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Placing Formless Spirits under Oath after being harmed by them.

Mila the Wood-collector

Namo Guru

Once when the all-powerful meditator, Jetsun Milarepa himself, was absorbed in the state of the Clear Light of Mahamudra, he got up to prepare a meal. Let alone any flour, salt, water or oil there was no firewood below the stove, water on the stove or fire within the stove.
“It appears I have unduly renounced too much in my practice. I must gather some wood,” he thought and went out of his cave. Just after he had collected a sizeable bundle of sticks, a raging wind suddenly arose. When he held onto his robe the sticks flew. Holding onto to his sticks his cloth flew away.
“Although earlier I have remained for so long in hermitages yet even now I have not been able to abandon ego-clinging. What use is dharma and accomplishments that are not free of ego-clinging,” he wondered.
“If you desire the wood, take it and if you want the cloth take it,” he said and let go of both. As a result of weakness from a poor diet and the nature of the wind, he fainted momentarily. When he got up the wind had subsided and his cloth was hanging from the top of a tree. Experiencing this depressing state of affairs he rested in a state of concentrated evenness on a rock the size of a sheep’s carcass.
When this state ended, there appeared a cloud formation in the east in the direction of the valley of Drowolung. “Below that cloud is the monastery of Drowolung. There resided my Lama, Marpa the Translator,” he remembered and recollected the Father Lama, his wife and his own close companions, the vajra-brothers in whose midst he had received explanations, initiations and instructions of the lineage’s teachings.
“If he is alive I would go to meet him whatever the consequences,” he thought. His earlier depressed state compounded by an excessive memory of his Lama resulted in a state of immeasurable sadness in which he shed tears profusely and sang this sad melody of yearning ‘The Six Remembrances of the Lama’:

Remembering my father clears torments, at your feet
Lord Marpa, this beggar sings a melody of excessive yearning.

In the east, in the Red Rock valley of Jewels
White clouds hover and drift about.
Below the floating white clouds;
In front of a mountain like a haughty elephant;
Above a hill like an arrogant lion;
Within the monastery of the great holy site of Drowolung;
On the massive throne of amolika stone;
On the throne trappings of resplendent skins;
Who is there enthroned or absent?

It was the seat of Marpa the Translator;
If he now dwells there, how joyful!
Though scant my veneration, I wish to meet;
Though feeble my yearning, I wish to meet;
Contemplating, the renowned Lama comes to mind;
Meditating, Marpa the Translator comes to mind.

Much more than my mother, the Lady Dakmema;
If now she dwells, how joyful!
Though distant and circuitous the route, I wish to meet;
Though difficult and perilous the paths, I wish to meet;
Contemplating, the renowned Lama comes to mind;
Meditating, Marpa the Translator comes to mind.

The Four Symbolic Empowerments of the Hearing Lineage;
If now granted initiations, how joyful!
Though meagre my offerings, I wish to be granted;
Though lacking qualifications for initiation, I wish to be granted;
Contemplating, my renowned Lama comes to mind;
Meditating, Marpa the Translator comes to mind.

The Six Practices of the profound Teachings of Naropa;
If now expounded, how joyful!
Though lacking in diligence, I wish to hear;
Though non-persevering in meditation, I wish to practice;
Contemplating, my renowned Lama comes to mind;
Meditating, Marpa the Translator comes to mind.

Close companions of U-tsang, a gathering of the faithful;
If now you dwell, how joyful!
Though poor my experiences and realizations, I wish to discuss;
Though limited my understanding, I wish to compare;
Contemplating, my renowned Lama comes to mind;
Meditating, Marpa the Translator comes to mind.

Though my faith and veneration have never left me,
Remembering my Guru from the depths of my heart,
I am tormented by an intolerable longing.
My breath congested, words fail to leave me;
Most Gracious One, pray fulfill your son’s yearning.

After he had professed these words, the clouds transformed into a sheet of five-coloured silk that has been spread out and at its top appeared Lord Marpa himself, more charismatic than earlier riding a extravagantly decorated white lion.
“Son, Great Sorcerer, you called out with strong yearning. What’s amiss? Have you not abiding faith in the Guru, Tutelary deities and the Jewels? Have you been distracted by harmful conditions and thoughts? Have the obstacles of the Eight Worldly dharmas entered your cave? Is your mind vexed by disturbances caused by the Gongpos of hope and doubts? Have you not made offerings to the Lama and Precious ones above and dedicated your merits to the six realms of sentient beings below? Have you not excellent resources to purify negativities and obscurations and cultivate virtuous qualities in between? Whatever it is, you and I will never be separated. Continue to accomplish the welfare of the Teachings and sentient beings with your practice.”
An experience arose and then with uncontrollable joy, he sang this song in answer to the experiences that had arisen:

Having seen the Father Lama’s face, and heard his voice,
Experiences arise in this beggar’s heart-prana.
Recollecting events of the Lama’s life,
Realizations and reverence arise from deep within.
Compassionate blessings truly enter me;
All perceptions that are not Dharma are blocked.

This melody of longing, in remembrance of the Lama,
Though coarse to the ears of the Noble Lord,
Yet these appearances are all this beggar possesses.
Continue to protect me, with your compassion.

This practitioner diligently persevering in adversity
Is an offering to please the Father Lama.
This solitary wanderer of hermitages
Is an offering to please the Dakinis.

This holy dharma that does not regard oneself
Is an offering to the teachings of the Buddha.
This making equal one’s life span and practice
Is a gift for sentient beings without a protector.

This diligence of joy in sickness and happiness in death
Is the prostration plank purifying karma, negativities and obscurations.
This austerity that renounces negativities and meals
Is the resource that gives birth to experiences and realizations.

