1 – The Magic Life of Milarepa: Youth, Seeking the Dharma, Meeting his Guru Marpa, Hardships Serving His Guru, Ordeals, Seeking a new Teacher, Meeting Marpa Again, Initiations and Instructions
Mila Sherab Gyaltsen, Milarepa’s father, married Nyangtsa Kargyen,the noble family of Nyang, when he was 21. The couple lived happily and prosperously in the village of Kya Ngatsa. Then some relatives of Mila’s grandfather – an uncle named Yungdrup Gyaltsen and an aunt named Khyung Tsha Pedon – moved to the area. By then, Mila’s family had been settled there a long time and had an impressive house, considerable land and a thriving business in trade.
While Nyangtsha Kargyen was pregnant with Milarepa, her husband went away on a long trading tour, and during his absence the child was born. A messenger was sent to find the father and inform him that he had a new son, asked him to give a name and to return for a festival. His father was filled of joy and named the boy as ‘ Töpa Ga’. ‘Töpa’ means to hear, and ‘Ga’ means happy or joyous, so his name meant ‘ Milarepa, a Joy to Hear or Milarepa Good News.’ After a while, the father returned home and gave a big celebration in honour of their son.
At the age of four, his mother gave a birth to a girl who was named Peta Gonkyi. When Milarepa was seven years old, his father, Sherab Gyaltsen, became very sick. Realizing that he was not going to recover from his illness, he called together all the relatives for a meeting, including Yungdrung Gyaltsen and Khyung Tsha, the uncle and aunt.
His father agreed to put his family and affirs in the care of a trustee. Then he made a detailed will to insure that his son should later take possession of his patrimony. He also said that Zessay, a young woman from the village, had been promised Milarepa as his future wife through arrangements made with her parents. When Milarepa was of age, he was to be married to her, and all the property was to be given over to them. A letter was written as a testament, and signed and sealed. The aunt and uncle agreed to carry out these wishes, and having settled his affairs, Sherab Gyaltsen died.
Afterwards, the aunt and uncle took the money and the land, everything entrusted to them, and used it for their own benefit. Milarepa, his sister Peta, and his mother were forced to work as servants for the aunt and uncle. They were given clothing and food that was of lower quality than the other servants, and burdened with a tremendous amount of work. The aunt and uncle made it extremely difficult for them. In summer, at the time for work in the fields, they were the servants of the uncle. In winter, while working with wool, they were the servants of the aunt. Their food was fit for dogs, their work for donkeys. For clothes, some strips of rags were thrown over their shoulders and held together with a rope of grass. Working without rest, their limbs became raw and sore. Due to bad food and poor clothing, they became pale and emaciated. Their hair, which at one time had fallen in curls of turquoise and gold, became sparse and gray, filled with nits and lice.
When Milarepa was fifteen years old, his mother bought a lot of beer, and invited the people from the village, including the aunt and the uncle. She declared that Milarepa was now 15 years old, and it was time for him to get married to Zessay, his fiance, and to begin his own life. So she begged them to return all what has been entrusted to them. But the uncle and aunt refused and denied that there was anything left. Uncle slapped his mother and struck his sister, Peta, and Milarepa with the sleeve of his chuba. His mother wept, fell and rolled on the ground.
Revenage through Black Magic
In order to revenge, his mother sold half the field, called Little Fur Carpet. With the money she bought a turquoise called Great Sparkling Star, a white horse, well-loved in that area, named Senge Submey (Unbridled Lion), two bundles of dye, and two packs of raw sugar for the preparation provisions and a gift for the lama.
Milarepa’s mother sent Milarepa to Kyorpo it Yarlung, where he met Lama Yungton Trogyel. When Milarepa prsented himself before the lama, he gave everything, gold and turquoise and offer his body, speech and mind. About a year passed, and all he had given Milarepa were a few incantations to make heaven and earth clash, and a smattering of various formulas and useful practices. But he was not satisfied. These practices were not powerful enough to produce any effect in his village. He told lama his misery. The lama sent his monk to his village to verify his story. The monk quickly returned and report that Milarepa told the truth.
The lama told Milarepa ,”‘In the region called Nub Khulung in the Tsangrong lives a lama named Yonten Gyatso (Ocean of Virtues) of Khulung, who is a great doctor and magician. I gave him my secret formula. And in return he taught me how to call down hailstorms with the tip of one finger. After he had taught me this, we became friends and associates. Go with my son and find him.”
