2 – The Magic Life of Milarepa: Undertaking an arduous journey to India, Dream of Four Great Pillars, Farewell to his Guru Marpa, Meeting his aunt and uncle while asking for alms, Ascetic Diet of Nettles.
Undertaking an arduous journey to India
Marpa told him to meditate with perseverance. He provided him with ample supplies and directed me to meditate in a cave called Tiger Nak at the Southern Cliffs. Then Milarepa filled an altar lamp with butter, lit it, and placed it on my head. he meditated day and night in this way, without moving, until the butter in the lamp was exhausted. Eleven months passed. Then the lama and his wife came to visit him, Marpa said, ” My son open an entrance and came home for a rest so you may talk with me, your old father, about your inner experience.” Just then Dagmema returned and said, “There is nothing wrong. Such an auspicious event as this meeting with the lama can only have a good result. It is a law of the secret path. Refusing would anger him and spoil the auspicious event, so break open the entrance and come out.”
Knowing that the mother spoke the truth, Milarepa tore down the wall and came out. He started to speak his insight regarding impermanence and death, the consequences of action, and the pain of samsara. Then Marpa said, “My son, I had great hope and my hope has been realized.” And he was filled with joy. After many religious talks, Marpa and his wife returned to their house. And Milarepa walked back to the cell and mediated.
One night, A young girl appeared in a dream. She was blue as the sky, and beautiful in her brocade dress and bone ornaments, her eyebrows and lashes sparkling with light. She said to Milarepa, “My son, you already have the Teaching of the Great Symbol (Mahamudra) and instruction in the Six Esoteric Doctrines. These lead to Supreme Enlightenment through continuous meditation. But you do not have the special teaching concerning the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies, which leads to Buddhahood in one moment of meditation. Ask for it.” Then she disappeared.
Next day, Milrepa was thinking of his dream, ” This young girl was dressed in the costume of the dakinis. Is it a warning from the gods? Hebroke down the wall of my cell and went before Marpa, who cried out, “Why have you come out of strict seclusion? This could hinder your progress. Why have you done it?”
Milarepa described his dream, the young girl and what she had said to him. Marpa reflected a moment and said, ” It is certainly a warning from the dakinis. Before I started back from India, the Master Naropa spoke about the teaching of the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies. Since I was about to leave, I may not have asked for it. So we must search for it through all the books from India.” Finally, they spent days going through them looking for the teaching, but they could not find it.
Marpa again undertook the arduous journey to India to meet Naropa. Marpa did not find him in his usual place, as Naropa had become a realized siddha, and moved freely. After a long search, he met Naropa in a virgin forest and invited him to come to the hermitage of Puhlla Hari. There he asked for instruction in the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies.
The Master Naropa replied, ” Did you think of this or did you receive a sign? “
Marpa answered, ” This did not enter my mind, nor did I have a sign. One of my disciples, Milarepa, received an exhortation from the dakinis and came to ask me for the teaching.”
Naropa cried, ” What a marvel! In the dark land of Tibet, this disciple is like the sun rising over the snows.” He raised his joined hands above his head in veneration. Then, he closed his eyes and bowed his head three times. And in India the mountains and the trees inclined three times toward Tibet. To this day, the treetops and the mountains of Puhlla Hari bend toward Tibet.
Naropa gave Marpa in its entirety the secret teaching transmitted by the dakinis. Then he interpreted certain omens. Marpa’s manner of prostration foretold that his own family line would be short, but that the spiritual lineage molded by the unfolding action of the teaching would be longer than a great river.
Marpa then returned to Tibet. Some time later the monks and disciples were commemorating the anniversary of the death of Marpa’s son, Darma Doday, which had taken place as foretold by the omen. When all were assembled for that occasion, the disciples asked Marpa, “Lama Rinpoche, our best hope has gone, and you are no longer young. How will the precious Kagyu Doctrine be transmitted? Tell us what our discipline and our task should be.” Marpa answered,” answered, ” I, and all the descendants of the Master Naropa, have the power to prophesy through dreams. Go now and await your dreams.”
