Milarepa, also known as Thopaga (“Delightful to Listen”)
Milarepa was born in 1052 in Tibet.
Coming from a wealthy family, Milarepa, together with his sister and parents, enjoyed the admiration and respect of all who knew them. When his father, Mila-Dorje-Senge, became seriously ill, he called the whole family to make known his last wishes. He wanted his property and all property to be transferred to the care of his brother and sister until Milarepa grew up and married the girl with whom he had been betrothed since childhood. According to the tradition of those times.
After the death of the father, Milarepa’s aunt and uncle divided the entire fortune among themselves. Thus, stripping the widow and the two children of all rights.
They were thus forced to live in the most precarious conditions. They were offered very bad food and were sent to work in the fields. Over the years, their health has faltered and, of the village’s most beloved people, they have become the object of everyone’s mockery.
When Milarepa reached the age of 15, her mother put together everything she could obtain from her neighbors and prepared a feast, inviting all those who had been present at her husband’s death. She then reminded her husband’s sister and brother that they had been asked to take care of the fortune for a time. But now that Milarepa has become a major, the property and the entire estate must be repaid. But the Avar relatives claimed that they had been the first owners, that they had in fact lent their brother the entire fortune. And so Milarepa’s family had no rights. Moreover, on this occasion they were driven out of the house where they had lived all their lives. To take revenge on those who had ruined his life, my mother sent Milarepa to learn black magic from a famous sorcerer, threatening him that otherwise he would kill himself.
Milarepa spent almost a year studying black magic rituals
He learned this from a magician. At the end of the year, he told him about his mother’s desire for revenge. And she asked him to offer him the initiation into a ritual through which he could fulfill this desire. With the help of the magician, he put into practice this ritual for 14 days. After which the tutelary deities appeared to him in a vision by offering him the bloodied hearts and heads of 35 of his relatives, except for two (even his uncle and aunt). Milarepa’s spell manifested itself at a relative’s wedding when, due to a diversion created outside, the horses in front of the house began to hit the walls very hard, until the house collapsed with a terrible noise, causing the death of all present.
In order for the relatives of those killed not to seek revenge, Milarepa performed another warning ritual, in which he caused a heavy rain accompanied by hail to destroy the entire harvest of his enemies.
The magician praised his disciple, who had thus acquired the reputation of a fearsome sorcerer.
When his mother learned of the disasters, she was gripped by cruel joy, telling everyone what happiness her son had given her, causing the death and destruction of those she despised so much. However, Milarepa deeply regretted all the deeds that his mother had forced him to commit, being determined to give up any new evil action and, implicitly, the black magic.
Milarepa went in search of a master to give him the true teaching, thepath to spiritual perfection
He was directed to the great yogi known as Marpa the Translator. He was famous for his travels to India, from where he brought the sacred teachings to Tibet and had been initiated by the famous yogi Naropa.
Marpa had the ability to predict future events
He could foresee future events by interpreting the signs that manifested themselves in various situations. At that time he had a dream in which he understood that he would meet the one who would become his main disciple, whom he had to help to “burn” much of the negative karma that he had accumulated in this very life, and ultimately lead him to the state of enlightenment. Therefore, from the very beginning he manifested himself as a tough and tyrannical teacher, although inside he was full of love and compassion.
To eliminate the negative karma of his disciple, Marpa knew that he would have to constantly subject him to difficult tests
Shortly after Milarepa became his disciple, Marpa ordered him to build a stone house, which he finally had to tear down and move all the materials used to the place where he had taken them, telling him that he had changed his plans and wanted the new structure to be built elsewhere. This Herculean work was repeated three times in three different places, and in the end he was going to build an edifice with many floors, larger than anything he had built before.
During this time, the disciple never lost faith in his master
He did not lose his confidence, nor his hope that he would obtain the teaching he was seeking with all his being, and therefore, with superhuman effort, he was moving stones that could normally be erected by only three people together. Because of the overwork, his whole body was full of wounds and he could barely move his arms and legs. However, all he could get from the master was a break of a few days in which he could heal his wounds, after which he had to resume work.
