The Cultivation Story of Buddha Milarepa (Part 4)
(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 3)
“Master came to me and said, 'You are capable of casting a hailstorm now. But we don't know if the wheat is ripe in your hometown yet. How tall is it now?' I thought for a while and replied, 'It's still only about high enough to conceal a spotted dove.'
“Two weeks passed, and the master asked me again. I said, 'It's about as tall as young reed canary grass.' He said, 'Hmm, it's still a little too early.'
“After some time, he asked again, and I answered, 'The plants are now growing ears.' Master said, “If so, it is time to go and cast the hailstorm.” He sent another student to accompany me, the one who had been to my hometown earlier to confirm my situation. We disguised ourselves as two itinerant monks and started our trip.
“The crops were growing exceptionally well that year. Many elderly residents said they had never seen such a good crop. The villagers agreed that no one should start harvesting until everyone had a big celebration together. I waited until one or two days before the harvest and built an altar upstream on the village river. After preparing all sorts of materials for the incantation, I began to cast the spell, shouting the incantation verses loudly. At the time, the sky was clear and without clouds for thousands of miles. I called aloud the name of the divine custodian and began to state how the villagers had mistreated my family. I then cried hard while thumping my chest and striking my clothing.
“It was truly unimaginable. Dark clouds suddenly appeared in the sky, layer upon layer, and in the blink of an eye it became large, concentrated clumps of clouds, with lightning flashing and thunder crashing. Big hailstones pelted down from the sky, one wave after another, striking the crops the villagers were about to harvest and leaving not a single grain. This was followed by a flood from the mountain that washed away all the crops. Seeing all the crops washed away by the flood, the villagers screamed and wailed. In the end, there was a rainstorm. Both of us were cold, so we went to a nearby cave and started a fire to warm ourselves.
At that time, several hunters walked by the cave. They had been sent by the villagers to get meat to celebrate the harvest. One of the hunters said, 'Humph! Nobody harms us so much as Topaga. He killed so many people and now ruined all the wheat. If I catch him, I will squeeze all his blood out and dig out his gallbladder. Even that is not enough to assuage my anger.'
“An elderly man said, 'Hush! Don't speak so loudly. Look, there is smoking coming out of the cave over there. Who’s in there?' A young man replied, 'That's probably Topaga. That scum hasn’t seen us yet. Let's go get more people to kill him before he brings down our whole village.' They left in a hurry.
“My companion saw someone walking below us and guessed that someone had already discovered us. He said, 'You can go back first. I will pretend to be you and play with them for a while.' We agreed to meet at a hotel four days later. Knowing him to be very strong and brave, I did not worry about leaving him alone.
“At that time, I really wanted to see my mother, but I was afraid the villagers would hurt me. So I had to leave my village and take a detour by walking in another direction. Unfortunately, while on the road, a wild dog bit me several times, and my leg was covered in wounds. I limped the rest of the way and could not arrive at the hotel on time.
“So, what did my companion do? After I left that day, the villagers gathered a large group of people to kill me. He charged at the men and horses, knocking them down on both sides. As the crowd went after him again, he ran. When the crowd ran quickly, he sped up; when the crowd slowed down, he also slowed down. When the villagers threw stones at him, he threw bigger stones at them, yelling, 'If anyone dares to come and hit me, I will have no mercy and cast a death spell on him. So many people have died because of me, aren't you scared? Such a good harvest ended up as nothing. Isn't that enough? If you do not treat my mother and sister well from now on, I will set up a ghost pond at the entrance of the village and cast a demonic spell at the exit. All of you who are still alive and your family members will be exterminated. I will not stop until the entire village turns to ash. Aren't you afraid?'
“Intimidated by his words, the villagers trembled. They looked at each other and mumbled, but no one dared to step forward. In the end, each and every one of them quietly slipped back to the village.
“My companion arrived at the hotel earlier than I did. He asked the owner if an itinerant monk like me had been there. The owner thought for a while and replied, 'He hasn’t come here, but I think he’s in that village that’s holding a feast. He also seems to be wounded. Do you have a bowl? If not, I can lend you one.' He took a gray bowl that resembled the face of Yama [god of death] and gave it to my companion. My companion came to the feast to beg for alms and found me. He sat down beside me and said, 'Why didn't you arrive yesterday?' I said, 'A few days earlier, while I was begging for food on the road, I was bitten a few times by a wild dog. Now it's a little better. There shouldn’t be anything to worry about.’
