Practising Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 2nd July

Practising Buddhism in a Pandemic – Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Coronavirus Update 2nd July

In this week’s Coronavirus Update, Geshe Tashi lets us know that the virus has finally reached the monastery.  The circumstances, however, say much for Geshe la’s stewardship of his community.  One monk has tested positive, but that monk was in quarantine at the time.  What’s more, the monk that tested positive was asymptomatic – he had the Coronavirus, but wasn’t showing any symptoms.  That shows Sera Mey’s response to the virus has been very effective so far.  There is only so much Geshe la can do, but it seems what he can do, he is doing well.


We have an exciting new development to announce.  Geshe la will be introducing regular crow updates – or should we say, Corvid Updates, exclusive to this channel.  Knowing you all as we do, we expect this will be a popular new addition to our series.


In this Practising in a Pandemic section, we have finished the first part of Maitreya’s Prayer of Love, which focussed on the Seven Limb Practices.  At this point we can now dedicate these Seven Practices towards the second part of the text, engaging in bodhisattva activities.


Commenting on verses 12 and 13, Geshe la gives us an introduction to the Six Perfections.  These are practices we train in to develop our own strength.  If we want to reach out to others, there are four more skills we need to cultivate:


1.     The ability to provide basic necessities to the living beings, such as food, medicine, and shelter, in that way bringing them under our care.

2.     The ability to relate to and understand the background of the students, to speak and express important points well.

3.     The ability to live life according the philosophies we teach, so our actions concord with our words.

4.     Being able to dedicate our lives to the benefit of those under our care.


If we have these qualities, Geshe la says, then one way or another, people will gather and take part in those things we support.


Once again Geshe la translates from the Tibetan for us, and as a note for the English translation we are using, the last line of verse 12 should read:


** “May I practice the bodhisattva deeds.”


Next week Geshe Tashi will translate and comment on verses 14 and 15, both of which are about emptiness.  To prepare the ground for us in advance, Geshe la has very kindly chosen three verses on emptiness: one from sutra, one from an Indian commentary, and one written by Lama Tsongkhapa.  He translates them directly from the written Tibetan, what we print below is our quickly edited version of his off the cuff translation!


A verse from the Ma Tros pa Sutra

(The Sūtra of the Questions of the Nāga King Anavatapta)


Whatever arises dependent on conditions,

That thing has not arisen intrinsically.

This is the sure sign that phenomena

Do not have intrinsic arising nature.


A verse from Ayradeva’s Four Hundred Stanzas


Whatever comes into being dependent on others,

That thing will not have any independent nature.

All things lack this inherent nature,

Therefore, there is no inherent self.


A verse from Lama Tsongkhapa’s In Praise of Dependent Arising


Whatever is dependent on conditions

These things are empty of inherent nature.

Proclaimed by the Buddha, what an amazing statement!

Among all great teachings, what teachings are greater than this?


There’s certainly plenty to chew on this week, we hope you enjoy!


With best wishes as ever,


Your Admin Team


Maitreya’s Prayer of Love (Verses 12 & 13)

Jampai Monlam


I will follow with care

The path of the Buddhas

Of the past, present, and future.

**It is enlightenment that I will practice


When I have accomplished the six perfections

May I be able to liberate all beings in the six migratory realms.

May I manifest the six supramundane cognitions;

May I touch great enlightenment.

FPMT, translator unknown

**  Better translated as, “May I practice the bodhisattva deeds.”


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 8 Comments

  1. Grace Davis

    Thank you so much Geshe la for your teachings that explain the Buddha Dharma so well. There are the practical teachings of providing food, medicine, shelter – basic necessities – with gentleness using a kind voice
    and then the profound understanding of emptiness and dependant origination. Together these teachings are like Siamese twins! Separate but intrinsically woven together! How fortunate to have found these teachings at this time and to have found Geshe la as well. We really are very fortunate.
    Please live long Geshe la and continue to teach the Dharma for all time and thank you so much Admin for all your work in bringing Geshe la onto my screen – stay healthy and happy!

  2. Jane

    Dear Geshe la
    Echoing others’ comments and concerns. Thankfully you took the strong steps which I do hope very much will help protect and reduce the impact. On a lighter note, crows are very intelligent – they can count and recognise a certain number of words, not just their own language. In the UK, many people became enthusiastic observers of nature during lock down. Thank you so much for taking time to teach us. Love to all, Jane

  3. Julie

    Dear Gesha la, Thank you so much for sharing your time, energy, a selection of topics & especially these precious precious teachings. Having been confused earlier in year thinking the virus was called Corvid 19 my small mind is very happy to hear your Crows Nest News (CNN). Not happy to hear Covid 19 is now known to be in the monastery but your pragmatic reflections are helpful on that too. Again – thank you, thank you, thank you. With All Best Wishes to you and the Admin Crew. From julie

    1. admin

      Thank you Julie, Crow’s Nest News (CNN) – love it!

  4. Sue

    Wonderful, wonderful teaching today, thank you so much Geshe-la. So sorry to hear that the virus has entered the monastery…our prayers are with you all. I’m delighted that we now share a birdwatching interest…it is one of my favourite pastimes! Indeed, it takes up too much of my time when I should be doing other things (like studying the dhama!)

  5. Brian

    Hello Geshela, Thank you for the detailed translations of Tibetan words & phrases with equivalent English ….. I find this a very helpful approach to assist in my understanding.

    Sad but maybe inevitable the virus has reached the monastery, hopefully the internal restrictions on movement you describe will contain the spread somewhat.

    We have had magpies nesting in our garden the last two springtimes…observing their life cycles is valuable I find particularly when the fledglings try their first flight…..the mothers are so committed to their young….

    Thanks also to admins for adding teacing overviews….

  6. Shelley

    Thank you so much Geshe la. Sorry to hear that the virus has reached you. Glad to see you looking so well though and thank you for the reminder to be positive. Such a beautiful verse we are studying at the moment.
    With all best wishes

  7. Shirley

    Tashi delek
    Thank you for your teaching. I am concerned to hear that the virus has now reached you. I read that in the UK, 40% of cases are asymptomatic. This is very worrying because unless those people are tested, they will spread the virus unknowingly to others. As a nature lover, I am looking forward very much to the Crow News. It will be interesting if a cuckoo lays an egg in the crow nest, because when the egg hatches, the fledgling cuckoo has the instinct to push all the other eggs out of the nest, so that it gets all the food. We can learn so much from observing nature. When I was a gardening volunteer in one of our royal parks, I was surprised and saddened when I saw how much death there is in nature. With regard to diligence, persistence and dedication in the bird world, the human analogy in my case is dedication – good, persistence – good, diligence – needs more work!

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