1. Ani Marta

      Thank you Ghescela your inspiring and humorus talks are one of the best gifts in this time..Thank you and love from ani Marta (Italy)

  10. Sandra Whilding

    Thank you Geshe-la for your inspiring talks. It was very helpful to chant praises to the 21 Taras ( I couldn’t quite keep up with you) . The Bhutan ‘black’ humour was spot-on with regard to the coronavirus.

  11. Daniel Argent

    Thank you once more for an enlightening experience Geshe la, equally so the delightful belly laugh when I visualised the younger you and your group of boys messing with the monk’s flip flops.
    Stay safe and happy.

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