The elder son of the lama was called Darma Ouangchuk. In addition to provisions for the journey, the lama gave us a length of broadcloth and serge from Lhasa, a few small gifts, and a letter. Having arrived at Nub Khulung, they met the young lama of Nub. they offered him some pieces of wool and serge as well as the gifts and the letter from the lama. Milarepa carefully told him all the circumstances of the story and earnestly begged Lama Yonten Gyatso to teach him magic.
Upon the guidance of Lama Yonten Gyatso, Milarepa build a cell above the ground with a continuous enclosure of stone blocks as big as yaks, so that, no one else could see a door to the house. Then the lama gave Milarepa the magic incantation.
He performed the spell, seven days passed. Then the lama came and said, ‘Formerly seven days were enough, and that should still suffice.’ But Milarepa replied, ‘As my magic must work at a distance, I ask to continue for seven more days.’ The lama answered, ‘Very well, continue.’ And so he did.
On the evening of the fourteenth day, the lama returned and said, ‘Tonight there will be a sign around the mandala that magic has taken place.’ And that same evening the loyal deities, guardians of the Order, brought us what we had asked for: the heads and the bleeding hearts of thirty-five people. They said, ‘For several days you have repeatedly been invoking us. Here is what you wanted.’ And they piled the heads all around the mandala.
The next morning, the lama returned and said, ‘Of those to be destroyed, two people remain. Should they be destroyed or spared?’ Milarepa was full of joy and said, ‘I beg you to let them live so they may know my vengeance and my justice.’ Thus it was that the uncle and aunt were unharmed.
Through his black magic, in his village of Kya-Ngatsa, there had been a wedding feast for his uncle’s eldest son. Milarepa was able to make the house collapse and thirty-five people were killed.
His mother saw my uncle’s house reduced to a cloud of dust and heard the shrieks of the villagers. She was filled with happiness and took all the red cloths she had, tied them to the end of a stick, and, waving it like a victory banner at the top of the houseand cried in a loud voice,“ Gods, lamas, and the Triple Refuge! There is an answer to our enemies. My mind is finally satisfied. I am happy.”
After the spell, the villagers conspired to kill her. His mother meet one yogin from U province and asked him to send a letter to Milarepa. In her letter, she requested Milarepa to send hailstorms. So he returned to Lama Yungton Trogyel of Nyag. The lama gave him a secret formula, then he performed the rites in his old cell. Through his other magical powers, he sent hail on the village and that destroyed the harvest.
Seeking the Dharma
Milarepa was filled with remorse for the evil he had done by magic and by hailstorms. While he remained in the lama’s service, he asked himself unceasingly and passionately by what means he might practice the true teaching.
The lama replied, “All composite things are impermanent. I have done harm to many beings by evil spells, magic, and hailstorms. You also have accumulated crimes of magic and hailstorms. These crimes will be on my head. Since you are young and have a great faith. You must practice the Dharma yourself and help us all achieve the higher realms and liberation. I will support you with all the provisions you need.”
The lama gave Milarepa a yat with a load of woolen cloth from Yarlung. He said, ‘In the village called Nar in the Tsangrong, there is a lama called Rongton Lhaga. His knowledge of the teaching of Dzogchen has led him to the goal. Go there and have this teaching explained to you and purify yourself. ” Following the lama’s instructions, I went to Nar in the Tsangrong and made inquiries.
Milarepa went to Rinang in the Upper Nyang, to Lama Rongton Lhaga. He offered him his yak and the woolen cloth as gifts. He told the lama the whole story and asked him to give him the teaching in this life which wouldl deliver him from the cycle of existence. The lama gave his initiation and instruction.
Then Milarepa thought,”‘ In the past, I attained great results with spells in fourteen days. Seven days were enough for the hailstorms. But here is a way to attain enlightenment that is even easier than sending hailstorms and death through magic. If I meditate on it by night I will be purified in one night, if I meditate on it by day I will be purified in one day. ” Through this meeting, he though he had become one of these fortunate Bodhisattvas who, having heard the teaching, did not even have to meditate on it. Triumphant, and thinking in this way, without meditating, he spent the time sleeping.
