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.