Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa – W.Y. Evans-Wentz

Chapter X

Then ShiwawodRepa addressed Jetsun in these words:
‘O Jetsun, it is beyond our comprehension when we hear how
constant in thy faith and purpose thou wert in obtaining the Truths from thy Guru; how meek and faithful throughout thy terrible ordeals; and how persevering and energetic in carrying on devotion and meditation in lonely hilly solitudes. When we think of those deeds, our devotion seemeth to be mere sport-done at leisure, by fits and starts; and such devotion [ we fear], will not emancipate us from the Sangsara. What, then, are we to do?’ Having uttered these words, he wept bitterly.

Jetsun answered, ‘When we think of the pains and troubles endured in the Sangsara and in the Hell-Worlds, my faith and zeal do not really appear to have been so very great either. Thoughtful persons, once having heard about the Doctrine of Karma and believing in it, will be able to put forth similar zeal and energy. But those who understand only the wordings of the Doctrine, not having realized the truth of it, are unable to renounce the Eight Worldly Aims and Objects. Therefore, it is of the highest importance to believe in the Doctrine of Karma. These [latter folk] always appear not to believe even in the simplest and most generally accepted [or self-evident] of karmic laws. Thus, although they devote themselves to various expositions of the Voidness (Shunyata), as found in the Scriptures and Gospels, the Voidness, being more subtle and intricate, is far more difficult to comprehend, and believe in. But when once one believeth in the Voidness, its very self becometh manifest in the intricate workings of the Law of Karma; and a man who realizeth the nature of Voidness necessarily becometh more-subtle, and distinguisheth the qualities of actions both good and bad with a much finer power of perception. In short, he becometh more strictly conscientious. All piety consisteth in observing and believing in the Law of Karma; therefore it is of the utmost importance to be very persevering in adopting pious acts and rejecting impious acts. I, at first, did not understand the nature of the Voidness, but I believed firmly in the Law of Karma; and, being conscious of having committed deep and heinous sins, I believed that I richly deserved to go to the three miserable states of Hell. So I entertained the deepest reverence for, and faith in, my Guru, and exerted the utmost energy and zeal during my meditation, as, indeed, I could not help doing. I exhort you all to pass your lives in strict asceticism, in deep solitudes, meditating upon the Sacred Mystic Truths, and carrying into practice the teachings of the Doctrine. If ye do so, I, the old man, assure you of emancipation from the Sangsara.’

Then NganDzongTonpa BudhiRaja addressed Jetsun in this eulogistic style: ‘O Jetsun Rinpoch’e, thou must be the great Buddha Dorje-Chang Himself, come in human shape, to show those acts for the benefit of the sentient beings of this world. And if not that, then, at least, thou must have acquired much merit in countless Kalpas, and obtained the state of such a Great Being-one who will not return again to the Sangsara. Thou hast been ready to sacrifice life itself for religion, and persisted zealously in the pursuit of devotional meditation. All the signs of an Incarnate Buddha are to be found in thy life. For to beings like us, who live for the individual self, thy meekness and constant and unswerving faith during the time that thou wert under thy Guru, and the hardships which thou didst bear, appear quite incomprehensible, even to our hearts. It would be impossible for us to think of undergoing all those hardships for the sake of the Truth; who would be able to do so? And even if anyone had the will and hardihood to attempt to do so, the physical frame would not be able to bear it. So it is quite certain that Jetsun must be, or must have been, either a Bodhisattva or a Buddha in the past; and we are blest in having seen thy face and heard thy voice. Those of us who have thus been favoured are sure of obtaining Deliverance, although we be not able to pursue our devotions so earnestly. Be pleased to reveal to us what Bodhisattva thou wert in the past.’

