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Milarepa - The Yak Horn - 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


Ven. Sangharakshita, Vimalamitra, Andy Friends, Ratnaguna, Surata,
Jyotipala, Brian Platt, Gerald Burns, Dave Luce, Alan Morrow, Robin Cooper, Gerry Corr,
John Rice.
Day One Tape One
Would someone like to read the first paragraph?
Gerry: "Obeisance to all Gurus. Having helped S'ah;le Au~i, the 'outstanding Yogini, to
further he'r votion, Jetsun Milarepa went toward Balkhu to welcome 'h'i's art-son
'Rechungpa ('upon his return from I'n'di'a. On the way there) he stayed at Betze Duyun'dzon
(The L'and of P"leasure') ~for some time. As Rech'ungpa w'a's approaching from 'Gun'g
Tang, the Jetsun saw in a vision that he was suffering ~from 'pride. (With this knowledge in
mind) he we'nt to we~lcom'e' 'Rechungpa."
Rechungpa has gone away to India. In the course of these two volumes he goes off, I
think, three times, to study logic and other things, usually against Milarepa's advice. So, on
this occasion too, he's been away for some time. And, Milarepa knows that he's on his way
back. So he goes to meet him. And it says: "As Rechungpa was ap- proaching from Gung
Tang, the Jetsun saw in a vision, that he was suffering from pride. With this knowledge in
mind, he went to welcome Rechungpa".
Well, what do you think happened? "The Jetsun
saw in a vision that he was suffering from pride". How should Milarepa know this? Why in
a vision? Do you think it is possible? Of course, he knew Rechungpa very well, you could
say. He knew he'd been away, engaged in all these advan- ced studies. Perhaps he knew
what sort of effect that would have on Rechungpa' s immature mind.
On the other hand,
he may have been, as it were, in direct telepathic communication with Rechungpa and have
actually know, by way of direct perception, that that was in fact the case, and seen it in the
form of a vision. But why in the form of a vision? What does that suggest? Why did not
simply the idea come to him,the thought that Rechungpa was suffering from pride. Why did
he see it in a vision?
Voice: Maybe he was~a more visual person.
Yes, he may have been a more visual person. Yes, he 'certainly wasn't an intellectual
sort of person in the sense of being a person who operated mainly through concepts. Perhaps
his temperament was more visual - his experiences or intuitions or insights were, so to speak,
I won't say automatically but perhaps spontaneously translated into visionary terms, so he just
s'aw that.
YH 1 2 Jy~otipal~a: How would you define vision, in this sense, as opposed to actually thinking
about something? Some- times you actually think about something, almost like visualize
something and then vision, how do you see the difference?
When a vision is a mental picture, it can be vary- ing in degrees of intensity. It can be
just no more than an ordinary mental picture or you can actually see, even more vividly than
you see ordinary sense objects. In this case, perhaps, it was very vivid indeed and, therefore,
the translator uses the term 'vision'. It was more than a mental picture. It's not so difficult to
form mental pictures, but actually to see visions as say, Blake saw them, is a much more - I
won't say difficult perhaps - but a less common thing.
So Milarepa seems to have had
this faculty. He just saw what was happening, what was going on. He saw visions. And so in
this case, he had a vision, or he saw 'in ~a vision, that Rechungpa was, you know, suffering
from pride. So, "with this knowledge in mind, he went to welcome Rechungpa". It's as
though he was prepared.
Alright someone like to read the next paragraph.
"When the father and son met in the center of the Balkhu plain', Re'ch'ungpa thought,
'~I~ have now ~gone twice to study in India. Hereto~fore,~ ~I have been f~ollowing my
Guru' s instructions to ~serve~ the Dharma and entient beings. My Jets'u:n Guru' s
compassion '~and 'grace are in- deed g~reat, but I am much more learned in B'uddhist phil-
osophy and logic than he.~ N~ow he has come to welcome me, I wonder if he' will return the
obei~s~ance to me when I bow down to him.' With this: thought in mind 'Re'chungpa pros-
trated himself before Milarepa 'and presented him with the Ahkaru staff that Dipupa had
g~iven him to offer to the Jets~un. But Milarepa ~gave' ~not the slighte'st sign that he would
~even c~ons'ider returning ~the courtesy . 'Rec'hungpa was very displeased. ~However, he
~s~aid, 'Dear Guru, where did you stay while I was in India? How i's your health? How are
my ~Repa b~rothers? ~ ~Whe~re shall we go now?'"
