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Milarepa - Rechungpa-s Repentance - Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked by Sangharakshita, and may contain mistakes and mishearings. Checked and reprinted copies of all seminars will be available as part of the Complete Works Project.

by Sangharakshita

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... people, you know,
including the bank manager. This is a great, big new building with maybe 50, 60 people
working in it but just to cash an ordinary traveller's cheque for a not very big amount involved
amongst other things nothing less than the signature of the bank manager himself. And it took
40 to 50 minutes. But meanwhile they sat you down and offered you cups of tea and cbatted
with you and all the rest of it. (Pause.) 3ut, you know, this same self-will, this egoistic self-
will, the same, this same bitterness and egoism that one sees in Rechungpa is in fact present
in every person. I mean, you could perhaps also say that there are good qualities too hidden
away, but no doubt the blind obstinacy is there, and it is that which keeps them going through
life. To go the path that they want to go, whether they are breaking through obstacles or just
circumventing as most peop3~ do, and sooner or later one comes up against it in oneself and
then the struggle really begins.
If it ~as~~t begun yet, it's not that you are more evolved
or more spiritual, it's simply that you are having a fairly easy comfortable time, and you are
not being brought up against it.
Well, it reminds me of the illustration which occurred to me quite spontaneoualy, is
ma,ybe a typical community situation where, you know, you ve made your plans to go out and
see a film, you know, that you've long wanted to see and you're all set to go and, you know, in
two or three minutes you're going to be off to see this film and somebody says"Oh, you've
forgotten it's your turn to do
- 25 -
3(continued): the washing-up". So you can't go to the film. So your sort of will to go is just
checked like that in full career and you can feel quite frustrated and even resentful and
thinking that community life is quite a drag after all.
Mmm? But it's going to happen
in this sort of way. And then what you experience is your own self-will and I mean maybe in
Buddhistic terms, your own ~vidya "nd your own trsna and your- own samskarahs.
But~:I think most p~~ople have not ever been really frustrated or they have been frustrated in
just little tiny bits, but they've never been suddenly brought up against one great big
frustration all at once, at one stroke, just like that, mmm? The people in this country anyway.
Perhaps they could have experienced it sometimes during the war. Maybe people in Belfast
experience it. I don't think they experience it in Norwich. I'm pretty certain they don't
experience it in Surlingham. But anyway you see what is happening with regard to
Rechungpa. It seems that the books, maybe apart from his clothes, are his sole possessions.
They cost him so much. They mean so much to him. He has identified with them, yeah? And
IyJTh~~~r~p~ has just burned them, nearly all of them, so look at the state he is in. Milarepa
has really brought him up against himself. Oh dear, I think we'd better stop there then. That
is to say, just to have our cup of tea.
Voice: I'm getting it. So who wants what? Who's for.....
Mmm. Yes, but usually what happens is you don't develop a vision. A vision is
presented to you. Someone comes along who has a vision and, you know, tries to share that
vision with you. This is what usually happens, eh. And at the same time that they share that
vision with you, they try to communicate something- of their feeling-to you.
And you
have after all that potential and so you respond in some measure and then you see that you are
responding, you feel that you are responding, and you feel and you see that that is a better way
of living. So you begin to make a conscious effort to, to grow and to develop in accordance
with that vision and with ;~ ~enuine need to adopt that vision as your own.
You know earlier on you said that in a sense until you have come up against
that kind of egoistic will you haven't really begun to develop yet. But at the same time you
know from a slightly different point of view, you need to develop to some degree before you
can make use of that opportunity,for most people. Don't you?
Ah, I mean like a lot of
people do have the experience, you know, maybe not so much in ~ngland but stil still in other
places in the world, in previous historical periods, of having everything taken away from
them just in a single blow and, you know......
- 26 -
But you don't necessarily evolve just because that happens of course.
Voice: Right, right.
But if that experience befalls you when you are, you
know, in a relatively
positive situation o-r~even in a particular kind of culture or even in, you know, contact with
spiritual friends, then you of course can make a much more positive use of it. And you c-~n
be brought up against yourself or the limitations of yourself, but then at the same time see
something beyond your present self into which even you can grow eventually. (Pause.) Tell
me if this is in anybody's eyes. All right? (Pause.) So,
Rechungpa became hostile and
disdainful to the Jetsun out of his bad faith toward him. Milarepa then said, My son
Rechungpa, you do not have to lose all your faith in me. All this should be blamed on your
dalliance. If you want to be amused, I ca.n enter~~~~'nou.Nowwatch!"
-~nd of Tape I, side B. (Rechung~pa's Repentance).
Tape 2. Side A. Day 1.
Ah - Milarepa has sort of compromised in a manner of speaking with
Rechungpa. He'd given his permission for him to go to India but not given his permission to
him to study logic and science in India. Instead he had asked him to obtain the remaining five
Dakini Dharmas. So, you know, while not actually agreeing with Rechungpa, Milarepa has
gone along with him to some extent. Do you see this? So much the same sort of thing is
happening here. Milarepa says, If you want to be amused, I can entertain you. Because after
all Rechungpa was delayed, he dallied watching those goats because he wanted to be amused.
So Rechungpa - ah Milarepa, at least for the time being, is going along with that. Do you
think there is any significance in this - Rechungpa's wanting to be amused and Milarepa going
along with it, you know, to a certain extent?
Voice: Milarepa is obviously going to use that trend in Rechungpa skillfully later on.
But what about that trend itself? What is that trend? To what extent is
it skillful? To what extent is it unskillful?
Voice: Do you mean to go along er....
No. This trend of wanting to be amused, wanting to be entertained.
Presumably it can't be wholly bad if Milarepa is willing to go along with it to some
extent. So what does it represent? -This trend or tendency to be entertained.
It's a very sort of passive role....
It's passive, one could say that, yes.
Voice: ....Because you don't have to do anything. You just sit there and watch and it all
Voice: It does allow his energies
(4 or 5 words unclear).. ..kind of
Voice: It captivates the concentration.
Captivates, yes. Rechungpa's mind was really, you know, captivated,
wasn't it?
Well, perhaps it will show Rechungpa what is really captivating...
Really entertaining.
. . . .To the extent that he wants to have that kind of show.
Well, I think it illustrates the point that even in trying to help someone
to grow and develop, you can't altogether ignore their interests. The spiritual life, you know to
speak in these terms, has to be a bit interesting. It can't all be a matter of doing what you
ought to do, doing what is good for you, doing your duty. Do you see what I mean? There
also has to be something interesting, something amusing, something that is fun, something
that is entertaining.
If that element is missing, then, you know, the spiritual life would just feel very dull,
it would feel quite a drag and you wouldn't be able to put very much energy into it. Don't you
think that this is so? So it's almost a sort of... .the playful element. I don't think we should put
too much attention, too much emphasis here on the fact that Rechungpa was being passive,
that he was only a spectator. I think the essential point is that he was being amused, that he
was being entertained, that he was enjoying it so much that he became completely absorbed,
you know, just like a child at play.
So I think the essential point is that, that sort of quality, or that need even in us, cannot
be ignored within the context of the spiritual life. It has to be taken into consideration. It has
to be enlisted. The mind has to be captivated. You have to feel that the spiritual life is fun not
because you take it, you know, superficially, but because you take it very seriously indeed.
Voice: Mke (Abhaya) saying in his talk; the bhikku he heard giving that description about
your mind being full of dust. It wasn't exactly very captivating.
No. Right.
Voice: You have to... .although let's say maybe a Mahayana scripture is more than just
captivating, obviously, there has to be that sort of element.
You find in the Mahayana. sutras this captivating element very strongly
represented, ...

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