Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 7th April

Practicing Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 7th 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 advice in his usual warm-hearted and accessible style.

In this update Geshe Tashi reflects on the impermanent nature of our routines, as the bi-monthly Sojong, or purification day, is attended by only five monks, and shares with us why he found the candlelight vigil uplifting.

In the Practicing in a Pandemic section, Geshe la reads and discusses four entries from the book, “1001 Pearls of Buddhist Wisdom”. Through his choice of quotes around wisdom and a pure heart, he skilfully paints a picture that adds up to be bigger than its four parts, an approach that is particularly useful and inspiring in these disorientating times.

We attach a photo below of Geshe Tashi during the candlelight vigil.

Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering taught in London for over 25 years and is currently Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery in Karnataka State, India.

Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering and colleague taking part in India’s nationwide candlelight vigil.

At 8am each day, a small number of monks at Sera Mey Monastery are carrying out a Medicine Buddha Practice.  You are welcome to join them online at this time. Geshe Tashi led the first one, which you can see here on Sera Mey’s Facebook page.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la

    Thank you for your moving reflections. There have been some wonderful heart warming stories of so-called ‘ordinary’ people doing some very extra-ordinary things. A lady from South Wales described how a nurse caring for her father who had severe dementia and who was dying from the virus, called them and asked what might help comfort her father in his final hours. She was able to give her all the names of people who were close to him, including the names of his pet dogs, and she held his hand right to the end, reminding him of those who loved him. He squeezed her hand at each name and finally passed peacefully. That act of kindness helped ease the pain for the lady and her family to come to terms with the tragic situation. Very sadly, so many hospitals and homes are so far stretched that medics and carers are not able to spend the time that they would wish. Hopefully, there will be a celebration of such acts of kindness and ‘good heart’ when this is over and the history books filled with such stories rather than wars and killings. There is a monthly journal called ‘Positive News’ which only includes stories which reflect on the positive side of human nature. As HH Dalai Lama says, negative actions sell papers because, generally, they are rarer. Hoping this finds you and all in the monasteries well and that India avoids the worst of the current storm. Thank you again for very kindly and generously taking time to speak with us.
    Love to all and happy Easter, Jane

  2. Carina

    Dear Geshe-la,

    Many thanks for today’s teachings. So precious and valuable!

    Love and light,


  3. Anna

    Dear Geshe-la tashi delek!
    I’d like to express my deep gratitude for your precious time offered to benefit many of us.
    It’s a joy to receive news directly from the tibetan settlement (.. background ‘noises’ included..) and Dharma teachings at the same time!
    Thanks also very much to the people that make it possible.

    Your ‘bla bla’ is exactly what I was looking for during this difficult time.
    I should be a long time practitioner, but I’ve sadly discovered how fragile my ‘knowledge’ and my practice is. Didn’t I know about the truth of suffering? Didn’t I know about the certainty of karma?
    How big is the burden of conceptualizations I’m still carrying with me? How little I’ve been able to actually left behind…
    Many selfish thoughts, that thanks to your teachings has been wisely redirected to pay more attention to the pure heart of the human beings, to the natural, humble caring attitude that many (nurses, doctors.. but not only.. ) are now spontaneously showing while helping others.
    Many thanks again for you teachings, your kindness and your patience
    My best wishes to you all
    from Trieste, Italy

  4. Brenda

    Dear Geshe La
    Thankyou, thankyou, again and again for sharing your precious time with us . You give us a unique window into the impact of the virus from a completely different perspective, which is so interesting and so valuable.
    And you weave skillful and practical teachings into your very special diaries.
    We feel like ‘penpals’ of Sera Mey now, thanks to you. And so, we wish all there, from the abbot :)) to the newest novice, the warmest wishes for safety, health, resilience and well being.


