Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 5th May

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 5th 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, today Geshe Tashi finishes his commentary on Lama Tsongkhapa’s Essence of a Human Life.  Translators can only present one layer of meaning or one interpretation, and sometimes they miss the mark.  Geshe Tashi re-translates the final verse for us word by word, giving us a much more nuanced understanding than the one we’d otherwise get off the page.  This has always been Geshe Tashi’s approach, to very kindly give a whole spectrum of English words and phrases with plenty of examples and analogies, to make sure we receive a much fuller understanding of the original text than we otherwise would.  It means he takes longer to get his message across, but he has a seemingly limitless supply of patience, determination and enthusiasm to transmit the Dharma as accurately and as fully as possible.  We are in the hands of a master.


Today he teaches the importance of recognising the leisure, opportunity and great potential we have as humans, how we should invest the tremendous riches we have inherited meaningfully.  Quoting Lama Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Paths from memory and translating as he goes, he gives a commentary on how to combine this recognition with our awareness of death.  He then gives an impromptu teaching on the workings of karma, building on his shared scope presentation of the Lam Rim teachings.


Turning to his commentary on the 1st Dalai Lama’s presentation of the Eight Fears that Tara helps us overcome, he clarifies that miserliness, covered in the last episode, has the broader meaning of grasping, the 9th of the 12 Links of Dependent Origination.  The seventh fear is attachment, compared to a raging Tibetan river, hard to cross and so easy to be swept downstream.  The eighth fear is doubt, doubts about crossing to the far bank, leaving us to be swept along, zombie like, in the wrong direction.


So today Geshe la has completed two texts for us.  From your comments it is clear many of you sincerely agree that these teachings have been very special, and Geshe la will be continuing because of your interest and enthusiasm, thank you.  Next time he will be reading and translating A Harvest of Powerful Attainment by Lama Tsongkhapa, p.109 of the same book: The Splendour of an Autumn Moon.  We hope you will join us!


The Essence of a Human Life (verse 13)

Words of Advice for the Lay Practitioner


By the virtue of this advice,

may living beings turn from the bustle of this life,

whose happiness is never enough,

whose suffering never runs out,

to live instead by the great joy of Dharma.


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 10 Comments

  1. Grace Davis

    Dear Geshe-la, thank you so much for continuing to give us teachings in your busy schedule. They are so helpful when I look outside to burnt trees, houses and animal habitat as I see impermanence all around me in a direct way. You really help me step inside this reality and still keep a compassionate heart, so I can listen deeply to others and keep a calm mind. Thank you for continuing these precious teachings and please live long.

  2. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la
    Echoing thanks for continuing with these beautiful texts. So full of meaning and such vivid imagery. We are so lucky to have direct translations too. ‘Bustle’, pronounced bussel, is an old fashioned word meaning active busy-ness. Lovely images of the youngsters enjoying footie. The youngsters on my estate have managed to liberate the lock to the play area and have been improvising footie too as their balls were locked away in the kick about. Big thank yous to Tri and Peter for posting up so quickly and am so glad we are going to be treated to more teachings. Thank you!
    Love to all, Jane

    1. admin

      Thank you Jane, we’re very happy to be getting more teachings too! x

  3. Jude

    Thank you for illuminating the meaning of these traditional texts – so very helpful at this time. And Thank you also to the person who provides the introductory text to set the context of each teaching.

    1. admin

      Thank you Jude! We’re glad you find it helpful.

  4. Brian

    Dear Geshela I managed to watch & listen to this session just now – while working at home I will admit …a simultaneous upside and downside of technology..these have to be the most beneficial “blah blah” talks I have heard……many thanks…… I plan to repeat viewing without interruption ….

  5. Alison

    Dear Geshe-la,
    Thank you for once again for so generously sending us these teachings. I find them hugely supportive during this strange time and will return to them when life moves on to a new stage. Not only is this a lovely gift you have given us but so much that I can focus on for retreats as well. And wonderful that these teachings will continue.

  6. Shirley

    Tashi delek
    Once again, many thanks. These teachings just get better and better. Particularly comforting in current times, not to mention helpful, especially when you feel you are beginning to “flag”..(ie get worn down with the current state of things), and the media is full of nothing but gloom and doom. Whilst I cant speak for other countries, here in the UK, publishing death rates In the media has elevated into an obsession. You must find it very challenging to translate these amazing texts into English but you are doing an excellent job. I find each teaching informative and very absorbing. Today, you enlarged upon two particular issues relating to grasping/attachment and something relating to Karma, which had never even occurred to me. But having only started the buddhist path three years ago, aged 67, I hope that will be sufficient excuse! Well now, I am revived…things are never are as bad as they seem when you analyse it. Usually it is due to your own perception, where you create unnecessary suffering for yourself. Once again, a heartfelt thank you.

  7. julie

    Greetings Geshe la, Am so grateful to you for sharing with us so regularly. Many many thanks, again, and again, from julie : )

  8. Brian

    Dear Geshela,

    Thank you for posting again. I haven’t had time to watch this advice session yet unfortunately. I find I am sometimes going back over prior sessions if I felt I missed something before.

    So getting a little behind.

    I do really appreciate your informal style, it is like talking with a family member when I listen. Also your usage of colloquial English such as ”tight-fisted” and ”losing the plot” very helpful I think.

    Will try to watch this session later today.

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