Penguin classics edition. A full new translation with an introduction by Donald Lopez. The life of the Tibetan yogi Milarepa is one of the most beloved stories of the Tibetan people and one of the great works of religious literature. This work can be read on many different levels of meaning. It is a detailed guide to the search for liberation, presenting the spiritual quest for purification and Buddhahood in a single lifetime, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a saint. It is also a powerfully evocative narrative, full of magic, miracles, suspense, and humour, while reflecting the religious and social life of medieval Tibet.
The translator Andrew Quintman is assistant professor of religious studies at Yale University and was based in Kathmandu for seven years as director of the School of International Training's Tibetan studies programme.
"Milarepa achieves Buddhahood by the rapid method of the tantric path. In mountain caves across southern Tibet, he practiced the stage of generation, visualizing himself as a Buddha, his own body as a mandala, with various deities located at specific points within it. He then practiced the stage of completion, in which he brought under control the various energies or winds that course through a network of channels in the body, causing those winds to enter the central channel that runs from the crown of the head to the base of the spine, generating both an inner heat (tum mo) and increasing levels of bliss. Finally, he achieved the mahamudra, spontaneous realization of the most profound nature of the mind. Yet despite all the references to the stage of generation and the stage of completion, and all of Milarepa's meditation on the channels, winds, and drops, as he approaches the achievement of Buddhahood his instructions to those he encounters continue to embody the most basic of Buddhist teachings: impermanence. the sufferings of samsara, the certainty of death and the uncertainty of its arrival, the frightful rebirth that is the direct result of our benighted deeds. Beyond Milarepa's words is his example, his vivid demonstration, expressed in sublime song, that even one who has murdered 35 innocent people can, through devotion to the teacher and the practice of the path, transform oneself into a perfect Buddha, where the Dharma is present everywhere one turns, where "everything in the outer world appears as scriptures", where the profane is sacred." Donald S.Lopez.