60 Songs of Milarepa – Song 31-40

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31

At first, when a man greets his relatives,
He is happy and joyful; with enthusiasm
He serves, entertains and talks to them.
Later, they share his meat and wine.
He offers something to them once, they may reciprocate.
In the end, they cause anger, craving and bitterness;
They are a fountain of regret and unhappiness.
With this in mind, l renounce pleasant and sociable friends;
For kinsmen and neighbours, I have no appetite.

(pp. 121–122)

32

Wealth, at first, leads to self-enjoyment,
Making other people envious.
However much one has, one never feels it is enough,
Until one is bound by the miser’s demon;
Hard it is then to spend it on virtuous deeds.

Wealth provokes enemies and stirs up ghosts.
One works hard to gather riches which others will spend;
In the end, one struggles for life and death,
To amass wealth and money invites enemies;
So I renounce the delusions of samsara.
To become the victim of deceitful devils,
I have no appetite.

(p. 122)

33

The Jetsun was about to leave Nya Non for other hermitages, but the patrons of that place besought him to stay with the utmost earnestness. The Jetsun replied: “If I do not die, I shall try to come back to your village. If for some time we cannot see each other, try at times to remember and practise these things.” Whereupon he sang:

Alas, how pitiful are worldly things!
Like precious jade they cherish
Their bodies, yet like ancient trees
They are doomed in the end to fall.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

Though you gather wealth
As hard as bees collect their honey,
The ills that upon you may fall
Can never be foretold,
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

One may offer to a Lama [36]
Loads of silk for many years;
But when an ill-fortune descends,
Like a fading rainbow
One’s faith at once dissolves.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

Like a pair of mated beasts,
Lovers live together,
But calamity by the wolf’s attack
May fall on you at any time.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

You may cherish your dear son,
Like a hen hatching her egg;
But a falling rock may crush it at any time.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

A face may be as pretty as a flower,
Yet at any time it can be spoiled by violent hail.
Think at times of how this world
Is sorry, transient and futile.

Though son and mother have affection
For each other, when discords arise,
Like foes they clash and quarrel,
Sometimes towards all sentient beings
You should feel compassion.

Basking in the warm sunlight
May be pleasant and a comfort,
But a storm of woe may rise
And choke you at any time,
Remember sometimes the deprived,
And give alms to those in need.

Oh, dear men and women patrons,
For him who cannot practise Dharma,
All his life will be meaningless,
All his acts wrong-doings!

(pp. 627–628)

34

“When the Jetsun Milarepa was staying in the Stone House of Drin, Tsese, Ku Ju, and many other patrons came to him for the Dharma. Tsese said, “Please give us some Buddhist Teaching that is easy for us to understand.” Milarepa replied, “Very well, lend your ears and listen carefully to this song.”

Dear patrons, with care listen
For a moment to my words.

Superior men have need of Dharma;
Without it, they are like eagles—
Even though perched on high,
They have but little meaning.

Average men have need of Dharma;
Without it, they are like tigers—
Though possessing greatest strength,
They are of little value.

Inferior men have need of Dharma;
Without it, they are like a peddler’s asses—
Though they carry a big load,
It does them but little good.

Superior women need the Dharma;
Without it, they are like pictures on a wall—
Though they look very pretty,
They have no use or meaning.

Average women need the Dharma;
Without it they are like little rats—
Though they are clever at getting food,
Their lives have but little meaning.

Inferior women need the Dharma;
Without it, they are just like vixens—
Though they be deft and cunning,
Their deeds have little value.

Old men need the Dharma;
Without it, they are like decaying trees.

Growing youths the Dharma need;
Without it, they are like yoked bulls.

Young maidens need the Dharma,
Without it, they are but decorated cows.

All young people need the Dharma;
Without it, they are as blossoms
Shut within a shell.

All children need the Dharma;
Without it, they are as robbers possessed by demons.

Without the Dharma, all one does
Lacks meaning and purpose.
Those who want to live with meaning
Should practise the Buddha’s Teaching.