After few day, the lama came and said to him, ” You are a great sinner. I am not able to guide you to liberation. Go to the monastery of Drowo Lung (Valley of the Birches) in the southern province of Lhobrak. There lives the renowned Marpa, personal disciple of the Great Master Naropa of India, saint of the new esoteric order and king of translators, who has no equal in the three realms. You and he have had karmic links in the past. You should go to him.”
Hardly had he heard the name of Marpa the Translator that he was filled with ineffable happiness. In his joy every hair of his body vibrated. He sobbed with fervent adoration. Locking his whole mind in a single thought, he set out with provisions and a letter.
Meeting his Guru, Marpa
The night before my arrival at Drowo Lung, Marpa saw the Great Master Naropa in a dream. The latter blessed him. He gave him a slightly tarnished, five-pronged vajra made of lapis lazuli. At the same time he gave him a golder vase filled with nectar and told him, ‘ With the water in this vase wash the dirt from the vajra, then mount it on top of the banner-of-victory. This will please the Buddhas of the past and make all sentient beings happy, thus fulfilling both your aim and that of others. ” Then Naropa vanished. Following the instructions of his Master, Marpa washed the vajra with water from the vase, and mounted it on top of the banner-of-victory. Then the brilliance of this vajra lit up the whole universe. Immediately the six classes of beings, struck with wonder by its light, were freed from sorrow and filled with happiness. They prostrated themselves and paid reverence to the Venerable Marpa and his banner-of-victory, which had been consecrated by the Buddhas of the past.
Somewhat surprised by this dream, Marpa awoke. He was filled with joy and love. At this moment his wife, Dakmema, came to serve him a hot morning drink and said, ‘O Lama, last night I had a dream. ” After hearing her dream, Marpa though,” These dreams are very much in accor.,” His heart was filled with extreme joy, but to Dakmema he only said, ‘I do not know the meaning since dreams have no source. Now I am going to plow the field near the road. Prepare what I need.”
The lama paid no attention to her and said,” Bring me plenty of beer, ‘I will drink this beer. Bring more for a guest.”
He took another full jar, and departed. When he reached the field he buried it in the earth and covered it with his hat. Then, while plowing the field, he watched the road. And having drunk his beer, he waited.
In the meantime, Milarepa was on his way. Starting from the lower part of the Lhobrak, he began asking all passers-by where great Marpa the Translator lived. But no one knew him. As he reached the pass from where one could see the monastery of Drowo Lung, he put the same question to a man who was passing, asking, “And this pass, what is it called?’ he answered,” It is called Chola Gang, the Ridge of Religion.”
Milarepa continued on his way, still inquiring. There were many shepherds and he questioned them. The old ones answered that they did not know. Among them was a child with a pleasant face, well-oiled hair, and good clothes. He spoke well and said, “Do you speak of my father? If so, he bought gold with all our wealth and went to India with it. He brought back many books studded with precious stones. Usually he does not work, but today he is plowing his field.” He thought to himself, “From what the child says it seems to be the lama, but would a great translator be plowing his field? “
And he continued on his way, at the side of the road,a tall and corpulent monk, with large eyes and awesome look, was plowing a field. He had scarcely seen him when he was filled with unutterable joy and inconceivable bliss. Stunned for a moment by this vision, he remained motionless. Then he asked, ” Have you heard the name of the Translator Marpa, Where is his house?” Then he said, ” Who are you? “
He explained he came from Upper Tsang and came to beg for his teaching. Lama said he would arrange for him to meet Marpa, but plowing the field first. Lama took from the ground the jar of beer which he had hidden under his hat and gave it to Milarepa. Then lama went away.
Having drunk all the beer that remained he worked with a will. Some time later the young child came to fetch him, saying,” ‘Come to the house and serve the lama. “
As he was impatient to introduce me to the lama, Milarepa said to him, ‘I am anxious to finish this work.’ So he plowed the part which remained to be done. As this field had been the occasion of my meeting with the lama, he called it Tuhngken (Field of Opportunity).