To this Jetsun replied: ‘I myself am not sure whose incarnation I am; but even though I be an incarnation of a being formerly existing in one of the Three States of Misery,. yet, if ye regard me as Dorje-Chang, or as any other Deity, ye will obtain the grace and blessing of such Deity, in virtue of your faith. Personal love and regard make ye think that I must be an Incarnation; but towards the Dharma ye commit the great sin of doubt and scepticism. This is because ye have not the power of earnest devotion. For it is by the great power of the Sacred Dharma alone that I have been able to attain such spiritual advancement as to be very near Perfect Buddhahood in the latter portion of my years, although I had been guilty of such heinous sins in my youth and early manhood. It was because I firmly believed in the reality of the Law of Karma that I applied myself zealously to the Truth, giving lip all thoughts of this life and world. And, more especially, was I fortunate in being taken in hand by a perfected Guru, who was able to give me those very Truths and Texts which were most adapted to me, and which enabled me to follow the Short Path of the Mystic Mantrayana. He gave me the Truths divested of all superfluous adornments and clothing, conferred on me the necessary Initiations, and empowered me to meditate on these Truths in the right way. If anyone else had obtained these, and continued to meditate on them, there is not the least doubt about his obtaining perfect enlightenment within one lifetime. But if one pass a lifetime here doing nothing but committing the ten impious acts and the five unlimited sins, there is not the least doubt that such a one will fall into the most miserable of the Hells. If one do not believe in the Law of Karma, one lacketh zeal in the pursuit of his devotional studies; if one believe firmly in the Law of Karma, the thought of the miseries in the Three Lower States is sure to till one with dread and inspire one with the intensest desire to obtain Buddhahood. Then one’s faith and meekness towards the Guru, zeal and energy in the meditation on the Truth, and, finally, the way in which one beareth the experience of the spiritual growth and knowledge, would altogether equal mine in every point. And when anyone obtaineth these spiritual developments, the worldly proudly attribute it to his being an Avatara of some Buddha or Bodhisattva. Actually this is disbelief in the Short Path of the Mantrayana. Therefore, I exhort you all to establish your belief in the Law of Karma firmly. Meditate upon, consider, and weigh deeply the serious facts contained in the biographies of previous saintly lives, the Law of Karma, the inconveniences and miseries of all sangsaric states of existences, the difficulties of obtaining the boon of a well-endowed human life, and the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the exact time of death; and, having weighed these in your minds, devote yourselves to the study and practice of the Mantrayanic Doctrines. I have obtained spiritual knowledge through giving up all thought of food, clothing, and name. Inspired with zeal in my heart, I bore every hardship and inured myself to all sorts of privations of the body; I devoted myself to meditation in the most unfrequented and solitary places. Thus did I obtain knowledge and experience; do ye also follow in the path trodden by me, and practise devotion as I have done.’

‘Because of evil karma, accumulated by you in past lives,
The moment ye are of your mother born, ye delight in sinning;
The doing of the good and merit-bringing deeds ye like not;
E’en till ye are grown old, your nature is perverse:
Thus surely must ye garner the results of evil actions.

‘If ye wonder whether evil karma can be neutralized or not,
Then know that it is neutralized by desire for goodness.

‘But they who knowingly do evil deeds,
Exchange a mouthful of food-for infamy.

‘They who knowing not whither they themselves are bound,
Yet presume to pose as guides for others,
Do injury both to themselves and others.

‘If pain and sorrow ye desire sincerely to avoid,
Avoid, then, doing harm to others.

‘Repenting and confessing of all previous sins,
At the feet of the Guru and the Deities,
And vowing never more in future to commit a wrong,
Are the shortest path to rapid expiation of all evils done.

‘The greater part of sinners are sharp-witted;
[Of mind] unstable and unfixed, they delight in various distractions;
And unendowed are they with love of the religious life:
This, in itself, doth signify that they are sin-obscured,
And need repentance and confession o’er and o’er.

‘Do ye each give yourselves, with zeal,
To expiating sins and winning merit;
If thus ye do, not only shall ye see
The Dharma-loving deities celestial,
But the holiest and highest of all gods.

‘The DharmaKaya of your own mind ye shall also see;
And seeing That, ye shall have seen the All,
The Vision Infinite, the Sangsara and Nirvana.
Then shall your karmic actions cease.’
‘I bow down at the Feet of Marpa the Translator!

‘Ye, my disciples, here in faith assembled,
Give ear to this, the final testament,
Of me, the aged Milarepa, the Father [Spiritual]-
I, the Yogi, Milarepa,
Who by the Kindness and the Favour of Marpa of Lhobrak,
Have successfully accomplished all my duties.