Dream of Four Great Pillars
Later, the disciples related their dreams. Even though all had happy dreams, they were unable to extract a premonitory sign. Milarepa told his dream of four pillars to Marpa,
” I dreamt of four great pillars, one in each direction. In the Eastern direction, the snow lion (i.e. Tsurton Ouangnge of Dol, one of four main disciples) was on top of his pillar. His mane of turquoise flowing everywhere (i.e. Realization of secret instruction). He spread his four claws upon the snow ( i.e. Possession of the Four Infinite Attributes). In the Southern direction, on top of this pillar was a tiger (i.e. Ngokton Chodor of Shung). She smiled three times (i.e. Knowledge of the Trikaya) and spread her claws over the forest (i.e. Accomplishment of the four unfolding actions). The cedars of the forest were thickly tangled (i.e. Signify a line of heirs and grandsons). In the Western direction was a giant garuda (i.e. Great Meton of Tsangrong). The garuda’s wings were spread (i.e. the realization of the secret instruction) and its horns rose toward the heavens (i.e. Signify perfection in meditation and insight). On the Northern pillar was a vulture (i.e. Milarepa of Gungthang). Its nest perched on a crag (i.e. His life will be harder than the rock). This vulture had a fledgling (i.e. He will be without rival). And the sky was full of little birds (i.e. Signify the propagation of the Kagyu Doctrine). “
Thus he spoke, Marpa joyfully answered, ” This dream is a happy dream! ” All those present were filled with joy. The chief disciples asked Marpa to explain what this one foretold.
Farewell to his Guru, Marpa
As prophesied by Naropa, Milarepa withdrew to the cave called the Dzangpuhk Drok. While in retreat, he had a dream: he came back to his village of Kya Ngatsa. His house was crashed. And his mother was dead and his sister had left to wander and beg.. He became thoughtful and evoked the memory of his mother. Then day broke. Milarepa tore down the door of his cell and went to see the Marpa.
He was asleep. Milarepa approached him, and bowing humbly at the head of his bed. Such was my request. The lama awoke. At that moment the sun rose and through the window its rays fell on his head. At the same time the lama’s wife entered, bringing his morning meal. The lama spoke,” My son, when you come here to make your request and finding me asleep foretells that we shall not see each other again in this life. However, the sun rising in space foretells that you will make the Buddha’s teaching shine as splendidly as the sun. Most important of all, the rays of the sun striking my head foretells that the Kagyu Teaching will be spread far and wide. The arrival of the mistress bringing the meal signifies that you will be nourished by spiritual food. ” Then Marpa asked his wife,Dagmema, to prepare a special offering and gave Milarepa the complete instruction of the path of Enlightenment.
Then Marpa said: ” In truth, these instructions were given me by the Master Naropa, who commanded that they be transmitted to you. And you in turn must pass on this oral transmission to one of your closest disciples, designated by the dakinis, placing him under pledge of maintaining the single line of transmission which must continue for thirteen generations. If you give away these instructions in return for food, riches, or simply to please others, you will incur the wrath of the dakinis. Keep them in your heart, and practice them yourself. If there comes to you a predestined disciple, even if he has no gifts to offer, bind him to you by initiation and instruction in order to preserve the teaching. To impose trials on a disciple, as Tilopa did on Naropa, or as I did on you, will be profitless for undeveloped minds. Give the teachings with discernment. However, in India there are nine other forms of oral transmission of the invisible dakinis which are not so restrictive as the one-to-one transmission between master and disciple. Of these I have given you four. Concerning the five others, someone of our lineage should go and ask for them from the descendants of Naropa. They will be profitable to sentient beings. Learn them as well as you can. “
As he said these words, his eyes overflowed with tears, ” If you think that you have not received my whole teaching because you had few gifts to offer me, know that I am not concerned with gifts. It is the offering of your endeavor toward realization and your zeal that have brought joy to me. Be ardent and raise the banner of perfection.”
” Take refuge in the solitude of the barred mountains, the snows, or the forests. In the solitude of the mountains there is Gyalgyi Sri (Glorious Victory) of Lato, which has been blessed by the greatest saints of India. Go there to meditate. There is Mount Tisi, which the Buddha spoke of as Ganchen (Snowy Mountain) and which is the palace of the Yidam Chakrasamvara. Go there to meditate. There is Lachi Gangra, which is the Gandavari, one of the twenty-four sacred regions. Go there to meditate. There is the Riwo Palbar of Mangyul and the Yolmo Gangra of Nepal, which are the holy places prophesied in the Mahayana Sutras. Go there to meditate. There is Drin Chuwar, dwelling place of the dakinis who protect the region. Go there to meditate. Meditate in every other favorable solitary place. Raise a banner of meditation in each. Adjacent to each other in the east there remain the great sacred places, Devikoti and Tsari. The time to open them has not yet come. In the future your spiritual descendants will establish themselves there. But you, yourself, go first and meditate in these foreordained sacred places. If you meditate, you will serve your lama, you will show your gratitude to you father and mother, and you will achieve the aims of all sentient beings. If you cannot meditate, there will only be an increase in evil actions during a long life. For this reason, devote yourself to meditation, wholly rejecting the bonds of passion of this life, and abandon association with pleasure-seeking people.”
