The Life of Milarepa - part 2
Milarepa went to the Lama and requested to be taught. The Lama gave him some meditation instructions and told him to go practice but after a few days, the Lama had an insight that he was not the proper teacher for Milarepa, so he sent him on to a very learned Lama he knew of named "Marpa the Translator".
Marpa was known widely among other religious centers for his trips to India to procure sacred teachings which he had brought back to Tibet in large bundles of scrolls. Marpa had been initiated by the famed Naropa, a powerful Saint who had fully transferred his exalted state of enlightenment to his disciple Marpa.
When Milarepa first heard the Lama utter the name "Marpa", he felt a thrill go through his body. Suddenly all his hairs stood on end and tears of joy started flowing from his eyes. He set out thinking of nothing else but the moment he would finally set eyes on his new guru.
Meanwhile, the day before Milarepa arrived, Marpa the Translator had a dream in which his own Guru, the Great Saint Naropa appeared to him and gave him a five pointed dorje [i.e. sceptre] made of the precious gem lapis lazuli. The dorje, however, was slightly tarnished and Naropa urged him to wash the dirt off with an elixir of holy water from a golden pot until it shone in splendour and then to raise it up upon a Banner of Victory. In his dream Marpa saw that the dorje, once polished and raised up emitted a brilliant radiance that shone on all the sentient beings in the six Lokas [the physical and spiritual realms or worlds]. In his dream, the spectacle of the radiant dorje was blessed with the benedictions of the Victorious Ones [previous humanity who had passed into the state of Buddhahood, or enlightenment].
Marpa was a member of the Kargyutpa sect and one of the specialties of the lineage was to divine future events through the reading of omens. From the dream he knew that a momentous meeting with his chief disciple was about to take place and that his task was to expiate some evil karma by which the disciple had been tarnished and then to bring him to the state of enlightenment.
Marpa left his house telling his wife Damema that he was going to plow his field that day, a thing he had never done before. Marpa walked down the road a ways and kept busy at the plowing until he spied Milarepa coming up the road towards him. As soon as Milarepa approached and laid eyes on the Lama Marpa, an inexpressible bliss gripped him and for a few moments he lost consciousness of his surroundings swept up in an ecstatic state. As soon as he had recovered he addressed Marpa as Reverend Sir and asked him where he might find the faithful disciple of the famous saint Naropa who was called Marpa the translator.
Milarepa added that he wanted to learn the True Doctrine by which he might obtain Deliverance in one single lifetime. At this Marpa was inwardly pleased but he showed no emotion and only said that he would procure an introduction to the Lama Marpa if only Milarepa would finish the task of plowing the field.
Marpa offered Milarepa some chang [barley beverage] as refreshment. Milarepa thanked him and drank the entire quantity of chang offered. Milarepa then plowed the field with enthusiasm and even when one of the disciples came to call him to the Lama's presence, Milarepa asked him to wait until he had finished plowing the field thoroughly and completely as requested by Marpa. Marpa took these two omens as signs of his new disciple's thoroughness and willingness to work towards the spiritual goal.
After that initial meeting began a period during which Marpa held out the goal of spiritual instruction and kept Milarepa busy at strenuous physical labours building various stone edifices. By nature Marpa was outwardly a rough and tyrannical teacher but inwardly he was all love and compassion. By the previous omens and Milarepa's recounting of his evil deeds, Marpa knew there was a great deal of evil karma to be worked out so he pretended to be always short tempered and demanding with the sincere and faithful lad. He had Milarepa build a stone structure on a high rocky ridge only to have him tear it down again, and take all the rocks and boulders back to where they were found, telling him he had changed his plans and now wanted a new structure built in another place. This was repeated on three different ridges until finally he had Milarepa build a grand many storied edifice on yet a forth ridge. Throughout the tasks, Milarepa never lost faith that he would receive the instructions he was looking for and put forth a Herculean effort, moving stones that ordinarily could only be moved by the combined strength of three men. He put forth such strenuous effort that he wore his body out until his back was one great sore from carrying rocks and mortar. His arms and legs were all cracked and bruised. Yet he continued working on, every day hoping at last to be favored with some religious instruction. Out of sympathy with his wounds, Marpa showed him how to pad his back and allowed him to rest while his body healed, but never did he allow Milarepa to avoid any of the building work that he had set out for him to complete.
