The Cultivation Story of Buddha Milarepa (Part 3)
(Minghui.org) Throughout history, the Himalayas have been an area with many cultivators. The people there lead a simple, modest life, and everyone sings and dances. They also revere the Buddha Fa. Almost a millennium ago, there was a cultivator in this region named Milarepa. While the multitude of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas had taken many lifetimes and gone through many calamities before cultivating to fruition, Milarepa achieved equivalent mighty virtue in one lifetime and later became known as the founder of the White Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
(Continued from Part 2)
Rechungpa asked, “Master, you talked about first doing bad deeds. What happened?”
Milarepa replied, “First, doing bad deeds meant producing massive amounts of bad karma with killing incantation techniques as well as hailstorm techniques.”
“Master,” Rechungpa asked, “Why did you want to learn incantation techniques?”
Milarepa said, “When I studied with the Red Sect lama, a festival was to be held on the Kyangats Plain one day. Villagers invited my master as the guest of honor, and he took me with him. People prepared a feast and served my master premium wine. Ah, there was so much nice wine that day. Everybody drank as much as they could, and I did the same. After that, with a full stomach and a dizzy head, I was drunk.
“Seeing me drunk, my master told me to return to the temple first with the offerings. I fumbled forward on the hill trail, relaxed and worry-free. I somehow remembered those who sang during the festival. Their voices were so beautiful. As I continued thinking about it, my throat itched, and I could not help singing.
“My singing was well known in the village. I was also drunk and happy, so my voice was loud and clear. The melody was good, as if my mind was flying. My legs became agile, and I jumped and danced as I continued to sing and walk. Without noticing it, I took the way home. Even as I reached the door, I was still dancing and singing. At that time, my mother was frying wheat. She was surprised by the voice, murmuring, 'This singing voice is just like my son’s. But there are probably no people in the world who have a life as a bitter as ours. I don't think my son would have the frame of mind to sing so happily.' Puzzled and curious, she went to the window to take a look. Seeing it was me, she became so furious that her entire body shook. Dropping the fire tongs in her right hand onto the ground and throwing down the spatula from her left hand, she did not care that the wheat would burn. She picked up a stick in her right hand, scooped up a handful of ash in her left hand, and rushed downstairs. After getting out the door, she threw the ash toward my face and beat me wildly on the head, yelling, 'Mila Sherab Gyeltsen, Father of the family! Look at your son! The family is finished! Look at us, poor mother and son!'
“She cried, screamed, and fainted out of anger. My sister Peta ran out of the house, crying and begging,
“'My brother! Think about what you've done! Look what Mother has become!'
“The sudden chaos made me half-conscious, and my sister's words awakened me. Shame and grief arose inside me, and remorse had me in tears. Sister and I cried as we held Mother's hands, rocking her and calling out to her. After a long time, she regained consciousness. With tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said, 'My son, is there anyone in this world more tragic than we are? How can you have a frame of mind to sing so happily? If you just take a look at your mother, this old woman, you would have no tears left to cry.'
“With those words, she sobbed again, and so did sister and I. After some time, I stopped grieving and said resolutely, 'Mother, please stop being so sad. What you said is true. I have now decided that as long as you have a wish, no matter what it takes, I promise to get it done!'
“'I want revenge against those despicable enemies who wear fine linen and ride stout horses. We are weak and have no help. So the only way to get revenge is through incantations and spells that can kill. I want you to learn these and hailstorm techniques. I need you to learn everything and come back to kill Uncle, Aunt and those cruel neighbors and their families. This is my only wish. Can you do it?'
“'I guarantee it. Could you prepare for my travel expenses and offerings to my master?' I replied with determination.
“So mother sold half of the remaining land from her dowry and bought a big, expensive gem. She then bought a white horse, a bucket of dye, and ox leather for my master as well as the trip. I stayed in a nearby hotel for several days, waiting for travel companions.
“Not long after that, five good young fellows who were heading to Ü-Tsang (western and central Tibet) to learn incantations and spells came along. I was happy to meet them and asked if I could join them. They were also glad to have another traveling companion and agreed we could go together.
“I invited them to my home to stay for a few days. Mother treated them well, and as they were about to leave, she said, 'Everyone, my son is young and ignorant. I am afraid he may not be strict with himself. I hope you will encourage him often to learn the incantations well. I will reward you well when you come back.'
“They agreed to look after me and assured Mother.
