Milarepa: Song to Shakya Guna

Milarepa: Don’t you know that pleasures are just a dream?

Milarepa: Don’t you know that pleasures are just a dream?

Milarepa’s Song to Shakya Guna

Salutation to the teacher of the sacred.
Jetsün Milarepa then went from Happy Valley in Mang-Yül to Nyanang and his former benefactors we overjoyed. “Please stay always here in Nyanang,” they begged. There was a cave below a belly-shaped boulder between some old trees, and while he resided there, the monk-teacher Shakya Guna and some laypeople of Nyanang came before him.
“While elsewhere in meditation in mountain retreats, please tell us about the progress you reached and the confidence that you attained,” they asked. In reply, the Jetsün sang this song.

I bow at the feet of Marpa the Translator.

While meditating at other mountain retreats,
I found confidence in nonarising.
My clinging to former and future lives as two has dissolved.
The six types of experiences have turned to lies.
Doubts about birth and death are now cleared.

I found confidence in equality.
My clinging to pleasure and pain as two has dissolved.
The experience of feelings has turned to lies.
Doubts about what to accept and reject are now cleared.

I found confidence in indivisibility.
My clinging to samsara and nirvana as two has dissolved.
Training the path and levels has turned to lies.
Doubts about hope and fear are now cleared.

The laypeople then said, “What other realization arose in you?” Milarepa replied, “I realized the way to go about spiritual practice that accords with the understanding of common people.” He then sang this song.

When from outside arose the causal conditions of parents,
When from within arose the all-ground consciousness,
And in between, when having attained the perfect human body,
Today I have avoided a rebirth in the three lower realms.

When from outside arose the experiences of birth and death,
When from within arose revulsion and faith,
And in between, when thinking of the sacred Dharma,
Today I have escaped the foe of family and home.

When from outside arose the circumstance of the father guru,
From within arose the intelligence of former training,
And in between, when having gained a confident understanding,
I have no feeling of doubt about the Dharma.

When from outside arose the six classes of beings,
When from within arose impartial compassion,
And in between, when remembering the meditation experience,
Compassion avoids being mere selfish ambition.

When from outside arose the self-liberated three realms,
When from within arose self-existing wakefulness,
And in between, when possessing the confidence of realization,
I have avoided the dread of evil.

When from outside arose the fivefold sense-pleasures,
When from within arose the insight of nonclinging,
And in between, when engaged in the conduct of equal taste,
I avoid clinging to the duality of pleasure and pain.

When from outside arose the vanishing of conceptual practice,
When from within arose the absence of hope and fear,
And in between, when free from the disease of deliberate effort,
I escape the clinging to good and evil as two.

The monk-teacher Shakya Guna then said, “The Jetsün’s realization has always been excellent! Though I met the Jetsün in the past, I have not received an instruction in which I can trust and rely. Now please be kind enough to bestow empowerment and pith instructions upon me!” After having given him empowerment and instructions, the Jetsün sent him to practice meditation. The monk-teacher gained some experience and related it to the Jetsün.

If these perceptions and samsara do not exist, then there seem to be no need for practice. If the mind does not exist, then there seems to be no doer. If there is no master, then one does not know how to practice. Please clarify these and also give me the pointing-out instruction to the nature of mind.” In response, Jetsün Milarepa sang this song.

The nature of perceptions is nonarising.
If something arises, it is your clinging to its reality.

The nature of samsara is groundless and rootless.
If something has ground and root, it is your thought.

The nature of mind is unity.
If there is partiality, it is your attachment.

The nature of a master is endowed with a lineage.
If you invent your own, you are deluded.

While the mind itself is like the sky,
It becomes obscured by thoughts, like the clouds from the south.

The pith instructions of the qualified guru
Are like gusts of strong wind.

Thought as well is luminous wakefulness.
Experience shines like the sun and moon.

Vivid beyond the ten directions and three times,
Intangible, it is beyond words.

Its certainty shines like the planets and stars.
Whatever arises is great bliss.

Its nature is the simplicity of dharmakaya.
The six sense impressions are the continuity of emptiness.

Effortless, spontaneous, unconditioned,
In this state, beyond self and others,
I remain continuously in nonclinging wakefulness,
Without any separation from the three
kayas, amazing!

Monk-teacher, do not cling to the fame and happiness of this life. Do not pursue words of sophistry. Equalize your life with practice! Since this is the way to be practiced by everyone, you should practice the meaning of these words.

Then Milarepa sang this song.

Fortunate and noble people,
Don’t you know that the things of this life are beguiling?
Don’t you know that enjoyments are magical displays?
Don’t you know that samsara is in fact nirvana?
Don’t you know that pleasures are just a dream?
Don’t you know that that praise and blame are just echoes?
Don’t you know that perceptions are just your mind?
Don’t you know that your mind is the buddha?
Don’t you know that the buddha is dharmakaya?
Don’t you know that dharmakaya is your basic nature?

When you realize this, all you experience is included within mind.
Day and night, look into this mind.
When looking into this mind, it is not a thing to be seen.
Let be in this state of no-seeing.

I do not feel that Mahamudra’s nature
Can in any way be matched.
So, I remain in the state of nonclinging mind.

Meditation and post-meditation are indivisible,
So, I have no longer meditation stages.

Whatever is experienced is empty in essence,
So there is nothing for mindfulness to hold or lose.

I have tasted the flavor of nonarising,
And likewise realized its practice.

The training in karmamudra,
The practice of the
nadis, pranas and bindus,
Reciting mantras and visualizing the deity,
Contemplating the four Brahma abodes, and so forth –
These are all ways to enter this Supreme Vehicle.

Even if you were to meditate on them specifically,
It will not suffice to give up desire and anger.

Perceptions are your own mind,
So, understand that this mind is empty.

When you no longer part from the experience of realization,
The keeping of discipline, making offerings, and so forth,
Are all contained within that.

After hearing this, the monk-teacher Shakya Guna only practiced and attained an extraordinary level of experience and realization. The Monk-Meditator, Töngom, became one of the close disciples.

This was the story of accepting the monk-teacher Shakya Guna in the Belly Cave at Nyanang.

Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, from The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa.