Celebrating the Lineage of Milarepa
Today is Milarepa Day! On the first full moon of the New Year we celebrate the enlightenment and life example of Milarepa by reading the songs of the lineage fathers in The Rain of Wisdom. This text consists of stories of the great meditators of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. They express deep insight and heartfelt devotion, and their beauty and intensity have made them famous in Tibetan literature. This collection was first compiled by Mikyo Dorje, the eighth Karmapa; it was translated into English by the Nalanda Translation Committee under the supervision of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche who comments:
“Students are advised to read this book for instructions when their life is filled with disruption and uncertainty and neurosis. Even reading only one passage is better than going to a psychiatrist or taking a dose of aspirin. This is not a myth: from my personal experience, these songs do provide a staircase of liberation. They actually enable us to interrupt our perpetual subconscious gossip, awaken ourselves on the path, and energize ourselves so that we can help others.”
With the guidance of a teacher, Milarepa sought spiritual enlightenment to purify his bad karma. His resulting wisdom attracted many disciples and he eventually became the greatest yogi of the Kagyu Lineage. He taught his students through songs of realization and many spiritual masters who came after him followed his example. The collection of these songs was compiled into the book entitled The Rain of Wisdom.
Milarepa day celebrates the enlightenment and life example of Milarepa. The celebration is an all day guru yoga practice, which includes chanting the Milarepa sadhana and reading the songs of the lineage fathers in The Rain of Wisdom (Tibtan: Kagyu Gurtso).
The actual title of The Rain of Wisdom is The Essence of the Ocean of True Meaning; the subtitle is Bringing the Rain of Wisdom, the Spontaneous Self-Liberation, the Blazing Great Bliss, the Quick Path to Realization of the Supreme Siddhi, the Vajra Songs of the Kagyu Gurus. These songs are the direct personal voices of the lineage holders, sharing their experiences of the path, practice, and realization. In chanting them, we attune our minds to theirs, invoking the inspiration of their sanity and devotion. By reading aloud the stories of these teachers we simultaneously invoke their presence and learn from their example.
To find a Shambhala Center near you to join in this festive day of celebrating our ancestral lineage of the Kagyu tradition, click here.