“The two of us then went back to see our master, who said to us, 'You two did a magnificent thing.' We were surprised and asked, 'Who told you ?' Master answered, 'The divine custodian. I sent him there this time. He returned on the day of the full moon and told me about it.' We were all very happy.
After finishing this story, the Venerable Milarepa then told the disciples listening to his dharma teaching, “This is how I did bad deeds for revenge.”
Rechungpa asked, “Master, you said first producing bad karma and then good karma. Good karma is only from righteous dharma. Venerable Master, what was your predestined relationship to encounter righteous dharma?”
Milarepa said, “I gradually began to regret the sins of casting the spell and the hailstorm. At the same time, my wish to study the righteous dharma became more intense by the day. I often did not want to eat and had difficulty sleeping. When I was walking, I wanted to sit, and when I was sitting, I wanted to walk. I was restless and felt very guilty for the wrong deeds I had done. This earthly world often seemed foreign to me, but I did not dare to mention studying righteous dharma. In my mind, I often thought, 'Will I have the opportunity to study righteous dharma here with Master? What should I do?'
“As I kept thinking and worrying about this, the following happened: Master originally had a wealthy almsgiver. This almsgiver's family had a great deal of property. He believed fervently in Master and respectfully helped him tirelessly all the time. The almsgiver suddenly fell seriously ill and invited Master to his home to pray.
“Three days later, Master returned with a pale face and a forced smile. I asked him, 'Master, why is your face so pale? Why are you constantly forcing a smile like that?'
“Master sighed and replied, 'Nothing in this world is eternal. My best almsgiver, the one who had the strongest belief in me, died last night. Because of this, I think this world is a sad place. An old codger like me has been producing karma by casting spells, incantations, and hailstorms from the time I was young until my hair turned white with old age. Even though you are still young, like me, you have also committed the sins of incantations and a hailstorm. I am afraid I will be held accountable for these bad deeds in the future.'
“I was puzzled and asked, 'Thinking about the sentient beings we killed, is it possible for Master to help them be reborn in Tushita Heaven or reach liberation?' Master replied, 'In fact, no one is able to truly help them be saved or liberated. From now on, I will cultivate righteous dharma, and you could help teach my disciples. This way, I can lead to you to Tushita Heaven and liberation. Or, you can go study righteous dharma and guide me to Tushita Heaven and be liberated. I will provide you with anything you need to seek righteous dharma.'
“Ah! I was so happy to hear that! After thinking about it day and night, my dream had now become reality. So I promptly told my master, 'I am willing to cultivate righteous dharma!' He answered, 'You are still young. Plus, you have a diligent heart and strong faith. So, please dedicate yourself to studying righteous dharma!'
“Master then helped me prepare clothes for my journey. He put some pieces of premium cloth on a horse and gave them to me along with the horse. He said Rangton Lhaga in Tsangrong was an established sage and recommended I learn from him. After saying farewell to Master and his wife, I headed to Tsangrong.
Rangton Lhaga's wife and several disciples said he was not in because he was visiting another branch temple. I told them I was referred by Yungton Trogyal and told them my story. His wife asked a lama to take me to Rangton Lhaga. After getting there, I turned in the offerings and said, 'I have committed great sins. Please extend your compassion and teach me a method for liberation beyond reincarnation.'
“Yungton Trogyal replied, 'Here is how my method works. The root comes from outstanding nature, the passage resides in outstanding progress, and the fruit refers to outstanding manifestation. Thinking about it during the day, you will obtain it during the day; thinking about it during the night, you will obtain it during the night. For those with a good foundation and karmic relationship, there is no need to think. The moment you hear the dharma, you will be liberated. I will teach you this.'
So master performed abhisheka for me and taught me verses. At that time, I thought to myself: 'Back while learning incantations, I could see the effect after 14 days of practice; learning the hailstorm skill took only seven days. What this master teaches me now is much easier. Regardless of whether it's day or night, as long as I think about it, I will obtain it. And those with karmic relationships do not even need to think. Since I am able to come across this dharma, of course I have good inborn quality.' I therefore did not pay much attention and made little progress.
“Several days later, Rangton Lhaga came to me and said, 'You mentioned you had committed great sins. This is true. When speaking of my dharma, I exaggerated it a bit. In fact, I cannot provide guidance to you. Please promptly go to Drowolung in Lhodrak and follow Marpa Chokyi Lodro. He is a respected great master translator of the scriptures and a direct disciple of Indian master Naropa. As a practitioner of New Mantra Tradition, he has achieved three realms. He also has a predestined relationship with you from a previous life. Please go find him!'