(pp. 653–654)

35

The King of Ye Rang and Ko Kom (in Nepal) had heard of Milarepa and sent his envoy to invite the Jetsun to Nepal. As he declined to go the envoy expostulated that his Lord had got nothing except the envoy’s empty hands and thorn-pricked feet. To this the Jetsun replied, “I am the great Universal Emperor. There is no other emperor who is happier, richer or more powerful than I.” The envoy retorted, “If you claim that you are the great Universal Emperor himself, then you must have Seven Precious Articles of Royalty. [37] Please show me one of them.” The Jetsun replied, “If you worldly kings and officers will follow my Royal Way, each of you may also become the Supreme Emperor, and thus be rich and noble.” Whereupon he sang:

If you kings and courtiers who seek pleasures,
Follow the Royal Succession of Milarepa,
Eventually you will obtain them.

This is the Royal Succession of Milarepa:
My faith is the Royal Precious Wheel
Revolving ’round the virtues day and night.
My wisdom is the Royal Precious Gem
Fulfilling all the wishes of myself and others.

The discipline’s observance
is my Royal Precious Queen;
She is my adornment, one most beautiful.
Meditation is my Royal Precious Minister;
With him I accumulate the Two Provisions. [38]
Self-inspection is my Royal Precious Elephant,
Which takes responsibility for Buddhist Dharma.

Diligence is my Royal Precious Horse,
Which bears the Klesas to Non-ego Land.
Study and contemplation is my Royal Precious General
Who destroys the enemy of vicious thoughts.

If you have these Royal Precious Trappings,
You will gain a king’s fame and prosperity,
And conquer all your foes.
You may then spread the Ten Virtues [39] in your dominion,
And urge all mother-like [40] sentient beings
To follow my noble teachings.

(p. 290)

36

At Gung Tang Castle, some men were building a house and Milarepa approached them for alms. Saying that they had no time and were busy while he appeared to be idle, they invited him to join in their house construction. But Milarepa declined to work upon worldly building, for he said his house was already constructed in his own way. The men asked him, “How did you build your house, and why do you spurn our work so strongly?” Milarepa sang in reply:

Faith is the firm foundation of my house,
Diligence forms the high walls,
Meditation makes the huge bricks,
And Wisdom is the great corner-stone.
With these four things I build my castle,
And it will last as long as the Truth eternal!
Your worldly houses are delusions,
Mere prisons for the demons,
And so I would abandon and desert them.

(p. 106)

37

Some demons had come to afflict Milarepa, but after he had sung two songs to them they began to turn towards the Dharma. They said: “We are most grateful for your preaching on the truth of Karma. In all frankness, we are of limited intelligence and limitless ignorance. Our minds are steeped in a morass of stubborn habitual thoughts. Pray, therefore, teach us a lesson profound in meaning, great in profit, and simple in comprehension and observation.” Milarepa then sang…

The Song of the Seven Truths

However beautiful a song’s words may be,
It is but a tune to those
Who grasp not the words of Truth.

If a parable agrees not with the Buddha’s Teaching,
However eloquent it may sound,
’Tis but a booming echo.

If one does not practise Dharma,
However learned in the Doctrines one may claim to be,
One is only self-deceived.

Living in solitude is self-imprisonment,
If one practises not the instruction
of the Oral Transmission. [41]

Labour on the farm is but self-punishment,
If one neglects the teaching of the Buddha.

For those who do not guard their morals,
Prayers are but wishful thinking.
For those who do not practise what they preach,
Oratory is but faithless lying.

Wrong-doing shunned, sins of themselves diminish;
Good deeds done and merit will be gained.
Remain in solitude, and meditate alone,
Much talking is of no avail,
Follow what I sing, and practise Dharma!

(pp. 16–17)

38

The people of Nya Non, hearing that Milarepa had decided to go, brought him good offerings and besought him to stay. However, Milarepa replied, “I am going to another place to await the coming of my death. If I do not die soon, there will always be a chance for us to meet again. In the meantime, you should all try to practise these things”, and he sang to them of the Six Paramita [42] and their applications:

Obeisance to my perfect Guru!

Property and possessions
Are like dew on the grass—
Give them away without avarice.

A human body that can practise Dharma
is most precious—
(To attain it again), you should keep the precepts well
As if protecting your own eyes!

Anger brings one to the Lower Realms,
So, never lose your temper,
Even though your life be forfeit.

Inertia and slackness
Never bring accomplishment—
Exert yourself therefore in devotion.

Through distractions Mahayana [43]
Can never be understood
Practise therefore concentration.

Since Buddhahood cannot be won without,
Watch the nature of your mind within.

Like fog is faith unstable
When it starts to fade, you should
Strengthen it more than ever.