“So we were ready to leave. The dye and luggage were tied onto the horse, while the gem was hidden on me. Mother walked with us for a long way and offered us farewell drinks on the road. Once again, she reminded my friends to take good care of me. She later took me off to the side and gripped my hands. A feeling of separation filled our hearts and almost suffocated us, leaving us looking at each other in silence. There were so many words we wanted to say, but we did not know where to start.
After a while, Mother finally broke the silence and said, 'My son, just think about what we have been through. No matter what, you have to cast a spell on this village. Your friends' reason for learning the incantations is different from yours. They just want to make a living with the skill. But you, you have to work hard. My son, if you come back before bringing down the village by enchantment, I will die right in front of you!'
“I fervently promised, 'Mother, if I do not learn it successfully, I will never come back! Please don't worry.'
“I slowly withdrew my hands from hers, returned to my friends, and said farewell. I walked several steps and turned back to look. I walked several more steps and turned back to look again. Tears were rolling down my face. Mother was also reluctant to turn away. Even when we were too far away for her to see me clearly, she was still staring in our direction. I thought of running back to look at her yet again. Instinct told me that this was our last farewell and that I would never see her again.
“Mother waited until she could not see me anymore and cried before going home. Over the next few days, everyone in the village learned that the son of Nyangtsa Kargyen had left to learn incantations.
“My friends and I traveled on a major road toward Ü-Tsang. At one place in Back Tibet, I sold the dye and horse to a local man of wealth in exchange for gold, which I carried with me. After crossing Tsangpo River, we continued toward Ü (central Tibet). We met many monks, and I asked if they knew of a master of incantations, spells, and hailstorm techniques. One monk said a lama named Yungton Trogyal had achieved complete mastery of these techniques. We continued on our trip and, in the end, met the lama.
We worshiped him, and each of my traveling companions presented their offerings. I dedicated the gold, gem, and everything else I had to him. I knelt down and said, 'Not only the gold, gem, and everything here are for you, Master, but even my body, speech, and mind, everything I have is dedicated to you. Master, my neighbors and relatives committed very cruel deeds against my family. I need to punish them with incantations. Please teach me the best incantations. I also hope that you could provide me with clothes and food while I study here.'
“Hearing my words, the lama smiled and said, 'I will wait and see if what you said is true.'
“Master did not teach us the most profound incantations. Instead, he only taught us one or two enchantments, some spells, and how to practice them. This took more than a year. My classmates learned them and were ready to return home. The lama gave each of us a wool sweater produced locally. I lacked confidence and thought, 'If I seek revenge with these enchantments, it might not work, and Mother would commit suicide.' So I deliberated and decided to stay. My classmates asked me, 'Topaga, aren't you going home?'
“I replied, 'Yes, I also want to return. But I have not learned enough and feel embarrassed to go back.'
“The five of them all said, 'These spells are already very profound. The lama himself said there are no spells more advanced than these. We are confident they will bring us fame and social status in our hometown. But if you want to stay longer, that is fine with us. It is up to you.'
“So they said farewell to Master and headed home. I put on the sweater and walked with them for a couple of hours. On the way back, I picked up a big bagful of ox dung and used it to fertilize Master's best field. He saw me from the bedroom and said to another disciple, 'Many students come here to learn techniques from me, but none of them is as good as Topaga. I’m afraid there won’t be another student in the future as good as he is. He did not say farewell to me this morning, which means he would still return. I remember when he first came here, he said his relatives and neighbors mistreated his family. He asked for incantations for revenge. He also said he would dedicate his body, speech, and mind to me. He is indeed a sincere fellow. If what he said is true, it would be a pity not to teach him the incantations.'
“This disciple told these words to me, and I was very excited, knowing there were more spells to learn. I happily ran to Master, who saw me and asked, 'Topaga, why do you not go home?'
“I took off the sweater, returned it to him, prostrated myself in worship, and replied, 'Master, my uncle, aunt, and neighbors did very bad things to my family. They took our assets through improper means, causing all kinds of suffering. We do not have the power for revenge, so Mother asked me to come here to learn incantations. Mother already said that if I go back without a complete mastery of incantations, she would kill herself in front me. So, I cannot go back. Master, please have mercy on me and teach me the most advanced incantations!'
“With those words, I could not help crying. The lama asked me, 'How did your relatives and neighbors bully you?'
“I told him how my uncle and aunt took our inheritance and mistreated us after my father died. I cried as I talked, relating the entire story in detail. Master was also in tears as he listened. He then said, 'If what you said is true, what they did is very wrong. As for the people who come here for incantations, they come from all different places: some have brought large amounts of gold and jade, some have brought hundreds or thousands of fine linens and butter; there were also the best teas and silk, as well as more than 1,000 livestock. But you are the only one who dedicated your body, speech, and mind. I cannot teach you incantations yet, though. I will now send someone to verify that what you said is true.'
