Milarepa Talks with Nyama Paldarbum
When the mind is liberated from concepts, it is empty and pristine and it abides like space. This is what we need to understand from our practice. The basis of mind is the same in Buddhas and sentient beings. It is clear and uncontrived. But we add contrivances to it, like adding mud to water.
The basis abides like space. Buddhas abide in the dharmakaya. Sentient beings are like muddy water and experience suffering. But there is a path to purify our obscurations. This practice is staying in the moment where past thoughts have ceased and future thoughts have not yet arisen. This state is a complete, vast openness. There is no grasping to thoughts as they arise. Even as they do arise, they cannot do any harm, as they then just cease. So we should remain in that state.
What does contrived or fabricated mean? Look at the mind. The one who knows thoughts is our own awareness. As thoughts arise they immediately dissipate. That is great openness. But if we follow thoughts along, then our mind is obscured and becomes contrived or fabricated. As soon as we hold onto a thought like anger, the mind becomes obscured.
So we should remain in a state of mindful awareness. As a result one will immediately recognize thoughts as they arise and not grasp at them. Since the cause is uncontrived, so will be the result, and our mind will be purified. This is the uncontrived state of mahamudra.
What does mahamudra mean?
The nature of mind cannot be expressed. "Gya chenpo" means it encompasses all phenomena of samsara and nirvana. There are infinite Buddhas and sentient beings. Even only considering this world system, the particles of dust in it are beyond count. All this is only mind.
The mind comes from emptiness and dissolves back to emptiness, like water freezing as ice and melting again. Having realized the meaning of mahamudra, one gains liberation from samsara. All phenomena are empty of self nature. Realizing this, one does not grasp at them. One does not grasp at melting ice, realizing it is nothing but water. All phenomena are empty of self nature abiding just like space. When one has realized the nature of mind, one will be liberated from samsara.
He replied that one sees that all phenomena of samsara are without intrinsic reality and one does not grasp to either samsara or nirvana. In that state of non-distraction, there is no reference point. The view is without hope and fear. The only wish is that all beings may attain Buddhahood. There is no fear of suffering, as all phenomena are seen as empty.
So he asks her, "Do you want this practice?"
Worldly beings are unaware of the faults of unvirtuous actions and ignorant of the benefits of virtuous actions. They see what leads to suffering as desirable and what leads to happiness as undesirable. This is a corrupt view. It is like a cloudy day when you cannot see the sun shine. Or a snowy winter when you cannot see the flowers in the meadow. Similarly, the mind is obscured and we cannot see it.
Nyama Paldarbum confessed her wrong doing and said, "As the result of wrong doing in previous lives, I was born as a girl who is no better than a servant. I have never given a thought to impermanence and death. So now I will prepare for death and become your disciple."
Milarepa replied, "I will teach you the dharma. But that is difficult. If praised, you become proud, and if criticized, you become angry.. But since you ask, I will teach you." So the message is do not spend so much time putting on make up and cleaning yourself. Instead, you should clean your mind.
When you are young, it is hard to practice the dharma. The young are like beautiful peacocks. They are proud of their appearance and do not wish to practice. With this pride, love and compassion cannot arise. We need to apply an antidote to pride and this antidote is devotion.
She replied, "Please do not scold me. I really want to practice the dharma, but never had the chance."
In this life there is the light of the sun and the moon. But in the bardo there is none. Mediate on luminosity as a preparation for the bardo. Some people may think that they have nothing to give, but that is not right.
If one has much, one should give that. But if one has nothing, one can give the protection of life and give the dharma by reciting "om mani padme hum." The prayer wheel I turn continuously is turning in prayers for all sentient beings. So one can always give.
When we go to the next life, we will take no company and no friends. Who will we take when we go to the bardo alone? When we do deity practice, the deity will accompany us in the bardo. Our obstructors will be those who are now dear to us. They create problems when we are alive and cannot help us when we are die. Of course, we should be kind to them. But only the yidam deity we have meditated on will accompany us in the bardo.
The meditation on the yidam deity benefits us in this life as well. I get many calls about people's problems. I always tell people to meditate on Tara. When the mind is suffering it is obscured by self grasping. At this time we need to visualize the yidam as clear as an image in the mirror. If we do this, our mind will become clear and pure.
