The Cultivation Story of Buddha Milarepa (Part 12)
(Minghui.org) For many years afterward, on days to commemorate the Venerable, rainbows would span the sky and flowers would descend from heaven. Heavenly melodies and pleasant scents would waft through the air, along with many other kinds of miracles. In addition, many kinds of marvelous flowers blossomed all over the land. Harvests were bountiful year after year, and there were no illnesses or wars. All kinds of miracles occurred, one after another, too many to list.
(Continued from Part 11)
The Venerable appeared ill. The sky was filled with the auspicious signs of rainbows and flowers that fell like rain, just like during the dharma teaching. Consequently, everyone knew that the Venerable would indeed go to another world. Disciples such as Repa Zhiwa O, Ngandzong Repa, and Seban Repa asked the Venerable, “Master, which pure land will you go to after nirvana? Where should we disciples pray toward?”
The Venerable said, “It is the same no matter where you pray to. As long as you have faith and pray sincerely, I will definitely be before you. I will definitely bestow whatever you pray for.”
“This time, I will go to meet Buddha Akshobhya in the Eastern Pure Land of Abhirati. I mentioned earlier that I have more to say to you; that is, my will and testament. After I, Milarepa, die, other than a few daily articles there will be no assets remaining. You can give my cotton clothing and cane to Rechungpa. He will come back very soon. Please tell him that these two items are related to the dependent arising of our practice. Before Rechungpa arrives, by all means you must not move my body.
“With keen sight and good observation for spreading dharma, Master Maitripa's hat and agarwood stick can go to Upa Tonpa. Zhiwa O, please take this wooden bowl. Ngandzong, please take this skull cup. The flint stone goes to Seban Repa, and the bone spoon goes to Drigom Repa. This cloth mat can be cut into pieces for other disciples, with one piece for each. These items have no monetary value. I give them to you primarily to display dependent arising.
“My most important will and testament, the gold that I, Milarepa, have accumulated for many years are all stored under this hearth. After I die, many ignorant disciples may quarrel over my funeral arrangements. At that time, you can open the will and look. It has more instructions in it for your practice.
“Some people who learn dharma do not have much merit. To seek fame and respect, they do some Buddhist services here or do some good deeds for merit there. In fact, when he makes an offering of one hundred, he thinks about a return of one thousand. When these secular people hold Buddhist services with greed for merit, it is like mixing poison with delicious food and eating it. So you should not drink the poison of seeking fame in this lifetime. You need to completely forsake these things that appear to be dharma on the surface but are mundane phenomena in reality. It would be good to remain dedicated and diligent, and practice pure Buddha dharma.”
The disciples then asked, “If it benefits sentient beings, can we perform a little mundane phenomena?”
The Venerable said, “If the motive of performing mundane phenomena is totally selfless, it is allowed. But it is indeed very difficult. If one does things to benefit others out of one's own greed, then he is unable to help himself, let alone benefit others. It is just like a person who is unable to swim going swimming. He would not only be unable to swim but would also suffer a violent death by drowning instead. So it is better not to talk about doing things to benefit others before understanding the reality of emptiness. Without cultivation and realization, giving benefits to sentient beings is like the blind leading the blind. One would end up falling into the abyss of selfishness in the end. In fact, the empty space is unlimited, and the number of sentient beings is also countless. After one completes practice, there are too many ways to save beings. One can offer salvation to beings at any time and any place. Before completion, you should have pure intentions and great compassion, diligently seeking Buddhahood in order to benefit all beings. Please forsake thoughts about clothing, food, fame, and gain. Please endure the hardships and carry the burden in your heart. This is the way you should practice. This is to save sentient beings. This is attaining the way, practicing, and achieving all the ultimate benefits for one's self and for others.”
The Venerable Milarepa continued, “Now, I cannot stay here much longer. Please remember my words and continue my tradition.” With these words, he entered deep meditation with the manifestation of passing away at the age of 84. It was the dawn of December 14, 1135. The stars were nearly gone, and the morning sun was rising. The physical body of the Venerable gained dharma nature, displayed as nirvana.