“When I heard the name of the king of the translators of the scriptures, Marpa, my heart was filled with joy, and all the hair on my body stood on end. Tears rushed from my eyes. In my mind arose an immense, joyous admiration and unparalleled faith.
“With food for the trip and a letter from Rangton Lhaga, I began my journey. On the road, I kept thinking about this and was eager to meet the master.
“The night before my arrival in Drowolung, Master Marpa dreamed of Naropa performing abhisheka for him. Naropa brought him a jade vajra with a little dirt at the tip, as well as a gold bottle filled with sweet dew, and said, 'Please clean this vajra with the dew and hang it high on this big building. This will make Buddhas happy and benefit sentient beings in this world. By doing so, you will achieve two things.' With those words, he left. Following this instruction, Marpa cleansed the vajra with the dew and hung it high. The vajra suddenly radiated light, illuminating the three thousand worlds. The light shone on the sentient beings within the six paths [of transmigration], removing all their pain and sadness. With great joy, all sentient beings prostrated themselves before Marpa and the building. Countless numbers of Buddhas, as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Ganges, also offered their blessings.
“Marpa woke up in the morning, and his heart was filled with happiness. As he thought the dream over, his wife hurriedly came in and said, 'Master, I had a dream last night. Two beautiful young ladies from Oddiyana (a place in India where Vajrayana Buddhism, or Secret Mantra, was developed) brought me a jade pagoda with a little dirt on it. They said it was an instruction from Naropa to do consecration for the pagoda and place it on the top of the mountain. You cleaned it with dew and placed it on the mountaintop. The pagoda suddenly radiated bright light, and countless numbers of smaller pagodas came into existence. Could you tell me what this dream means?' Hearing this, Master knew the dream completely matched his dream and was very happy. But he suppressed his joy and said seriously, 'A dream is a dream, not reality. I don't know what it implies.' He continued, 'I need to go plow the field today. Can you make preparations?' His wife said, 'If a respected master like you goes to do this type of work, people will laugh at us. Please don’t go.' But Master did not listen and said, 'Please bring me a jar of wine. I need to welcome a young guest today.' He then headed to the field with the wine and tools.
“After arriving in the field, Marpa put the jar in the ground and covered it with a hat. He plowed the field for a while and then sat down for a rest and a drink.
“At that time, I had almost reached the border of Lhodrak and asked for directions along the way to meet Master Marpa, the king of translators. To my surprise, nobody had heard of him before. At a crossroad where I could see Lhodrak, I asked someone about this again. He replied, 'I know someone named Marpa, but I have no idea about the king of translators.' 'Could you tell me where Lhodrak is?' I asked. 'Over there! Not far from here,' he answered, pointing to the valley ahead. 'Who lives there?' I asked. 'Marpa,' he replied. 'Does he have other names?' I said. 'Some people call him Marpa, and some call him Master Marpa,' he replied. I thus knew this was the master I was anxiously inquiring after.
“I then asked, 'What is the name of this hillside?' 'This place is called Dharma Spreading Slope.' Thinking I was about to see Master's residence in Dharma Spreading Slope, I was very pleased by the karmic relationship. I continued walking and asking for directions. After a while, I came across a group of shepherds and asked again. One old man said he did not know, but a well-dressed, lovely child replied eloquently, 'I think you are talking about my father. He sold all of our assets in exchange for gold and took it to India. He brought back many scriptures. He had never worked in the fields before, but somehow he went there today.' This must be Master, I thought. At the same time, I was wondering why the great master translator would go to the field to do labor. I continued walking as I thought this over. I suddenly saw a tall, robust lama with big, bright eyes plowing the field by the roadside. My heart was filled with an indescribable joy when I saw him. I was so happy that I forgot about my surroundings. After a while, I came back to myself. I walked over to him and asked, 'Does the disciple of the great Indian master Naropa, Marpa the master translator, live here?'
“The lama looked at me carefully for a long time, from head to foot, and said, 'Who are you? Why are you looking for him?'
“I replied, 'I am from Back Tibet, and I have committed great sins. Marpa is well-known, and I came here to learn dharma from him.'
“The lama said, 'I will take you to him in a while. Please take over for me and plow the field.'
“With those words, he removed the hat, picked up the jar from the ground, and took a sip of the wine. He seemed to really enjoy it. He then put the jar down and left.
