LIVE TEACHINGS WITH GESHE TASHI

A PRAYER FOR BIRTH IN SUKHAVATI

DATES:  The following Sundays beginning the 9th May 2021 and then the 16th, 23rd May; 6th, 13th, 20th June; and every Sunday in July.  To register for each class, please scroll down to the red button below.

TIME:  3.30pm UK, 8pm India, 7.30am Los Angeles, 10.30am New York, 10.30pm Perth.  

LOCATION:  These teachings will be available to join as a Zoom meeting,  and will also be live streamed on Facebook.  Recordings of the classes are available here (please scroll down), on our blog, on Facebook and on our FBT YouTube channel.

TEXT:  The text for a Prayer for Birth in Sukhavati is included in the anthology of Lama Tsongkhapa’s devotional verses titled, The Splendour of an Autumn Moon by Gavin Kilty.  Alongside The King of Prayers and Maitreya’s Prayer of Love, this prayer is one of the nine great prayers in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. 

Wisdom Publications, the publisher, has very kindly given us permission to provide this texts for registrants of this course.  They also provided a really lovely PDF for us, which you can download here. Please do not download this text unless you have registered for the class, and please do not share it with anyone else.  

Thanks Wisdom!

COURSE DESCRIPTION:   As always, Geshe Tashi’s emphasis in these teachings will be on how we can best experience the material for ourselves.  Lama Tsongkhapa’s Prayer for Birth in Sukhavati is a practice text composed to help us cultivate the aspiration and enthusiasm we need to practice the entire path to enlightenment.  

DONATIONS:  You will need to make a voluntary donation to register for each class.  This can be £0.00.  PayPal processes the donations, but you do not need a PayPal account to make a donation.

    • All donations go through the FBT’s bank account, set up as a Community Interest Company.
    • Half of all donations will go to Geshe Tashi and his charitable projects.
    • The other half will go towards the growing costs of running both sites and hosting these teachings. 

A big thank you from us and from Geshe la for all your donations so far.  From our side this has allowed us to employ a part time assistant, James, to help with the workload.  One of our FBT students, Danny, generously lent him to us to edit videos over the summer (he was an intern in Danny’s company), and now we’ve been able to employ him part time.  He’s already proving invaluable. So many thanks again for your generosity.  

REGISTRATION:  To join Geshe Tashi in the Zoom Meeting, please register for the next upcoming class using the button below.  You will need to register each week.  Currently the Meeting is limited to 100 participants per week on a first come first served basis.  When you register successfully you will receive an order confirmation email. There will then be an additional period of time before you receive the Meeting link. We have to complete each order manually, and only on completion is the link is sent to you.  If you have received an order confirmation, rest assured we will make sure you receive your link before the class begins.

HOW TO REGISTER:  You don’t need to have a PayPal account to register or make a donation.  A few people have struggled with the process, and we’ve made a visual guide which we hope will help.  You can see it by clicking here.

A NOTE ON PRESENTATION

We begin the teachings fifteen minutes early to allow all of us some community time together.  Geshe Tashi will join near to the beginning of the class.  At 2.30pm exactly, we will mute all except Geshe la, and he will begin.

PREVIOUS CLASSES

You can view all previous classes  below, as well as on both our blogs:

The FBT Blog

Geshe Tashi’s Blog  

A NOTE ON VIEWING CLASS ONE

A note from The Admin Team:  We apologise for our unwanted intrusion into the video recording.  You will see that after around 15 minutes we appear side by side with Geshe la, and then for the duration. This really wasn’t our intention by any means!  Unfortunately we didn’t realise until we viewed the recording afterwards.  We were trying out Zoom Webinar, as it seemed to promise a better quality experience for everyone, but we weren’t familiar enough with how it worked and we messed up.  We will be returning to Zoom Meeting next time as it allows all participants to be seen by Geshe la in the teaching event.  Hopefully we’ll do a better job.

We are also unhappy with the size of the viewing screen within the frame.  This seems to be another unfortunate feature of Zoom Webinar.  We expect class two to be back to the same format at the Coronavirus Updates.

Apologies from us both!  Nevertheless, we hope you enjoy.  This promises to be a great teaching series over the next six months.