Throughout these years Marpa continued to offer his initiation to the other disciples.
Several times Milarepa tried to join the group of disciples himself. But every time Marpa banished him, scolding him very harshly and even hitting him, bringing him to the brink of despair. But, however, Milarepa was aware that his master’s conduct was solely due to his past evil deeds. Therefore, he was often on the verge of suicide or fleeing the master’s house,but each time, Damema, the master’s wife, who cared for him, encouraged him by telling him that Marpa would surely give him the initiation as soon as possible.
Initiation and asceticism- The attainment of the state of samadhi
But one day, discouraged, Milarepa decided to go in search of another master.
He shared his fears and plans with Dame. Agreeing with his decision, she offered some of the things to Naropa, who were now in the care of her husband And sent him to another Lama, it is said as spiritually evolved, called Ngogpa, who was part of the same spiritual grouping as Marpa, to give them to him as coming from his husband. He wrote a note asking this Lama to give Milarepa the sacred teachings, then marked it with Marpa’s own seal.
Arriving at the home of his new master, Milarepa offered him the holy gifts brought with him and asked for his teaching. But Ngogpa promised him that he would offer him what he asked for only after he performed a black magic ritual to defend the disciples who came to see him from the more remote villages, who, on their way to the master, were attacked and robbed of all the gifts they had with them.
Milarepa deeply regretted his fate because, instead of obtaining the spiritual teaching for which he had come, he had to continue to commit evil actions. He succeeded in his ritual, by which he caused a great flood in that area; and the locals were deeply impressed by his power, and the attacks ceased; many of the marauders became the sincere disciples of Master Ngogpa.
Keeping his promise, Lama Ngogpa offered Milarepa the initiation
The initiation was offered in a secret ritual, after which he led him to a cave, whose entrance was to be blocked with a very large stone, leaving free only a portion through which he could receive food and water.
Milarepa thus began his daily meditations, following with precision and perseverance the instructions offered by his new master. However, although intense practice, it has achieved no spiritual effect or transformation. When the Lama told him with astonishment that, following this initiation, and after such an assiduous practice, anyone should achieve results, he realized that the real reason for his spiritual stagnation was the lack of blessing of his true master. During this period, Ngoepa received a letter from Marpa inviting him to take part with him in a great religious event. He also asked him to bring back his disciple.
When they all arrived at Marpa’s house, the entire “plot” was unmasked
Milarepa fled to a corner of the house to escape the master’s anger. Once again, he felt full of despair and fear, and the thought of suicide appeared to him as the only salvation. But Marpa was not angry, and even sent one of his disciples to bring Milarepa.
Although full of doubt, Milarepa agreed to go and, along with the others, took his place with his master. It was then that Marpa began to recount in detail everything that had happened since he met his devoted disciple. He confessed that, if he succeeded in bringing his disciple into a state of profound despair nine times in a row, he would thus be able to completely purify him of all his negative karma. But because of the wrong understanding of his wife, who interfered with his plans, he was only able to do so eight times. However, the suffering milarepa encountered purified him from most of his mistakes.
Now Marpa has announced that he will finally offer him those initiations and teachings that bring liberation in one life
After this he would lock him in a cave to start his meditations. Without knowing whether he was dreaming or not, Milarepa wished that this inexpressible state of joy that encompassed his soul would never stop. “The days of happiness have begun” – he said.
After summoning the deities that govern the succession of spiritual masters of his spiritual path, Marpa offered his disciple the initiation in meditation techniques. On this occasion he revealed to Milarepa that he would in turn have disciples full of aspiration, intelligence, energy, according to the patience and faith he showed throughout the tests to which he had been subjected during the period of purification.
Milarepa began preparing for meditation. Marpa locked him in the cave ready for him.
He provided him with the food supplies he needed. Milarepa meditated intensely for eleven months. Then the master, along with his wife, Damema, came to get him out of isolation. Because he had progressed so far during this time, he did not want any breaks in his practice, but he listened to the master’s instructions. Asked what he experienced in meditations, Milarepa began by singing a hymn of glorification of his master and the teachings he gave him. He then described the results.