During the years when all this building was going on, Marpa continued giving instruction to his other students. On several different occasions, various individuals among the disciples underwent initiations to receive the sacred instructions and Milarepa would try to join them but the Lama would drive him away with a angry shouts and fierce beatings, causing him great mental distress.
Each time Milarepa would be plunged into deep despair thinking that Marpa's actions were due only to the evil he had previously done. Sometimes Milarepa considered taking drastic action but each time he was on the verge of either taking his own life or running away, Marpa's wife, Damema, would give him sympathy and comfort, telling him the Lama would surely soon favor him with some instruction.
Soon another opportunity for instruction presented itself with the grand initiation of some disciples into the Mandala rite of Gaypa Dorje'. Marpa's wife Damema secretly gave a rare colored turquoise which had been in her family to Milarepa as a an offering of the initiation fee and then urged him to take his place once again with the other participants to the initiation. When the time came for the ceremony, Marpa approached Milarepa, carefully examined the turquoise and asked him how he came to possess it. Milarepa had to confess that the Reverend Mother [Damema] had given it to him. In reply Marpa merely told him that if he had anything of his own to offer he could stay. Thinking that maybe the Lama would soften and allow him to take initiation, Milarepa stayed on a while and waited. But this only made Marpa furious [at least outwardly] and he threw young Milarepa to the ground with great force and made as if to beat him with a stick. At this the young lad felt as if his heart was breaking, and weeping openly he left the house.
The next day the Lama summoned him and asked him if his refusal to confer initiation on him had shaken his faith. Milarepa replied that he only considered that it was the result of his own evil deeds which had prevented him from taking his place in the ceremony, whereupon he burst into tears anew. At this, the Lama ordered him out in an angry voice, asking him how he dared try to blame the Lama for this by his weeping so in his presence. Again Milarepa was sunk into the utmost despair feeling as if his heart were being torn out.
Milarepa went off by himself and thinking things over he concluded that the Lama never would confer on him the spiritual truths he was seeking and that he would have to seek them elsewhere. So he sought out Damema and told her of his plans to find another Guru. She reluctantly agreed that it appeared the Lama never would give him any instruction. Therefore she gave him some relics of Marpa's Guru Naropa as a gift and sent him off to another highly developed Lama, Ngogpa, who was of the same sect as Marpa. She wrote a note asking Lama Ngogpa to teach Milarepa some religious instructions and then sealed the note with Marpa's own seal.
After a short journey to the Lama's monastery, Milarepa arrived just as Lama Ngogpa had reached an auspicious point in a lecture to a large number of his pupils. He was reading: "I am the Expounder and I am the Truth. I am the Teacher of the World. I am the Being who has passed beyond all states of worldly existence. I am the Blissful one." Just as he said these words, he looked up to see Milarepa prostrating before him in salutation. The Lama took this simple sign as an omen that Milarepa would one day become a master of all religious lore.
As soon as Milarepa presented the Lama with Naropa's sacred relics and the note requesting instruction, the Lama was overjoyed to be so favored with such auspicious gifts and he then ordered a great celebration. Lama Ngogpa had heard about the Great Sorcerer [as Milarepa was called] staying with Marpa and had thought about sending for him. The Lama explained to Milarepa that many of his pupils had been waylaid and robbed of their meager possessions and supplies by the lawless inhabitants of one of the nearby provinces as they journeyed to and from the lamasery. He therefore dispatched Milarepa to launch a powerful hailstorm on the area. He promised Milarepa that as soon as this was accomplished, he would give him the instructions he sought. Now Milarepa bitterly repented his fate that instead of getting religious instruction, he was now being asked to commit still more evil acts. But he saw no way he could refuse so he set out for the province and set up his apparatus on a hillside and began the rites.
