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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.

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The Songs of Milarepa Seminar

Rechungpa’s Repentance
Held at Padmaloka November 1980 Present: Ven. Sangharakshita, Upasakas Jayadeva, Kulamitra, Virananda, Aryamitra, Abhaya,
Guhyananda, Devaraja, and Peter Martin, Ken Chandler, Mike Chivers, Simon Chinery , Bill
Moffat. Day I Tape I Side A
Devaraja:
When the Jetsun Milarepa and his son Rechungpa were approaching Drin on
their way to :Bouto, Rechungpa said', "I would like to stay in Drin tonight and meet the
patrons." But Milarepa replied, "My son, let us first go to outo without the knowledge of our
patrons, disci lea or the monks., In a dis leased mood Rechung a obeyed, and continued with
Milarepa to Jipu Nimadson at Bouto of Red Rock. Upon their arrival, the Jetsun said,
"Rechungpa, fetch some water and I will make a fire."
Mmm. All right, so let's try to see what is happening here. I think it1s pretty clear. It seems
that Rechungpa is not a very obedient disciple. Jetsun Milarepa and Rechung,pa are
approaching Drin on their way to Bouto. Bouto, it seems, is their destination. But Rechungpa
says that he'd like to stay in Drin that night and meet the patrons, that is to say the lay
supporters. Ah, in some ways one might have thought it wouldn't be a bad idea for them t~o
meet the supporters. But, you know, Milarepa's got different ideas. It would, sort of, mean
turning aside- eh, if they were to, to', to stay the night in Drin and meet the patrons there. It's
as though Rechungpa isn't really happy to go straight to their destination where presumably
they are going to (to another long bout of meditation. He just wants to, to spend the night at
this place, you know, and maybe, you know, spend a bit of time chatting with the patrons. It's
like, you know, a bit like say if you come up, let's say for the sake of argument, from
Aryatara, you know, for a retreat at, you know, at Padmaloka. Well you might have to pass
through L'ondon, or at least you make it convenient to pass through London, and you might
spend a night or two there, you know. Possibly even arriving at the retreat late. I can
remember, you know, another rather amusing example of thea sort of thingg. In...eh,...when I
was in Kalimpong, all my Tibetan friends and disciples every now and then used to go off on
pilgrimage to Buddhagaya. So I used to be very impressed by this- all these people always
going off on pilgrimage to, to :Buddhagaya. They used to be away on pilgrimage quite a long
time, sometimes three rnonths. But I eventually discovered that they only spent a couple -of
days in Buddhaga a; the rest of the time they spent in Calcutta (Laughter going to the
cinema and the
-2-
S(continued): races. But officially for the whole three month period they were away on
pilgrimage.
You know, they left Kalimpong saying, you know, they would be going on pilgrimage and
they came back saying they'd been on pilgrimage but actually they had only been two days in
Buddhagaya and all the rest of the time in Calcutta. So it's a little bit like that. It's very easy
to deviate, it's very easy to sort of linger, or to dally on the way. And it's as though this is
what, you know, Rechungpa wants to do. He doesn't want to go straight to the place that they
are heading for. He wants sort of to turn aside or to stop en route, spend a bit of time with the
lay supporters. You know, maybe enjoy himself a bit, have a drop of (chhang) (Laughter)
or something of that sort. But Milarepa says, "No." He says." ...Let us first go to Bouto
without the knowledge of our patrons, disciples, or the monks. Don't let anybody know.Just
let us quietly go straight to our tination."
So what is the reaction on Rechungpa's part? He
is displeased. "In a displeased mood Rechungpa obeyed". He does not sort of disobey
Milarepa. He does what Milarepa tells him but he is in a displeased mood. You can see his
heart is not in it. He'd really like to stay on the way, he'd like to linger, he'd like to spend some
time talking with the lay supporters. But nonetheless, unwillingly, you know , in a not very
positive frame of mind, he obeys. And they continue on their journey.... mmm until they
arrive at Jipu Nimadson at Bouto of Red Rock. So the mere fact that it's called Red Rock, it's
clearly some kind of cave and they are probably going-',~ to meditate there as I said. So there
is no little, sort of social outing for Rechungpa beforehand. So
"Upon their arrival,the
Jetsun said. 'Rechungpa, fetch some water and I will make a fire.' " Instead of the nice