“After he walked away, I picked up the jar and finished all the wine in one gulp. I then began to plow the field. After a while, the lovely child who was with the shepherds came and told me, 'Hey! Master asked you to come in.' I replied, 'Let me finish this field first. Someone agreed to send a message to Master for me, so I must finish plowing the field for him. Could you let Master know I will come soon?' I then continued working until the field was plowed. This place later became known as the Field of Predestined Affinity.
“After I finished plowing the field, the boy took me to see Master. I saw the stout, strong lama sitting in a seat with three layers of cushions. The seat was engraved with decorative designs of Taurus and Garuda. He seemed to have just washed his face, but I could still see a little dust on his eyebrows. His fat body sitting there was just like a big lump, and his fat stomach stuck out. Thinking he was the man I met plowing the field, I looked around for Marpa. Master smiled at me, 'This young fellow really does not recognize me. I am Marpa. I suggest you kowtow,' he said.
“I obediently prostrated myself to him and said, 'I am from Tsang and have committed great sins. I am willing to dedicate my body, speech, and mind to Master. I hope Master can offer me food, clothing, and righteous dharma. Furthermore, please have mercy and confer on me the cultivation practice to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.'
“Master replied, 'You have committed great sins. This is your problem, not my business. Plus, I did not tell you to create that karma. So exactly what bad deeds have you done?'
“I then told him what had happened in the past.
“Master said, 'Oh, I see. Dedicating your body, speech, and mind to Master is something you should do. But I cannot offer food and clothing while teaching you dharma. I can provide food and clothing for you to learn dharma elsewhere, or I can teach you dharma, but you need to look for food and clothing elsewhere. You can choose only one of the two. Think about it and make your choice. Also, even if I teach you dharma, you may not attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. It totally depends on your diligence.'
“I replied, 'I came to learn dharma. I will figure out where to obtain food and clothing.' I then took out a scripture book and walked to the chapel. Master saw this and said, 'Please do not take your book in. If the divine custodian here smells the bad messages from your evil book, he would probably sneeze.' I was astonished and thought, 'Master probably already knows my book has incantation methods and punishment spells in it.'
“Master provided me a room to stay. I lived there for four or five days and made a leather bag. Master's wife gave me lots of tasty food and treated me well.
“To find offerings for Master, I went around Lhodrak begging. From the 21 liters of wheat I obtained, I took 14 to purchase a large, square copper lamp without any damage or rust. I exchanged one liter of wheat for meat and wine, and I put the remaining wheat in the leather bag I made. I put the copper lamp on top of the bag and carried it all back. When I arrived at Master's residence, I was completely exhausted. I took the bag down from my back, and it fell down to the ground with a thump. The bag of wheat was heavy, and both the ground and house shook a bit. Master was having a meal, and he came out to check. Seeing me, he said, 'It seems you are a strong man. Hey! Do you want to make my house collapse and crush me? You are so stupid. Go take it outside!' With those words, he began to kick me. I had no choice but to take the wheat outside while thinking to myself, 'This master has a bad temper, and I have to be very careful serving him. But in my heart, I had no dissatisfaction or negative thoughts at all.'
“I prostrated myself to him and gave him the large copper lamp. He held it, closed his eyes, and thought for a while. He was very happy and moved, and tears welled in his eyes. He said, 'This is a good karmic relationship. This lamp is for Indian master Naropa.' After performing the mudra for worship, he knocked on the lamp with a stick, and it gave off a sonorous sound. He took the lamp to the chapel, filled it with butter, inserted a wick, and lit it.
“Anxious to learn the dharma, I went to Master and begged, 'Could you teach me dharma and verses?'
“Master said, 'Many people have come from Ü-Tsang to learn dharma from me. But people from Yamdrok Taklung and Ling often attack them so that they cannot bring me food and offerings. I now want you to cast a hailstorm. I will teach you if you succeed.'
“To seek the dharma, I cast a hailstorm again, and it was successful. I went back to Master and begged for teachings. He said, 'You only sent two or three pieces of hail, and you want to obtain the righteous dharma I obtained from India after so much suffering? Let me tell you this. People in Lhodrak used to beat my disciples and worked against me. If your incantation is really powerful, you should cast a spell against them. If you succeed, I will teach you how to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.' Lacking any other choice, I cast a spell. Not long after that, an internal conflict broke out in Lhodrak, and many people were killed, including all those who were against us. Seeing that my incantation worked, Master said, 'I heard your spells were very powerful. This seems to be true.' From then on, he called me 'Powerful Man.'