CLASS TWO

In this class Geshe la gives a word by word translation and commentary on the first four verses, going into considerable detail on the first of the Seven Preliminary Practices – prostrations.

This is the mantra Geshe la mentions in the class, to recite while doing prostrations:

Om namo manjushriye, namo sushriye, namo uttama shriye soha

CLASS THREE

In this class Geshe la gives a commentary on verses five to eight, covering the second and third of the Seven Preliminary Practices – making offerings and purification.  In his typically approachable and thorough way, he explains:

  • how to make “unsurpassable offerings”
  • the four obscurations to enlightenment
  • the four powers that act as the mechanism of purification.

CLASS FOUR

In this class Geshe la gives a translation and commentary on verses nine to twelve, covering the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh of the Seven Preliminary Practices.  This is a great opportunity to learn how to set up a meditation practice, or take your current understanding further. 

The fourth Preliminary Practice is Rejoicing, and Geshe la puts it well when he calls it Appreciating.  The fifth is Requesting the Buddhas to Teach; the sixth Requesting the Buddhas to Stay; and the seventh is Dedication.  


CLASS FIVE

In this class Geshe la starts the main body of the text, launching into the first of a series of aspirations that lead us step by step along the bodhisattva path.  Translating and commenting on verses thirteen to twenty, Geshe la covers these first three beautiful bodhisattva aspirations we can hold in our heart at any time:

  1. The Aspiration for Purity of Attitude
  2. The Aspiration Never to Forget Bodhicitta
  3. The Aspiration to be Free from Defilements

In a live Q&A, Geshe la then gives answers to questions on: abandoning the arrogant mind; why the Buddha has the major and minor marks; what to make of the 21 Taras; The King of Prayers Sutra; and the order we can expect to realise the emptiness of self and the emptiness of phenomena.

This is another brilliant class, packed full of scholarship, common sense and heartfelt advice, we hope you enjoy.

CLASS SIX

In this class Geshe la continues with the main body of the text and a series of aspirations that lead us step by step along the bodhisattva path. As Geshe la points out, these aspirations (in Verses 21-27) encourage us to extend and expand our vision, not just to our family, community or country, but to all living beings.  They encourage us to connect will all the enlightened beings and to think not just in terms of one lifetime, but many hundreds of thousands of lifetimes or more.  We may not think we can do this, we  may think it is too much.  This, Geshe la suggests, is our old, cultural way of thinking.  We can change that, and in doing so we will see our narrow, short term mind transformed.

  1. The Aspiration to Lead Beings to Happiness
  2. The Aspiration to Wear the Armour of Dedication
  3. The Aspiration to Accompany Other Bodhisattvas
  4. The Aspiration to Have Virtuous Teachers and to Please Them
  5. The Aspiration to See the Buddhas and Serve them in Person
  6. The Aspiration to Keep the Dharma Thriving
  7. The Aspiration to Acquire Inexhaustible Treasure

CLASS SEVEN

Geshe la begins this class reading from Chapter 1 of the Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life, verses 27 & 28.  He emphasises how meaningful it is to help and support others.  Just having the simple thought to help others is worth all the offerings to the Buddhas we can imagine, “what need is there to speak of actual deeds that bring about the genuine well-being of others?”  He advises us, every now and again, to stop, think and contemplate: we have these yearnings to be free of suffering, to have happiness, but how do we best fulfil them?  What are the causes for the genuine happiness of ourselves and others.

The following Aspiration helps us to address this.  What do we need to do?  Using everyday examples, Geshe la really brings the relevance of this aspiration to life.

 

11. Aspiration to the Different Methods for Entering into the “Good Actions.”

a)     Seeing the Buddhas and their Pure Realms

b)     Listening to the Speech of the Buddhas

c)     Hearing the Turning of the Wheels of Dharma

d)     Entering into All the Aeons.

 

CLASS EIGHT

Geshe la begins this class by once again reading from The Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life, this time from Chapter Four, Verse 28.  He translates from the original Tibetan text, as Shantideva asks a stunning question:

“Anger, lust and so on, these enemies of mind are like hands and fingers, devoid of faculties.  They have no bravery, no cleverness.  How then have they reduced me to such slavery?”

