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Buddhist teachings are varied. Some works and persons stand out as prominent; the Tibetan yogi and guru Milarepa or Milaraspa (1040—1123) is one of them. He is revered as the greatest poet-saint in Tibetan history. His writings, often referred to as the Songs of Milarepa, are canonical Mahayana Buddhist texts. He expresses deep realizations with out-of-the-ordinary clarity and beauty.

The first chapter of extracts and quotations below are from a work edited by Walter Y. Evans-Wentz, Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa [Tm]. The page references are to it. The second chapter contains a hundred tenets based on the Hundred Thousand Songs [Hts] of Milarepa, translated by C. C. Chang, Vols 1 and 2. New York: University Books.

There is a Life of Milarepa on the previous page.


Milarepa Sayings and Extracts

LoSeeking speaks of bewilderment

FEIGNED devotion is for pleasing someone. (cf Tm 300)

To see divine beings, expiate all evil karma. (cf Tm 251)

May all who are sincerely seeking Truth, Untroubled be by obstacles. (Tm 189)

Hasten slowly to arrive soon. (cf Tm 273)

Deep words of initiation serve as fetters for those who are not initiated. (Tm cf 272)

A feast of delight can also serve others. (cf Tm 308)

Avoid likes and dislikes. (Tm 285)

Do not confuse deep intuition with what merely seems to be so. (cf Tm 298)

Every living thing shall ripen and be saved. - Marpa (Milarepa's guru), (M 151)

All the gold that I, Milarepa, have amassed during my lifetime lies hidden here beneath this hearth. [A figurative statement] (Tm 270)

One should utilize illness as an aid to progression on the Path. (cf Tm 258)

Hold affection unchangedly for the guru of the Eternal Buddhas. (cf Tm 204)

I have forgotten all those who rule by power. (Tm 245)

I have forgotten all mind-made meditations. (Tm 246)

I have forgotten to think of hope. (Tm 246)

It is said to be undesirable to drink of the same fountain with a person with whom a breach of faith has taken place. (cf Tm 230)

I have never valued word-knowledge set down in books in conventionalized form. - Milarepa, (cf Tm 245)

May I be far removed from arguing creeds and dogmas. (Tm 245)

Mind-arrows shot from the Bow of Spiritual Wisdom, as shot forth, fall among all the nations. They strike the faithful ones and slay selfishness. (cf Tm 216)

One should not be over-anxious and hasty in setting out to serve others, but have the one resolve to attain Buddhahood. (Tm 271)

Shame's Daughter is bought with wealth. (cf Tm 226)

Talks of worldly things disturb my meditation. (Tm 224)

Knowledge for realizing the Dharma-Kaya in your own minds is the holiest of reliques and ashes. (cf Tm 298)

The sin-obscured need repentance. (Tm 253)

Unless pure love and veneration be innate within one's heart, What gain is it to build a stupa? (Tm 263)

Unless the guru's words are regarded as reasonable, what gain is it to have multitude of disciples? (cf Tm 264)

In this world the truly wise and learned are not prized. (cf Tm 219 )

Protect yourself with a faith and individual wisdom. (cf Tm 300)

Renounce all and meet with me. (cf Tm 273)

Devote yourself to Mantrayanic study and practice. (cf Tm 234)

The essence of the Sangsara (Universe) is Compassion (cf Tm 210n)

I am a Yogi on the path of Eternal Bliss. (cf Tm 201)

To youthful maidens, love-songs sound sweet, but not prosaic sermons. (cf Tm 219)

Understand the Adi-Yoga (Sanatana-Yoga): The animal-man becomes a hero and then a divine or enlightened Being. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, (m 5n)

LoThere is a difference between shameful secrets and insider secrets. The latter may or may not be of solitudes

THERE are secret insider teachings to get Home by. (cf Tm 173)

To deceive confiding friends is filled with shame and meanness. (cf Tm 226)

I have forgot all difference between myself and others. (Tm 245)

LoBe like a child: there is no true shame in that

I HAVE forgot all artificial usages. - Milarepa (Tm 246)

All nature serves me for a book. (Tm xviii)

A heart made pure is fit, and so may whole-hearted prayer be too. (cf Tm 300)

Put away scholarship (panditia) and be like a child. - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.5.1

I have forgot the dread of death. (Tm 246)

If there is heresy or error in my speech, pardon it. (cf Tm 143)  

May I cling successfully to solitude. May pleasures of the world illusory not tempt me. May tranquillity of Meditation be increased. May I not lie steeped in Unconsciousness of Quietude; But may the Blossom of Superconsciousness bloom forth in me. (Tm 193)

Be ever prosperous (fit for good people) (Tm 255)

The essence of Universal Usefulness is Compassion. (cf Tm 210)

If one pass a lifetime here doing nothing but committing the ten impious acts and the five unlimited sins, there is not the least doubt that such a one will fall into the most miserable of the Hells. (Tm 233)

Give not way to desires for distractions and vain frivolities. (cf Tm 195)

Accustomed long to meditating . . . I have forgot all that is said in written and in printed books. (Tm 246)

Repay the kindness of all sentient beings. (Tm 203)

I have forgot all creeds and dogma and all definitions. (cf Tm 246)

Conventional questions and answers lead to confusion. (cf Tm 245)

Good men are not prized, but the wicked are. (Tm 219)

If you do not know the Secret and the Subtle Methods, Mere exercise of zeal will make the [Yogic] Pathway long. (cf Tm 272)