Then Marpa gave him a scroll of paper sealed with wax,” Father and son will not see each other again in this life. I will not forget you. Neither will you forget me. One day in your practice of a certain exercise you will encounter an obstacle. When that time comes, look at this which I now give you. Do not look it before.”
Finally, the lama said, “Mistress, prepare for the departure of Mila Vajra Banner-of-Victory tomorrow morning. And so Milalrepa slept near the lama. When the mother came in she was weeping and lamenting.
The dawn of the next day appeared. Bringing ample provision, the Master, with about thirteen disciples, accompanied Milarepa for half a day’s journey. All this time they walked with the sadness of loving hearts, speaking words of affection and showing signs of love.
Then at a mountain pass from where the Ridge of Religion could be seen, they sat down to take part in a ritual feast. And the lama taking his hand said, ” My son, at Silma Pass in Tsang there is a strong chance of meeting brigands. I had thought of not letting you leave without a good companion, but the time has come when you must go alone. Now I invoke my lama and yidam and command the dakinis to keep my son from harm on the way. Go from here to Lama Ngokpa. Compare your instructions and see if there are any differences. After that, set out quickly. Do not stay more than seven days in your own district, and go immediately into solitude. It is for your own good and for that of all sentient beings.”
Milarepa arrived at the house of Lama Ngokpa. They compared their instructions, In explaining the Tantra, he was greater than him. In actual practice Milarepa was not far behind, but in the secret transmission of the dakinis Milarepa surpassed Lama Ngokpa.After paying respects, he left for my village. he arrived there in three days.
His field was overgrown with weeds. He entered the main room. There were many bleached and crumbled bones. he realised that these were the bones of his mother. His sister abandoned her mother’s body and disappeared. At the memory of hid mother, he choked with emotion and, overcome with grief, he nearly fainted. Immediately thereafter, he remembered the lama’s instructions. He seated himself f upon my mother’s bones and meditated with a pure awareness without being distracted even for a moment in body, speech, or mind. He saw the possibility of liberating his father and mother from the suffering of the cycle of birth and death.
Awareness of Impermanence after Seeing His Mother’s Bones
Seven days passed and Milarepa emerged from his meditation. He began to reflect: Being convinced of the futility of samsara, he will have a reliquary made from the bones of his mother, and as payment he will give the books. Castle of Jewels. After that, he will go to Horse Tooth White Rock and dedicate himself to meditation both night and day for the rest of his life and will kill himself if he so much as think of the Eight Worldly Reactions. If he succumb to the law of desire, may the guardian deities of religion take his life. Her epeated this terrible oath again and again from the depths of his heart.
Overcome with immeasurable sorrow,he gathered together the bones of his mother and the books which was undamaged, and carried them on his back. He went to the home of his tutor but learned that he was dead, so he offered the first pan of the Castle of Jewels to his son and asked him to make earthen figurines with the bones of his mother. They then performed the consecration ceremony and in-stalled the figurines in a stupa.
Afterward Milarepa prepared to leave. Tutor’s son asked Milarepa to stay here for few days and talk , but since he yearned to mediate. Then he consented to stay one night. During the night, he asked Milarepa very detailed questions. Then he suggested Milarepa to repair the house,marry Zessay, and continue in the footsteps of your lama. Milarepa refused and said,” The Lama Marpa took a wife for the benefit of sentient beings. But I have neither the intention nor the ability to act as he does. To do so would be like a hare imagining it could follow in the footsteps of a lion. It would fall into an abyss and surely die.
Saddened by the cycle of birth and death, he wish for nothing but to meditate and obey the teachings of the lama. Next day, tutor’s son gave him some provisions of a sack of barley flour and some excellent dried meat. He withdrew to a good cave on the hill behind his house to meditate.
Meeting his aunt and uncle while asking for alms
When his provisions were exhausted and he had nothing left to eat; ;his body became to weaken. He went to highland and begged for meat and grain from herdman and farmedf.
At the entrance to a tent, he called out, ” Please give a hermit some food.” He had chanced upon the encampment of my aunt. As soon as she recognised him, she became furious and set her dogs on him. She threatened and cursed him. Milarepa drew back, but as he was starved and weak. He tripped over a stone and fell into a pool of water.
