Namo guru! After a stay at White Rock Vajra Fortress Cave, the Jetsun Milarepa settled at Horse Saddle Cave to enhance his practice. A tantric yogi from Gutang, feeling a tremendous faith for the Jetsun, went to see him.
“Lama,” said the yogi, “I’ve meditated for some years, but I don’t think I got the point. I’ve hardly developed any qualities. So would you please give me an oral instruction?”
“Here’s everything you need to know—” replied Milarepa. And he sang the Song of Six Essential Points:
Mental projections way outnumber the dust motes you see in the sunlight;
A great yogi knows what appears for what it is.
At bottom, the nature of things isn’t a product of causes, nor of conditions
A great yogi cuts to the core of the issue.
Even a hundred men with spears couldn’t stop the thought-bubbles of consciousness;
A great yogi knows not to get hung up on them.
You can’t lock up the flow of mind in an iron box;
A great yogi knows mind to be intrinsically empty.
Wisdom gods and goddesses don’t say no to sensory pleasures;
A great yogi knows this full well.
The Buddha’s own hands couldn’t block the appearance of objects to the consciousness;
A great yogi knows there is no object behind the appearance.
“Do such experiences come about step by step?” asked the yogi. “Or is it all at once?” “Skilled individuals get it at once,” answered Milarepa. “It comes more gradually for those of average and mediocre abilities. Some develop definitive realization, others don’t, and others still get signs that look like realization, but aren’t really.” And he sang the song of distinguishing the four yogas:
I bow down at the feet of the supreme lama!
It’s the mind fixated on objects that causes samsara.
If you recognize as spontaneous
The luminous self-awareness, free of fixation,
You’ll taste the fruit of the first yoga, one-pointedness.
Some talk and talk about union, yet their meditation is all conceptual,
They talk and talk about cause and effect, yet their actions are flawed,
Such petty, deluded meditations
Have no place in the yoga of one-pointedness.
Luminous mind itself, free of fixation,
Is naturally blissful, without constructs.
If you recognize your very essence to be as clear as space,
You’ll taste the fruit of the second yoga, simplicity.
Some talk and talk about “no elaboration,” but they elaborate plenty,
They talk and talk about the “inexpressible,” but they’ve got plenty of terminology.
Such self-obsessed meditations
Have no place in the yoga of simplicity.
In the dharma body, appearance and emptiness are not two,
Samsara and nirvana are experienced as one.
If you know the Buddha and sentient beings to have the same identity,
As many have said: that’s definitely the third yoga, one-taste.
Some talk and talk about “oneness,” but they still want to make a point.
Such hazy confusion
Has no place in the yoga of one-taste.
Conceptual thoughts are in nature great awareness;
Cause and effect are non-dual, spontaneous.
They’re the three bodies,
And knowing this is the fruit of the fourth yoga, non-meditation.
Some talk and talk about non-meditation, but how active their mind is!
They talk and talk about “clear light,” but how thick their meditation is!
Have no place in the yoga of non-meditation.
“Oh, what wonderful advice!” exclaimed the yogi from Gutang.
Translated by Nicole Riggs. This will appear in her upcoming book, “Milarepa: Songs on the Spot.” Publication Date: June 2003.