Many of you have been keeping up with our Coronavirus Updates over the months. If this is new to you, we ought to explain that as Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery, Geshe Tashi has recently extended his concern for the well-being of his monks and the Tibetan settlements to his neighbouring crow community. He has been particularly absorbed by the trials of three crow couples and their attempts to build homes high in the nearby trees. We have started documenting this with our Corvid-6 Updates and our Crows Nest News (CNN) report. Geshe Tashi has recently videoed the young & inexperienced crow couple for us, braving the winds in their new nest. In case you haven’t seen our Facebook post, we attach the video below. Be warned, even in this light wind, it is still stressful viewing!
Today Geshe la was quick to get down to business, and he certainly packed a lot of goodness in. On top of his commentary on verses 16 & 17, he gives us an overview of the Six Perfections, going into the etymological meaning of each of these bodhisattva activities, behaviours or deeds. Generosity (dana) for example, comes from the Sanskrit root da meaning poverty and na meaning to negate, or be absent, free from. Geshe la emphasises that poverty does not just refer to material poverty, but also to the poverty of wisdom, knowledge and poverty of a good heart. We need to incorporate these deeper meanings into our practice of generosity so we can serve and alleviate these kinds of poverty as we find them. We particularly enjoyed his commentary on ethics, the connotation of the Sanskrit shila being to make fresh, like a nice cool breeze on a hot day. Practising ethics, Geshe la points out, will take away the heat of the afflictions.
From Verse 12 of Maitreya’s Prayer of Love, we have been guided in how to follow the bodhisattva’s path. Verses 16 to 22 will cover the Six Perfections. Geshe la points out how skilfully these verses have been structured. Verses 14 & 15, commented on last week, explore the emptiness of self and phenomena. Placing these before the Six Perfections emphasises how wisdom realising emptiness is required to perfect each quality. In fact, Geshe la tells us that three factors in total need to be present in order for these activities to be considered perfections. The other two are bodhichitta and dedicating the results to others.
In the original Tibetan version of Verse 16 the use of dak (self) twice encourages us to give up grasping to both self and phenomena, and the second line refers to the object being given, completing the “three spheres” of giving. An alternative version is keeping mindfulness of the giver, the action of giving, and the recipient while carrying out this perfection. The next two lines give us the dedication necessary to make this act a perfection.
Verse 17 the Tibetan nampar jigpa (totally destroyed) has been incorrectly translated as impermanent. Once again we are referring to the three spheres of giving, where we hold an awareness that the giver, what is given, and the receiver, all are empty of inherent existence. Geshe la glosses the last two lines so that the meaning in English accords with the commentary he is using:
“May my true grasping to these three be destroyed; in this way may I complete the perfection of generosity.”
So much wisdom and bodhichitta to soak up, so much we can dedicate! We hope you enjoy!
With best wishes as ever,
Your Admin Team
Maitreya’s Prayer of Love (Verses 16 & 17)
Since ego’s grasping of all phenomena is non-existent,
I wish to develop charity without limit
In order to benefit sentient beings.
Phenomena? Phenomena do not exist.
May the lack of material resources not hinder me.
** All things are impermanent;
Therefore, I wish to accomplish the perfection of charity.
FPMT, translator unknown
** Better translated as:
“May my true grasping to these three be destroyed,
In this way may I complete the perfection of generosity.”
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering taught in London for over 25 years and is currently Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery in Karnataka State, India.