At that moment, the sacred scene of a gathering by heavenly beings and dakinis was even more gigantic and magnificent. An immense, bright rainbow appeared in the sky, so vivid as if one could touch it with one's hand. All the colors were interlaced in the sky, with an eight-petal lotus flower in the center of the rainbow. Above the lotus flower was an extremely beautiful mandala. Even the best painter in the world could not produce such a picturesque scene. The five-colored clouds on the tip changed to banners, necklaces, umbrellas, and other unlimited shapes. All kinds of flowers with all sorts of colors fell from the sky like rain. Colored clouds went around the mountain tops in four directions. Clouds like a stupa surrounded the center of Chubar. Everyone was able to hear pleasant heavenly music and praise. The earth overflowed with fragrance. Secular people in the world could also see heavenly beings and gods all over the empty space making grand offerings. Seeing the heavenly beings naked, humans were not surprised; but the heavenly beings were afraid to smell the stench of humans' flesh bodies and would often cover their faces when passing someone. Sometimes, the heavenly beings and humans talked with or greeted each other. Everyone saw these special scenes.
Almsgivers in Nyanam heard about the Venerable entering nirvana, and all came to Chubar. They stated many reasons to the major disciples and almsgivers in Chubar in their request to move the Venerable's body to Nyanam for burial. But the request was turned down by the major disciples. Almsgivers from Nyanam thus asked to postpone the funeral, giving believers in all places another chance to see the Venerable. Almsgivers in Chubar agreed with this. People from Nyanam returned for discussion and came back with a group of strong people to try to forcibly take the Venerable's body away. They ran into arguments with almsgivers in Chubar, and the chaos nearly led to a fight. The major disciples saw this and said, “We are all believers of the Venerable. Please stop quarreling. Since the Venerable went to nirvana in Chubar, it would be inappropriate to hold the funeral in Nyanam. Please just wait here. After the cremation is over, you will certainly have some relics and ashes for offering.” But people from Nyanam thought they had a big crowd and planned to forcibly take the body. Suddenly, a heavenly being appeared in the sky, speaking with the voice of the Venerable.
Almsgivers, believers, and disciples were incredibly joyful and happy, as if they had seen the Venerable again. They stopped quarreling and sincerely prayed. In the end, during an unimaginable transformation, people in Nyanam obtained another body of the Venerable in addition to the one kept by the major disciples and almsgivers in Chubar. They carried the body and went to cremate it at Dudul Puk in Lapchi Snow Mountain. Once again, the five-colored rainbow, colored clouds, heavenly music, fragrance, and other auspicious phenomena appeared, just like those that occurred during the nirvana.
In Chubar, the major disciples and almsgivers sincerely prayed for six days continuously. The face of the Venerable suddenly became radiant, like an eight-year-old child. Several major disciples discussed, “Rechungpa will probably not come. If we delay any further, we may have nothing left, not even any ash for offering. Let's hold the cremation soon.” After discussion, they took turns seeing the Venerable's face one more time and moved the body to the front of the cave. They set up a rack for cremation, placed the body upon it, and drew a mandala. Although this could not be compared to a heavenly offering, it was an array of the best offerings in the human world. The cremation was to be conducted at dawn after all the prayers and rituals. But no matter how they tried, they could not start the fire. By then, a rainbow suddenly appeared in the sky, along with five dakinis.
Ngandzong said, “The Venerable's will and the dakinis both told us not to move the Venerable's body before Rechungpa's arrival. But Rechungpa has not come, and the body will probably decay soon. What should we do?”
Repa Zhiwa O said, “Based on the instruction of the Venerable and dakinis, as well as the failure to start a fire to burn the body, Rechungpa will certainly come soon. Let us just sincerely pray.” They moved the body back to the cave, and all continued to pray earnestly.
Back then, Rechungpa was meditating in a temple in Lorodol. One day after midnight, during the sensation of brightness and sleep, he saw a crystal stupa illuminating all around the empty space. Countless dakinis escorted the stupa to another world. On the earth, his vajra brothers and almsgivers were everywhere. The singing of heavenly beings and dakinis filled the sky, with unimaginable offering clouds everywhere. Rechungpa kowtowed to the stupa. Suddenly the Venerable's face appeared in the stupa and said to Rechungpa, “My son, although you did not follow my words to return in time, I will be very happy if we, father and son, could meet again. You and I may not be able to see each other often in the future. Please do not lose this precious opportunity, and let us have a good talk.” With these words, the Venerable placed his hand on Rechungpa's head and smiled at him. With sadness and joy, Rechungpa had unprecedented faith and a magnificent sensation.
