The Invitation from the King of Kathmandu of Mön

From the songs of Milarepa

commentated on by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

In chapter twenty-seven of The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, the yogi Milarepa was staying in solitude in a cave on Katya mountain of Nyishang Gurta (present-day Manang, Nepal), in the area of Mön, keeping silence and resting in a continuous stream of meditation.

Some hunters came along and saw Milarepa, motionless and staring. They thought he was a demon, and ran away, but then summoning up their courage, they returned, ready to shoot him with their poisoned arrows. They asked him, “Are you a human being or a demon?” But, Milarepa did not respond at all. They fired their arrows at him but they could not pierce his body. They decided to throw him over a cliff, but they couldn’t lift his body. They stacked wood around him and set it on fire, but Milarepa didn’t burn. They carried him to a wide river and threw him in, but Milarepa, rose up out of the water, perfectly dry, still in the vajra posture (crossed legged meditation posture), and floated back up to his cave and back onto his meditation seat.

The astounded hunters left the mountain and told the nearby inhabitants about this amazing yogin that was living there.

One man named Chirarepa recently became Milarepa's pupil; he was a hunter and had come across Milarepa on the mountain as described in the preceding chapter of The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa. Chirarepa said to the other hunters, “That must be my Tibetan lama that you are talking about. He is a true siddha. He even taught the Dharma to my dog and the deer when I was hunting, making them sit together and meditate.”

The reputation of Milarepa spread throughout Nepal. The King of Patan and Bhaktapur developed great faith and devotion towards Milarepa. The King dreamt that Tara, a female Bodhisattva, told him, “You have Benares cotton and a yellow myrobalan fruit. There is a great Tibetan yogin presently staying at the Katya cave. If you offer these things to him it will be of great benefit to you.”

The king sent a man who could speak Tibetan to find Milarepa. When he came to Milarepa’s cave and saw how Mila had forsaken material life and was remaining in meditation all the time, he felt great faith and was certain that he had found Milarepa. Nevertheless, in order to avoid any mistake he asked, “What is your name? Isn’t it terrible to live like this, without anything to eat or drink? Why have you given up all possessions?”

Milarepa replied, “I am Milarepa, the yogin from Tibet. There is a great purpose to not having possessions.” He then explained what he meant in a song:

I have no desire for wealth or possessions, and so I have nothing. I do not experience the initial suffering of having to accumulate possessions, the intermediate suffering of having to protect and keep possessions, nor the final suffering of loosing these possessions. This is a wonderful thing.

I have no desire for friends or relations. I do not experience the initial suffering of forming a mental attachment, the intermediate suffering of having a disagreement, nor the final suffering of parting from them. Therefore it is good to be without friends and relations.

I have no desire for pleasant conversation. I do not experience the initial suffering of seeking conversation, the intermediate suffering of wondering whether it will continue, nor the final suffering of the conversation deteriorating. Therefore I do not delight in pleasant conversation.

I have no desire for a home land and have no fixed residence. I do not experience the initial suffering of partiality of thinking that “this is my land and that place isn’t.” I do not experience the intermediate suffering of yearning for my land. And I do not experience the final suffering of having to protect my land. Therefore it is better to have no fixed abode.

When Milarepa had sung this song, the man felt great faith in him and returned to the king and gave a detailed account of his meeting with Milarepa. The king said, “You must go back and invite Milarepa to come here. If he refuses, offer him this Benares cotton and yellow myrobolan from me.

The king’s emissary returned to Milarepa and said to him, “A Dharma king is reigning in Kathmandu and Patan. He has sent me to invite you there. You must come there.”

Milarepa replied, “I don’t go into towns, and I don’t know anyone who lives there. I certainly don’t know any kings. I don’t like fine food or drinks and I don’t like having any possessions. I don’t know any stories about Dharma practitioners who die of hunger or cold. A lama who stays with a king will become lost. In obedience to Marpa Lotsawa’s commands, I travel from place to place, practicing. It is best if you return to your king.”