“Once again, I asked Master to teach me dharma. To my surprise, he laughed hard, 'Ha ha ha! After committing these serious wrongdoings, you want to learn dharma from me? I laid down my life traveling to India and gave gold to a master as offerings to obtain these. How could you get it so easily? Even if you were joking, it’s a little too much. Plus, you are good at using incantations. If it were not me, but someone else, you probably would have killed him already. All right, if you could restore the damage in Yamdrok Taklung and have those killed in Lhodrak come back to life, I will teach you dharma. Otherwise, you need not stay here.' Having him scold me so badly, I was extremely disappointed and wailed. His wife pitied me and came to comfort me.
“The next morning, Master came to me, 'My words were too harsh yesterday. Please don't get upset. You are strong, and I hope you can build a stone house for me to store scriptures. Once it is done, I will teach you dharma. I will also provide food and clothing for you.'
“I said, 'What if I die while building this house before I am able to learn the dharma?'
“'I guarantee you will absolutely not die during this period of time. A person needs courage to learn dharma. You have determination and can remain diligent. As to whether or not you are able to attain Buddhahood, it totally depends on how dedicated you are. Unlike other sects, mine has unparalleled strengthening ability,' master said pleasantly and kindly.
“That made me very happy. When I asked for a blueprint, he replied, 'This house will be built on a hill that is difficult to access. Local clans had an agreement in the past forbidding construction at that place. Fortunately, I did not sign the agreement, so it's not binding for me. I am thinking of building a round house on the east hillside. You can also use this to eliminate your karma.'
“Thus, I followed his order and began to build the house. About halfway through construction, Master came and said, 'I did not plan well back then. This place is not good. Move the stones and other materials back to where they were.’ So, I had to carry the stones and lumber piece-by-piece back to the foot of the hill. He then took me to the west hillside. After taking off his semicircle coat and folding it into several layers, he put it on the ground and said, 'Build a house like this.' It was even more laborious this time. I built it all by myself, which meant I had to carry each piece for several miles from the foot of the hill to the hilltop. It was miserable. When it was half-built, Master came again and said, 'This does not look right. Please take it apart and move the stones and lumber back to where they came from.' I had to listen to him and take the building down piece by piece.
“Master then took me to the north hillside and said, 'Powerful Man, I was drunk those few days and did not say it clearly. Now, build a good house here.'
“I said, 'If I build it again and take it apart again, I'd suffer for nothing, and you'd also waste money. Please think it through thoroughly this time.'
“'I did not drink today, and I have planned it well. A genuine practitioner's house should be triangle-shaped. Please build one, and I will definitely not ask you to destroy it.' So I began to build this triangle-shaped house. When one-third of it was completed, Master came and asked, 'Powerful Man! The house you’re building – who told you to build it?'
“I grew impatient and answered immediately, 'This was a personal order from you, Master!'
“He scratched his head and said, 'Hmm, how come I can’t remember? If what you said is true, wasn't I being crazy?'
“'Back then I already knew this might happen, so I asked you to think it through thoroughly, Master. You said you had planned it well and would definitely not destroy it. You must remember that!' I replied anxiously.
“Humph! Were there any witnesses? Building a triangle-shaped house at this place with bad fengshui is like constructing an altar for incantations. Are you planning to kill me? I did not steal your belongings, nor did I rob your father's assets. If you’re not planning to kill me and are serious about learning dharma, you should listen to me: Take this house apart, and move all the materials back down the hill!'
“I had been carrying stones and doing intensive labor for a long time. Each time, I was eager to finish building the house so I could learn the dharma, and I worked very hard. At that time, the flesh on my back was rubbed raw with several pits. They formed scars, but the scars were worn out again. Then new scars formed, and it was very painful. I thought about showing this to Master, but I also knew it would not end well and would only lead to more scolding and beating. If I told his wife about this, it would look like I was complaining. So I did not tell her either. Nonetheless, I asked her to help beg Master for the dharma. She immediately went to him and said, 'Building a house like this is meaningless. I don't know why you want to do that. Poor Powerful Man is so pitiful and has suffered so much. Please teach him something.'
“Master Marpa said to her, 'Go cook a good dish for me. Then tell Powerful Man to come here!' His wife prepared food, and we went to see Master together. Master said, 'Today's me is different from yesterday's me. Don’t get so upset. If you want to learn dharma, I will teach you!' He then taught me things from ordinary Exoteric Buddhism (as opposed to Esoteric Buddhism, or Vajrayana Buddhism), such as the Three Refuges and Five Precepts. He then told me, 'These are basic rituals. To seek secret, unparalleled verses, you have to do such and such.' He then told me about the life and suffering of Indian master Naropa. He said, 'You may not be able to endure this kind of hardship.' Hearing master Naropa's journey, I was moved to tears and became very determined. In my heart, I promised, 'I will listen to any words from Master, and I will overcome any hardship.'
