Marpa: Letter to Jangch’ub Kyab

Marpa the Lotzava

Marpa the Lotzava

Missive to Master Jangch’ub Kyab (dpon byang-chub skyabs la sbkur-ba) by Marpa the Translator, Sheyrab Yéshey (smar-pa lo-tswa-ba shes-rab ye-shes, 1012–1097)

If original mind, the Absolute Body (dharmakāya), is not realized,

Then even staying in forest retreats is just paying rent.

If, in the realization of the mind of indivisible emptiness and compassion,

Which has neither center nor edge,

Mindfulness is without distraction,

Then even staying on the homestead is the hermitage supreme.

And so it is that I beseech thee not to let thy mind be depressed

about the maintenance of households and monasteries;

for if embraced with the excellent aspiration of Awakened Mind (bodhicitta),

it becomes the Dharma.

(Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos, March 2016.

Found in the collection of poems, songs and other writings by Marpa Lotsáwa, chos-rgyal smar-pa’i mgur-‘bum legs-par bzhugs so, published by the Martsang Kagyu Global Corporation, Taipei/Delhi 2015, page 190)


just paying rent” (khral ‘jal): khral literally means ‘tax’ (and is still the common Tibetan term for taxation), but in older usage can also mean ‘rent’, as it probably does here.