The emissary said, “He is a very great king. You’re just an ordinary lama, so he has only sent one man on foot to invite you. It would be better if you came back with me.” Milarepa replied, “No, that’s not how it is. I’m not an ordinary person, I am a great king, a world-emperor, a Chakravartin. There is no one who is my equal, no one who is as powerful as me.”

The king’s man said, “If you’re a world-emperor, you must have the seven royal possessions of a chakravartin (a world-emperor or chakravartin is said in Indian tradition to have seven particularly outstanding possessions). So where are they? No, you’re just an ordinary person. If you’re a wealthy king you’ll have to prove it to me.” In reply Milarepa sang a song that taught the seven aspects of enlightenment as the seven royal possessions of a chakravartin:

Your king and ministers yearn for happiness, but with a kingdom like mine, this life and all future lives are filled with bliss.

The first of the seven royal possessions is the precious wheel that can take the king anywhere swiftly and easily. I possess the precious wheel of faith. It takes me from samsara to nirvana. With faith and devotion I can enter any virtuous activity easily, so that I am swiftly taken to nirvana.

The second royal possession is the precious wish-fulfilling jewel that spontaneously fulfills one’s own wishes and the wishes of others. My second royal possession is wisdom, the wisdom of ultimate and relative truth, which brings the attainment of the state of Buddhahood. By knowing the individual capabilities and aspirations of beings, I turn the wheel of the Dharma for them fulfilling the hopes of all-the hinayana vehicle for the lower pupils, the pratyekabuddha state for those of medium capability, and the mahayana for those with superior capability.

The third royal possession is the precious queen who is very beautiful and adorned by a variety of jewelry. My third royal possession is good conduct; the Dharma practitioner who maintains correct conduct is beautiful, because he or she is free of the stains of faults. Correct conduct develops all good qualities, like being adorned by jewelry.

The fourth royal possession is the precious minister who maintains and improves the kingdom’s wealth. I have the royal possession of meditation through which I gather the accumulations of merit and wisdom.

The fifth royal possession is the precious elephant that can carry the great burden of the emperor’s wealth. I have my conscience, so that if someone benefits me I know that I must not ignore them, but repay their kindness. All beings have shown me kindness and so I must help them all. If I give them the Buddha’s teachings they will eventually reach Buddhahood. Therefore I take upon myself the burden, the responsibility, of giving the Buddha’s teachings to all beings.

The sixth royal possession is the precious horse, the emperor’s mount which takes him easily to any land he wishes to go. I have the royal possession of diligence which takes me from self-attachment and defilements to selflessness.

The seventh royal possession is the precious general, whose army destroys the enemies of the emperor. Some say that the precious general subdues enemies just through the power of his majesty. I have the royal possession of wisdom due to learning and contemplation. I have the wisdom gained from hearing the Buddha’s words and commentaries, and the wisdom gained from analyzing the teachings until certainty is achieved. This wisdom defeats incorrect views, which are the enemy. Even if you are a king you need these faultless qualities that benefit beings.

The king’s messenger said, “You truly follow the Dharma. It is marvelous. The king told me to give you these offerings if you refused to come.” He then gave Milarepa the cotton and the yellow myrobalan. Milarepa accepted the offering and recited a dedication and wishing prayer.

Some time later, Rechungpa and a pupil of Milarepa named Shengomrepa came searching for Milarepa to bring him back to Tibet. They couldn’t find him until they met some hunters who said to them, “You’re not real yogins. A yogin should be like Milarepa. Weapons can’t pierce him, fire can’t burn him, throw him in the water and he won’t sink, throw him off a cliff and he’ll float right back up. The king even invited him to court and he refused to go. That’s what a real siddha is like.” Rechungpa and Shengomrepa gave the hunters a gift, asked them where Milarepa was, and then came to him.

When they arrived, Milarepa gave Rechungpa and Shengomrepa a teaching on practice being essential and then returned to Tibet with them.

Ten Teachings from the 100,000 Songs of Milarepa. translated by Peter Roberts.

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