The kindness of the Father Lama, with practice is repaid;
Lord Guru, with compassion protect your son;
Bless this beggar to hold fast to his hermitage.

Having sung, in a state of joyousness he put on his cloth, carried the bundle of sticks and went into his meditation cave. Inside the cave were five Demon Atsaras with eyes as wide as saucers. One sat on Jetsun’s bed expounding dharma. Two listened. One kneaded dough and one was disturbing the pages of his scriptures.
Initially he was shocked. Then he thought they were merely manifestations of the local deities. “Wherever I have stayed I have had no tormas to offer. Yet I have always made offerings of praises. This site too is in want of a complimentary praise,” he thought and sang this song in praise of the holy site:

Wondrous hermitage, abode of solitude;
Site where the Conqueror Enlightenment is attained;
Where accomplished beings have left their imprints;
A place where I alone do reside –
Red Rock Garuda Fortress of the valley of Jewels.

Above, the Southern clouds hover about;
Below, the Tsang waters meander along;
And in between, vultures rise and soar.

Variegated vegetation in a state of semi ease;
Trees trembling like the movements of dancers;
Bees buzzing and humming melodies;
Fragrant fumes of flowers swirling all over
And the sweet sounds of birds chirping.

Within such a valley, that is Jewel of Red Rock
Birds large and small, train in flight;
Apes and monkeys practice finer skills;
A variety of beasts learn athletic feats;
And I, Milarepa train in experiential skills.

In the experiential practices of the two Bodhicittas I train;
I and the local deities of the site in harmony be;
You, non-human jungpos gathered here,
This nectar of love and compassion drink
And to your own dwelling sites return.

Hearing these words, the Demon Atsaras paced about in a state of displeasure and scowled. Two more Atsaras appeared making them seven. One grimaced impatiently. Another one gnashed his teeth and displayed his canines. One laughed and produced violent noises. They all huddled together and stared in a menacing manner.
Mila thinking the non-human formless spirits were creating create obstacles, cast a wrathful gaze and recited a wrathful mantra. But they did not vanish. Giving rise to a state of great compassion in his mind, he expounded Dharma; yet they remained disgruntled.
Then he thought, “Marpa of Lodrak taught me, all phenomenon should be recognized as one’s mind. One’s mind is the Clear Light of Emptiness. Having gained certainty in this, if one still continues to hold Demons and hindrances as external to oneself, there is no cause for this joyfulness.” Manifesting fearless confidence, he sang this song of ‘The view possessing confidence’:

Father, Conqueror of the armies of the Four Demons;
At the feet of Marpa the Translator, I bow.

I, the being, who is called a man;
I am the son of the White snowlion.
In mother’s womb, the ‘Three Skills’ have perfected.
As a child, have slept in a den;
As mature youth, have guarded the entrance;
As adult, have travelled the upper snows;
Though snow blizzards blow, I have no fear;
Though perilous the precipices, afraid I am not.

I, the being, who is called a man;
I am the son of the Khyung, king of birds.
Within the egg, my feathers developed;
As a child, slept in a nest;
As mature youth, guarded the entrance;
As adult Great khyung, have excelled the skies;
Though the sky’s expanse be immense, I have no fear;
Though earth and lands be congested, afraid I am not.

I, the being, who is called a man;
I am the son of the great fish Yormo.
In mother’s womb, golden eyes sparkled;
As a child, slept in the depths;
As mature youth, lead the shoal;
As adult Great fish, circled the ocean’s edge;
Though massive the stormy sea-waves, I have no fear;
Though nets and hooks multiply, afraid I am not.

I, the being, who is called a man;
I am the son of Kagyu Lamas.
In mother’s womb, faith arose;
As a child, entered the Dharma’s door;
As mature youth, studied and learned;
As adult Great Meditator, have hermitages roamed;
Though violent and vicious Demons increase, I have no fear;
Though manifestations of Dons multiply, afraid I am not.

The snowlion’s paws are never frozen;
Were its paws ever to freeze in snow,
The ‘Three skills’ perfected are of little value.

Khyungs flying in the sky, have never fallen;
If Great khyungs could fall from the heavens,
Wings of resplendent feathers are of little value.

Fish swimming in water, have never drowned;
If Great fish could drown in water,
To be born in water is of little use.

A boulder of iron, by stone is not smashed;
Were it ever to be shattered by stone,
Refining iron ore is of little use.

I, Milarepa, have no fear of Demons;
Were Milarepa to be afraid of harmful spirits,
Realisation of true reality would be of little meaning.

Come here, you Spirits, Don and Hindrances;
Your visit this time – it’s been my pleasure;
Don’t hasten away, relax and remain forever.

Let’s talk and in details discuss;
Though busy, at least stay the night;
Through the three doors, let us compete
And examine the dharmas – black and white.

Come, do not return ere you’ve created obstacles;
Were you to leave without making trouble,
This visit would remain unfulfilled.

Having spoken thus, inspired by a deep confidence to meditate, he got up and went directly in. The Demon Atsaras possessed by fear, rolled their eyes and trembled causing objects in the cave to shake. In a short while they all disappeared into one entity. The remaining single entity too, vanished in a gust of whirling air.
Jetsun thought, “The king of hindrances Vinayaka was searching for an opportunity. The earlier windstorm too seems to have been his manifestation. My Lama’s compassion saved the situation.” Following this there was an unimagined progress in his meditation.
This is the single incident with three titles, which resulted from conditions created by Vinayaka, the king of hindrances. It may be called ‘Six remembrances of the Lama’, ‘Red Rock valley of Jewels’ or ‘Mila the wood-collector’.

to continue …

Published on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 7:11 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for this – much wisdom and merit to you.


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