Soon a large and violent storm gathered and let loose huge quantities of rain and hail. After the storm had passed he saw that the fields of grain had all been wasted, the hills around were deeply cut by ravines, and many of the domestic animals of the residents as well as even birds, rats, and other animals had perished in the storm. Finding a shepherd who had lost his entire flock, Milarepa made known to him that the people of the province had better refrain from robbing the religious pilgrims passing through the area or risk having more disastrous hail storms visited upon them. On hearing of this the people were profoundly impressed with the power of Lama Ngogpa and not only refrained from robbing the pilgrims in the future, but many of them became devoted followers and faithfully served him.
Milarepa returned to the Lama in despair bewailing the fact that he came to the Lama searching for religious teaching but instead had been required to heap up even more sin. The Lama comforted him by telling him that all that had perished in the flood would in future times become themselves pupils on the path to Buddhahood.
Lama Ngogpa now fulfilled his promise to Milarepa and initiated him into the sacred rite of the Mandala of Gaypa Dorje. Milarepa was then conducted to a solitary cave where he was walled up inside of it with a stone wall held in place with mud as mortar. Now he was to commence his meditation practices. A small aperture was left for handing in food and water. Milarepa followed the Lama's meditation instructions with great zeal but despite a prodigious effort on his part, he failed utterly to experience any kind of spiritual development.
After a while the Lama came to him and asked him if he had experienced such and such to which Milarepa replied in the negative. The Lama was greatly puzzled as even the least advanced pupil should have had at least some measure of experiences by that point. Milarepa was inwardly alarmed by this and guessed that it was because he did not have Marpa's blessings. He was afraid to say anything though so he kept quiet and the Lama directed him to continue with his practices.
At about this time, Lama Ngogpa received a summons from Marpa to join him for a great religious event. The letter also stated that Lama Ngogpa should return the "wicked person" who had taken refuge with him. The Lama went to Milarepa's cave and read the letter to him. At this Milarepa confessed that indeed, it was not Marpa that had sent him there for instruction, but his wife, the Reverend Mother Damema. The Lama then stated that in that case, they had been engaged in totally profitless work.
Lama Ngogpa now collected all his pupils and taking a large number of objects and all his livestock as offerings in the ceremony, they proceeded to the residence of Marpa. When they were a short distance away, Lama Ngogpa sent Milarapa ahead to inform Marpa that they were near so that he could send some disciples back with refreshments [according to Tibetan custom].
Milarepa hurried to Marpa's residence and first encountered Damema. They greeted one another with great joy like reunited mother and son. She then told him to go inside and pay his respects to Marpa. Marpa was on the top floor of the house and when Milarepa approached from one direction, Marpa turned in another. Milarepa approached him again and Marpa turned back in yet another direction. Then Milarepa informed him that though he was unwilling to accept his own obeisance, Marpa should at least prepare a reception for Lama Ngogpa's party who was now only a short distance away. Marpa became enraged at this and replied that when he himself had returned from India with a load of precious teachings, not even as much as a lame bird hopped out to greet him.
At this Milarepa left to find Damema. The two, along with some of Marpa's disciples went back with a quantity of chang to greet Lama Ngogpa's party. Once the entire group had assembled, the religious consecration of the completed residence of Marpa's son was carried out. Then a few days later, Marpa conferred on Lama Ngogpa the final ear whispered teaching that he lacked - the Short Cut of the Immutable Path - through which it is possible to attain to Nirvana in a single lifetime.
After this Marpa put on a great feast, including his own disciples and all those who had assembled there from far distant locations. During the feast, Marpa sat looking fiercely at Lama Ngogpa and suddenly pointing an accusing finger at him and glancing at his long staff he had by his side, he demanded that the Lama account for his inexcusable behaviour in granting teachings to the wicked and evil Milarepa. The Lama was terrified and replied to him that he had only carried out the instructions that Marpa himself had written in his letter, signed with his own seal and accompanied by the relics of Saint Naropa to show their authenticity. Marpa then turned on Milarepa and demanded to know where he got the relics of Naropa to give to the Lama.