“After a few days, Master and I went for a walk together. When we arrived at the place where local clans forbade construction, Master said, 'Build a nine-story rectangle tower here for me. Add a storage place on the top, so it’s ten stories in total. I absolutely will not destroy it. After it is finished, I will teach you dharma and verses. I will also provide you with provisions and food for learning dharma.'
“I thought for a while and said, 'If so, I want to invite Master's wife as a witness. All right?'
“Master agreed, 'Fine!'
“Master drew a sketch of the tower, and I invited his wife to come. After prostrating myself three times to them, I said, 'Master ordered me to build a house. I started three times and pulled it down three times. The first time, Master said he did not think it through well. The second time, Master said he was drunk and had a bad plan. The third time, Master said he must have been crazy if he had instructed me to build a triangle-shaped house there. After I explained, Master said there was no witness and scolded me. Today, I hope Master's wife can be a witness for this fourth time. Can you do this?'
“Master's wife said, 'I will definitely be your witness. Master, I can be a witness, but this building plan is very challenging. The hill is so tall, and he needs to carry each stone and piece of lumber from the foot of the hill all by himself. Who knows how long will it take? Plus, we don’t need to build a house here, nor was it necessary to destroy them. This is not our place, and the local clans had sworn against construction here. I am afraid this will cause trouble later on.'
“I said, 'But I am afraid Master will not listen to you.'
“Master said to his wife, 'You can be a witness if you want. Don’t talk so much!'
“So I began to build this rectangular tower. When I laid the foundation, three of Master's principal disciples—Ngokton Chodor, Tsurton Wange, and Meton Tsonpo—came there to play, and they carried many big stones for me. I used these stones as part of the foundation. After I finished the second story, Master came and looked everywhere carefully. Pointing to the stones carried by the other disciples, he asked, 'Where are these from?'
“These… these were from Ngokton, Wange, and others. They helped me carry them here.'
“Master said, 'You cannot build a tower with their stones. Quickly, take it apart and move these stones away!'
“'But you already made a promise not to destroy this building!'
“'Yes, I did say that. But these disciples of mine are high-level yogis, and I cannot have them be your servants. Plus, I didn't ask you to destroy everything. Just move the stones they carried.'
“'I was helpless and had to pull down the tower from the top to the foundation and carry those stones back to the foot of the hill. Master then came and said, 'Now, you can carry them back and use them as the foundation.'
“I asked, 'I thought you did not want these stones?'
“Master said, 'It’s not that I don’t want to use these stones. You just have to carry them yourself instead of taking advantage of others.'
“Those stones were carried by three people before. Now I had to move them all by myself, so it took lots of time and effort. Later, people called those stones 'Strongman Stones.'
“When the foundation was finished at the top of the hill, local clan members talked among themselves. One of them said, 'Marpa is building a tower in the forbidden place. Let's go stop him!' Another one added, 'Marpa is crazy. He somehow found a very strong young man. Wherever there’s a high hilltop, he had him build a house there. Halfway through, he told the young man to take it down and move the stones and lumber back. He might destroy this tower, too. If not, we’ll go and stop him. Let's wait and see.'
“But Master did not tell me to take the building apart this time, so I continued. When I got to the seventh floor, another big pit formed on my lower back.
“The local clans met and discussed it again, 'Humph! It seems Marpa won't stop this time. It turns out that when he destroyed them several times before, his real goal was to build one here. We will take it down this time!' They gathered many people at the tower. Little did they know that Master had transformed himself into soldiers who took up positions inside and outside the tower. The sight stunned the clansmen. Instead of attacking, they prostrated themselves to Master for forgiveness. All of them later became almsgivers.
“At that time, Meton Tsonpo Tsangrong was asking for abhisheka from Cakrasamvara (one of the deities in the supreme Vajrayana). Master's wife said to me, 'No matter what, you should receive abhisheka this time.' I also thought, 'I have put so much effort into building houses. Nobody helped me even with a piece of stone, a bucket of water, or a chunk of mud. Master will definitely perform abhisheka for me this time!'
“During the abhisheka ceremony, I prostrated myself to Master and sat at a seat for recipients. Master asked, 'Powerful Man, where are your offerings for abhisheka?'
