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Life of Milarepa
« Gepost op: 10-06-2012 21:18 »


Early Life - Becoming a Sorcerer

Milarepa was born around 1040 A.D. His father passed away when he was seven. According to the local custom, the family's property was entrusted to his uncle until Milarepa came of age. Unfortunately, his uncle and aunt were greedy and mean-spirited. They took over the property and subjected the widow and the children to years of hardship as their servants.

To avenge the mistreatment, Milarepa's mother sold the only asset she possessed and sent him on a journey to learn black magic. Milarepa abode his mother's wish well. He returned to his village after becoming a powerful sorcerer, and found his uncle's family just about to celebrate his cousin's wedding. Using his magic power, he brought about a hailstorm and destroyed the uncle's crops. Furthermore, he collapsed the roof of the house, killing his cousin and many people at the wedding banquet. At last, he brought the uncle to his knees.

Meeting Marpa

Instead of rejoycing in the long-sought revenge, he became deeply remorseful of his deeds. This led him to renounce all worldly goods and embark on a second journey, this time in search of a teacher who'd quiet his troubled mind. He finally met Marpa, a tantric master and a remarkable scholar. Called "Marpa the Translator", he was known for introducing many works from India to Tibet.

To test the young man's will and to purge his sins, Marpa acted cruelly and subjected Milarepa to much physical hardship. Over and over, he ordered Milarepa to build a tower, tore it down, and returned all building materials to where he found them. The young man never wavered. Finally Marpa was satisfied and initiated Milarepa. However, instead of grooming Milarepa into a scholar like himself, Marpa set him off on a life of meditation.

Milarepa remained much devoted to his teacher all his life. This devotion to one's master is quite characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism.

Meditating in Solitude

In the subsequent years he lived in caves in the mountains, meditating in solitude. He also practiced inner-heat yoga, which helped sustain him in the harsh physical environment. Many of his songs were about his inner reflection in the meditation process. He also had poem exchanges with dakinis (sky-dancers) and demons. The conversion of demons and demonesses of the traditional belief to protectors of Buddhism by renowned masters constitutes a central and unique part of the Tibetan Buddhist history.

From time to time he went down to the villages and preached by way of song. He had many disciples and followers, who later compiled his poems into the book The Hundred Thousand Songs. After Milarepa passed away, those who were at the cremation ceremony witnessed his relics being carried up into the sky by dakinis.

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The great master Gampopa unified
Milarepa's Mahamudra lineage with the
stages of the path tradition of the
Kadampa lineage

Gampopa Sönam Rinchen was born in Nyal in central Tibet. His father was Nyiwa Sangye Gyalpo and mother was Shomo Zatse. He was named Dharma Drak.

His father started his son's education at the age of five. For over eight and one-half years, beginning at the age of seven, he studied medical sciences and received training as a physician from Kyeme, an Indian doctor, Usil, a doctor from the Tsang region of central Tibet, and Viji, a Nepalese doctor. For many subsequent years, he continued his medical training, studying under thirteen other doctors from China and Tibet. He became one of the best doctors of the time, and was known as Dakpo Lhaje, the physician from Dakpo.

He also became interested in dharma and started to study in the Nyingma lineage from the master Bar-rey, and in the Kadam tradition with Sharpa Yonten Drak.

At the age of sixteen, Dharma Drak married the daughter of Chim Jose Dharma Ö. They had two children. He lived as a householder and as a highly-trained physician, he received great respect from the community. At the age of twenty-five, his wife and children died from an epidemic disease, and this caused him to fully turn his mind towards dharma.

At the age of twenty-six, Gampopa received the fully monastic ordination from Geshe Loden Sherap of the Kadam order. At the age of twenty-eight, he met Nyukrumpa Tsöndru Gyaltsen and received many Kadampa teachings. He practiced their teachings for many years.

Hearing of the fame of the Lord of Yogins, Milarepa, he decided to search for him. After a long and difficult journey, Gampopa arrived at Trode Tashigang, where it appeared that Milarepa already had been expecting him. He and his disciples received the monk, Gampopa, with great respect and hospitality. Because of Gampopa's pride, however, his audience with Milarepa was delayed for two weeks.

When Gampopa met Milarepa for the first time, the latter offered this new disciple a bowl of chang (Tibetan beer). Although Gamapopa initially hesitated to drink it because it would be a violation of his monastic vow, he did so anyway, which demonstrated that he would receive the full lineage teachings of mahamudra and tantra from Milarepa. This was an historic moment. After this significant meeting, Gampopa practiced with great diligence and endured many hardships under his guru; he had many experiences and finally attained great realization. He became the most important disciple and the lineage holder of Milarepa.


Gampopa was the founder of the monastic order of the Kagyu School and the lineages that branch out from him is known as the Dhakpo Kagyu. He founded the Dhaklha Gampo Monastery where he continued his activities of teaching, meditation, and benefiting beings. Gampopa is the author of a most famous book, The Jewel Ornament Of Liberation, and many others. His collected works comprise three or four volumes.

Gampopa held both lineages of the Kadampa as well as the mahamudra and tantric traditions of Milarepa. Since his time; the Kagyu tradition has contained both lineages together and has become rich in methods for leading disciples to realization. Gampopa led his own students first through the common mahayana path of the Kadampa lineage teachings, and then through the uncommon mahamudra and tantra path of the Kagyu lineage instructions of Milarepa.

Among many disciples of Gampopa, the most well-known and closest disciples were: Gampo Tsultrim Nyingpo, Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa, Phakmo Trupa, Saltong Shogam, Barom Dharma Wangchuk, and Zhang Drowae Gönpo. The Golden Rosary lineage heir of Gampopa was the First Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa.
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