Then he stood up and sang the harmonious lamentation. Thus he spoke which shamed his aunt. Accompanied by a young girl, who was weeping, she went into their tent.The aunt sent the young girl to him with a pat of butter and a partly spoiled cake of cheese. He went to beg at the other tents where he knew none of the people,but everybody gave him bountiful alms. Carrying these offerings, he left quickly.
But while asking for alms from the peasants in the valley of Tsa, he arrived at the door of the house where his uncle was living. Even though Milarepa looked like a decaying corpse, he recognized him. Then he threw a murderous stone, nearly hitting him, Milarepa kept running. Then his uncle shoot arrows at him. Some young men from the village also began to throw stones. Milarepa decided to threaten them with black magic. Terrified, the men seized my uncle and stopped harassing him. Each of the others brought an offering. Only his uncle refused to give anything. But, as his stay in the region would have aggravated their anger, he decided to leave.
In the evening, Milarepa had a dream foretelling a happy event if he were to remain for a few days. So he stayed, and Zessay learned of his arrival in the village. She came to see him, bringing provisions and some excellent beer. She told me how his mother had died and that his sister had become a wanderer. Overcome with grief, he shed many tears.
Zessay told hem she had not married since they were afraid of his guardian deity. Even If anyone had proposed, she would have refused. Of course, Milarepa understood her idea and replied, ” That I did not marry you is only by the grace of Marpa the Translator, but from the religious point of view I shall say earnest prayers for you.”
He continued said, ‘If I find my sister again, I will give her my house and my field. Meanwhile, make use of the field yourself. If it becomes known for certain that my sister is dead, you may keep the house and the field. In accordance with my ascetic practice, I will seek food as do the mice and birds, so I have no need of a field. My abode will be an empty cave; therefore I do not need a house. Even if one were Master of the Universe, at the moment of death one must give up everything. If one renounces everything now, one will be happy here and hereafter. That is why, quite the opposite of what others do, I have now given up everything and everybody. Do not expect me to be a man in the worldly sense.”
She replied, ” So, your practice is opposed to that of other religious people? “
Milarepa answered, ” First of all, those who think only of worldly goals are content with studying a few religious books. They rejoice in their own success and in the failure of others. In the name of religion, they amass as much wealth and fame as they can. They take holy names and put on yellow robes. I turn away from them and always will. But other devotees, if their minds and practice have not been so corrupted, are in agreement with me, no matter what robes they wear, and I cannot turn my back on them. I shun only those who do not follow the essence of the Dharma. “
Zessay asked, “I have never seen a religious devotee like you. You look even worse than a beggar. What kind of Mahayana is this?”
Milarepa replied, “It is the best of all. It throws the Eight Worldly Reactions to the winds in order to realize Enlightenment in this lifetime. This appearance of mine conforms with that tradition. I do not like what you worldly people like. Even those monks in yellow robes who follow the same path as I do see him not entirely free from the Eight Worldly Reactions. Even if they are free, there is an immeasurable difference in the time it takes to attain Enlightenment. This is what you do not understand.”
Zessay asked, ” As you say, your way and theirs are quite opposite; one of them must be false. If they were both equally true, I would prefer their way to yours. I want neither your house nor your field. Give them to your sister. As for me. I shall practice the Dharma, but I cannot follow a path like yours.” Having said this, she went away.
His aunt learned that I no longer had any use for my field and my house. A few days passed, she came to Milarepa and asked,” But since you are a holy man, you will forgive me. Now I, your aunt, will cultivate your field and bring you provisions.”
He answered, ” Very well, aunt, bring me a sack of barley flour each month and keep the rest for yourself.”
After two months, his aunt came again and said, ” People say that if I cultivate the field, my nephew’s guardian deities will cast evil spells upon us. It will ease my mind if you take an oath.”
Milarepa though,”I did not know, how she would feel about all this in the future. ” But he took the oath since to make others happy was the Dharma. Then she was happy and returned home.
Ascetic Diet of Nettles
Milarepa made a serious effort to meditate, but he was completely unable even to attain the blissful experience of inner warmth and, while he was wondering what to do, he had this dream : he was plowing a strip of his field. The earth was hard and he asked himself if he should give it up. Then the venerable Marpa appeared in the sky and said to him, ” My son, strengthen your will, have courage, and work; you will furrow the hard and dry earth.” Then, Marpa guided him and he plowed his field. Immediately a thick and abundant harvest sprang up.
He took this dream to mean that if he persevered in his efforts in meditation he would attain a new quality of inner experience. At the same day, his aunt brought me three loads of barley flour, a worn-out fur coat, a garment of good linen, some dried meat, and some butter and fat. And Milarepa decided to give his land and house to his aunt and uncle as a token of his gratitude.
