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Transcript of Geshe Tenley’s commentary. Transcription and editing: Kimber Fitzmorgan, kimber@kurukulla.org 

Would you please introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is Geshe Tenley. Geshe Ngawang Tenley. I am from Tibet. I came to India to study at Sera [Je Monastery], then I came to Boston. Right now, I am the Resident Teacher at Kurukulla Center in Boston. 

How and when did you first learn about this prayer?

Just a couple of months ago, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and his Holiness the Sakya Trichen all recommended different prayers for everyone to do. This is also special because His Holiness Sakya Trichen recommended that everyone to do this prayer. Also, Lama Zopa Rinpoche asked all FPMT students and followers to do this practice. Therefore, it is very important for all of us to follow our guru’s advice. If we follow our guru’s advice, then our practice becomes very successful and meaningful and useful. Therefore, I will follow my teacher’s advice. I’m sure this will have big benefits and also there is a big reason why they recommended that all of us do this practice.

What makes the practice special?

For example, one group asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama, at this kind of time [of pandemic], what prayers should we do. His Holiness the Dalai Lama recommended saying the Green Tara Mantra. I’m sure people also asked His Holiness Sakya Trichen – they requested advice from hom. And also he gave them advice. So I’m sure the holy masters [chose these prayers] for a specific reason because they have to give advice to everyone. I’m sure behind that is a major reason.

Can a practice have a blessing because of the author or because of the text itself?

It’s both. Yeah. [so the reason there is power from the author…] The story goes like this. At one time in the Sakya area [of Tibet]. They have some kind of virus [similar to COVID-19]. A lot of monks, and nuns, and lay people, pass away. They did so many different prayers, so many different medications, but they couldn’t stop the virus. Then, they requested for the Mahasidda Thangtong Gyalpo, [Thangton Gyalpo ]. He was Tibetan and very great high yogi. And then, they made a request for Thangtong Gyalpo [to help]. Then, he composed this text. Then, all the virus stopped [went away]. Then, everything became normal. Therefore, I think that also when he composed his practice, I’m sure he had a very special different [powerful] motivation, or intention. Of course, you know, all the Buddha’s teachings, master’s teachings, work [they are effective] and are very powerful, but the individual practices they’re different. For example, for those who get sick, there is a special Medicine Buddha, For obstacles there are the Tara prayers. So there are different kinds of Buddhas for different reasons. For example, the long-life deities. Of course, it’s all powerful But we also have — “specialists.’ Therefore, I’m sure there are very specific reasons why he composed this. Therefore, I’m sure there are a lot of benefits and meanings. 

You do this practice every day on Facebook Live with your students. Why?

There are so many reasons. Of course one of the reasons is that, His Holiness Sakya Trichen [and the other masters] he requested all of us do that. And then, the second reason, also, I recite it along with the a recording of the chanting from the monks and nuns from Sakya Monastery. And there is also very big blessing [for the students to to hear them chanting] and also, a very close connection for the Sakya tradition. Then also, this is something new. People like to do some new things. Therefore, there’s so many reasons. Lastly, even if you don’t understand the meaning, , even if you listen to the voices chanting, there is really a heavy, powerful meaning and blessing for the students. Therefore I choose to play this for the online students [daily at 6:00PM ET Facebook Live], I pray with friends from all of the world. And therefore, I’m sure everyone has very good imprints of this practice.

Is there a difference between doing this prayer alone or with others?

– Oh, yeah. There’s a big difference. Especially for us at the beginner levels. It’s good to [pray] in a group, because so many people have different mental abilities. Some have high levels [of accomplishment] On the outside we appear to be the same, But on the inside, mentally, our experience and realizations are different. Maybe there are some Buddhas or bodhisattvas with us. If we are praying with them then, also, there is more merit. When we were at the monastery, all the teachers advise us, go to the puja. If you stay in your room by yourself, and recite one time, the 21 Praises to Tara, or you go to the pujas, with monks, recite that — There is a big difference. Therefore, if you stay by yourself, you can get the benefit of reciting just one time. You go to that puja, if there are 1,000 monks, you get 1,000 times blessings. Therefore, us beginners, is much better to practice in a group. Now, if you are a very high level practioner, then, it doesn’t matter. You can do it by yourself. Or you can practice in groups. It’s a not much of a big difference.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

– I think, you know, those who are religious, especially Buddhist…of course the pandemic, coronavirus, hit all over the world. But one thing that I can say, in China, people in all the Chinese provinces got sick. But in Tibet, no one got sick. Even some Tibetan students in the city of Wuhan, they didn’t get sick. I believe that we as Tibetans have very strong faith. We have faith in mantras, blessings, and prayers, and the dharma protectors, as well as faith in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. I’m sure that has something to do with this, even you are together, but something different. You can see that. Therefore, if you practice or pray, then, you’re mentally also much healthier than others. Also, physically, you have some feel to protect. Protector. Therefore, many diseases, of course, they come from the body, but also, many disease are affected by our mind. For example, right now, even you catch the common cold, you might think, “Oh no, I have the coronavirus!” It just you have so many, you know, different thoughts, different worries, you know, which make it worse. Therefore, I think prayer and practice, and believing in religion are very helpful. Especially at this time of pandemic– a difficult time for all of us. Therefore, I’d like for everyone to do as much as you can to pray and practice. But don’t push yourself! Just don’t stop. Do slowly, slowly. And you don’t look for the result to come very fast. We don’t get results very fast because we don’t have enough merit and effort. So many things. Therefore, it takes time, but slowly, slowly, we can see the result. Therefore, I give all of you my best wishes. I hope you are successful in your practice, and your life, and your study. My best wish for all of you. Thank you.

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