‘If ye, my shishyas and my followers,
Will my behests obey, do as. I heretofore have bid you;
And thus within this very lifetime ye shall do
A mighty service unto others and yourselves,
Pleasing unto me and to the Supreme Buddhas;
Apart from that, all other acts are profitless
For self and others, and displeasing unto me.

‘Unless one’s Guru be of an unbroken [apostolic] line,
What gain is it to take Initiation?

‘Unless the Dharma be with one’s own nature blended,
What gain is it to know by rote the Tantras?

‘Without renunciation of all worldly aims,
What gain is it to meditate the Chosen Teachings?

‘Without attuning body, speech, and mind unto the Doctrine,
What gain is it to celebrate religious rites?

‘If anger be unconquered by its antidote, –(The antidote is Love)
What gain is it to meditate on patience?

‘Unless all partiality, all likes and dislikes, be abandoned,
What gain is it to offer worship?

‘Unless all selfishness be given up, from the very heart’s depths,
What gain is it to offer alms?

‘Unless the beings of the Lokas Six be known to be one’s parents,
What gain is it to fill a certain seat hierarchical?

‘Unless pure love and veneration be innate within one’s heart,
What gain is it to build a stupa?

‘Unless one have ability to meditate throughout the four divisions of the day,
What gain is it to mould tshatshas?

‘Unless prayer rises from the heart’s recesses,
What gain is it to honour anniversaries?

‘Unless the Secret Teachings’ be retained within one’s ear,
What gain is it to suffer sorrow?

‘Unless both faith and love attend the Saint while living,
What gain is it. to contemplate his reliques or his image?

‘Unless repentance and remorse are born in one,
What gain is it to say, “Renounce and make repentance?”

“Unless one meditate on loving others more than self,
What gain is it merely from the lips to say, “O pity [sentient creatures] ” ?

‘Unless all evil hankerings be overcome,
What gain is it to render service now and then?

‘Unless the Guru’s every word e’er be regarded [and obeyed] as being reasonable,
What gain is it to have a multitude of shishyas?

‘All actions which bring naught of benefit,
Do naught but harm; so leave them quietly aside.

‘To the Yogi who hath carried out his mission,
No need is there to undertake fresh duties.’
Obeisance at the Feet of Lordly Marpa the Translator!

‘If ye who would be devotees and Wisdom win,
Do not procure and serve a Guru wise,
Though ye have faith and meekness, small will be the Grace.

‘If ye do not obtain the Initiation deep and mystic,
The words alone, the Tantras hold, will merely serve as fetters.

‘If ye keep not the Tantric Scriptures as your witness,
All practice of the rites will be but many snares.

‘If ye do not the Chosen Teachings meditate,
Mere renunciation of the worldly life will be but vain self-torture.

‘If ye subdue not evil passions by their antidote,
Mere verbal preachings will be but empty sounds.

‘If ye know not the Subtle Methods and the Path,
Mere perseverance will bear but little fruit.

‘If ye know not the Secret and the Subtle Methods,
Mere exercise of zeal will make the Pathway long.

‘If ye do not acquire great merit,
And work for self alone, sangsaric being will continue.

‘If ye do not devote unto Religion all your worldly goods amassed,
Much meditation will not gain much Knowledge.

‘If ye do not acquire contentment in yourselves,
Heaped-up accumulations will only enrich others.

‘If ye do not obtain the Light of Inner Peace,
Mere external ease and pleasure will become a source of pain.

‘If ye do not suppress the Demon of Ambition,
Desire of fame will lead to ruin and to lawsuits.

‘The desire to please exciteth the Five Poisonous Passions;
The greed of gain separateth one from dearest friends;
The exaltation of the one is the humiliation of the others.

‘Hold your peace and no litigation will arise;
Maintain the State of Undistractedness and distraction will fly off;
Dwell alone and ye shall find a friend;
Take the lowest place and ye shall reach the highest;
Hasten slowly and ye shall soon arrive;
Renounce all worldly goals and ye shall reach the highest goal.

‘If ye tread the Secret Path, ye shall find the shortest way;
If ye realize the Voidness, Compassion will arise within your hearts;

‘If ye lose all differentiation between yourselves and others,
fit to serve others ye will be;
And when in serving others ye shall win success, then shall ye meet with me;
And finding me, ye shall attain to Buddhahood.