Milarepa joined the child and went into the house. The same monk whom he had met a short time before was seated with a pillow at his back on two square cushions that were covered with a rug. He thought, ” This is the same monk as before. Where can the lama be? “
Then the lama said, ” It is true that you do not know me. I am Marpa. Prostrate yourself! “
So Milarepa bowed down at his feet, ” Lama Rinpoche, I am a great sinner from Nyima Lato. I offer you my body, speech and mind. I ask for food, clothing, and the teaching. Please teach me the way which leads to Enlightenment in this lifetime.”
Then he confessed fully the story of my crimes. The lama said,” It is good that you offer your body, speech, and mind. But I will not give you food and clothing as well as the teaching. I will give you food and clothing, but you will have to ask another for the teaching. Or, if I give you the teaching, look elsewhere for food and clothing. Choose between the two. But if you choose the teaching, then whether or not you reach Enlightenment in this life will depend solely on you own striving.”
He replied, ” Well, since I came to you for the teaching, I will look elsewhere for food and clothing.'” As he was placing his book in his shrine room, Marpa said, ” Take that filthy book away; it would defile my sacred objects and my shrine.”
So Milarepa thought,” He responds in this way because my book contains black magic! ” Carefully, he put it away. He remained with Marpa for several more days. The lama’s wife gave him good meals.
Hardships Serving His Guru
Then Milarepa went begging throughout the entire valley. In this way, he collected twenty-one measures of barley. With fourteer measures hebought a cooking pot with four handles, free of rust, smooth inside and out. With one measure he bought meat and beer, and the remaining measures he poured into a big sack. Then, carrying the cooking pot on top of everything, he returned to the lama’s dwelling. Trembling with fatigue, he dropped the heavy load and the room shook. The lama, who was eating his meal, was so startled he stopped eating.
Marpa said, “Little man, you are too energetic! Do you also intend to bury us under the ruins of the house with your magic? You are obnoxious! Take your barley away.” Then he pushed it away with his foot. While Milarepa was dragging the sack outside,he said to himself simply and without evil thought, ‘This lama is irritable! I will have to watch my behavior and my way of serving him.'” Returning and prostrating himself, he offered Marpa his empty cooking pot.
Marpa took it in his hands and held it for a moment, his eyes pensive. Tears fell from his eyes, and he said, ” Your gift is auspicious. I offer it to the Great Master Naropa.” Marpa raised it in offering. Shaking the handles of the vessel in order to apprise the sound, he made it ring and carried it into his shrine room. He filled it with melted butter from the altar lamps. At this moment Milarepa was overcome with emotion and was burning with desire for religion. Again, he begged the lama to instruct him.
He replied, ” Faithful disciples come to me in large numbers from U and Tsang. The inhabitants in Yadrok Taklung and those of Ling attack them and steal their provisions and their gifts. Bury these two regions in hail. This will be religious work. Afterward, I shall instruct you.”
Milarepa sent a fierce hailstorm to these two regions. Then he asked the lama to instruct me. The lama replied, ” For the few hailstones you have sent, am I to give you a teaching which I have brought back from India with such great difficulty? You want my teaching. Well, the mountaineers at Lhobrak pass attack my disciples coming from Nyal Loro. They laugh at me. You call yourself a great magician, cast your spells upon these mountaineers, and if you prove your magic, I shall give you the teaching of Naropa to attain Enlightenment in one life and one body.”
After Milarepa had cast my spells, the moutltaineers fought among themselves and many of the more belligerent perished by the sword. At the sight of this Marpa said, ” It is true that you are a great magician.” From then on, he called Milarepa great Magician.
Again, Milarepa asked for the teaching on Enlightenment. But Marpa replied, ” Ha! Is it to reward your many crimes that I went to India at the risk of my life? You say you want these teachings which are the living breath of the dakinis and for which, disdaining riches, I offered gold without measure. I hope you are only joking! Anyone else would kill you for that! Now restore the harvest in the land of Yadrok and heal the mountaineers; after that I will teach you. But never come back if you cannot do this. ” Marpa rebuked him. Overcome with sorrow, Milarepa wept. Dakmema, Marpa’s wife consoled him.
The next day Marpa himself came and said to Milarepa, ” Last evening, I was very hard on you, but do not be distressed. Be patient. Teaching is very slow work. You have the energy to work, so build a tower of Sutra. When you have done that I will instruct you and I will supply your food and clothing.”