Geshe la shares his reasoning on why these overwhelming states of mind are in fact very unstable and can be removed.  Love and compassion, on the other hand, are founded in truth and reason and can be built on and enhanced without limit.

 

How do we build on and enhance love and compassion?  How do we satisfy our yearnings to be free from the suffering states of mind and replete with those that bring happiness?  Geshe la continues with his commentary on the 11th Aspiration which helps us answer these questions.  What do we need to do?  Using everyday examples, Geshe la really brings the relevance of this aspiration to life.

 

11. Aspiration to the Different Methods for Entering into the “Good Actions.”

Last week

a)     Seeing the Buddhas and their Pure Realms

b)     Listening to the Speech of the Buddhas

c)     Hearing the Turning of the Wheels of Dharma

d)     Entering into All the Aeons.

This week:

e)   Seeing all the Buddhas in One Instant

f)    Entering the Sphere of Activity of the Buddhas

g)   Accomplishing and Entering the Pure Lands

h)   Entering into the Presence of the Buddhas

 

In the twelfth Aspiration, verses 36 & 37,  Geshe la guides us through the Ten Powers of a Buddha.  How does a Buddha do Buddha things?  We can find the answers here:

 

12. Aspiration to the Power of Enlightenment through the Ten Powers

      i.         The Power of Swift Miracles

     ii.         The Power of the Vehicle, like a Doorway

   iii.         The Power of the Conduct that Possesses All Virtuous Qualities

    iv.         The Power of All-pervasive Loving Kindness

     v.         The Power of the Merit that is Totally Virtuous

    vi.         The Power of Wisdom Free from Attachment

  vii.         The Power of Knowledge

 viii.         The Power of Skilful Means

   ix.         The Power of Samadhi

     x.         The Power of Enlightenment

 

CLASS NINE

Geshe la begins this class by once again reading from The Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life.  He gives a guidance on the need for vigilant introspection in our meditation and mindfulness practices.  Why is this this kind of mindfulness so important?

Turning to The King of Prayers, he suggests we ask ourselves, “What are the qualities of a Buddha?” This is the kind of question, he says, that will make our daily refuge practice so much more effective.   He then recommends a further question to help induce a vigilant introspection, “What are the obscurations for us?”

The verses he shares asks us to contemplate the destructive power of the unguarded mind. Is it possible our own minds could be even more dangerous than a wild elephant on the rampage?

Verse 38 from The King of Prayers, then, looks at pacifying this destructive power.  Verses 39 and 40 encourage us to expand our aspiration to be huge, ‘oceanic’ in scope – not just in one area of our practice, but across the board.  In verses 41-44, with Geshe Tashi’s help, we get a glimpse into what it might mean to ‘follow in the footsteps of the Buddha.’

These are the aspirations that these verses cover this week.

 

13.  Aspiration to the Antidotes that Pacify the Obscurations

 

14.  Aspiration to Enlightened Activities

 

15.  Aspiration for Training

a) To emulate the buddhas and follow in their footsteps

b) To emulate the bodhisattvas and follow in their footsteps: Samantabhadra

c) To emulate the bodhisattvas and follow in their footsteps: Manjushri


CLASS TEN

As an introduction to this class, Geshe Tashi gives a detailed word by word translation and guidance on the traditional refuge and bodhichitta prayer, used at the beginning of Buddhist classes and teachings.  We think that those of you on the Foundation of Buddhist Thought Course, or in the early stages of your Buddhist journey, will find this extremely helpful.

Geshe la then begins the main body of the class by once again reading from The Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life, this time translating for us and commenting on Chapter 3, verses 30, 31 & 32.  He gives us a summary of what the bodhichitta mind of love and compassion is, including the two main aspirations involved.  Once again this is particularly on topic for those of you who have just started the Awakening Mind module of the Foundation of Buddhist Thought Course.

 

Turning to The King of Prayers, Geshe la looks at just how vast the bodhisattva aspirations are and helps us get our heads around the concept of limitless living beings and limitless activities to help them.  He guides us through the verses:

 

45.  Concluding Aspiration 16

 

46   Extent of the Aspiration

 

Geshe la then finishes with a Q&A.