comfortable village house that, you know, Rechungpa was thinking in terms of,there is the
cold cave and there is no water, there is no fire, there's nothing ready for them. So Milarepa
sends Rechungpa to fetch some water while he makes a fire. So that is the sort of opening
paragraph that sets the scene. So here is, you know, Milarepa sort of singlemindedly heading
for the cave taking Rechungpa along with him.Rechungpa wants to linger on the way and he
is quite displeased when M'ilarepa, you know, does not allow him to do that. So what do you
learn about Rechungpa from this opening paragraph?
(Pause) Well, he is a very divided sort of person. After all, he is with Milarepa, he is his
disciple. lie is even described as his son, his son Rechungpa. But none- theless he is not a
perfect disciple and tends to want to do things his own way , and even though he does go
along with Milarepa, it is not very willingly sometimes. There's clearly a sort of conflict,-he is
with Milarepa but be is not with Milarepa, he goes along with Milarepa, but in a sense he
does not go along with him. He is not so whole- hearted and singleminded as Milarepa
himself is. So sooner or later there is bound to be trouble. So we shall see.
All right,
someone read that second paragraph.
Abhaya:
On his way back to the hermitage with the water, H h a reached a slo e
from where he could
see below him) the great, delightful plateau between Bouto ~ffA-~iu.He saw
in the
centre, a mountain she-goat giving
-3-
Abhaya(continued): birth to a kid. Then the mother and daughter each gave birth to another
kid: they, in turn. bore more kids. until eventually there were two hundred of them. These
wild mountain goats frisked about so ha ii with such innocence and a 'ontaneit that
Rechungpa was amazed. He thought, "These mountain goats are even livelier and in many
ways better than those of Baltan~." With great interest, he watched them play for some time.
S:
Mmm. flow many generations would have to intervene for two female...eh.
..eh...goats, two she-goats, to produce two hundred? It would depend presumably on the
number of males and females produced but what would be the minimum number? And how
old would they be before they in turn could give birth? In other words, try to estimate the
amount of time that passed. (Laughter.)
Voice: ~uite a long time.
S:
Mmm?
Voice: ~uite a long time. Several years.
~:
Several years, yec, it's clearly several years. Let us say that a goat can produce young
after two years. So,you know, if two produce four that takes two years, let us say. Four
produce eight-supposing it is that sort of progression, each one producing twins as so often
happens. So to produce eight takes four years, to produce sixteen takes six years, thirty-two
takes eight years, sixty- four takes ten years, then a hundre and twenty-eight takes takes
twelve years. ~o 0 K., it must be fourteen years to produce two hundred. So in other words,
Rechungpa remains abaorbed(laughter)watchin~~ the play of these goats, one generation
succeeding another for fourteen years. So, you know, can one take this very literally? What is
happen- ing9 Guhyananda: I shouldn't think he would be that concen- trated that he would he able to
watch some- thing so intently for so long.
Voice: No.
Voice: Perhaps he is imagining it (mumble) you know, going along kicking himself that he
has to go
and get the water and then he looks at these goats and sort of....
S:
Perhaps he is fantasising.
Voice: .....Fantasising what....how long it will take9.
It is like the old story of the milkmaid walking
along with, you know, her pail of milk on her head, yeah? And calculating.1'Well, if I
sell this pail of milk, I'll get so much,and then I'll buy some eggs, I'll sell them at so much
profit. In this way, you know, she is fantasising right up to setting up her own village store,
and she is so unmindful while she is fantasising , that
she trips over a stone and spills the milk. So there is
-4-
S(continued): goodbye to all-her schemes. hi~ybe it is a little bit like that or maybe it is a
touch of i;}~gic on Milarepa's part, who kno~~s?
Voice: (mumble)
S:
....But Rechungpa gets absorbed in this scene. So what do you think this scene
represents? (Pause.) These goats?
Voice: Lower evolution. Mundane existence.
S:
Yes, mundane existence, perpetuating itself. One can
get lost as it were in the
contemplation 0£ the process 0£ mundane existence, itself. You get caught up in it, you get
wrapped up in it. This, I think, is what it represents. It represents the whole process of birth
and death and rebirth. It represents the wheel of life. You see what I mean-he has sort of
moved ...

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