First, the disciple understood that his body is a product of ignorance, composed of flesh and bones and maintained by the power of consciousness
This life and the body we have are for us the means by which we can evolve or decay. And it’s all up to us. The most precious thing we have is the present, in which we must choose between good and evil. Milarepa spoke to him about the spiritual advantages of altruism and compassion, about the importance of love and good.
By meditating on the ultimate goal of spiritual liberation and communion with God, we discover that the ego is illusory, ephemeral. And in order to achieve this state, we must keep our mind as calm as possible. All efforts in this way must be accompanied by compassion and perseverance and the humility to give all the merits of these efforts to God. Just as the word food does not satisfy the hunger of the hungry, but for this he must eat, so the one who learns of the Supreme Consciousness must meditate on It in order to achieve it, it is not enough just to know its definition.
Marpa, very pleased with the results of his disciple
he confessed to him that all his expectations had been exceeded. He then allowed Milarepa to return to the cave to continue his meditation. But not before offering him the initiation in the secret Tibetan tumo technique (which produces the unification of the ascending and descending flows of energy along the spine, thus producing, among other things, the vital heat so necessary to achieve meditation in the cold caves). Milarepa continued his meditations in the cave for many years under the direct guidance of his master.
One day, Milarepa had a dream that seemed extremely real and shocking to him.
The house where she had lived as a child saw her in ruins, and the sacred books destroyed by the rains. His old mother had died, and his sister was wandering from place to place, without a single friend. In the dream he was gripped by a deep sadness and bemoaned the fate of his family. When he woke up, the same state of sadness followed him. He was trying to meditate, but he couldn’t change his condition. And that’s why he decided to go out into the world to find his family. He knocked down the stone at the entrance to the cave and went to his master, Marpa.
When he entered his room, he found him sleeping. Marpa was very amazed to learn that Milarepa had left his retreat. The disciple tells him the dream and informs him of the decision to go in search of his loved ones. Marpa allowed him to leave. The fact that Milarepa had found his master sleeping was a sign that they would never see each other again in this life. Although deeply saddened by this thought, he did not give up his decision.
Marpa gave him the last and highest initiation into secret tantric doctrines. Of all the disciples, Milarepa was the only one to whom the master offered these teachings. He commissioned Milarepa to provide this information only to his most deserving disciples. And not to manifest the paranormal powers he will gain from the practice except for a divine cause. Marpa advised him to meditate in several sacred caves, where various saints had meditated. And then he gave him a sealed parchment that was to be opened only when he felt death approaching. With deep sadness, knowing that they would never meet again in this life, Milarepa said goodbye to his spiritual master, with the thought that they would surely meet again in heavenly paradises.
After a rather difficult journey, he arrived at the house from his childhood, where everything was exactly as in his dream.
His mother had died. There were only ruins on the site of the house, and all the neighbors were afraid to approach it, believing that it was haunted by ghosts and demoniac spirits. He enters the house and, removing the weeds that were growing everywhere, finds the remains of his mother’s body in one place. Remembering the teachings of his master, he sat on a stone and penetrated into a state of deep meditation. He soon entered the samadhi, and remained so for seven days. When he returned to his normal state of consciousness, he understood that for him this world had nothing left to offer him, nothing that could tempt him. Now he was sure he’d spend his whole life in meditation. Selling the land for a little food, he left those places forever. And he went to the Draktar-Taso cave, the first in the long line where he would stop to meditate.
He did continuous meditations, he slept almost not at all. He took a single break every day, during which he prepared his food from water mixed with flour and from any edible root found in the surroundings.
During this time, he achieved perfection in the tumo technique. This allowed him to keep his body warm during the cold Tibetan winters, wearing only a cotton coat.
His daily meditation continued for four years
until the flour supplies are over. This worried him very much. Because he feared lest he leave the physical plane before attaining liberation. That’s why he decided to go out of the cave in search of new food. The only edible food found was nettles, its food for a long time to come. He continued his meditations, but his body lost a lot of weight, and his hair got a green tinge. He often thought of opening the sealed parchment he received from the master. Yet advances in meditation continued to occur.