 


 

CLASS ELEVEN

 

At the beginning of this class, Geshe la returns to His Holiness’s book of Daily Inspirations.  You may remember we had a Podcast series on these called A Buddhist Life with Geshe Tashi Tsering available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and here on GesheTashi.org.  This was a really helpful and down to earth series and definitely worth exploring:

https://geshetashi.org/category/geshe-tashis-podcast-a-buddhist-life/

 

Here Geshe la, referencing Chandrakirti, continues in this super practical vein with a discussion around samsaric things.  They always have two sides, he says, the auspicious and the inauspicious, these two come together in samsara.  He skilfully takes our mobile phones as an example. He then takes up His Holiness’s baton with a discussion around the dangers of having too much contentment – perhaps not as counter-intuitive as it first might seem.

 

In our main focus for this series, Geshe la continues his commentary on The King of Prayers, with verses 47, 48 and 49 under the headings:

 

The Benefits of Making Aspirations

The Thirteen Benefits in Detail.

 

What are the benefits of our prayers and aspirations, in this life and future lives?  This will be our topic in this class and next.  As a prelude to answering this question, Geshe Tashi shares a personal story on advice given to him around harmful companions.

 


CLASS TWELVE

At the beginning of this class, Geshe la once again returns to His Holiness’s book of Daily Inspirations, taking the inspiration for October 4th on impermanence.  Challenges are bound to happen, Geshe la says, because our life is a product of the afflictions and karma. But no matter how difficult the situation, and here Geshe la gives the example of the Coronavirus pandemic, we need to remind ourselves that all the difficulties we face are transitory, impermanent, and won’t stay for ever. 

 

Turning to our main text, The King of Prayers, Geshe la continues discussing the benefits of holding the aspirations we’ve been studying, both in this life and future lives (verses 51 to 54), which include being purified from the five immediate retributions or misdeeds and having both internal and external beauty in a future life.  These headings are:

 

The Thirteen Benefits in Detail.

The Benefits in Brief

 

He ends by looking at first two of a number of ways we can dedicate the good work we have done (verses 55 and 56), under the headings:

 

The Dedication that Follows the Bodhisattvas

The Dedication that Follows the Buddhas

 

 

CLASS THIRTEEN

Geshe Tashi begins the class quoting by heart from Chapter 3 of A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva.  He describes how the five great elements, as the building blocks of our planet, are continuously producing endless things to support living beings.  Like the five great elements, Shantideva writes, may my body, speech and mind serve living beings for a very long time.

 

Turning to our main text, The King of Prayers, Geshe la continues discussing the different ways we can dedicate the good works we have done.

 

Last week (verses 55 and 56), we looked at:

1. The Dedication that Follows the Bodhisattvas

2. The Dedication that Follows the Buddhas

 

This week (verses 57,58,59) Geshe la covers:

3. The Dedication towards Actualising the Result

4. The Dedication towards Receiving a Prophecy from the Buddhas

 

What do we do at the point of death, when we go from one life to the next?  How can we be born in a Buddha paradise?  How can we gain the best life to benefit others?  Geshe la explains there are different approaches, including the dedications we are making here, but the key, he says, is to familiarise ourselves with refuge and bodhicitta while we are still alive.

 

Geshe la finishes the class with an impromptu Q&A

 


 

CLASS FOURTEEN

 

Geshe la continues discussing the different ways we can dedicate the good works we have done.  Verses 60 to 63 are beautiful verses of dedication under the titles: ‘Dedication towards Serving Others’ and ‘Concluding Verses’.

 

To conclude this series of classes on The King of Prayers, Geshe la gives an oral transmission of the entire prayer.  He himself received this oral transmission from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and His Holiness’s two tutors.

He also gives an oral transmission of four mantras:

 

·       The Tara mantra

·       The Medicine Buddha manta

·       The Vajrasattva mantra

·       The Buddha Migtrugpa mantra.

 

Geshe la finishes with an explanation of the importance of The King of Prayers in Tibetan Buddhism.  In a package of prayers called The Nine Prayers, all traditions place this prayer first.  And all traditions place the prayer we studied last, Maitreya’s Prayer of Love, second.