Largely self-educated, he developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of Asia early on and realised that he was a Buddhist at the age of After studying for some years under leading teachers from the major Buddhist traditions, he went on to teach and write extensively. He also played a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, particularly through his work among followers of Dr BR Ambedkar.
A translator between Asia and the West, the traditional world and the modern, and between principle and practice, Sangharakshita's depth of experience and clear thinking have been appreciated throughout the world.
Who Is Milarepa?
He has always particularly emphasised the decisive significance of commitment in the spiritual life, the paramount value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and art, and the need for a 'new society' supportive of spiritual aspirations and ideals. Sangharakshita recently handed on most of his responsibilities to his senior disciples in the Order.
From his base in Birmingham, he is now focusing on personal contact with people and on his writing. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. Gradually, the effect of his past on his mind waned without a counterpart pride or self-satisfaction.
But he was not yet conscious of it.
The Yogi's Joy: Three Songs of Milarepa, Tibetan Mystic
At last Marpa judged Milarepa worthy of the final steps in breaking from his past and realizing the end of the ego that sustained it. Marpa assigned Milarepa to live in solitude on a mountain-side in meditation. Milarepa obeyed was progressing for nearly a year. But one night he happened to dream that he had returned home to discover his mother dead and his sister a beggar, and the property for which he had pursued murder now neglected and overrun.
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- The Yogi's Joy : Three Songs of Milarepa.
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The dream disturbed him. Translator Chang summarizes:.
Stricken with grief and longing to see his mother, he left Marpa and went back to his home village, where all the premonitions of his dream were confirmed. Witnessing this painful human existence helplessly and futilely consumed in fleeting evanescence, an anguish of desire to renounce the world wrung his heart.
He made a solemn vow that he would meditate on a remote mountain uninterruptedly until he reached the Ultimate Enlightenment.
Milarepa found a mountain cave and dwelt there alone in meditation for twelve years. His methodology was mahamudra , an equivalent of Chan or Zen in its emphasis on practice and No-Mind, but including breathwork, recitation, and bowing. The story tells how Milarepa remained in the cave year round, naked and subsisting on nettles, his body turning green from the nettles or from the algae growing on his skin.
But finally Milarepa attained enlightenment, and a new phase of his life began. Milarepa's feat did not go unnoticed in the region, so that though he was consequently always a hermit, his fame was already widespread. Nor did he throughout his life refuse visitors who sought his advice, blessing, discipleship or to engage him in contentious debate.
This period properly marks the beginning of his "Hundred Thousand Songs," which, of course, were never written by him but were recorded by adherents, contemporaries, successors, and oral tradition. So uniform in structure, content, and doctrine are the songs, embodied in biographical frames, that taken together, the extant songs the original number will never be known form an exemplary pattern of both Milarepa's life and his teaching.
Here he remained in summer. In autumn he traveled, a wanderer or mendicant seeking alms. In winter he dwelt in forests, meditating. In spring he emerged again, wandering meadows, hills, and brooks. During the months of public wandering, Milarepa taught freely, but even in seclusion others came to listen to him.
Songs | Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche | Teachings and Activities
One typical song relates that he "stayed in a village for some time, but soon became very saddened by the worldliness of everyone there. Milarepa was able to abide his frigid mountain home because of the ability to generate tummo , or "vital heat," a Tantric discipline by which he was able to keep his body warm. With little to eat, nevertheless, solitude sustained him:.
The falling snow enclosed my house of meditation. Dakinis [i. The water of Snow Mountain was the purest draught. All was done without effort. There is no need to farm where there is no demand for food. My store is full without preparation or hoarding.
By observing my own mind, all things are seen; By sitting in a solitary place, the royal throne is reached. As a wandering mendicant and solitary, Milarepa is reminiscent of a Jain ascetic, a Hindu sadhu , a Japanese hijiri , rather than a Buddhist bhikku typically identified with a monastery. But Milarepa deliberately rejected a formal institutional role for himself.
He included monasteries in his list of the six "deceptions":. Monasteries are like collecting-station for hollow drift. The priestly life Of such prisons I have no need. Naturally these sentiments did not endear him to Buddhist and Bon religious. They sought him out with the purpose of catching him in doctrinal error, of humiliating him before the common people, being jealous of his popularity. During a famine, a local monastery had turned away beseeching villagers seeking food, insisting that because the monks did not serve the villagers or consult "heretics" such as Milarepa, they owed nothing of their stores to anyone.
The monks had decided to drive Milarepa out of the locale. A group of three representatives came to Milarepa, who had been forewarned of their approach by his own disciple Rechungpa. The scholar-monks challenged Milarepa on three points: 1 that he was a layman unfit to teach, 2 that his practice was wrong, and 3 that he had an ignorant layman as his mentor. Milarepa responded so clearly and convincingly that the three scholar-monks joined the disciples of Milarepa.
When their superiors saw the monks in Milarepa's entourage, they were "consumed with rage" and cried out: "You scoundrels, dirty lice, betrayers! This lengthy section of the Songs is entitled "The Challenge from the Logicians. The confrontation with Bon priests was not over doctrine but magic. These scenarios reflect cultural tensions of the era, the decline of one religion and the ascension of another. But Milarepa was not interested in magic. Though the miracles reported in the Songs vary from practical such as healing the sick to imaginative and hagiographical becoming invisible, holding up a lake, splitting a boulder with a look, shrinking to fit in a yak's horn, ascending to the sky and disappearing, flying from one place to another , Milarepa insists that miracles are intended only to convert the impious and to improve practice.
The "natural" miracles of tummo , solitary living, ascetic life, and enlightenment dominate the narratives.
Like hermits East and West, Milarepa was a challenge to institutional religious orders and to conventional beliefs and practices. And like hermits East and West he was respected and admired by local common people once he was known to them.
Milarepa was judged both by his lifestyle and the content of his words. His chief disciples came from the villages through which he passed, not from the learned or wealthy but from the farmers. But all classes of people were attracted to him. While his most famous disciple was Rechungpa, the ox-herder -- who was to be called Milarepa's "heart-son" -- another was Gambopa, the son of a physician, who was to be called his "foremost disciple. Perhaps Milarepa's most important disciples were women, and what Milarepa says of them was a particular challenge to both orthodox belief of his day and to social custom.
One song is specifically titled "A Woman's Role in the Dharma. One day Milarepa was traveling alone and came to a house where a fifteen-year old girl was directing laborers in the harvest. Milarepa asked for alms and Barbadom directed him to the house, where she would go shortly. He entered the house, where the grandmother rushed at him, angrily shouting:. You miserable yogi-beggars! I never see you in one place. In the summer you come begging milk and butter! In winter you come for grain!
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