If you recite the mantra without love and compassion, there will be some benefit. But we should transform ourselves completely into the deity, including their love and compassion. If we do this there will be great benefit for this life as well as for future lives.
The future life seems very far away. How should we prepare for it? We should prepare ourselves for it with diligence. When we have a spare moment we should practice or visualize the deity. It is like a butter lamp. When the butter is exhausted it will not burn any more. If we practice, when our karma is exhausted we will not suffer, but go to the pure land. So we should ride the steed of diligence.
Milarepa said, "If you practice you do not need to give up your family, but you need to meditate at all times. You do not need to go to mountain retreat. if you do this, you can stay with your family"
So she asked, "How should I meditate?"
An analogy for the nature of mind is the sky. When one sees the mind as it is without boundary or center, one sees that it abides just like space. A second analogy is the the sun and moon. It can be obscured by afflictive emotions, like the sun and moon are hidden by clouds. But when we are mindful and aware, whatever afflictive emotion arises, it is eliminated in its own place.
It is like seeing a beautiful flower. Without awareness, one wishes to buy it. With awareness one realizes that it is just like an illusion. So the mind is like a sun., that is always illuminating, even though it my temporarily be hidden.
If the mind is the buddha, then why do we need to meditate? That is because we need to develop a state of clarity when we are always mindful and aware. If so, then when afflictive emotions arise they cannot harm us. There are four obscurations. The first is not seeing the mind as it is.
As a result, afflictive emotions arise, then as a result of afflictive emotions, karmic actions arise. And these give rise to karmic imprints. These imprints give rise to our temporary body, which ceases when the karma is exhausted. So these are the four obscurations.
As beginning practitioners, the reason we cannot eliminate afflictive emotions is because our wisdom is small.. Primordial wisdom, or yeshe, is always there and this wisdom realizes all things as they are. We do have this yeshe, but it is like a little flame. It does not have the strength to burn our afflictive emotions up.
But as it grows stronger, it will have the strength to burn up our concepts and emotions. This is the meditation that Milarepa taught. Milarepa was known for dealing with all demons and obstacles. This is because as a result of his strong meditation he did not grasp at them as being real.
Then Nyama Paldarbum was instructed on the seven fold posture of Vairochana. It is important that the spine be straight when you meditate, so that the channels and winds are straight. Then one will be able to move the winds into the central channel. There are also mind instructions that go with this instruction on physical posture.
She meditated like this for a while but then she had questions. She used examples like brush on the mountain and stars around the moon. to represent the small concepts that arise in the meditation. So she asked Milarepa about this
Milarepa said that when you meditate on mind as space, clouds will arise. But they will just vanish back into the sky. When you meditate on mind as mountain, do not grasp at the bushes. When you meditate the mind as ocean, the wave seem powerful, but they have the same nature as the ocean and disappear back into it.
Similarly when a emotion arises, recognize its nature and it will disappear back into the mind. Sometimes emotions or feelings of bliss arise and they are very strong. When anger arises, do not speak in anger. Just recognize it and slowly it will get smaller. One day you will be able to liberate afflictive emotions as they arise.
Practicing in this way, the young woman, Nyama Paldarbum, did not go into mountain retreat or shave her head. She remained a householder and was able to attain the rainbow body. So we should study her story.
We must rely first on study and investigation and by reading scriptures. First one depends on the understanding of listening and one still has a sense of self and other, But when one looks at the nature of the mind, one realizes it has no true existence. Then you realize that your grasping has no basis.
This is difficult to understand for beginners. When you say a person is empty of self nature, they will say you are stupid. But when you understand the nature of one person, you will understand the nature of all beings.
But when you investigate the mind, what is it? The Buddha says it is just like a dream. When we go to sleep we wake up and say the dream was not real. This present life exists just like a dream. After we die, when we wake up we will be in the bardo state.
Then if one has understood that outer phenomena will all be destroyed because they are all compounded phenomena and are impermanent and that inner phenomena are also impermanent, the mind will become calm and be at ease. Scientists know that the outer phenomena will be destroyed.
But the mind will never go out of existence. If one realizes all phenomena are impermanent, one will have no grasping or fear. So Milarepa has taught that there is no difference between happiness and suffering.