Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 24th April

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 24th 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 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 comments on the fifth verse from Lama Tsongkhapa’s “The Essence of a Human Life.”  When we hear of the deaths of others, we can turn this into a positive teaching, reminding ourselves that as long as we are born, we must die.  The building blocks of our body and the person dying are the same, the processes are the same, we both need to breathe from the mouth to the lungs, we are the same.  For us too, death is certain and the time of death uncertain.  Not just at the end of our life, but now, moment by moment, we are dying.  Geshe Tashi asks us to practice mindfulness around death, actively recalling the understandings we have from our contemplations and meditations on death, and training to hold those understanding in awareness throughout our day.


In the last part of the Practicing Buddhism section, Geshe Tashi continues his explanation of the Eight Fears that Tara helps us overcome.  Yesterday he looked at the first, pride, which from a Buddhist perspective, in contrast to self-confidence and self-esteem, is always a negative emotion.  Today he discusses the second fear, ignorance.  If we can cultivate mindfulness and conscientiousness, then we can avoid becoming lost in the objects of our senses and the kind of madness and ignorance that follow.


We are conscious the words seem a bit bleak on the page.  It is all sobering stuff, yet as usual Geshe la teaches by example, sharing with us a lightness of touch around the dharma, a sense of joy and ease that, it seems, he invites us to share. 


Thank you for your comments, and for being a part of our community.


The Essence of a Human Life (verse 5)

Words of Advice for the Lay Practitioner


Think, therefore, upon seeing and hearing of others’ deaths,

“I am no different, death will come,

its certainty in no doubt, but no certainty as to when.

I must say farewell to body, wealth, and friends,

but good and bad deeds will follow like shadows.


p.211 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 14 Comments

  1. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la

    Thank you so much. It is so good to have this regular routine of podcasts to help bring stability, focus and humour. Remember the hair in the butter analogy well. Was also reminded of the story of the man who woke up and found his feet yellow! Do hope all is keeping well for you all and everyone else too.
    Love to all

    1. admin

      Jane, we’re intrigued! I wonder if Geshe la can tell us this story sometime soon? Or is this a story only you can tell?

  2. Shelley

    Thank you Geshe la, As well as the ever needed reminder about death it is also lovely to hear more about the 21 Taras.

  3. Brenda

    Dear Geshe La
    We can never be reminded too often that death is just around the corner. It is a subject that is ‘ brushed under the carpet’, especially in the West.
    Thankyou for another precious teaching. And we enjoyed sharing your delightful British cuppa tradition too! (I think there are even more cups of tea being drunk now in UK during Lockdown! )

  4. Liz Dickson

    Thank you so much Geshe-la, for the teaching, the Taras and the tea! It’s like being in the same room with you. Much love, Liz

  5. Chris Swain

    Thank you for shining some light in these darker times

  6. Sue Aldam

    Thank you for a particularly relevant teaching today. The dharma teachings on death put everything in perspective. We are very fortunate to have them, and you to remind us so skillfully.

  7. Claire Chondol

    Geshe la you are so right! We need a gas mask for the first floor of the department store!

  8. Brian

    Always encouraged when I hear this about this topic Geshela thank you.

    HHDL was describing importance of mental hygiene in a teaching I listened to the other day ….this topic of death I find definitely hygienic.

    Still in the West can be a tricky one for some people… Aunt (90yrs) the other day completely unable to accept that death may happen to her friend also 90 if she were to contract Covid19….

    She has had a great life but the end – she has never contemplated……so fortunate am I due to this virus manifesting in the world that I am free to access such teachings with ease…..

    We have tea in Australia too…not quite as regular as in England though.. 🙂 thanks again

  9. Marta

    hi Ghescela can never miss one of your precious teachings now.. For some reason watching you performing the ritual of british tea and biscuit .. sent me into hips of laughters Thank you so much for everything dear Ghescela
    love from
    ani Marta ( Italy)

  10. Joyce Batten

    This is very interesting and refreshing to hear.. ..and inspiring … I look forward to listening to more.Thank you so much; I feel nourished by it. Kind regards.

  11. Shirley

    Tashi delek
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! For a sombre subject this great teaching just screams “pay attention. Don’t take your eye off the ball”. Death is part of our life, and sooner or later death will come. Therefore to obtain peace of mind at that time, we need to start preparing now.

  12. Dickye

    Thank you so much Geshe la, much appreciate.

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