One day some of the hunters in the area asked Milarepa to share with them the supplies he had. When they realized they wouldn’t find anything they were looking for, they started hitting him. Three of them picked him up several times and threw him to the ground, causing him excruciating pain. The fourth hunter sought to stop others, feeling that Milarepa was a truly spiritual being. Before leaving, the fourth man asks Milarepa to remember him in his prayers, because he had done nothing to hurt him. Milarepa later learned that the four had been arrested by the governor of that province. The head of that gang had been killed, and the others, except for the one who had saved Milarepa, had their eyes removed.
The ascetic continued to meditate, but his body was weakening more and more
The hair on the whole body became even greener. Again, a group of hunters arrived in the area and demanded supplies. Seeing that he ate only nettles, they left Milarepa their own food. So he was very grateful to be able to have hearty food on a daily basis. The food gave him a new spiritual elk, as he had not experienced in a long time, and the meditations became more intense. But eventually, the food ran out and once again he used nettles for survival.
A few years after this, his sister, Peta, heard that Milarepa was living in a cave and was about to starve to death.
Amazed to learn that she is still alive, she comes to visit him, bringing with her fresh food, as well as something to wear. To his sister, Milarepa was a madman. He urged him to go out into the world to beg for food, but Milarepa refused. He thought himself that if he did not obtain liberation in this life, he would be reborn in a much inferior condition, because of the evil performed in the first part of his life. That’s why he continued his meditations with perseverance. But no matter how much he sought to focus, he could no longer enter the samadhi state. His whole body was filled with pain, and his mind full of thoughts. Sensing that the greatest danger was that he would not be able to continue the meditations, he then opened the parchment from his master. And find there the necessary instructions to get out of such a state.
“I experienced a state of calm and supersensory clarity, which exceeded in depth and ecstatic intensity everything I had experienced before. Thus a once-unknown transcendental knowledge was born in me. I knew at that moment that evil had been changed for the better.”
Milarepa had reached spiritual liberation.
Paranormal powers arose by themselves:
– it could give its body any shape or substance, it could fly through the air, it could multiply into hundreds of personalities,
– all endowed with the same powers, could listen to the secret teachings of the Buddha in His paradises and many others.
People quickly found out about it and began to look for it
That’s why Milarepa often had to leave to look for another cave. When his sister sought him out once again, he struggled to convince her of the effectiveness of meditation. Refusing completely, she felt that even if she had to beg for a portion of food or some clothes, her life was much better than her brother’s. What he managed to transform, however, was the visit Milarepa received from his aunt, who bitterly regretted all the harm he had done. Bringing Milarepa food, she asked him to give him spiritual teaching. Milarepa gave her spiritual knowledge of the law of karma. And the aunt went to put into practice what she had learned, becoming one of her disciples. After this meeting, his sister Peta radically altered her vision of spirituality.
Milarepa continued his meditations with aspiration, in complete isolation
In total he used twenty caves from the Kailasa mountains of Tibet to Nepal as a place of meditation.
Among his first disciples whom he led to the state of liberation were the unbroken spirits who came to torture him, including the goddess Tseringma. One of the twelve guardian deities of Tibet. Then many other disciples gathered around the master and many achieved spiritual perfection by following his teaching. Among his main disciples were Gambopa and Rechung. The latter being the one who convinced him to tell in detail the story of his life. This is to remain as a testimony and model of aspiration for all his disciples.
At the age of 84, Milarepa said:
“The time has come for this visible, illusory body, a form emanating from the Divine Body, to be merged into the Land of Spiritual Light.”
Like Naropa, Marpa’s master, Milarepa did not die. But simply, he entered the subtle worlds through the direct transmutation of the coarse physical body
At his death, celestial beings, bearing various offerings, were seen by men coming to receive Milarepa. And the sky was embellished with bright rainbows. Gods and people met, and so for a moment, Satya yuga manifested herself again on earth.
Milarepa then appeared after many times to his disciples, to give them advice and teachings.