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)
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.