Upon waking, Rechungpa remembered that the Venerable had asked him to return at a certain time, and he was very dismayed, “Has the Venerable entered nirvana?” An unbearable grief and strong faith immediately rose inside him, and he sincerely prayed, “Master, I am so regretful for not going on time. But I am going now!” As he thought about this, two young ladies appeared in the sky and said to him, “Rechungpa, the Venerable is going to a pure land now. If you are not quick enough, you may not be able to see him in this lifetime. Please hurry!”
Only thinking about his master in his mind, Rechungpa was very eager to go back. He immediately started the journey. Birds at the temple were chirping to announce the arrival of dawn.
Rechungpa prayed in his mind and applied his supernatural power. In half a morning, he flew the distance that a horse or donkey would take two months to travel. By the time he arrived at Drin, the sun had risen, and it was already broad daylight. Sitting down for a rest, he looked up and saw auspicious clouds everywhere. In particular, on the mountaintop where the Venerable had entered nirvana, there was a gigantic, boundless cloud canopy radiating strong light. Countless heavenly beings and dakinis were having a large offering for the five senses. Some heavenly beings were praying, some were making vows, some were kowtowing, and some were singing songs of praise. Seeing this, Rechungpa had mixed feelings of sadness and joy. Out of suspicion, he asked a heavenly being, “Why are you having this offering and worship?”
The heavenly being said, “Are you deaf or blind? You don't know this special assembly of heaven and earth? Mila Zhepa Dorje is going to the dakinis' pure lands. Heavenly beings and human beings are all worshiping with offerings. Don't you know that?”
Rechungpa heard the words and felt extremely painful, as if a knife had pierced his heart. He ran toward the cave where the Venerable entered nirvana. As he arrived at a stupa-shaped plateau, like a dream he saw the Venerable smiling at him and saying, “Is this my son Rechungpa coming?”
Seeing this, Rechungpa was extremely joyful and thought the Venerable was still alive. He kowtowed and greeted his master. He also asked the Venerable many questions and received answers one-by-one. In the end, the Venerable said to Rechungpa, “My son, I have to leave first. Please join me later, and I will accept you. Please do not forget my words.” As he finished saying that, the Venerable disappeared instantly.
Feeling unsettled, Rechungpa came to Chubar and arrived at the cave, seeing disciples and almsgivers sadly praying around the Venerable's body. Many new disciples had never seen Rechungpa before, and they stopped him from coming close. With extreme grief, Rechungpa cried, singing,
“My grateful master is like a compassionate father, with unconditional compassion;Can you master hear my crying, with unconditional compassion?Do you pity me for my pain, Ugh, my compassionate father and master?”
As Rechungpa's song went in the cave, the Venerable's face suddenly became radiant as if he were alive. His body suddenly caught fire by itself. Hearing the song from Rechungpa, Repa Zhiwa O, Ngandzong Repa, and other major disciples as well as almsgivers came out to welcome him. Because the new disciples did not know him and had not let him in, Rechungpa was very sad and did not go in until after seven offering songs. The passion and sincere songs from Rechungpa moved the Venerable. Although already entering the nirvana of brightness and dharma nature, he sat up in the brightness and said to the new disciples, “My disciples who have recently begun to practice, please do not do this. Rechungpa is like a lion, and he deserves your respect.” He then said to Rechungpa, “My son, please do not feel so bad. You may come here to your father.”
Seeing this miracle, everyone was surprised and in admiration. They became very joyful.
Rechungpa came to the body, hugged the Venerable, and cried loudly. Overwhelmed by sadness, he fainted and fell to the ground. As he woke up, he saw disciples and almsgivers surrounding the altar. Like a pure vajra, the Venerable's body did not lie down and instead sat stably in the fire gathering of a lotus flower with eight petals. Like stamens of a flower, the Venerable's body sat in the center of the eight-petal lotus fire. His right hand held the gesture of lecturing over the tip of the flames, while his left hand supported his cheek in a position of singing. In front of Rechungpa and other disciples, the Venerable said, “Please listen to the final song from me, an old man.” On the altar, he then sang a song of six essentials,
“My lovely son Rechungpa, listen to my will and final song;Reincarnating in the three realms’ sea of fire, Five Aggregates and illusory body are the key;Greedy for clothing and running errands, the worldly things have no way to end.No more mundane phenomena, Rechungpa!
In the illusory transformation, a non-substantial mind is the key;If the mind is driven by the body, dharma nature and reality can never be attained.Maintain a kind mind, Rechungpa!
