Milarepa … new moon eve
In the last one, Milarepa was supplicating, that is to say, he was calling to his teacher, his guru. His longing and devotion were clear.
(I apologize for the sometimes glib tone. If it’s out of a lack of respect for Milarepa in any sense, or the material, then that’s my mistake, and most definitely my arrogance. Also, note the role of the teacher here. This is typical of Tibetan traditions. It’s not the only way, although it’s the main way in Tibetan Buddhism. But my point there is: if you’re getting intrigued at all by the Buddhist path, please don’t freak out because there’s the whole guru/devotion thing. That’s something I believe in, or am working on, personally. BUT it’s not the only way. So if the emotionality or the hierarchical nature of the guru/student thing freak you out, don’t jump ship. They freak me out too sometimes.)
Okay, so Mila was supplicating his teacher. He felt lonely, and missed his sangha. Then, his teacher appeared in a cloud of rainbow light. I’m going to skip, for now, over most of the story/prose sections. Here, the main lesson that leaps to mind is: the teacher and disciple are not separate, or they’re not THAT separate. The separation can be bridged, or the already-bridgedness can be revealed. Anyway. On to the next.
Inspired by the vision of his teacher, Mila sang:
“When I see my teacher’s face
and hear him speak,
the energy of my heart is stirred,
the heart prana of this humble hermit.
When remembering my teacher’s dharma,
respect and reverence appear in my heart.
His blessings enter my being
and my kleshas are exorcised.
My heartfelt song, the one before,
you must surely have heard, teacher.
Somehow, though, I’m still stranded in darkness!
Please grant me your protection.”
(So, in spite of his teacher’s appearing right in front of him, Milarepa is not satisfied. He stills feels confused. He still suffers. What’s basically a miracle has arisen, and Mila still is not happy. So, one way to read this- even at a high level of “realization,” people still want more. They still suffer, crave, and fail to appreciate actual miracles happening right in front of them. Other ways to read this- Mila wants to continue the interaction. He longs for his teacher, and just saying “thanks, ok” at the appearance of the vision would mean the end of the interaction. He keeps it going, realizing the value of talking to and learning from his teacher. Another reading- he’s a little crazy about receiving blessings from his teacher. He longs, he fantasizes, he pines. This kind of spiritual emotionality is encouraged, odd as it seems to a lot of people.)
is the best thing I can offer to my guru.
The best way to make him happy
is to bear the difficulties inherent in meditation.”
- Once More to Mount Kailash by Karen Swenson (3quarksdaily.com)
- Doing the Milarepa Dance (thecarrotseeddotcom.wordpress.com)
- More on gods, rituals and beliefs (buddhismconnect.wordpress.com)