(pp. 626–627)

39

Milarepa cautioned his disciple Rechungpa to live as he had lived, saying, “You also should renounce all Eight Worldly Desires (or Winds) [44] and meditate hard while you still have the chance. Now hearken to my song.”

Remember how your Guru lived
And bear in mind his honeyed words.
He who wastes a chance for Dharma,
Will never have another.

Bear, then, in mind the Buddha’s Teaching
And practise it with perseverance,
By clinging to things of this life,
In the next, one suffers more.
If you crave for pleasures
Your troubles but increase.

One is indeed most foolish
To miss a chance for Dharma.
Practise hard in fear of death!
Committing sins will draw
You to the Lower Realms.
By pretending and deceiving,
You cheat and mislead yourself.
Merits diminish
With the growth of evil thoughts.
If you are concerned with future life,
Diligently practise your devotions
A yogi longing for good clothes
Will soon lose his mind;
A yogi yearning for good food
Will soon do bad deeds;
A yogi loving pleasant words
Will not gain, but lose.
Renounce worldly pursuits, Rechungpa,
Devote yourself to meditation.

If you try to get a patron
Who is rich, you will meet a foe.
He who likes to be surrounded
By crowds, will soon be disappointed
He who hoards much wealth and money,
Soon is filled with vicious thoughts.

Meditate, my son Rechungpa,
And put your mind into the Dharma.

Realization will be won
At last by him who practises;
He who cannot practise
But only talks and brags,
Is always telling lies.
Alas, how hard it is to find
The chance and time to practise long
Rechungpa, try to meditate without diversions.

If you merge your mind with Dharma,
You will e’er be gay and joyful;
You will always find it better
If oft you dwell in solitude.
Son Rechungpa, may the precious
Illuminating-Void samadhi
Remain forever in your mind!

(pp. 564–566)

40

Rechungpa had a wish to visit Central Tibet (Weu) but Milarepa tried to dissuade him from going by saying that it was not yet the right time for him to leave his Guru. But Rechungpa still kept pressing his request. Whereupon the Jetsun sang:

It is good for you, the white lion on the mountain,
To stay high, and never go deep into the valley,
Lest your beautiful mane be sullied!
To keep it in good order,
You should remain on the high snow mountain.
Rechungpa, hearken to my words today!

It is good for you, the great eagle, on high rocks
To perch, and never fall into a pit,
Lest your mighty wings be damaged!
To keep them in good order,
You should remain in the high hills.
Rechungpa, hearken to your Guru’s words!

It is good for you, the jungle tiger,
To stay in the deep forest: if you rove
About the plain, you will lose your dignity!
To keep your splendour in perfection,
In the forest you should remain.
Rechungpa, hearken to your Guru’s words!

It is good for you, the golden-eyed fish,
To swim in the central sea;
If you swim too close to the shore,
You will in a net be caught.
You should remain in the deep waters.
Rechungpa, hearken to your Guru’s words!

It is good for you, Rechungdordra of Gung Tang,
For you to stay in hermitages;
If you wander in different places,
Your experience and realization will dim.
To protect and cultivate devotion
You should remain in the mountains.
Rechungpa, hearken to your Guru’s words!

(p. 587)

Notes:

36. See note 3.

37. For these seven Possessions of a Righteous Emperor, see Mahasudassana Sutta, Digha Nikaya.

38. Spiritual provisions for Buddhahood: ñana-sambhara (pañña-parami) = Provision of Wisdom; puñña-sambhara (the other parami) = Provision of Merits accumulated by way of Compassion.

39. Antithesis of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, backbiting, harsh speech, nonsensical talk, covetousness, anger and perverted views.

40. All sentient beings may be regarded as one’s mothers since as Lord Buddha says: “I see no beginning to beings who, blinded by ignorance and impelled by craving are hurrying through the round of birth.” In this way, we have a relationship with all living creatures as they have all been our mothers.

41. Or Whispered Transmission: the Ghagvupa School of Buddhist Practice—See Introduction.

42. Or “Perfections” (see also note. 53). In Northern Buddhist tradition these are six (Giving, Moral Conduct, Patience, Diligence, Meditation, Wisdom) with another four added occasionally. Apart from Meditation the other five are counted among the Perfections in Theravada, which lists ten. Two of these are of Loving-kindness and Equanimity, which would of course fall under Meditation.

43. See note 53.

44. See note 63

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