So one can see the train of thought in Rechungpa's mind. He says, "Heretofore I have
been following my Guru's to serve the Dharma and sentient beings. My Jetsun Guru's
compassion and grace are indeed great, but I am much more learned in Buddhist' philosophy
and logic than he."
Well, this was very likely the case. He'd been study- ing these things in
India. Milarepa hadn't studied them. Milarepa had only been meditating. He'd only gained
en- lightenment, - he hadn't studied Buddhist philosophy. But do you see how Rechungpa
compares the two things? He's quite aware that Milarepa' s "compassion and grace are indeed
great", but he thinks that his greater know- ledge of Buddhist philosophy and logic balances
that, as it were, as though well. he's got compassion and all that sort of thing, but I've 'got a
knowledge of philosophy.
So he' 'equates~ the two. So he thinks that they are on equal
terms now. So what does this suggest? What is Rechungpa ' S misunderstanding?
Dave: He's confusing knowledge with wisdom.
YH 1 3 S.:
He's confusing knowledge with wisdom. He doesn't really understand the difference.
He doesn't even mention wiadom directly, when referring to Milarepa. He says, "My Jetsun
Guru's compassion and grace are indeed great11. He doesn't specifically mention wisdom.
It's as though he thinks of Milarepa as a very kind, friendly, fatherly sort of person, but
he"s the one with the knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and logic. It's as though he's saying,
'well Milarepa is strong when it comes to emotion, positive emotion, but I'm strong when it
comes to intellectual understanding'. It's as though he doesn't really have any idea about
wisdom, judging by this statement. He attributes, you know, kindness, he attributes grace to
Milarepa, but not anything more than that. In a way, he's seeing Milarepa as much less than
he actually is. It's as though he's equating intellectual understanding with spiritual wisdom.
He doesn't even see Milarepa's wisdom, it seems. He just sees Milarepa as kind and gracious.
And he thinks that that kindness and grac- iousness is counterbalanced by his own intellectual
understanding, of Buddhist philosophy and logic. So it's as though he doesn't have any real
under- standing of wisdom. He's just thinking in terms of kindness on the one hand and
intellectual understanding on the other.
But in any case, the result is that he starts think-
ing that because they are so to speak, equal, in the sense that Milarepa had kindliness and
grace, yes, but Rechungpa has the knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and logic. He starts
thinking that as individuals they are equal. It's almost as though the Guru/Disciple
relationship between them no longer holds good. It's as though, well, Milarepa was his Guru;
he was very kindly and gracious, but Rech- uhgpa has now become virtually his equal by
acquiring this knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and logic.
So inasmuch as Milarepa
was~ 'his Guru, well, alright, he'll salute him, but since he,Rechungpa is now the equal of his
Guru, he expects his Guru to salute him back. In other words, to recognize that they are now
on the same footing. In a way, this is natural. It would be natural if you were, you know, on
the same footing as your Guru.
Well, surely your Guru will recognize that, and will not
treat you in a sense, as a pupil any more, but he'll treat you as an equal - just as your father, so
to speak, when you grow up, well, he starts treating you as a man. He doesn't treat you as a
child anymore.
But you know,the point is whether you have in fact become equal to
the Guru. Whether you've' really spirit- ually grown up. So Rechungpa is represented as
thinking: "Now he has come to welcome me, I wonder if he will return the obeisance to me
when I bow down to him." With this thought in mind Rechungpa prostrated himself before
Mila- repa and presented him with the J~karu staff that Dipupa had given him to offer to the
So don't you think it's strange that Milarepa is thinking in this way, before they
actually meet? What does that suggest? Before they actually meet and they haven't after all,
seen each other for a long time - maybe some years have passed. Milarepa is his Guru, he is
the dis-
YH 1 4 ciple - or at least he ~was the disciple - but as they approach each other, - as they are about to
meet, the only thing that Rechungpa can think of is whether Milarepa is going to re- turn his
salutation. Whether Milarepa is going to recognize him as an equal now. So what does that
Vimalamitra:' ...

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