Milarepa shrunk in terror and felt his soul within sinking. He quickly passed from a state of extreme terror to one of extreme anguish, feeling once again as if his heart were being torn out. He began trembling and could scarcely talk for his terror. He felt compelled to inform Marpa that the Reverend Mother Damema had sent him to the Lama with the note and the relics of Naropa. At this Marpa turned fiercely to Damema to accuse her, but anticipating just such an event, she had already escaped the room and went into the chapel, barring the door behind her. Marpa then demanded that Lama Ngogpa return to his monastery and bring back the garlands and rosary of rubies that had once belonged to the great saint Naropa.
The Lama left immediately to do so and encountered Milarepa outside who had also made his escape when the Reverend Mother had run out of the room. Milarepa was in a corner weeping from the deepest depths of despair and he asked the Lama to please ensure that he would get a proper birth in his next life with a chance to attain enlightenment. He explained that because of all the evil deeds he had committed he had not only had made himself suffer but had also involved the Lama and the Reverend Mother in his suffering. He had now lost all hope of attaining teachings in this life and in his despair, planned to take his own life on the spot. The Lama himself burst into tears at this and pleaded with Milarepa not to take his own life. He informed him that the Mystic Doctrine held that all the various bodily principles and faculties are divine and that to prematurely end the present life before it's natural period of dissolution was the greatest sin of all incurring the severest of punishments.
Then Lama Ngogpa sought to comfort Milarepa as did many of the disciples who joined in to offer their own sympathies. But Milarepa remained in deep despair, bitterly repenting the black deeds he had previously committed that were now producing all his present suffering.
Meanwhile all the anger seemed to drain out of Marpa and he became calm and mild and asked one of his disciples to go and bring Lama Ngogpa, Damema, and Milarepa back into his presence, but this made Milarepa even more despondent. Me envied the others, called back to Marpa's presence but as for himself, he knew that his teacher would only show fresh displeasure at him if he returned with the others. So he remained there still weeping with despair and Lama Ngogpa remained with him to soothe him and make sure he didn't do anything rash.
Marpa now sent Damema to request Milarepa to return saying that he was now to be the honored guest. Damema went to him smiling broadly and told him that it appeared that Lama Marpa was now really going to favor him with some teaching. Milarepa very much doubted that this could be so but nonetheless returned with the others and all took their seats around Marpa.
Now Marpa made a detailed recounting of all that had occurred from the time he first met his worthy disciple. He first said that he had set Milarepa at hard labor building various edifices to help absolve him of his sins. His own anger, he said was not common anger, but spiritual or religious anger and it had as its aim to incite repentance and contribute to the spiritual development of the recipient. If he had had the chance of plunging his spiritual son [Milarepa] into abject despair nine times he would have been able to cleanse him completely of all his sins. But owing to the misplaced pity and narrow understanding of his wife Damema, who had interfered with his plans, he was only able to do this eight times. However, the sufferings that Milarepa had undergone had cleansed him of his major sins and his other chastenings had cleansed him of most of his minor sins leaving him with only a residual amount of demerit to be worked off.
Now Marpa announced that he was going to finally confer on Milarepa those initiations and teachings of his sect that bring liberation in a single lifetime and then he planned to shut him up in a cave to begin his meditations.
Milarepa was not sure if he were dreaming or awake but if dreaming he wished the dream to continue and began to weep, not out of misery, but for the pure inexpressible joy that was now possessing his soul. He made obeisance to the guru Marpa and all those present admired Marpa for his stern and inflexible will while chastening Milarepa, and for his wisdom and mercy in working out his salvation. All were now beaming and smiling as they partook of the sacrificial cakes.
The next day, Marpa erected the Demchog Mandala and through mantras, invoked the presence of the deities who presided over the succession of gurus in the Kargyutpa Sect of which Marpa was now the current youngest lineage holder. Milarepa now had the vision of the presiding tutelary deities invoked by the Mandala, thus receiving their benediction on his initiation. Then Marpa gave him instruction in the methods of meditation and explained the meanings of all the omens and events that had occurred since the initial meeting of the two. He told Milarepa that he in his turn would have disciples full of faith, intelligence, and energy, owing to his own patience, faith and acceptance in all the trials he had undergone during his cleansing period.
Published by Natha.net