    Hello, dear Geshe-la
    I’m responding to more than one of your wonderful postings, so many thank-you’s for sharing your experiences and your wisdom and the beautiful photos and the “noises off” as you are speaking. When you spoke about the big birds “chanting” in the coconut trees, it reminded me of the diverse noises when we were on the wonderful pilgrimage with you in 2008. Here in London, some birds (magpies, crows, seagulls) are noisier than others but it’s a good opportunity to practise tolerance and acceptance!
    Your teachings on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, particularly of the body was helpful timely with sickness and death so pervasive. And Shantideva on using the body as a boat is so helpful.
    Your nationwide candlelit vigil was indeed a wonderful way of bringing together people dispersed over thousands of miles to express collective gratitude, Here in the UK on Thursday evenings people stand at their doors and “clap to thank everyone in the NHS” but now people are banging spoons on saucepans. Not as peaceful as your vigil but moving, all the same.
    Thank you for sharing the diverse quotations and how we see and hear “love and compassion in action” – people who are doing what really matters to them, being with the sick and dying when families are unable to be there. So painful but so important. “Love one another with a pure heart and mind, see that you love one another” – maybe a digression but it’s a beautiful (Christian) anthem and I always cry when I hear it – but thank you, Geshe-la for your recent words about crying – many I know tell me that they cry at the moment.
    May you and all at Sera be well and safe and your kindness in teachings is hugely appreciated.
    Love Alison

  6. Sam

    Dear Geshe-la,
    Thank you once again for you time and thoughtful advice. Your regular videos have become essential reminders of our spiritual direction in these strange and unsettling times, and when I watch them I have a sense of community with your other students and friends who are also feeling gently guided by your insights and advice. I’m starting to see how right you were in the second or third video that the stresses and worries of this situation can have quite gradual effects on us, but thanks to your advice I understand how to put this in context and work with it.
    Being a full moon day, today I took the Mahayana precepts, which I received from you several times on retreats. On top of the traditional eight, I’m adding avoidance of news websites and social media, constant checking of which became quite a compulsive habit for me recently. I can try to go back to the news tomorrow in a more balanced way.
    With very best wishes,

  7. David Ford

    Dear Geshe-la,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at home so regularly. I very much appreciate the great efforts you are taking to continue to support us. Thank you so much.

    I found your talks on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness most beneficial. When left to my own devices, over an extended period of time, I realise how lazy I can become with my daily practice! Thank you for reminding me of the potential of these practices.

    Like so many, I am extremely moved by the selflessness of the actions of many around the globe, careing for the sick, the vulnerable and maintaining all our essential services at great risk to themselves. I do try to remember to rejoice in the merit of these ordinary beings, never before have I seen our news broadcasts full of such sadness but mixed with the stories of such truly inspirational and wonderful people.

    Many thanks again to you and also to Peter and Tri for enabling your visits.

    With my love and very best wishes to all,


    1. admin

      Thank you David, it is of course our great pleasure. Glad to hear you are well, P & T

  8. Sue Godden

    Many thanks for your generosity in taking the time to speak to us. It certainly must have felt different to only have 5 monks at sojong, but I’m sure everyone appreciated you all participating on behalf of those who couldn’t be there. Thanks also for choosing such apt quotations from the 1001 Pearls of Buddhist Wisdom, and for reminding us of how we should appreciate all the medical staff and others who are helping the afflicted through their illness in such an altruistic way.
    I pray that you continue to enjoy good health, and look forward to your next “blah blah” when you have the time.
    Best wishes
    Sue Godden

  9. Shirley

    Tashi delek

    You have confirmed much of my own recent thoughts, as this crisis continues. I was very moved and humbled by recently watching on TV, a short programme on the doctors and nurses working in intensive care. Also by the thousands of retired NHS workers, who have now returned to service. I also have the book you used here. It is a great book…little in size, but large in wisdom. I shall be seeking out those quotations you referred to. I look forward to your next talk. Thank you.


  10. Shelley Folland

    Thank you as always Geshe la for your wise words and for taking the time to talk to us during this time.
    Very best wishes to you and all the monks

    Shelley Folland

  11. Julie

    Greetings from Wales Geshe-la. Diolch yn fawr/Many many thanks. It really is very helpful during this strange time to feel grounded after hearing your observations, honesty, advice, wise words, reminders to cultivate love & compassion. Thank you.

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