Milarepa began to build towers. The first one was a round tower on the eastern crest of the mountain. The second was a semicircular tower on the western crest of the mountain. The third was a a sturdy tower on the northern crest of the mountain. But every time when they half finished, Marpa came and demolished the towers . He ordered Milarepa to return the earth and stones back to their places .
Overwhelmed by grief and still thirsting for religion, he carried back from towers, to their places, first the earth and then the stones. It was then that he got a sore on his shoulders.
Marpa wanted to build a square white tower nine stories high with a superstructure and a pinnacle, forming ten stories. He said to Milarepa , ” It will never be torn down. When you have finished, I will give you the secret teaching. Then you may retire to meditate and during your retreat I will provide for your sustenance.
Beause of previous miserable experience, Milarepa requested Dagmema, Marpa’s wife to be witness to all these promises. Marpa agreed that his wife could be the witness.
Then Milarepa laid the foundations for a square tower. While he was putting up the wall, the disciples Ngokton of Shung, Tshurton of Dol, and Meton of Tsangrong playfully rolle a large rock in his direction and placed it as the cornerstone.
When he had built to the second story on both sides of the large door, the lama came and carefully inspected everything pointing a finger at the large boulder that had been rolled into place by the three disciples, said to Milarepa,” you cannot ask my disciples for help. They are practicing the two advanced stages. Do not demolish everything, but take away the stone and put it back where it was.”
Then Milarepa demolished the building from the top down and returned the rock to its place. Alone, he had to exert as much strength as the three disciples. Because he had carried away the stone himself and brought it back, he named this stone as “ Giant Stone“.
By the time he reached the seventh story, he had a sore on his back. At that time, the great Meton of Tsangrong came to request the Yidam Chakrasamvara initiation. He sat among the crowd. Marpa called to him, ” Great Magician, what gift do you bring me? If you have the price of my teaching, give it to me. Otherwise do not stay here among the initiates of the secret teaching.” Speaking thus, the lama slapped him, grabbed him by the hair, and threw him out. Milarepa wanted to die and he wept the whole night. Dagmema came to console him.
The next morning the lama himself came, “Great Magician, do not continue with the tower. Build a shrine room at the base of the tower surrounded by a covered walk with twelve columns. Then I will give you the secret teaching.” He laid the foundations and built the covered walk. All the while the Dagmema, Marpa’s wife, brought him well-seasoned food and beer. She was full of goodness and she comforted him.
When he was about to finish, Tshurton Ouangnye of Dol came to ask for the Guhyasamaja initiation. Dagmema gave him a tub of butter, a piece of cloth, and a small copper cooking pot to give to the lama. Having offered his gifts, he joined the others
Marpa asked Milarepa,”Great Magician, what gift have you brought that you place yourself in these ranks?” He replied,” This tub of butter, this piece of cloth, and this copper cooking pot.”
Marpa replied, ” These things have already been given to me by someone else. Do not give me my own goods! If you have something of your own to give, go and fetch it. If not, do not remain here.” And getting up, he cursed and kicked Milarepa, and threw him out. At this monent, Milarepa wanted to sink into the earth.
The next morning the lama came and said, ” Now finish building the covered walk and the tower. Afterward I will give you initiation and instruction.” Then Milarepa finished the tower and undertook the completion of the covered walk. By that time he had sores on my back. Pus and blood ran from three wounds. He showed his back, which was one mass of sores, to the Dagmema. She looked with concern at his sores, and tears poured from her eyes. After she came to Marpa and discussed about his wound.
Milarepe was sent to Marpa’s room. Marpa said, ” Great Magician, show me your back.” When he had finished examining it carefully, he said, ” My Master Naropa underwent twenty-four mortiflcations, twelve great and twelve minor trials, all of which surpass yours. As for me, without a thought for my life or my wealth, I gave both to my Master Naropa. So if you seek the teaching, be humble and continue the work on the tower.”
Dagmema said to Milarepa, ” the lama will not give you the teaching now, but in the end he will surely give it to you. Meanwhile, I will instruct you.” Then, she gave him the method for meditating on Dorje Pahgmo
Seeking a new Teacher
After few weeks, Marpa came to Milarepa, said, “Great magician, if from the bottom of your heart you wish for religion with such impatience and restlessness, you must give your life for it. Complete the three remining stories of the tower and I will give you the teaching. Otherwise, since it is costly to feed you and since you have somewhere to go to, go now.”
