Songs of Milarepa | 51-60



A young shepherd by the name of Sanje Jhap, who was 16 years old, became interested in knowing what his mind really was.

Milarepa tested his ability by instructing him to go for Refuge to the Three Precious Ones and then to visualize a Buddha-image in front of his nose.

The boy was not seen for seven days and his father feared that he was dead. They found him in a clay pit sitting upright and asked him why he had not returned home for seven days.

The boy said that they must be joking for he had only been there a short time - but it was seven days. While giving him instructions Milarepa sang to him about his mind:

Listen to me, dear shepherd, the protector (of sheep)!
By merely hearing of the taste of sugar,
Sweetness cannot be experienced,
Though one's mind may understand What sweetness is,
It cannot experience it directly,
Only the tongue can know it.
In the same way, one cannot see in full the nature of mind,
Though he may have a glimpse of it
If it has been pointed out by others
If one relies not on this one glimpse,
But continues searching for the nature of mind,
He will see it fully in the end.
Dear shepherd, in this way you should observe your mind.


Listen to me, young shepherd.
The body is between the conscious and unconscious state,
While the mind is the crucial and decisive factor!
He who feels sufferings in the Lower Realms,
Is the prisoner of Samsāra,
Yet it is the mind that can free you from Samsāra.
Surely you want to reach the other shore?
Surely you long for the City of Well-being and Liberation?
If you desire to go, dear child,
I can show the Way to you
And give you the instructions.


Upon Rechungpa's return from India, with books on logic incantations from outsiders and much pride, as well as genuine meditation instructions,

Milarepa decided to rescue him from this evil and so to welcome him, he sang:

I am a yogi who lives on the snow mountain peak,
With a healthy body I glorify the Mandala of the Whole.
Cleansed of vanity from the Five Poisons,
I am not unhappy; I feel nought but joy!
Renouncing all turmoil And fondness for diversion,
I reside alone in perfect ease.
Forswearing the bustle of this world,
Joyfully I stay in no-man's land.
Since I have left embittered family life,
I no longer have to earn and save;
Since I want no books,
I do not intend to be a learned man;
Since I practise virtuous deeds,
I feel no shame of heart.
Since I have no pride or vanity,
I renounce with joy the saliva-splashing debate!
Hypocrisy I have not, nor pretension.
Happy and natural I live
Without forethought or adjustment.
Since I want no fame nor glory,
Rumours and accusations disappear.
Wherever I go, I feel happy,
Whatever I wear, I feel joyful,
Whatever food I eat, I am satisfied.
I am always happy. Through Marpa's grace,
I, your old father, Milarepa,
Have realized Samsāra and Nirvana.
The Yoga of joy ever fills my hermitage.
Your Repa brothers are well;
On hills remote they make progress in their meditations.
Oh, my son Rechung Dorje Draugpa,
Have you returned from India?
Did you feel tired and weary on the journey?
Has your mind been sharpened and refreshed?
Has your voice been good for singing?
Did you practise and follow your Guru's instructions?
Did you secure the teachings that you wanted?
Did you obtain all the various instructions?
Have you gained much knowledge and much learning?
Have you noticed your pride and egotism?
Are you altruistic in your thoughts and actions?
This is my song of welcoming for you,
On your return.


Five young nuns from Mon had become Milarepa's disciples. Having dwelt with him for some time, they decided to invite him to their village (whence they thought of returning).

They said to him:

Revered One, since your mind no longer changes, there is no need for you to practise meditation. Therefore, for the sake of sentient beings please come to our village and preach the Dharma for us."

Milarepa replied, "Practising meditation in solitude is, in itself, a service to the people. Although my mind no longer changes, it is still a good tradition for a great yogi to remain in solitude."

He then sang:

Through the practice (of meditation)
I show gratitude to my Guru.
Pray grant me your grace, ripen and liberate me.

You gifted disciples, followers of Dharma,
Heed carefully, with all attention,
While I sing of the profound Essential Teaching.

The Great Lioness of the upper snow mountain
Poses proudly on the summit of the peak;
She is not afraid –
Proudly dwelling on the mountain
Is the snow lion's way.

The Queen Vulture on Red Rock
Stretches her wings in the wide sky,
She is not afraid of falling –
Flying through the sky is the vulture's way.

In the depths of the great ocean
Darts the Queen of Fish, glittering;
She is not afraid (of drowning) –
Swimming is the fish's way.

On the branches of the oak trees,
Agile monkeys swing and leap,
They are not afraid of falling –
Such is the wild monkey's way.

Under the leafy canopy of the dense wood,
The striped tiger roams and swiftly runs,
Not because of fear or worry –
This shows her haughty pride,
And is the mighty tiger's way.

In the wood on Singa Mountain,
I, Milarepa, meditate on voidness,
Not because I fear to lose my understanding –
Constant meditation is the yogi's way.


Those great yogis who have mastered the Practice
Never desire anything in this world.
It is not because they want fame
That they remain in solitude;
It is the natural sign springing from their hearts -
The true feeling of non-attachment and renunciation.

