It may seem for many of us that the threat from the Coronavirus is finally coming to a close. For Geshe Tashi, his monks and the Tibetan community in exile, the opposite seems to be true. There are now a few cases in the Tibetan community among those who are returning from further afield. There have not yet been any cases in the monastery, but as Geshe Tashi says in today’s update, it is getting closer and closer.
Geshe la begins his Practising in a Pandemic section with a reminder to cultivate a wholesome, constructive state of mind before any activity. It seems a simple thing to say, but it is such an important point: whether we are intelligent or not, religious or not, we all have the ability to hold positive, constructive states of mind.
This text is in two main parts: the first part, which Geshe la finishes in this episode, encourages us to train in the Seven Practices; the second part, starting next week, encourages us to engage in bodhisattva activities. As part of a helpful review, Geshe la poses the question ‘Why request the buddhas and bodhisattvas to teach?’ After all, they teach us out of compassion, and so it makes sense they don’t need to be asked, doesn’t it? It follows then, that this is a practice for us, to help us see and integrate at a deeper level the value and usefulness of the teachings. Similarly, why request teachers to stay for a long time, as we do in the second half of verse 9? Wouldn’t that be down to their own past causes? Geshe Tashi says these requests do have an impact, firstly because we have a strong connection with our teachers, and secondly because of the way the laws of karma work, briefly reviewed here by Geshe la.
Verse 10 illustrates clearly why we are making these requests: a combination of the terrible situation we are in, and our wish to free ourselves from samsara. Gesha la gives us a commentary on the three types of craving that bind us tightly to conditioned existence.
Tri has much sympathy for the translator of this text (cited in the FPMT materials as “translator unknown”) as she says translating poetry is particularly difficult, and sometimes can mean any number of things. We are extremely lucky to have Geshe Tashi to translate and also read from the Tibetan commentary. The significant differences between his translation of Verse 11 and the printed version shows us why. Geshe la gives us a very full translation and commentary to convey the very poignant meaning here, part of which is that Buddhas do not look down on sentient beings or treat them with pity, but instead act out of loving kindness. They know that our destructive emotions, while part of our mind, are not in our nature. They know we act badly, but not out of choice.
Next week Geshe la will begin the second part of this text where we will be encouraged to engage in the bodhisattva deeds. Something to look forward to!
With best wishes as ever,
Your Admin Team
Maitreya’s Prayer of Love (Verses 9,10 & 11)
I pray that sentient beings without exception
May be liberated by the sound of the great Dharma drum.
Please stay to teach the path to enlightenment
For inconceivable millions of eons.
I who am stuck hard in the mud of the desire realm,
Tightly bound by the rope of samsara,
Please watch over me, supreme beings
Who stand on the two feet of method and wisdom.
**The love of the Buddha is not obscured
In the same way as love between sentient beings.
The goal of his loving kindness-compassion
Is to lead them across the ocean of samsara.
FPMT, translator unknown
** … Please listen to Geshe Tashi’s translation and commentary of this verse before relying on the translation given 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.