There was nothing he could say, so he left. Milarepa said to Dagmema, ” The lama still refuses to instruct me. If I were sure he would give me the teaching when I finished the tower, I would stay. But, if when the tower is finished, he still decided not to teach me, there would be nothing I could do. I long to see my mother. Therefore,I ask permission to leave for my village. “
Since Naropa had the custom of celebrating the tenth day of each moon by a great sacrifice of offerings, therefore, Marpa also celebrated the tenth day of the moon. On that day, Dagmema made one measure strong, one light, and one medium. She gave the light beer for sacramental libations. To the monks, to be offered to the lama, she gave more and more of the strong beer. The monks became drunk. As for Marpa, he took so much beer, and so much more was offered to him, that he became completely drunk and fell into a deep sleep. Meanwhile, Dagmema removed the gifts – the jewels of Naropa and the rosary of rubies – from his room. She then forged a message from the lama. Affixing his seal on a letter prepared in advance, she wrapped them in a precious cloth, sealed it all with wax and gave it to Milarepa, saying, ” Act as if these things were sent by the lama. Go and offer them to Lama Ngokpa and ask him to teach you.”
When Milarepa was arriving at Mount Kyungding in Shung, Lama Ngokpa was expounding an esoteric text entitled ” The Two Divisions” to his disciples. His discourse was interrupted while expounding these verses:
I am the Master of the Dharma.
I am the Assembly of the Hearers.
I am the Master of the Universe and the Object of Realization.
I am the Conditioned and the Unconditioned.
I am the Innate Nature of Spontaneous Bliss.
As he was pronouncing these words, Milarepa prostrated myself at a distance. He responded by removing his hat, and said, ” This is the manner of greeting used by Marpa’s disciples. ” He said to his disciples, “For this man will be the Master of all the Doctrines. Go and ask him who he is.”
One of the monks went to meet Milarepa and, recognizing him, said, ‘Why have you come?’
Milarepa answered, “Since the Lama Marpa is very busy, I am the only one that he has not had time to instruct. I have come here to ask for the teaching. As gifts I bring the jewels of Naropa and his rosary of rubies. “
The monk returned to his master and told him, ” It is Great Magician.'” Lama Ngokpa was filled with joy. He exclaimed, ‘The jewels and the rosary of the Great Master Naropa in my dwelling! This is as rare and marvelous as the Udumbara flower. We must go out to receive them and ask Great Magician to take his place in the procession.”
Since Milarepa had remined where he first made his greeting, a monk came to give him this message. I called this place Chaktsal Gang (Ridge of Salutation).
Milarepa prostrated himself and gave Lama Ngokpa the letter with the gifts. With tearful eyes, lama rised the gifts to his forehead and received their blessing. He placed these sacred objects on the altar, giving them the most prominent place and setting offerings in front of them. Then he read the letter.
Lama Ngokpa said to Milarepa,” Since it is an order from Marpa, I will instruct you. I had thought of sending for you but happily by the grace of Marpa you have come. Many disciples come to me from Kham, from Tagpo, from Kongpo, and from Yarlung. The evil people of the villages of Yehpo and Yemo of Dol always steal our provisions. Go and strike them all with hail. Afterward you will receive initiation and instruction.”
Milarepa could not refuse his request. Therefore, charged some sesame seeds with magical power and brought them along. Arriving in the province of Dol, he set to work and prepared to bring on the hailstorm. At Yehpo he stayed at the house of an old woman and made myself a shelter nearby.
The storm gathered quickly. The thunder rumbled. The old woman cried out, ” When my crops are struck by hail, what will I have to eat? ” Milarepa told the old woman to give him the drawing of the shape of her field. She drew an elongated triangle, which he reproduced. Then he formed his hand in the mudra of watching and covered the triangle with a wide pan. After the spell, he went out to verify the results. The mountain slopes behind the two villages were transformed into torrents. Only the field of the old woman remained intact and fertile. At the edge of a thicket, he found many small dead birds. When he returned to the lama I heaped them all up at his feet. He wept and said, “Lama Rinpoche, I came here for the holy religion but in truth I have only sinned. Have compassion on me, a great sinner.
