Distinguishing the Provisional from the Definitive in the Context of Mahamudra – Jetsün Milarepa


“Distinguishing the Provisional from the Definitive in the Context of Mahamudra” – Jetsün Milarepa.

While meditating in a cave far away from any people and only surrounded by rugged mountains and wild animals, five sisters appeared to Jetsün Milarepa. The five sisters were worldly mountain spirits living on the Tibet-Nepal border and, after they were tamed, became known by the name Tseringmas in Tibetan (which means “goddesses of long life”) and Dakinis in Sanskrit (which means “sky-goers”). Yet, before they were subjugated and tamed they appeared to Milarepa in the form of vicious demons in order to disturb him and disrupt his meditation practice. They wanted to compete with him and sang songs in which they used harsh words, like telling him that he looked like the desolate mountains due to living in total poorness in the solitude of his cave for so long. But they couldn’t harm Milarepa, who told them, “You are outer demons. I have overcome the inner demon of grasping and clinging to a self. I don’t care if outer demons try to get hold of an inner demon that I am free of.” He continued, “Your way of trying to deceive me is an illusion. I meditate on the nature of my mind ever since I have realized it. So, it doesn’t matter what you do or what kind of tricks you come up with. You cannot harm me, because illusions don’t disturb and move me.”

The five sisters were so humbled by Jetsün Milarepa, who had realized the nature of the mind and the reality of phenomena, that they had immense faith and experienced deep devotion for him after he spoke to them. As a result, their chief, Tashi Tseringma, asked him to accept them as his disciples. Milarepa responded, “I live in utter poverty and solitude and there’s nobody else around. Can you live like that?” She again requested that he please accept them as his disciples, and so the Jestün imparted instructions to them in the form of the spiritual song that he sang, entitled, “Distinguishing the Provisional from the Definitive in the Context of Mahamudra.” Having practiced the instructions diligently, the five Tseringmas became protectors of the Dharma, specifically of the Mahamudra teachings that Jetsün Milarepa had given to them.

Jetsun Milarepa Sing a song:

“Right here in this world Jambudvipa, the Victor’s realm
There is One renowned as being a Second Buddha
On the victory banner of teachings that do not set
He is like the crowning jewel at the very top
Respected by all and worthy of offerings
The melodious sound of this rippling flag of fame
Reverberates in every direction around
Is this the lord and accomplished master Maitripa?

There is one who served at his lotus feet with respect
And drank in full draughts the quintessential elixir
The Mahamudra, the crowning point of view
This put him in touch with reality plain and simple
He perfectly brought all excellent qualities forth
And was an emanation of the Tathagatas in human form
That greatest of beings, Lord Marpa, taught like this:

However appearances might appear outside
Not realized are delusory projections
Clinging to objects, that is what ties you down
For those who know, they’re illusory appearance
For them what appear to be objects are mind’s resource
In the end, in fact, there is no such thing as appearance
And being unborn, dharmakaya is utterly pure
He taught of its purity in the unborn dharmakaya.

The movements of rational consciousness inside
Not realized are ignorance itself
This is the root of all karma and all affliction
If realized is self-awareness wisdom
Here is where positive qualities spring full-blown
In the end, in fact, there is no such thing as wisdom
Let phenomena go as far as they go and no more
This is as far as they go and no more, he said —

This skandha of form compulsively taken on
Not realized is four elements making a body
Sickness and suffering, this is what comes of that
If realized it’s a deity’s union body
Reversing the common assumption you entertain

In the end, in fact, there is no such thing as body
It’s as rarefied as a cloud-free sky is what he taught
Is pure as a cloud-free sky is what he taught.

Apparitions of male and female demons and ghouls
For as long as your guise has not been seen through are maras
Obstacle-makers who nothing but trouble spell
If the guise is seen, thought’s obstructors are dharmapalas
A hotbed of siddhis of such a variety
In the end, in fact, there are neither gods nor goblins
Let concepts go as far as they go and no more
That is as far as they go and no more, he said

In the ultimate yana, to put it in general terms,
Through the anuttarayoga of secret mantra
When a dhatu condensation with nadi aligns
The forms of spirits are seen outside, he taught.

Not knowing these self-expressions are not what they seem
But thinking they’re real will get you precisely nowhere
There was a time confusion made my head spin
Knowing no better I built a nest of delusion
Taking gods that help and spirits that harm as true
But now through the Jetsün-siddha’s guidance so kind
I see stopping samsara and winning nirvana won’t do
I’ve caught on that whatever appears is Mahamudra.

Through realizing delusions have no ground
The water-moon of awareness shines unblurred
The sun of luminosity, free of clouds,
Lights up the darkness of ignorance out to its brink
My spinning head of confusion spins no more
A glimmer of basic being glows within
How precious now the idea of seeing a ghost
It reveals the unborn source, how strange and amazing!”