“'Master told me that after finishing the tower I would receive abhisheka and verses. So I dared sit here.'
“Master said, 'You only spent a few days building a house. That is not enough to receive abhisheka and the verses I obtained from India through great hardship. If you have offerings, please bring them here; otherwise, leave the abhisheka seat!' With those words, he slapped me twice in the face. Dragging me by my hair toward the door, he shouted angrily, 'Get out of here!'
“Master's wife saw this and came to comfort me, 'Master often said that the dharma he obtained from India is for all sentient beings. Usually even when a dog walks past him, he would offer a lecture and blessings. But he is always dissatisfied with you. I don't know why. But please do not develop bad thoughts!'
“My heart was filled with grievances, depression, and despair. With the extreme pain, I thought about suicide again and again that night.
“In the morning, Master came to see me and said, 'Powerful Man, you can stop working on the tower for now. Please help me build a castle with twelve pillars. I also need a sanctuary next to it. After that is finished, I will perform abhisheka and teach you dharma.' So I started to build the castle from the foundation. Master's wife often brought me good food and wine. She also kindly comforted me from time to time.
“When the castle was near completion, Tsurton Wange came to request great abhisheka from Guhyasamaja (one of the deities in the supreme Vajrayana).
“Master's wife said, 'You need to receive abhisheka this time no matter what!' She gave me a bag of butter, a bolt of wool cloth, and one small copper pan as offerings. I was very happy and took them with me into the chapel toward the seat to receive abhisheka.
“Master looked at me and said, 'You are here again? Do you have any offerings for abhisheka?' I replied calmly and confidently, 'This butter, wool cloth, and copper pan are offerings to Master.'
“'Ha ha ha! What a smart idea! This butter was from almsgiver so-and-so, the wool cloth was from almsgiver so-and-so, and the copper pan was from almsgiver so-and-so. It's a smart idea to use my belongings as offerings to me. But there is no such thing in this world. If you have your own offerings, give them to me; otherwise, you cannot sit here!' He then stood up, gave me a major scolding, and kicked me out of the chapel. I wanted to find a hole in the ground to hide in. I thought about it for a long time: Is this retribution because I killed so many people with the incantation and caused enormous destruction with the hailstorm? Or does Master know I am not good enough to receive the dharma? Or is Master not compassionate enough to teach me the dharma? No matter what, with such a useless, sinful human body that cannot receive the dharma, I would rather die. How about I just kill myself? Right as I was puzzled and perplexed, Master's wife came with some food that she had used for worship and she comforted me for a long time.
“The pain and despair pushed me away from the food, and I cried all night long. Master came the next day and said, 'Go finish the castle and tower. After they are done, I will teach you the dharma and verses.'
“I suffered tremendously and finished the castle in the end. By then, my back was so worn-out that another pit formed. Three parts of the wound were filled with pus. The decayed flesh mingled with pus and blood, just like a pile of rotten mud.
“I went to Master's wife and begged, 'The castle is now finished. I am afraid Master may forget again that he had promised to teach me the dharma. Could you help me ask about it?' Because the ulcer on my back hurt so badly, I was unable to conceal my pain. 'Powerful Man, what happened? Are you ill?' she asked me, aghast. I took off my shirt to show her. She took a look, and with tears in her eyes, she said, 'I’m going to go tell Master now!' She rushed to him immediately and said, ''Master, Powerful Man has been building houses for a long time. Because of that, his hands and feet are injured, and his skin has cracked. There are three large ulcers on his back that have worn into three pits. There are pus and blood in three parts of one of them. In the past, we only heard that too heavy a burden for too long would cause ulcers on mules or horses. I've never heard before of a person having such ulcers on their back, let alone seeing this in person! If other people hear about or see this, wouldn't they laugh at us? Powerful Man came to serve you because you are a great lama. Didn’t you say you would teach him dharma after he finished the tower? He is so pitiable. Please teach him the dharma.' Master said, 'Yes, I did say that before. But what I said was a ten-story tower. Now where is it?'
“'Isn't the castle even larger than the tower?'
“'Don’t talk so much! I will teach him dharma after the ten-story tower is built!' Master scolded his wife. He then remembered the ulcers on my back: 'Hey! What did you say? Does Powerful Man have ulcers on his back?'
“'All over his back. Go see for yourself. Pus and blood are all mixed together. It’s horrible. No one can bear to look at it. Ugh, so pitiable!' Master’s wife said.