‘To me, and to the Buddha, and the Brotherhood of my disciples
Pray ye earnestly, without distinguishing one from the other.’
‘O Rechung, my son, as dear to me as mine own heart,
Hear thou this hymn, my final testament of precepts :

‘In the Sangsaric Ocean, of the Lokas Three,
The great culprit is the impermanent physical body;
Busy in its craving search for food and dress,
From worldly works it findeth ne’er relief:
Renounce, O Rechung, every worldly thing.

‘Amid the City of Impermanent Physical Forms,
The great culprit is the unreal mind;
Submissive to the form of flesh and blood,
It findeth ne’er the time to realize the nature of Reality:
Discern, O Rechung, the true nature of the Mind.

‘Upon the frontier of the Intellect and Matter,
The great culprit is the self-born [or created] knowledge;
E’er on its guard ‘gainst accidental [or destructive] mishaps [to itself),’
It findeth ne’er the time to realize the true nature of the Unborn Knowledge [or Truth]:
Keep, O Rechung, within the safe stronghold of the Unborn [or Uncreated].

‘Upon the frontier of this and of the future life,
The great culprit is the [self-born or created] consciousness ;
It seeketh e’er a form it hath not,
And findeth ne’er the time to realize the Truth:
Find, O Rechung, the nature of the Truth Eternal.

‘Amid the City of Illusoriness of the Lokas Six,
The chief factor is the sin and obscuration born of evil karma ;
Therein the being followeth dictates of likes and dislikes,
And findeth ne’er the time to know Equality:
Avoid, 0 Rechung, likes and dislikes.

‘Within a certain unseen.region of the Heavens,
The Perfect Buddha, expert in subtle argument,
Hath propounded many subtle and profound Apparent Truths ;
And there one findeth ne’er the time to know the Real Truths:
Avoid, O Rechung, subtle argument.

Gurus, Devas, Dakinis
Combine these in a single whole, and worship that;
The goal of aspiration, the meditation, and the practice-
Combine these in a single whole, and gain Experimental Knowledge;
This life, the next life, and the life between [in Bar-do] –
Regard these all as one, and make thyself accustomed to them [thus as one].

‘This is the last of my Selected Precepts,
And of my Testament the end;
Than that, no more of Truth is there, O Rechung;
Acquire from it Practical Knowledge, O my son.’
‘The Guru, Who inseparably is the Embodiment of the Trikaya,
Doth manifest Himself in every form by super-normal power;
That He should manifest Himself
Within this small and wondrous work of art is marvellous;
If towards it ye exert your fullest faith and earnest prayer,
Praying from your hearts’ depths,
Its boon of gracious blessings shall not be diminished :
This Sacred promise of all the Greatest Yogis ye may trust.

‘If Sacred Faith ye keep in all these firmly,
The virtue of such Faith will bring its boon.

‘If ye can cling to Solitudes,
The Matrikas and Dakinis are sure to gather round you.

‘If ye in your religious practice be sincere,
A sign of quick soccess in Yoga it will be.

‘If in yourselves ye see no wish for ease,
A sign ’twill be that in you evil passions are uprooted.

‘If ye cling not to self and worldly goods,
‘Twill show that evil sprites and Mara are controlled.

‘If difference of caste and creed do not exist among you,
‘Twill show your Views [or Aims] are wholly right.

‘If ye can see both the Sangsara and Nirvana as the Voidness,
A sign ’twill be that your Meditation, too, is right.

‘If zeal and energy flow from your hearts [spontaneously],
A sign ’twill be that your Acts are right.

‘If from your Guru ye obtain prophetic utterance,
A sign ’twill be that the Good Faith is right.

‘If ye have power to serve all sentient beings,
A sign ’twill be that the Result is right.

‘If the Guru and the Shishya in their hearts agree,
‘Twill show that their Relationship is right.

‘If ye receive good omens of success and boons divine,
A sign ’twill be that your Thoughts are right.

‘The Good and Mutual Faith, the Experience and the Satisfaction, –
Let these serve as your portion of the Reliques.’


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