Lama Ngokpa replied,” Brother Great Magician, have no fear. We, the disciples of Naropa and Maitreya, know the secret formula which enables great sinners to achieve Enlightenment instantly. In the future all these creatures now killed by the hail will be reborn around you and will form a procession when you attain full Enlightenment. Rejoice that from now on, they will not be reborn in the lower realms. If you do not believe me, I will show you. ” After collecting himself for a moment, he snapped his fingers and immediately the bodies were revivified. In an instant some flew skyward and others raced over the ground and returned to their nests.
Then the lama gave him initiation into the mandala of Hevajra. He moved into an abandoned cave. But Milarepa meditated without respite because he had left Marpa without his permission, He had no inner experience. Lama Ngokpa was astounded, ” With these teachings, there’s no way that nothing can happen. What’s going on? “
Meanwhile Marpa had completed his son’s tower and he sent a letter to Ngokpa. Lama Ngokpa came to the small opening of his cell and, showing him the letter. Finally Milarepa told the truth that the letter was not from Marpa and neither was the mala or the bone ornaments.
Lama Ngokpa replied, ” Well, that must be the truth, because without the lama’s blessing, experience and realization cannot arise.”
Lama Ngokpa carried all of his own collection of images, scriptures, and stupas, his gold and turquoise, his silks and his garments, and all the household utensils, leaving behind the gifts given by Marpa. He ordered Milarepa to leave an old goat which had a broken leg and could not follow the herd. He took away all his other animals from the stable and the meadow. Meanwhile, Lama gave himsilk and this turquoise as an offering to Lama Marpa and his wife also gave him a bag of cheese to offer to Dagmema, the wife of Lama Marpa.
Meeting Marpa Again
Lama Ngokpa and all his students assembled for the empowerment, and yet again Milarepa was not allowed to attend and refused his offerings. When Lama Ngokpa offered him his gifts, saying, ” Lama Rinpoche, since you are already the Master of my whole being, body, speech, and mind, I now offer all my worldly goods, except for a long-haired goat, the decrepit forebear of all my goats, who, unable to come here on her broken leg, has been left behind. Mercifully grant us initiation and profound instruction and the secret teaching written on the scrolls.'” And he prostrated himself.
Maropa replied,” But even so, my initiation and profound instructions are the shortest path of Vajrayana which, without having to wait for innumerable kalpas, leads directly to Enlightenment in this life. The precepts written on the scrolls are being kept by me under safeguards according to the strict commands of my own lama and the dakinis. That is why it will be difficult for these precepts to be given you if you do not offer me this old goat, in spite of her age and broken leg. As to the other teachings, I have already taught them all to you. “
Ngokpa replied, ” If the goat is brought here and I offer it to you, will you reveal the secret teaching to me? ” Marpa answered, “‘If you bring the goat yourself, and offer it to me, you may have the teaching.”
On the following day, the goat on his back and offered it to Marpa, who cried out joyfully, ” You are an initiated disciple such as is worthy to be called faithful to his sacred bond. I have no need of this goat. I only wanted to stress the importance of the teaching that I am giving you.” He gave him initiation and instruction as promised.
After few days, monks who had come from afar, together with a few close associates who were brought together, arranged a ritual feast. Marpa put a long acacia stick near his seat. Looking at Ngokpa with narrowed eyes and pointing his finger at him, he said, ” Ngokton Chodor, why have you conferred initiation and instruction on this wicked man called Good News?” Saying this, he glanced toward his stick. Ngokpa was afraid and, prostrating himself, answered, ” Lama Rimpoche, you yourself wrote to me to initiate and instruct Great Magician, and you gave me the jewels of Naropa and his rosary of rubies. Thus I carried out your order. I have no cause to reproach myself and I feel neither shame nor remorse.”
Speaking thus, Ngokpa fearfully raised his eyes. Furiously, Marpa pointed his finger at me and asked, ” Where did you get these objects? ” Milarepa was mute with terror. His heart agonized as though it had been torn out. In a trembling voice I confessed that the mother had given them to him.
Marpa jumped up and brandishing the acacia stick went out to beat his wife, Dagmema. Having been listening attentively, she got up and ran away. she locked herself in temple.
At this point, he was totally depressed. Extremely disappointed, he was about to kill himself, Ngokpa restrained him. Some of the other monks came to comfort him. Some of them were overcome by grief and fainted.
