Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 3rd May

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 3rd May

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 the Practicing Buddhism section, Geshe Tashi begins by reviewing Verse 10 of Lama Tsongkhapa’s “Essence of a Human Life”.  He guides us in setting up the preliminaries for a meditation session, once again leading us through a Seven Limb Practice.   In verse 11 he gives us a sobering commentary on the impermanence of our situation: in the end, we can only rely on the teachings.  In Verse 12 he brings to our attention the three main phases of our life and how, without determination from our side, each phase will conspire to prevent us from our practice.


The sixth fear that Tara helps us overcome is miserliness.   Such a state of mind locks us firmly in the never-ending prison of cyclic existence.  We need to practice generosity, not as a cultural reflex, but actively, intentionally, with mindful awareness. 


Once again, Geshe la ends with the Praises to 21 Taras followed by two verses of dedication. 


The Essence of a Human Life (verses 11 & 12)

Words of Advice for the Lay Practitioner


To conclude: you are born alone, die alone,

friends and relations are therefore unreliable;

Dharma alone is the supreme reliance.


This short life is over, gone in a flash.

Realise that, come what may, now is the time

to find happiness everlasting.

Do not leave this precious human life empty-handed.


p.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.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la
    Many thanks and for kindly sharing the commentary on the 8 fears – such graphic illustrations which bring the points home very clearly and memorably.
    Love to all, Jane

  2. Brenda

    Dear Geshe La
    Procrastinating! This word screeched out at me. I do it all the time! But this quiet period has allowed a pause in the busyness for us to refresh practice so THANKYOU for all the advice from Lama Tsong Khapa and yourself :))
    The words ‘Do not leave this precious life emptyhanded’ are the quintessential daily reminder.
    On another note, I was interested to read Volker’s query re the monks’ education at this time. Here in the UK, many parents are ‘home schooling’ as the schools are closed. (I know from friends that this is causing some challenges, anxiety and loss of patience! )
    I hope your community of monks are coping with the changed circumstances. I wonder if any of them are able to access these wonderful teachings?
    Thanks once again to the Amazing Admin Team for bringing this dharma diary into our homes xxb

    1. admin

      Thank you once again for the kind words Brenda, and for your great comments. We too are intrigued by Volker’s question, we’re grateful you’ve brought it up again. X

  3. Volker Hessel

    Dear Geshe-la,
    thank you again for your words, that are very helpful to me!
    I would be interested how all your monks are doing during this time? As far as I know debating plays a big role in their study program and within their daily practice. But that is not possible now. How and in which way do they continue with their studies, what do they focus on these days?
    Best regards to all of you,

  4. Shirley

    Tashi delek
    Thank you. I enjoyed this talk, and had a broad smile on my face all through. How true it is that one’s life is over in a flash. I was lucky enough to see a shooting star last year, and how quickly that arose and disappeared, just like a life does. It is essential to be mindful of death, which could come at any moment. I sometimes pause and think to myself “if death came now, at this very moment, are you prepared? How would you feel?” Peace of mind is very important at that time…to be content in the knowledge that you have done your best, hence the importance of doing your best to uphold buddhist values, during this life, as much as you can. I am glad you mentioned Santideva. I feel somehow very connected to him, and always feel he is talking to me directly, across the centuries, whenever I read his words.

  5. Celeste Cambaza

    Happy birthday Geshe wish you long live may you be happy, lots of love

    Celeste Cambaza

  6. Grace Davis

    Thank you so much again Geshe la for the teachings on impermanence, the fault of miserliness and how only the teachings of the Dharma are reliable at the time of death. I’m in Australia and have experienced catastrophic bush fires where I live so impermanence and death were a reality. Also great generosity from many people – individuals and groups – seik, Islamic and Christian. No Buddhist groups but the teachings give me the best gift of all – how to live kindly with open eyes in the midst of uncertainty!
    Live long, dear Geshe-la.

  7. Susan McKenna

    It is so comforting to see and hear you dear Geshe la, thank you for continuing to teach and pray the Tara Praises.
    Thank you for demonstrating generosity and sharing resources and food with local families it is wonderful to see the photos.
    Keep well, with love and bows, Susan (Brighton)

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