On the concluding few days of the Milarepa sessions, His Holiness Karmapa emphasized that we have to integrate view, meditation and action; they cannot be separated.
Whichever way we do it, we have to raise awareness of loving kindness coming first from someone who loved us, whether this was our mother or someone else. Arouse unbearable compassion contemplating this kindness, he said, a true compassion in the heart. Starting from this person, extend it out. Then think that all beings could have been like this at some time in our past lives. Remember:
- Our mother really cared for us or we would have died.
- Many people remember their past lives; therefore the consciousness of a child must have had a consciousness before.
- Train the mind at seeing this reality: that all beings have been our mothers.
We all meditated on this together.
In the evening a Milarepa tsok puja was held at Tergar Monastery with attendance limited to those who had completed the full ngondro – that is, one hundred thousand of each of the four foundations under a Kagyu master. The room was filled with monks and nuns and perhaps two hundred and fifty lay people, mostly Western. At the centre of the shrine was a delicate painting in watercolour like a Chinese scroll in the unmistaken Karma Gadri style of HH Karmapa; and on a screen next to it was a projection of the 10th Karmapa’s painting, Milarepa sitting in a cave in a more Tibetan style, surrounded by birds and wild animals.
The Guru Yoga Tsok aroused memories of a six month retreat I had done in the early 80’s in the seclusion of Sherablling’s pine forest; so the blessing of this event was even more profound. We were told to eat the tsok in the room only and not to take it outside. As I bit into the torma, I could taste the distinctly bitter flavour of dutsi (blessed medicine).
To conclude the feast, a choir of young Tibetan nuns chanted praises moving rhythmically towards the shrine, followed by a group of Taiwanese girls singing in high voices. It seemed quite innovative for the strict Tibetan tradition and wonderfully theatrical.
The essence of the feast was a present HH Karmapa had prepared for us from his limitless buddha heart. He had made copies, he said, of his painting as a special blessing for us, together with a very small piece of Milarepa’s robe which would protect us from the lower realms for seven lifetimes and inspire us to practice. He asked us to see him as Milarepa as we took the painting and it would be sure to increase our connection with the great yogi. On the painting, he had written: renunciation, devotion, non –distraction, and signed it.
As we lined up for the blessing the chant of Milarepa’s guru yoga filled the shrineroom: Je Mila Shepa Dorje La Sol Wa Dep So. I noticed quite a few glistening faces.
May this story inspire all who read it to complete the ngondro and receive the blessing of Karmapa.