“Among my fellow students, there was one faster than a horse and as tall as a large elephant. Master sent him to check in my hometown. Several days later, he returned and said, 'Master, what Topaga said was very true. Please teach him the best incantations.'
“Master thus said to me, 'Topaga, if I taught you the incantations in the beginning, I was afraid a modest person like you may regret it. Now we know that what you told me was not fabricated, so I will teach them to you. I have two secret incantations. In addition, there is a lama called Yonten Gyatso, who is an expert at both medicine and incantations. He has the secret spell for hailstorms. After we taught these unique techniques to each other, we became close friends. When people come here to learn incantations, I also send them there. And he does the same. Today you are no exception. I will send my oldest son to accompany you.'
“Master prepared food, fine wool felt, and some gifts for me to give to Yonten Gyatso. We put these on the horses' backs and began our journey.
“After arriving there and meeting Yonten Gyatso, I gave him all the gifts. I then told him of my tragic experiences and why I needed to learn the incantations, begging him to teach me. The lama said, 'Yungton Trogyal and I are best friends who would die for each other. He must have his reasons for sending you here, and I will teach you the killing incantations. But before that, you need to build a dharma hall at the foot of the hill where people cannot see.'
“So two of us found a quiet place at the foot of the hill and built a simple dharma hall. We used a rock as big as an ox to hide the building.
“In this dharma hall, the master taught me the secret spell.
“After I practiced it for seven days, the lama said to me, 'In the past, seven days was enough to learn this. You have now practiced it for seven days, so it should be sufficient.'
“But I said I needed this spell to go very far, so I asked for another seven days. On the evening of the fourteenth day, master came and said to me, 'Tonight, we will see the effect of the killing incantation next to the altar.'
“Just like he said, a divine custodian came to me that night with the heads, livers, and gallbladders of 35 people. He said, 'This is what you asked me to do!'
“The next morning, the lama asked me, 'The divine custodian said there are two more people who should have died. Should he kill them?'
“I was satisfied and replied, 'We can keep them alive as witnesses of the retribution. Please spare them.'
“In this way, my uncle and aunt were kept alive. We then gave an offering to the divine custodian, sent him back, and concluded the ritual.
“What was the manifestation of the incantation in my hometown of Kyangatsa? It was the wedding of my uncle's eldest son that day, and they had invited many guests for a feast at their house. More than 30 people had come to celebrate, and they were those who had helped my uncle and aunt bully us. Some people who were sympathetic to us were also invited, and they were still on their way over. While heading to the house, they were still talking about the wrongdoings of my uncle and aunt. One person said, 'There was a saying that the guest becomes the host, while the host becomes the dog. This is what happened. These notorious people are shameless. They took Topaga's assets and continued to mistreat his family. Topaga has left to learn incantations. Even if his spell does not come, retribution from the Buddha Law will come sooner or later.'
“At that time, uncle's entire family and aunt were busy serving guests. The guests were drinking joyously. A servant who had worked for my family earlier and now worked for them went downstairs to get some water. There, she saw gigantic scorpions, snakes, and crabs swarming around on the ground everywhere. The big scorpions clamped onto the pillars of the house, attempting to destroy them. Terrified, the girl ran out the door screaming.
“That day there were many of the guests’ horses downstairs. One male horse was bullying a mare, but another male horse saw it and began to riot. The mare tried to kick the male horse, but for some reason, she knocked down a pillar instead. The entire house collapsed instantly with a crash. There were sounds of crying and screaming everywhere. My uncle's son, the bride, and more than 30 guests were all crushed to death together. The ground was filled with debris and dust from the fallen house. Under the broken wood and tiles were dozens of dead bodies.
“My sister Peta was wandering around at the time. Seeing the situation, she immediately ran home and said to Mother, 'Mother! Mother! Come look! Uncle's house fell down, and many people died!'