Yogis who practise the teaching of the Path Profound,
Dwell always in caves and on mountains,
Not that they are cynical or pompous,
But to concentrate on meditation is their self-willing.

I, the cotton-clad, have sung many songs,
Not to amuse myself by singing sophistries,
But for your sake, faithful followers who assemble here,
From my heart I have spoken words helpful and profound.


A monk-disciple of Milarepa, Ligor Sharu, wanted the Jetsun to adapt himself somewhat to worldly conventions, so as to win the interest and following of great scholars.

Milarepa refused this idea saying that he would ever follow his Guru's instructions to live remotely, and he sang to Ligor Sharu:

I bow down to Marpa, the Translator.

Realizing that fame is as unreal as an echo,
I abandon not the ascetic way of life,
Throwing away all cares and preparations.

Whatever reputation I may have,
I shall always be happy and contented.
Realizing that all things are illusion,
I cast away possessions;
For wealth obtained by strife I have not the least desire!

Whatever my means and prestige,
I shall always be happy and contented.
Realizing that all followers are phantoms,
I have no concern for human relationship
And travel where I please,
Unlike those artificial scholar-priests
Who act with discretion and restraint.
Whatever the status I may have
I shall always be happy and contented.

Realizing that desires and sufferings
Are themselves the Great Equality,
I cut the rope of passion and of hatred.
With or without associates,
I shall always be happy and contented.

The nature of being is beyond play-words;
Attachments to any doctrine or concept
Is merely a matter of self-confusion.
Unshackling the fetter of the knower-and-the-known,
Whatever I become and wherever I remain,
I shall always be happy and contented.

In the great Illuminating Mind itself,
I see no pollution by wandering thoughts.
Throwing away all reasonings and observations,
Whatever words I hear and say,
I shall always be happy and contented.


Rechungpa first went to India to be cured of leprosy, and before he went he sealed up with clay the mouth of the cave where the Jetsun was meditating.

When he returned having been cured, people said that the yogi Mila had not been seen for some time. Rechungpa went to the cave and broke down the wall, which was still intact. Milarepa was still in meditation and then sang to him as a greeting:

I bow down at the feet of Marpa, the Gracious One.

Because I have left my kinsmen, I am happy;
Because I have abandoned attachment to my country, I am happy;
Since I disregard this place, I am happy;
As I do not wear the lofty garb of priesthood, I am happy;

Because I cling not to house and family, I am happy;
I need not this or that, so I am happy.
Because I possess the great wealth of Dharma, I am happy;
Because I worry not about property, I am happy;
Because I have no fear of losing anything, I am happy;
Since I never dread exhaustion, I am happy;
Having fully realized Mind-Essence, I am happy;
As I need not force myself to please my patrons, I am happy;
Having no fatigue or weariness, I am happy;
As I need prepare for nothing, I am happy;
Since all I do complies with Dharma, I am happy,
Never desiring to move, I am happy;
As the thought of death brings me no fear, I am happy;
Bandits, thieves and robbers never molest me,
So at all times I am happy!

Having won the best conditions for Dharma-practice, I am happy;
Having ceased from evil deeds and left oft sinning, I am happy;
Treading the Path of Merits, I am happy;
Divorced from hate and injury, I am happy,
Having lost all pride and jealousy, I am happy;
Understanding the wrongness of the Eight Worldly Winds, I am happy;
Absorbed in quiet and even-mindedness, I am happy
Using the mind to watch the mind, I am happy;
Without hope or fear, I am happy
In the sphere of Non-clinging Illuminations  I am happy;
The Non-distinguishing Wisdom of Dharmadhātu is itself happy;
Poised in the natural realm of Immanence I am happy;
In letting the Six Groups of Consciousness go by
To return to their original nature, I am happy;

The five radiant gates of sense all make one happy;
To stop the mind that comes and goes is happy,
Oh, I have so much of happiness and joy!
This is a song of gaiety I sing,
This is a song of gratitude to my Guru and the Three Precious Ones –
I want no other happiness.

Through the grace of Buddha and the Gurus,
Food and clothes are provided by my patrons.
With no bad deeds and sins,
I shall be joyful when I die;
With all good deeds and virtues,
I am happy while alive.
Enjoying yoga, I am indeed most happy.
But how are you, Rechungpa?
Is your wish fulfilled?


The envoy of the Nepali King, upon meeting him for the first time, was wonderstruck at Milarepa's lack of material possessions and asked him:

"Don't you find it hard to live thus without taking nourishing food?
Why is it necessary to abandon all belongings?"

Milarepa then answered the envoy:
"I am the Tibetan yogi, Milarepa. 'Without belongings' means 'without sufferings'."

Now listen to my song:

I bow down to all holy Gurus.

I am the man called Milarepa.
For possessions I have no desire.
Since I never strive to make money,
First I do not suffer Because of making it;
Then I do not suffer Because of keeping it;
In the end I do not suffer Because of hoarding it.
Better far and happier is it
Not to have possessions.

