The Song of Perfect Assurance (to the Demons)

by Milarepa

English version by Garma C. C. Chang
Original Language Tibetan

Obeisance to the perfect Marpa.

I am the Yogi who perceives the Ultimate Truth.
In the Origin of the Unborn, I first gain assurance;
On the Path of Non-extinction, slowly
     I perfect my power;
With meaningful symbols and words
Flowing from my great compassion,
I now sing this song
From the absolute realm of Dharma Essence.

Because your sinful Karma has created
Dense blindness and impenetrable obstruction,
You cannot understand the meaning
Of Ultimate Truth.
Listen, therefore, to the Expedient Truth.

In their spotless, ancient Sutras,
All the Buddhas in the past, repeatedly
Admonished with the eternal Truth of Karma --
That every sentient being is one's kinsman.
This is eternal Truth which never fails.
Listen closely to the teaching of Compassion.

I, the Yogi who developed by his practices,
Know that outer hindrances are but a shadow-show,
And the phantasmal world
A magic play of mind unborn.

By looking inward into the mind is seen
Mind-nature -- without substance, intrinsically void.
Through meditation in solitude, the grace
Of the Succession Gurus and the teaching
Of the great Naropa are attained.
The inner truth of the Buddha
Should be the object of meditation.

By the gracious instruction of my Guru,
Is the abstruse inner meaning of Tantra understood.
Through the practice of Arising and
     Perfecting Yoga,
Is the Vital Power engendered
And the inner reason for the microcosm realized.
Thus in the outer world I do not fear
The illusory obstacles.

To the Great Divine Lineage I belong,
With innumerable yogis great as all Space.

When in one's own mind one ponders
On the original state of Mind,
Illusory thoughts of themselves dissolve
Into the Realm of Dharmadhatu.
Neither afflicter nor afflicted can be seen.
Exhaustive study of the Sutras
Teaches us no more than this.

-- from The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa: The Life-Story and Teachings of the Greatest Poet-Saint Ever to Appear in the History of Buddhism, Translated by Garma C. C. Chang

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

To honor the Tibetan struggle to be free from occupation, I thought we should have a song of enlightenment from the great Tibetan yogi, Milarepa.

There is so much we can contemplate in this poem, but there is one area I want to focus on.

For those of us who were raised in the Christian or Jewish traditions, recall Cain's question to God: Am I my brother's keeper? Every wisdom tradition answers firmly, Yes!

Milarepa puts it this way--

every sentient being is one's kinsman.

One of the fundamental truths the mystic discovers is that we all share the same ground of Being. The senses seem to say that my body ends here and your body begins over there, and so we are separate and whatever happens to you does not affect me. But that is eventually seen to be merely part of the "shadow-show... the phantasmal world."

When "By looking inward into the mind" we finally perceive "Mind-nature", we come to the stunning realization that the mind is spacious beyond comprehension. The mind is "without substance, intrinsically void." Things -- whether thoughts or material objects -- float in that spaciousness, without limiting the expanse. The mind itself is not a 'thing' with a beginning or end point. It is simply wide open, like the clear horizon. We, in fact, are "great as all Space."

Every tradition has its own language to describe this truth, but it leads to an unavoidable conclusion: Pure mind-spirit has no boundaries. And we are that open sense of being. That being isn't limited to the body. We come to a vision of many bodies, many objects, many thoughts, many experiences... but just one all-encompassing Being.

We participate in each other. We pour into each other. What affects another affects me. Every one and everything is my kinsman. If I turn a blind eye to the suffering of another, I automatically bring suffering to myself... and I become a little more blind. Yes, I am my brother's keeper.

Have a beautiful day, in a spacious world filled with family!

Recommended Books: Milarepa

Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa: The Life-Story and Teachings of the Greatest Poet-Saint Ever to Appear in the History of Buddhism Songs of Milarepa: (Dover Thrift Edition) Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs of Tibet's Beloved Saint, Milarepa The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan
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The Song of Perfect