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Words of Wisdom

Selections from the Holy Text of Tibetan Buddhism: Sixty Songs of Milarepa (vegetarian) – Songs 2-4, 6, 14-15, 51-52, Part 2 of 2

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“When Milarepa was sitting in meditation, a frightened deer dashed by, followed by a ravening hound. By the power of his loving-kindness and compassion (Metta-Karuna), Milarepa made them lie down, one on either side of Him, and then preached to them. Then came the fierce and proud huntsman, Chirawa Gwunbo Dorje, who was enraged by the sight of the Jetsun and shot an arrow at him, but missed. Milarepa sang to him and his heart began to turn to the Dharma. Then the hunter saw that Milarepa was living an austere life and great faith arose in him. He wished then to practise Dharma after talking with his family but the Jetsun warned him that his present meritorious thought might change and He sang: ‘Hearken, hearken, huntsman! Though the thunder crashes, It is but empty sound; Though the rainbow is richly colored, It will soon fade away. The pleasures of this world are like dream-visions; Though one enjoys them, they are the source of sin. Though all we see may seem to be eternal, It will soon fall to pieces and will disappear. Yesterday perhaps one had enough or more, All today is gone and nothing’s left; Last year one was alive, this year one dies. Good food turns into poison, And the beloved companion turns into a foe. Harsh words and complaints requite Goodwill and gratitude. Your sins hurt no one but yourself. Among one hundred heads, you value most your own. In all ten fingers, if one is cut, you feel the pain. Among all things you value, yourself is valued most. The time has come for you to help yourself. Life flees fast. Soon death Will knock upon your door. It is foolish, therefore, one’s devotion to postpone. What else can loving kinsmen do But throw one into Samsara? To strive for happiness hereafter Is more important than to seek it now. The time has come for you to rely upon a Guru, The time has come to practise Dharma.’” 
“‘If one is really determined to free oneself from the sufferings of Samsara, such as birth, old age, illness, death, and so on, he will have peace of mind all the time and will not need to make any effort. Otherwise, he should bear in mind that the sufferings in a future life could be much more durable and longer-lasting than those in this life, and the burden could also be much heavier. It is, therefore, of paramount importance to take steps to prepare for the next life.’ This was said to some young men from his native country, who asked how they could extricate themselves from worldly affairs. Then, Milarepa said: ‘Please hearken, and I will sing a song for you.’ ‘We sentient beings moving in the world, Float down the flowing stream Of the four sufferings. Compared to this, how much more formidable Are the unceasing future lives in Samsara. Why not, then, prepare a boat for the ‘crossing’? The state of our future lives is far more fearful And deserving of far more concern, Than are the dreadful demons, ghosts and yama, So why not prepare for yourself a guide? Even the dread passions — craving, hatred and blindness Are not so fearful As the state of our (unknown) future, So why not prepare for yourself an antidote? Great is the Kingdom of the Three Realms of Samsara, But greater is the endless road of birth-and-death, So why not prepare for yourself provisions? It will be better if you practise Dharma If you have no assurance in yourselves.’ Milarepa said: ‘A human body, free and opportune, is as precious as a jewel, and to have a chance to practise the Dharma is likewise very rare. Also, to find one serious Buddhist in a hundred is difficult! Considering the difficulties of meeting the right Gurus, and other necessary favourable conditions for practising Buddhism, you should deem yourselves very fortunate that you have now met all these requirements. Do not, therefore, (waste them), but practise the Dharma.’”
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