Without attachment to kinsmen and companions,
I do not seek affection in companionship,
First I do not suffer Because of heart-clinging;
Then I do not suffer From any quarrelling;
In the end I do not suffer Because of separation.
It is far better to have no affectionate companions.

Since I have no pride and egotism,
I do not look for fame and glory.
First I do not suffer Because of seeking them;
Then I do not suffer In trying to preserve them;
In the end I do not suffer For fear of losing them.
It is far better to have neither fame nor glory.

Since I have no desire for any place,
I crave not to be here, nor there.
First I do not worry About my home's protection,
Then I do not suffer From a fervent passion for it;
In the end I am not anxious to defend it.
It is far better to have neither home nor land.


This is the song of Milarepa to some patrons from Drin who were ashamed because of the Jetsun's lack of conventional behaviour:

Trough wandering long in many places,
I have forgotten my native land.

Staying long with my Holy Jetsun,
I have forgotten all my kinsmen.
Keeping for long the Buddha's Teaching,
I have forgotten worldly things.
Staying for long in hermitages,
I have forgotten all diversions.
Through long watching of monkeys' play,
I have forgotten sheep and cattle.
Long accustomed to a tinder-box,
I have forgotten all household chores.
Long used to solitude without servant or master,
I have forgotten courteous manners.
Long accustomed to be carefree,
I have forgotten worldly shame.
Long accustomed to the mind coming and going
By itself, I have forgotten how to hide things.
Long used to burning Duma-heat,
I have forgotten clothing.

Long accustomed to practising Non-discriminating Wisdom,
I have forgotten all distracting thoughts.
Long used to practising the Two-in-One Illumination,
I have forgotten all nonsensical ideas.
These twelve 'oblivions' are the teachings of this yogi.
Why, dear patrons, do you not also follow them?
I have untied the knot of dualism;

What need have I to follow your customs.
To me, Bodhi is spontaneity itself!

The Dharma of you worldly people
Is too difficult to practise.
Caring for nought, I live the way I please.
Your so-called 'shame' only brings deceit
And fraud; How to pretend I know not.


In a gathering of patrons, a young man said to Milarepa: "We would like to come to you for instructions; please tell us where your temple is and who provides your sustenance."

In answer Milarepa sang:

My temple is an unnamed hermitage,
My patrons are men and women everywhere,
No one can tell where I go or stay.
In the caves where no man comes
I, the yogi, am lost to view.
(When I travel) I carry
Only my Guru's Instructions - lighter
Than feathers, I shoulder them with ease;
More handy than gold, I conceal them where I please,
Stronger than a solid castle,
In all perils they stand firm.

In the three winters I dwell happily in forests;
In the three summers I stay cheerfully on snow mountains;
In the three springs I live with pleasure in the marshes;
In the three autumns I wander joyfully for alms.
In the teaching of my Guru, my mind is always happy;
Singing songs of inspiration, my mouth is always happy,

Wearing cotton from Nepal, my body's always happy.
In delight I accomplish all and everything –
To me there is but cheer and joy.


The patrons of Nya Non wished Milarepa to stay with them permanently.

Milarepa replied,

"I cannot stay here long, but I will bestow the blessing of long life and good health upon all of you. Also I will make a wish that we meet again under auspicious circumstances conducive to the Dharma."

Then he sang:

In the immense blue sky above
Roll on the sun and moon.
Their courses mark the change of time.
Blue sky, I wish you health and fortune,
For I, the moon-and-sun, am leaving
To visit the Four Continents for pleasure.

On the mountain peak is a great rock
'Round which circles oft the vulture,
The King of birds.
Their meeting
And their parting mark the change of time.
Dear rock, be well and healthy, for I,
The vulture, now will fly away
Into the vast space for pleasure.
May lightnings never strike you,
May I not be caught by snares.
Inspired by the Dharma,
May we soon meet again,
In prosperity and boon.

Below in the Tsang River,
Swim fish with golden eyes;
Their meeting and their parting
Mark the change of time.
Dear stream, be well and healthy, for I,
The fish, am going to the Ganges for diversion.
May irrigators never drain you,
May fishermen never net me
Inspired by the Dharma,
May we soon meet again
In prosperity and boon.

In the fair garden blooms the flower, Halo;
Circling round it is the Persian bee.
Their meeting and their parting,
Mark the change of time.
Dear flower, be well and healthy, for I
Will see the Ganges' blooms for pleasure.
May hail not beat down upon you,
May winds blow me not away.
Inspired by the Dharma,
May we soon meet again
In prosperity and boon.

Circling round the Yogi Milarepa
Are the faithful patrons from Nya Non;
Their meeting and their parting
Mark the change of time.
Be well and healthy, dear patrons, as I
Leave for the far mountains for diversion.
May I, the yogi, make good progress,
And you, my patrons, all live long.
Inspired by the Dharma,
May we soon meet again
In prosperity and boon!