The great Milarepa

Milarepa is one of Tibet’s most beloved yogis.  He was born in 1052.  When his wealthy father died, Milarepa’s uncle stole all the family’s inheritance.  The mother wanted revenge and coerced her son to find a way to settle the score or else she would commit suicide.

At his mother’s request, Milarepa learned the black arts of sorcery, killing many people associated with his uncle. Later, Milarepa went through much regret and suffering.  All this weighed deeply on his conscience.  He repented and sought out on a long journey to find a highly realized spiritual teacher to alleviate him of his profound mental anguish.

Teacher of Milarepa:

After much suffering he found Marpa the Translator who pretended to be someone else.  After they were introduced properly Marpa treated Milarepa very harshly.  This was a special means of purifying Milarepa’s most heinous actions and very heavy karma all in one lifetime.  For a long time Marpa refused to give any empowerment or heart-teachings to Milarepa, giving him instead a series of increasingly difficult and frustrating tasks.

For instance, he ordered Milarepa to build three towers by hand and when it was completed, ordered him to tear each of them down and place all the stones in the exact spot they were uncovered.

When Marpa still refused to teach Milarepa he went to Marpa’s wife, who took pity on him.  She forged a letter of introduction to another teacher under whose tutelage he practiced meditation.  However when he was making no progress, he confessed the forgery.  The teacher, Ngogdun Chudor, said that it was vain to hope for spiritual growth without the guru Marpa’s approval.

“I cry, weep and feel a strong sense of faith each time I read or hear the story of Milarepa, the great yogi of Tibet.” — the Dalai Lama

Milarepa returned to Marpa and was finally accepted as a disciple.  After practicing very diligently for twelve years he attained the state of Vajradhara (complete enlightenment).  Upon completing the path Milarepa himself said:


Songs of Milarepa:

Milarepa composed many spiritual songs that revealed his realizations.  This is one of his famous verses:

“Meditate in the unborn nature of the mind:
Like space, no center, no limit;
Like the sun and moon, bright and clear;
Like a mountain, unmoving, unshakeable;
Like the ocean, deep, unfathomable.”

There are many more songs like this that can be found in books or on youtube.

Relics of Milarepa:

After Milarepa had passed away his spiritual son, Retchung, saw many dakinis taking the Master’s relics to their pureland.  From a short biography called The Magic Life of Milarepa:

Then he moved toward the cell wondering if the the dakinis were taking away the relics and the evolved crystals.  The dakinis flew upward into the sky.  He awakened all his Vajra brethren.

As they began examining the cell, they saw that the dakinis had carried away all the sacred relics, leaving nothing, not even the ashes.  Saddened by this, Retchung demanded from the dakinis a portion of the relics as the due share of human beings.

The dakinis replied, saying, “If you, great son of Jetsun, are not content with the direct awakening of your consciousness in its Dharmakaya state, this being the most sacred of all relics, you should invoke the Master so that out of his compassion he might grant your wish!

As for those human beings without veneration for the Master – who shone like the sun and moon – no relics or evolved crystals will be left for them either.  They never valued him, not even at the level of a glow-worm.  These relics therefore belong to us.”

Here is a photo of the relics Milarepa that were finally gotten (with heartfelt invocation) after he passed into parinirvana.  I find it a great blessing just to look at:

Biography of Milarepa:

When Milarepa was born his father gave him the name ‘Töpa Ga’.  ‘Töpa’ means to hear, and ‘Ga’ means happy or joyous, so his name means Milarepa a Joy to Hear or Milarepa Good News.  You can read the full biography of Milarepa for free here: The Magic Life of Milarepa

New Movie:

For the first time ever there is a movie of the life of Milarepa.  How amazing!  The new movie came out in 2007 by Shining Moon Productions directed by Neten Chokling Rinpoche.  To watch the trailer on click on the video below:


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Filed under Masters, Tibetan Buddhism

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