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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
In this poem by Milarepa, there are several very specific esoteric references to vital heat, the "Seven Holy Jewels," samadhi, sunyata, even the wild animals referred to are symbols. But rather than focus on those yogic details, let's look more broadly at what Milarepa is doing with this song of enlightenment...
He worries about cold, and finds through spiritual practice inner heat. He worries about poverty, and discovers through spiritual practice the inexhaustible wealth of seven jewels. He worries about hunger, and he finds fulness in the perfect meditation of samadhi. He worries about thirst, and he discovers the wine of mindfulness. He worries about loneliness, and he finds in the bliss of sunyata or emptiness a perpetual companion. He worries about losing his way, but then in the realization of the nondual truth of "Two-in-One" he recognizes the Path everywhere.
Milarepa is showing how, through deep spiritual practice, one's basic desires are satisfied and all lack is filled... But notice that he is not talking about material providence. He is not saying, 'I want food so I am given food.' He is showing how, instead, the awakened energetic body satisfies the desire for fulness which is the root of hunger. The process is not necessarily providing for him in a material sense; instead it is going right to the root of the desire, satisfying the spiritual seed of the desire. It is an acknowledgment that all desires, even for the basic necessities of life, ultimately are a spiritual hunger.
Then Milarepa shifts to a discussion of how the sounds of wild animals awaken profound compassion in his awareness. It must be understood that these animals are representations of forces within his own mind. Their "pathetic" cries, their yearning, their calling out is evidence that the mind is not yet absolutely settled. But you'll notice that Milarepa has reached a state in which he no longer thinks of those mental forces as being himself, his true nature. Instead, they are lost animals that cannot help their hunger. And he feels compassion for those forces within his mind. And that compassion strengthens his determination to deepen his practice, to bring the mind to complete resolution:
I cannot help but feel a great compassion for them,
I cannot help but practice more diligently,
I cannot help but augment thus my Bodhi-Mind.
Here, alone, in the wilds (of his own awareness), with his fears calmed, his desires satisfied, he is utterly content. "With joy flowing from my heart, I sing this happy song..." And it is through this song itself that he offers compassionate action to the world, for the vibrations of enlightenment the poem embodies have the potential to dispel "all men's sorrows." Milarepa knows this because he has just described how his own sorrows have been dispelled.
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2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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