The next morning, taking the payment for his field and some other small things which remained, he arrived at Horse Tooth White Rock without anyone knowing, and stayed there in a pleasant cave. He placed a small hard mat as a cushion for meditation and make a vow: ” So long as he had not attained the state of spiritual illumination, he would not descend to enjoy alms, or offerings dedicated to The dead, even if he died of hunger in this mountain solitude.” Having thus prayed, he sustained himself solely on thin soup with a little roasted barley flour, and began meditation.
Three years passed. All food were consumpted. He understood if there was nothing else to sustain him, it would be the end of his life. He went out in front of the White Rock cave where the sun was warm and the water excellent. Here were many nettles – an open place with a distant view. Joyfully, he stayed there.Sustaining himself with nettles, he continued his meditation.
Because Milarepa had no clothes on my body and no other nourishment whatever, his body, covered with greyish hair, became like a skeleton and his skin turned the colour of nettles. When this happened, he took the scroll that the lama had given him and placed it on his head. He was tempted to break the seal of the scroll to look at it. But an omen warned me not to open it yet. So he let it be.
About a year passed. One day, some hunters from the market of Kirong who had had no luck hunting suddenly came to his cave and demanded the food. Milarepa replied he had nothing except nettles. One of them lifted him up and dropped him down again. His body was filled with pain, he felt a terrible and unbearable pity for them. He wept.
After two year had passed. One day, some hunters arrived at the entrance to his cave. Seeing him, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’ and the nearest one ran away. He explained to them at length that I was not a ghost but a hermit meditating in the mountains, and that lack of food was responsible for the condition of his body. Thus he spoke, they offered me a large supply of meat along with other provisions. After he had eaten cooked meat, his body began to feel tranquil bliss.
Milarepa ate the meat sparingly, but what he saved eventually became infested with maggots. Then he thought,” This is neither my fate nor my right. It is not fair to rob the maggots of their food. I no longer want it. ” He left the meat as food for them, and returned to my ascetic diet of nettles.
Another year passed. One day some hunters from Tsa arrived at his cave and demanded the food. Milarepa replied no meat but nettles. So they had made the fire and cooked the nettles. One hunter said, ” Even a servant eats his fill and wears warm clothing. There is no man on earth more miserable or pitiful than you.”
He replied,” I was born the most fortunate of men. I have met Lama Marpa of the Southern Cliffs. From him I obtained the instructions, which allow me to attain Buddha-hood in this life and with this body. I have sacrificed food, clothing, and status, thereby destroying the enemies, passion and prejudice, in this life. There is no worldly man braver or with higher aspirations than I. Although you were born in a country in which the teaching of the Buddha has been spread, you have not even the urge to listen to the Dharma. There is no conduct more dangerous than piling up faults little by little, and handful by handful – it fills the depth and duration of hell. Now forever at peace, I shall have supreme bliss and from now on I am assured of happiness. ” And with these words they went away.
Each year at Kya Ngatsa a great festival was held for the casting of figurines. On this occasion, these hunters sang the Song of the Five Happinesses. His sister Peta, who was begging at the feast, heard the song and knew it was her brother’s praises. She wept. Zessay came up to her and conforted her that her brother was alive. After few days, Peta and Zessay, bringing with a full jar of beer, meat, butter and tsampa, and a great deal of beer, arrived at Horse Tooth White Rock.
She looked at his brother, Milarepa, from the threshold. His body was wasted by asceticism. His eyes were sunk in their sockets. All his bones protruded. His fleshes were dried out and green. The skin covering his fleshless bones looked like wax. The hair on his body had become coarse and grey. From his head it streamed down in a frightening flood. His limbs were about to fall apart. At this sight, his sister, terrified, thought at first that he might be a ghost, but the words she had heard, ” Your brother is dying of starvation,'” made her hesitate.
” Are you a man or a ghost? ” She asked.
” I am Mila Good News.” He replied. She recognized his voice and cried. And overcome with feeling, she fainted. After a few moments she recovered consciousness. Peta told him everything about family and how she became a beggar.
Peta said, ” From whatever point of view one looks at my elder brother, one cannot call him a man. You should ask for alms and little by little eat the food that humans eat. “
Milarepa replied,” I do not know when I shall die, and I have neither time nor desire to go begging to obtain food. Were I to die of cold, I would have little regret since it would be for religion. The three lower realms are infinitely more terrible than my misery. Many are the beings who seek such suffering. Here is how I shall attain happiness through fulfilment of my aim.” Then he sang them a Doha . Font http://www.thranguhk.org/buddhism/en_milarepa.html