Mind and matter, picking and rejecting is subtle, fundamental wisdom being the key;Focusing on changes of karmic relations, one can never understand the meaning of the birthless.Observe well the infinity of life, Rechungpa!
This life and that life, picking and rejecting, mind and sense at bardo is the key;Often thinking about body or not, one can never comprehend the meaning of reality.Observe well the reality, Rechungpa!
Six realms in chaos like a city with no light, sins and karma aggregate like a mountain;When afflictions persist such as greed and anger, one can never recognize the equality of people.No more greed and anger, Rechungpa!
Thousands of Buddhas in pure lands, eloquent and good at lecturing dharma;If replying on a sweet tongue to talk about similar principles, one can never understand the ultimate meaning.No provisional teaching is allowed, Rechungpa!
Masters, deities, and dakinis, merge them into one for praying;Upright insight, good actions, and righteous practice, meditate with no difference in these three.This life, future life, and bardo, practice as one and remember dharma well.These are the final words from me to you, as my will in the very end.With no more words to pass on other than these, practice following them, my son.
After these words, the Venerable entered the brightness and dharma nature again. As soon as the Venerable entered nirvana, the altar radiated light and turned into a squared-shaped palace. There were all kinds of extensive, most magnificent offerings, including bright umbrellas, colorful clouds, and banners. In the brightness appeared countless heavenly girls who sang and danced to the wonderful music. Above the altar, heavenly boys and girls in the empty space held bottles full of sweet dew as offerings. Among the disciples and almsgivers, some saw the Venerable as Hevajra in the altar, some saw him as Chakrasamvara or Guhyasamaja, and some saw him as Vajrayogini. Depending on different karmic relationships and foundations, everyone saw different Buddha bodies.
By then, countless dakinis filling the empty space sang together,
“By the time the Venerable went to Nirvana, humans and heavenly beings are all grieving;Some cry hard with tears flowing continuously, some are in dizziness and frustration and are not self-sustaining.Inner heat sets fire on its own, with flames like the eight-petal lotus flower;Seven treasures and eight auspices, thousands of offerings appear at will.Lute and psaltery and all musical instruments are in place, playing immeasurably wondrous melodies;Heavenly girls come out of the fire, bringing vast inner and outer offering.Surrounded by fragrance and a pleasant atmosphere, are the umbrellas and banners in magnificence;Offerings come from the auspicious heavenly girls, relics gone with a body of purity.Physical body cremated with no aggregate remaining, master's relics are rare and precious;Reality body high as the empty space, with merciful wishes the enjoyment body is like dharma clouds.Accomplishments of the transformation body as flower rains, bring countless sentient beings to maturity;Dharma nature is empty and birthless, where there is no birth at all.Emptiness is different from birth and perishing, while birth and perishing themselves are empty;This is the deep meaning of emptiness and existence, and you shall not have confusion about it.
After dakinis sang the song, it was nearly dusk. The sky gradually turned dark, and the fire on the altar had already gone out. Surprised by the brightness inside and outside the altar, the disciples looked inside and saw a bright stupa in the center of the altar. Inside the stupa, some saw Chakrasamvara, some saw Vajrayogini or Hevajra, some saw the Vajra bell, pestle, bottle, mudra, and all kinds of characters of body, speech, and mind. There were also some who saw golden brightness, seawater, fire, or nothing.
Disciples opened the door of the altar for the hot air to go out, planning to return the next day for relics. At that time, many unimaginably wondrous signs also occurred. That night, everyone slept with their heads toward the altar door. Right as Rechungpa woke up the next morning, he saw five dakinis come to the altar for offerings carrying necklaces, bone ornaments, jewelry adornments, and offerings for the five senses. After a while, he saw five major dakinis holding something illuminating from the altar and flying away. Astonished at the sight, Rechungpa suddenly realized that the dakinis had taken away the relics of the Venerable. He rushed out in panic and saw the dakinis already up in the air with the relics. Rechungpa went back and woke up all the other disciples. Opening the altar door and looking inside, they saw not a single relic left. With extreme grief, Rechungpa begged the dakinis to leave some relics for the disciples in the human world.
The dakinis replied, “You major disciples have obtained the best relics and saw the reality body. If this is not enough, please pray to the Venerable and he will naturally give it to you. As to other people, compared to the Venerable who is as bright as the sun and the moon, they are not even fireflies. What do they need the relics for? These relics belong to us.” They then stopped in the air motionless. Hearing and pondering the dakinis' words, the disciples knew the words were correct and were very remorseful.
