In our Practising in a Pandemic section, we are fully launched into the Six Perfections. In this episode, Geshe Tashi gives us a commentary on verses 18 and 19 of Maitreya’s Prayer of Love, dealing with the perfections of ethics and patience. He very kindly sources further reading for us from Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chenmo volume 2. Not many texts explain the Six Perfections altogether and in this kind of detail, Geshe la says, so he particularly recommends these sections from Lama Tsonghapa’s “Great Treatise”. Incidentally, once we are able to increase our resources and have updated the material, Foundations of Buddhist Thought will be offering Geshe Tashi’s two year Lam Rim Chenmo course online, using the excellent learning management system we have introduced for the 2 year FBT course. Following up on Geshe la’s recommended reading here might be a great opportunity to familiarise yourself with this extraordinary text.
Commenting on Verse 18, Geshe Tashi explains the two kinds of ethics we need to practice. As human beings, regardless of religion or belief system, it is our natural responsibility to refrain from the first type, often referred to by His Holiness as universal or secular ethics. These natural ethics act as a necessary basis for any further vows that we might choose to take on voluntarily. Geshe la explains that the “pride” mentioned in this verse actually refers to the three spheres of self-grasping: yourself as the practitioner; the ethics you practise; and your actions of refraining from wrongdoing.
In verse 19, Geshe Tashi gives us another fresh and off the cuff translation, as there is some confusion in the translation we are using. Here, our patience needs to be like the five natural elements: earth, water, fire, wind, space. These elements remain as they are, abiding in their absence of intrinsic nature, whatever the circumstances, and this is how we should perfect our patience. Here is an alternative translation, roughly edited by us, that we hope will serve for now:
“Being like earth, water, fire, wind or space,
Remaining without self-nature.
Through patience, without expressing anger,
May I perfect the practice of patience.”
Quoting from the Lam Rim Chenmo book 2, p.152, Geshe la begins to tell us what patience is. He covers the first part here, leaving two more types of patience to look forward to next week. Can you accept the suffering of having to wait? By way of an answer we’ll leave you with a quote from Asterix & Obelix in Corsica.
Sailor: “Can a Corsican come aboard?”
Entire crew: “… Of course he can!”
We have complete faith in our excellent community.
With best wishes as ever,
Your Admin Team
Maitreya’s Prayer of Love (Verses 18 & 19)
May I never transgress the discipline of morality and free myself from pride,
Since by having pride in the appearance of morality and purity,
One is without morality.
I wish to accomplish the perfection of morality.
**Patience must be as steady as earth or water,
Not changeable like the wind.
Knowing that both patience and anger do not exist,
I wish to accomplish the perfection of patience.
FPMT, translator unknown
** Please check Geshe Tashi’s translation before relying on the one printed here.
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering taught in London for over 25 years and is currently Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery in Karnataka State, India.