After the monks had gone back and forth many times between them, Marpa broke his silence. His mind now being pacified, he sent for Dagmema, the mistress. Having been invited to come, she appeared before him.
Marpa asked her, ” Where have Ngok Choku Dorje and the other monks gone? “
” ln accordance with your order to bring back the jewels of Naropa and his rosary of rubies, Lama Ngokpa immediately set out to fetch them, and has now returned.” she replied.
Dagmema related in detail how Great Magician was imploring Ngokpa to help him and how Ngokpa was consoling him. Lama Marpa shed tears and said, ” Disciples of the secret path must be such as these; indeed they are so. I have compassion for them. Summon all my disciples. Milarepa is to be the principal guest.”
Initiations and Instructions
Lama Ngokpa and Milarepa both went in the shrine. Then, Marpa spoke, ” If everything is carefully examined, not one of us is to be blamed. I have merely tested Great Magician to purify him of his sins. If the work on the tower had been intended for my own gain, I would have been gentle in the giving of orders. Therefore I was sincere. Being a woman, the mistress was also right not to be able to bear the situation, yet her excessive compassion in deceiving with the sacred objects and the forged letter was a serious indulgence. Ngokpa, you were right in the matter you have related. However, go now and bring me those sacred objects and afterward I will give them to you. Great Magician was burning with desire for religion, and he was right to use any means to obtain it. Ngokpa did not know that the mistress had sent someone under false pretenses. This is why he gave Great Magician initiation and instruction. Thus, I shall not look for a way to punish him. Although my anger rose like floodwater, it was not like worldly anger. However they may appear, my actions always come from religious considerations which, in essence, conform to the Path of Enlightenment. As for the rest of you who are not yet immersed in religion, do not let your faith be shaken. Had this son of mine completed nine great ordeals, his complete Enlightenment, without future rebirth, would have been achieved without leaving any bodily residue. Since, due to Dagmema’s weakness, that did not take place, there will remain a faint stain of defilement with him. However, his great sins have been erased by his eight great afflictions of mind and by his numerous small agonies. Now, I receive you and will give you my teaching, which is as dear to me as my own heart. I will help you with provisions and let you meditate and be happy.
As he was saying these words, Milarepa was full of joy. His happiness was boundless. Shedding tears of joy. He prostrated himself. After the puja, Marpa ordained him with the common vow of liberation, cut off his hair and gave him the Bodhisattva precepts. Meanwhile, Marpa gave him the name of ” Mila Vajra Banner-of-Victory” which was revealed by Naropa in a dream, even before he came here.
Then, placing his hands on Milarepa’s head, Marpa said: ‘My son, from the very first moment, I knew you were a disciple capable of receiving the teaching. The night before you came here I learned from a dream that you were destined to serve the teaching of Buddha. The mistress, in a similar but even more remarkable dream, saw two women guardians of a stupa, indicating that the dakinis will protect the teaching of our lineage. In this way, my lama and the guardian deity sent you to me as a disciple. I went to meet you in the guise of a laborer. You drank all the beer I had given you. This beer and the work that you had finished signified that, in penetrating to the heart of the Doctrine, you will grasp the entire teaching. The copper pot you gave with the four handles signified the coming of my four great disciples. Its unblemished surface signified that your mind will become free from blemish and in your body you will have power over the bliss of the fire of Tummo. The empty pot symbolized the meagerness of your food during the time of your meditation in solitude. But in order to sow the seeds of your long life, of well-being for your many disciples, and of your filling your disciples with the sweetness of the teaching, I with my blessing filled the pot with butter from the altar lamps. I made it ring to signify your future renown. To purify you from the darkness of evil, I burdened you with the increasingly terrible work of the towers. Each time that I cruelly drove you out from the ranks of the disciples and overwhelmed you with grief, you had no bad thoughts against me. This signifies that your disciples will have first of all the zeal, perseverance, wisdom, and compassion necessary for every disciple. Next, not desiring the wealth of this life, they will endure meditation in the mountains through their ascetic discipline and energy. So finally, through inner experience, spiritual energy, wisdom, and compassion, they will all become perfect lamas. The transmission of this teaching will be like the waxing moon – so rejoice! ”