“Master then came to the stairs and called, 'Powerful Man, come up here!'
“I thought to myself: 'Well, this is good. Master must plan to teach me the dharma now.' I ran up, two or three stairs at a time. Master said, 'Powerful Man, show me the ulcers on your back!' I showed them to him, and he looked carefully. He then said to me, 'Indian master Naropa endured twelve major ascetic practices and twelve minor ascetic practices. They were much worse than what you have. He suffered all twenty-four kinds of ascetic practices. I too sacrificed my life and gave up assets to serve him. If you really seek the dharma, stop this pretense quickly and go finish the tower!'
“I lowered my head and thought about it. What he said did make sense.
“Master then made several bags on my clothes and said, “After horses and donkeys develop back ulcers, they carry goods with bags. I now have made several bags for you to carry soil and stones.”
“I asked curiously, 'I have ulcers on my back. How can these bags help?'
“'Of course they will! Carry the soil in these bags and the dirt won’t get on your back ulcers,' he replied. Considering this an instruction from Master, I endured the pain and carried seven bags of sand to the hilltop.
“Seeing me obey his every word, Master knew I was a real man who was determined and who could endure. When no one was around, he shed many tears.
“The ulcers on my back grew larger by the day, and they were getting too painful to endure. I asked Master's wife, 'Could you ask Master to teach me the dharma first? Or at least allow me to rest for a while to recover from the wounds?'
“She relayed my words to Master. Master’s reply was that the dharma absolutely would not be taught until the tower was done. If the ulcers really needed healing, I could rest for a few days. Master's wife also encouraged me to take a break and continue working later on.
“During those days of recovery, Master's wife gave me lots of good food and supplements. She also consoled me every now and then, making me temporarily forget the pain of being unable to receive the dharma.
“After a while, when the ulcers on my back were almost healed, Master called me again. Instead of teaching the dharma, he said, 'Powerful Man, go build the tower now!'
“I was already planning to work that day. But out of sympathy, Master's wife had a plan to convince Master to teach me the dharma earlier. She talked with me in private about it and asked me to do as she said. So after meeting with Master and coming back, I cried softly and began to pack up my things as well as some tsampa (roasted barley flour, a staple food in Tibet), as if I were about to leave. In a place where Master could see, I pretended to leave, and his wife acted as if she was stopping me, saying, 'This time, I promise to beg Master to teach you the dharma. Don't leave! Don’t leave!' It went on for a while and attracted Master's attention. He called out to his wife, 'Dakmema, what are you two doing?'
“Hearing those words, his wife thought her opportunity had arrived and said, 'Your disciple Powerful Man has traveled a long distance to learn the dharma. He has not only not been taught the dharma, but he has also ended up being scolded and doing the work of a beast of burden. He is afraid he might die before learning the dharma, so he is going to leave for other masters. I promised he would obtain the dharma here, but he still wants to leave.' Master heard this and became very angry. Holding a leather whip, he ran out to beat me hard and said, 'You scum. When you first arrived here, you said you were dedicating your body, speech, and mind to me. Where are you going now? If I want, I can slice your body, speech, and mind into pieces. You gave them to me, so I have the right. Anyway, if you want to get out of here, you can just leave. Why do you take my tsampa? How does that work? Do you want to explain?' He beat me ruthlessly until I fell on the ground. He then took the tsampa away.
“My heart was in extreme agony, but I could not tell him that I had planned the trick with his wife. No matter how hard I tried, everything I attempted was nothing compared to Master's power. I had no choice but to run inside and cry. Master's wife also sighed, 'Even if I argue with him like this, he still won't teach you the dharma. But I have to help you learn something. I have a cultivation way from Vajrayogini (one of the deities in the supreme Vajrayana). How about I teach you that?' I began to practice this dharma. Although I did not feel much from it, at least I felt more comfortable. I thought Master's wife treated me well and I needed to repay her grace. I also thought that, because of master and his wife, much of my bad karma had been eliminated. So I decided to continue staying there.
During the summer, I helped Master's wife milk animals and fry barley. Sometimes, I did think about going elsewhere for another master. But after thinking it over further, I knew only this master had dharma that enabled one to attain Buddhahood in one lifetime. If I did not succeed during this life, how would I liberate myself from so much karma? To obtain the dharma, I was willing to endure like master Naropa. But first, no matter what, I had to do things to make my master happy so that I could obtain his verses and attain fruition in this lifetime. Thus, I calmed down and put my heart into carrying stones and lumber to build the sanctuary next to the castle.
(To be continued)