They then saw five-colored radiant light emitting from the dakinis' hands and the Venerable's relics—the size of a bird egg—falling onto the altar. The disciples saw the relics coming down, and all reached out to get it. The relics suddenly flew up into the air and merged back with the light from the dakinis' hands. The light suddenly turned into two: one was a lion throne with a cushion with a sun and a moon, and another was a stupa with ceramic glaze. The stupa emitted five-colored light of red, white, blue, yellow, and green. The light illuminated the three thousand worlds. Surrounded by one thousand and two Buddhas, the Venerable Milarepa sat in the center, with millions of dakinis gathering around for offering. Two heavenly girls were holding the stupa from underneath.
After the song was over, dakinis held the stupa and were ready to invite the Venerable to the dakinis' pure lands. At that time, Repa Zhiwa O thought, “On behalf of sentient beings in this world, I should beg the dakinis to leave this stupa for offering by disciples in this human world.” He then prayed sadly and earnestly.
As the dakinis held the stupa and flew over the major disciples, many threads of light suddenly emitted from the stupa. One thread of light also emitted from the head of each disciple. Everyone saw the Venerable flying from the center of the stupa into the air, changing into Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, Guhyasamaja, and countless Buddhas, surrounded by dakinis. In the end, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas all turned into light and merged into the Venerable's heart. With heavenly music, the Venerable was welcomed to the Eastern Pure Land of Abhirati.
Some disciples saw the Venerable's enjoyment body sitting on a lion throne with ornaments. Four dakinis were escorting him, led by Guhyasamaja. With unimaginable heavenly music and offering clouds, they flew to the Eastern Pure Land of Abhirati.
Seeing the Venerable out of sight and unable to obtain relics for offering, all of the major disciples cried loudly and prayed in sadness. Suddenly they heard the Venerable's voice in the sky, “My disciples, please do not be so sad. You will find four inscribed characters under a cliff stone. After that, you will find an offering.” They looked everywhere near the cliff and saw the inscribed words on a stone, which can still be seen at a temple in Chubar today.
The disciples saw that the Venerable had gone to another world, and they were very sad. They also knew that they would be able to be reborn in the Venerable's pure land. In addition, they understood that all the manifestations of the Venerable was for Buddha dharma and sentient beings. Determined and devoted to benefiting themselves and others, they went to read the Venerable's will and look for the gold under the hearth.
Although they knew the Venerable would not have gold, everyone nonetheless followed his will and checked under the hearth. As they expected, there was a piece of cotton cloth under the hearth, inside of which there was a small knife with a sharp blade and an awl attached to its handle. In addition, there was a small piece of candy and a whetstone wrapped in the cloth. They checked the knife carefully and found several lines of words on it, “Use this knife to cut the candy and the cloth, and they will never be used up. In this way, you can share the candy and cloth with everyone. Anyone who eats the candy or receives the cloth will not fall into the Three Lower Realms. The samadhi food and clothing from Milarepa had been supported by masters and Buddhas. Anyone who hears my name and has faith will not fall into the Three Lower Realms within seven generations, and they will be able to recall things from over the past seven generations. This is a prophecy from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If someone says Milarepa has gold, that person should eat feces.” While in deep sorrow, the disciples read the last sentence of the will and could not help laughing. Everyone was joyful.
So they cut the candy with the knife. No matter how many times they cut it, there was always candy left. It was the same with the cloth—no matter how many times they cut it, the piece of cloth still remained its original size. After cutting many times, everyone received some cloth and candy. After eating the candy, people who were ill recovered. Those with poor inborn quality and who were bothered by afflictions also slowly increased their wisdom and kindness.
During the funeral ceremony, five-colored flowers descended from the sky. Most of them vanished as they reached above people's heads, and some fell to the ground. When people picked them up, they found that the flowers' petals were thin and delicate like bees' wings and extremely beautiful.
The heavenly flowers fell and covered the ground near Chubar as high as one's feet or knees. The flowers also fell like snowflakes in other regions. As the ceremony concluded, these wondrous signs slowly diminished.
For many years afterward, on days to commemorate the Venerable, rainbows would span the sky and flowers would descend from heaven. Heavenly melodies and pleasant scents would waft through the air, along with many other kinds of miracles. In addition, many kinds of marvelous flowers would blossom all over the land. Harvests were bountiful year after year, and there were no illnesses or wars. All kinds of miracles occurred, one after another, too many to list.