“Mother was skeptical but happy inside. She rushed over to Uncle's house. In front of her were piles of broken tiles with dust everywhere. Surprised and joyful, she tore off a piece of cloth from her ragged clothing and hurriedly tied it onto a long stick. She ran around the area, waving the flag and yelling, 'Everyone, come and see! Lamas and Buddha, I will worship you! Hey, neighbors, let me tell you, didn’t Sherab Gyeltsen have a son? I, Nyangtsa Kargyen, wore ragged clothing and ate trash for my son to learn incantations. Who said we didn't succeed?! Everyone, come and look! Uncle and Aunt said if I had the ability, I could find some people to fight them to get our property back; they said if I couldn’t find anyone, then we could try reciting some incantations. Everybody, what do you think? Now, Topaga just cast a small spell, and it was more powerful than a big battle. Look, people on the top, treasure in the middle, and livestock downstairs, all gone! I was able to live till today to see my son's trick. I, Nyangtsa Kargyen, am so happy, so happy! Ha! Ha! Ha! I've never been so glad in all my life! Hey, everyone, come and look!'
“She kept waving the flag and running around, very excited and pleased. Everyone in the village, including Uncle and Aunt, heard this. One person said, 'What this woman said could be true!'
“Another person said, 'It does look real, but what she said was a little too much!'
“After people heard I had killed so many people with an incantation, they gathered together and said, 'This woman has caused such a big mess and still runs around yelling happily. We need to kill her and squeeze the blood out of her heart and liver!'
“An elderly man disagreed, 'Even if you kill that woman, that won't help anything. It would only make her son hate us more and kill more people with spells. We need to think of a way to kill Topaga first and then deal with this woman!'
“So they did not kill my mother. But Uncle did not give up and said, 'All of my children have died. I will fight her. I don’t want to live!'
“With those words, he rushed out to kill my mother. People quickly stopped him and said, 'This mess is all because of you. Topaga is still alive. If you kill Nyangtsa Kargyen like this, her son may cast more spells, and we will all die. If you don't listen to us, we will kill you first!'
“So Uncle stopped. The villagers then discussed how to send someone to kill me. Mother's brother came to her and said, 'What you said and did yesterday made everyone in the village want to kill you and your son. Are you prepared?’ He sighed, ‘One incantation is enough. Why make everyone hate us?!' He talked with her for a long time to calm her down. Mother sighed and said, 'You saw what happened over all these years. Of course I know what people think. But I had to seek revenge against those who took our property. That was how this started. You know, this hatred is so huge that it can’t be measured clearly!'
“She kept crying without saying anything. Her brother sighed and said, 'What you said is correct. But what if someone comes to kill you? You'd better shut the gates now.'
“Mother shut the gates tightly and kept thinking about it, feeling unsafe. Feeling sorry for my mother, our former servant secretly came over and told her, 'They don't want to kill you now. They just want to end your son's life. You should tell him to be careful.'
“Mother heard this and stopped worrying for a while.
“Mother sold another half of the dowry land for seven taels of gold. She wanted to give the money to me but did not trust anyone in the village to deliver it. As she thought about bringing me the gold herself, a yogi from Ü who was going to Nepal on a pilgrimage went through our village begging for alms. Mother asked about his background in detail and thought he would be a suitable messenger. So she said to the yogi, 'Master, please stay here for a few days. My son is studying dharma in Ü-Tsang now. I want to write a letter to him. Could you take it to him?'
“The yogi agreed. Mother invited him to stay for a few days and treated him well.
“That night, Mother lit a lamp and made a wish while kneeling down in front of deities, 'If my wish comes true, this lamp will not go out; if my wish cannot be fulfilled, please have it go out immediately. I sincerely hope Topaga's ancestors and divine custodians can show me the outcome.' After she made the wish, the lamp continued burning through the entire night. Mother believed her wish would come true. The next day, she said to the yogi, 'Master, a pilgrim's clothing and shoes are very important. You can give them to me to mend. I also want to give you a spare pair of shoe soles.'
“She thus gave the yogi a big piece of leather to make soles. She then repaired a coat for the yogi. At the center on the back, she hid seven thin pieces of gold and stitched a one-foot square of black cloth around them. With thick white thread, she then embroidered six tiny stars at the center of the black cloth and covered them with another piece of cloth. She did all of this without the yogi knowing. In the end, she stamped a seal on the envelope, handed him the letter, and gave him many gifts to thank him.
“By then, Mother thought, 'I do not know what these villagers are thinking now. I need to come up with something to intimidate them.' So she told my sister, 'The yogi who left yesterday brought a letter from your brother.' Peta told many people about it. Mother then wrote a fake letter mimicking my tone:
“'Dear Mother, I am glad to hear the killing incantation worked well. If there is anyone in the village who mistreats you or my sister Peta, please let me know their names so I can cast a spell. With my incantation skills, killing someone is straightforward, and eradicating their family and relatives is also not a big deal. If none of the villagers are any good, I hope Mother and Peta will move here. When I left home back then, I had nothing. I am now wealthy and worry-free. Sincerely wishing you the best, your son Topaga.'
“She also stamped a fake seal on the letter. After showing the letter to Uncle, Aunt, and people close to them, she kept the letter at her brother's place. That way, the villagers no longer dared to kill us. Also because of the letter, the villagers demanded that Uncle return the land of Orma Triangle to Mother.
“Back to the yogi pilgrim. Hearing where I was, he came to visit me. After telling me in detail about my mother and sister and the village, he handed me the letter. I went to a private place and opened it.
“In the letter, Mother wrote, 'Dear Son, I am fine. Please do not worry about me. Seeing my son achieve this, I have no regrets now. Your father will also be satisfied in the netherworld. After your incantations took the lives of 35 enemies, I recently heard that the villagers would send someone to assassinate you and then kill me. Please be alert. Since they are intent on seeking revenge, we should not easily forgive them. You should summon a heavy hailstorm to destroy their crops. I will then be satisfied. If your tuition has been used up, you can obtain more from seven of our relatives’ families on the mountain that faces the north. They are deep in the dark cloud under the six twinkling stars. If you do not know where these relatives are or where the village is, you can find it on the yogi. He is the only one living in this village, and there is no need for you to go elsewhere. Your mother, Nyangtsa Kargyen.'
“I read the letter but did not know what it meant. I thought of my hometown and my mother. I knew nothing of the villages and relatives described in the letter. With no idea where to obtain the tuition, tears ran down my face. I cried for a while, dried my tears, and went to ask the yogi, 'It seems you may know where my relatives live. Could you tell me about them?'
“The yogi replied, 'I only heard you have relatives near the Himalayas.' I continued, 'Do you know of any other places? Where are you from?' The yogi answered, 'I know many other villages, but I do not know about your relatives. I am from Ü.' I then said to him, “If so, please wait here and I will be right back.'
“I showed the letter to my master and told him what had happened. He said, 'Your mother really has tremendous anger—killing so many people is not enough, and she asks for a hailstorm.' Then he asked, 'Where do your relatives live in the north?' I replied, 'I have never heard of relatives in the north. But the letter said so. I also asked the yogi, and he had no idea, either. So, what's going on?'
“My master's wife was also there at the time. She read the letter and said, 'Could you ask the yogi to come in?' She started a fire and invited the yogi to warm himself up and have a drink. She then began chatting, talking about this and that. Incidentally, she went behind the yogi, removed his coat, put it on herself and said, 'Wearing such weather-beaten clothes for a pilgrimage, you will be blessed.' She then walked around in the house and went upstairs. From this worn-out coat, she took out the gold, stitched it back together, and returned the coat to the yogi. She then invited the yogi for a meal and to stay for the night.
“She later called me, 'Topaga, please come to Master's quarters!' We went to Master's room together, and she gave me seven taels of gold. I asked in surprise, 'Where did this come from?' She replied, 'Your mother is very smart, and she hid the gold safely. The letter mentioned a village on a mountain that faces the north, which means it's a place the sunlight does not reach. Doesn't the inner layer of the yogi's coat stay out of the sun? Dark clouds mean it is covered by black cloth. Six twinkling stars refer to six stitches of white thread. Seven families under the stars indicate seven taels of gold. Only the yogi lives there, and you do not need to go elsewhere because the gold is carried by the yogi, nobody else.'
“Master laughed aloud and said, 'People say you women are smart. This is indeed true!'
“I gave one mace (or one-tenth of tael) of gold to the yogi, who was very pleased. I then dedicated seven maces to master's wife and three taels to my master. I also said to him, 'Mother asked me to cast a spell for a hailstorm. Please, Master, could you pass the most secret hailstorm method to me?'
“Master replied, 'To learn the incantation for a hailstorm, you have to ask Yungton Trogyal.'
“So master wrote a letter and gave me some locally-grown products to take with me. I went back to Yungton Trogyal, gave him the letter and gifts, and dedicated three taels of gold to him. I explained in detail why I needed to learn the hailstorm incantation. Master asked, “Did your spells work?” I answered, 'Yes, 35 people died from it. I then received a letter from Mother asking me for a hailstorm. So I hope you will help.' He replied, 'No problem, your wish will be granted.' He then taught me the incantation, and I practiced in the dharma hall for seven days. On the seventh day, a dark cloud emerged between the rocks in the mountain facing us. Thunder boomed while lightning flashed, as if a big storm was coming. I knew I now had the ability to command hailstorms.”
(To be continued)