I was born naked, therefore there is no shame in it. (cf Tm 221)

Know the important similarities that lead to error; do not forget them, but keep them in your hearts, and thus hold to the right, abandoning the wrong. (cf Tm 298)

They who, knowing not, pose as guides for others, do injury both to themselves and others. (cf Tm 253)

In repentance be sincere. (Tm 228)

Maintain the State (of yoga) and distraction will fly off. (cf Tm 273)

Let your study and penance be directed toward the right path. (cf Tm 271)

Marpa held the superhuman Gurus of his Sect to be more capable of helping the devotee . . . because of the direct guidance thus telepathically given by them. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz (cf Tm 96n)

Now I have done away with all distinctions of black or white. (Tm 46)

Say, "Bless me in my efforts," with Milarepa. (cf Tm 143)

One lion is far more to be preferred than a hundred tigers. (cf Tm 283)

The human form of a guru is merely his vehicle. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz (cf Tm 44n)

There is a blessed and happy realm. (cf Tm 300)

True guidance and misleading temptations appear alike, but do not mistake the one for the other [Pray to know the difference]. (cf Tm 299, cf 300)

True faith thrills forth from the heart's recesses. Conventional faith, on the other hand, is born of a sense of shame and obligation [aka deep conformism]. Do not mistake the one for the other. (cf Tm 299)

Unfortunate beings cling to worldly things. - cf Milarepa (Tm 179)

Avoid subtle argument. (Tm 285 (7))

Contemplate for true success. (cf Tm 256)

Do not confuse serving a Guru with serving a person of good fortune. (cf Tm 298)

Weed out all hypocrisies. (Tm 189)

If you do not acquire contentment in yourselves, Heaped-up accumulations will only enrich others. (Tm 272)

Carry the teachings into practice in your everyday life. (cf Tm 270)

Slay the Sprite of Selfishness. (Tm 216)

Mental impulses of the heart are as unruly as a wild horse. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz (cf Tm 215n)

The Pathway is guarded. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz (Tm 217n)

Realizing the Truth [of no birth or death] is the best science. (Tm xiii)

The worthiest one is engaged in turning a blessed human life to the best account. - Milarepa (cf Tm 225)

Illusoriness makes me to seek the contempative life. (Tm 179, 180)

"I rely on omens and dreams." - Marpa (cf Tm 149)

There is . . . no need either of stupas or of clay tsha-tshas. (Tm 261)

What gain is it to celebrate religious rites without attuning body, speech, and mind to the Doctrine? (cf Tm 263)

To me there is no reality in illness. - Milarepa (cf Tm 268)



  1. Much seeking suggests bewilderment in the first place.
  2. Seeking for good secrets for good living, one has to discern well between shameful secrets and insider secrets. The latter may or may not be of solitudes, may not may not seem of very much worth. To be good they should be workable.
  3. Be like a child: there is no true shame in that. This is both a teaching exemplified by many yogis, and written of in an old Hindu scripture (referred to above)
IN NUCE In seeking secrets, be like a child. That is, having "delicate ears" should work for you.


A Hundred Tenets

The mind with the knowledge of liberation (vimutti) pours forth great beauty. The songs concern the Dharma which is common to the whole Buddhist tradition.


Provision of Wisdom is most precious - will lead toward perfection step by step. (Hts 501-2)

The mind coming and going by itself, I have forgotten how to hide things. (Hts 579-80)

To conquer errant thoughts within, practice the Profound Meditation. (Hts 387-88)

Practice concentration and watch the nature of your mind within. (cf Hts 626-27)

One cannot see in full the nature of mind pointed out by others. (Hts 123-24)

Mindful, remain serene. (Hts 92-93)

Try to meditate without diversions. (Hts 564-66)

Meditation in solitude is, in itself, a service to the people. (Hts 81-83] (2)

Self-inspection is to take responsibility for Buddhist Dharma. (cf Hts 290)

Beware, "Inertness" makes one go astray. (cf Hts 145-46) (3)

Good it is to maintain harmony with one's father by right deeds. (Hts] (4)

I have forgotten all distracting thoughts. (Hts 579-80)

Unstable faith is like fog. (cf Hts 626-27)

A perturbed, wandering mind never sees the truth of Mahayana. (Hts 100] (4)

At all times, in every way, keep watch on yourself. (Hts 92-93] (5)

In the end relatives cause anger, craving and bitterness; They are a fountain of regret and unhappiness. (Hts 121-22)

Clinging-ego brings wrong views and the yoga fails. (Hts 384, 387-88] (6)>

One cannot see in full the nature of the mind without mindful meditation, boring deep inside. *

Try to apply Mahayanic mantra meditation to improve your deep mind. It can take time.*

Take Heed

Rich men are wretched creatures with their money, poor men are wretched creatures without money. (Hts 665)

The ignorant, blind both to evil and to virtue, they quickly waste their lives away. (Hts 566-67)

Those 'great yogis' wrapped in stillness, have yet to purify their minds; Huge may be their claims and boasts. (Hts 663)

Anger brings one to the Lower Realms, so, never lose your temper. (Hts 626-27)

If you crave for pleasures, your troubles but increase. (Hts 564-66)

How toilsome ploughing and digging can become! (Hts 119-120)

It is good for the jungle tiger to stay in the deep forest. (Hts 587)

Future lives may last longer than this life. Do you know how to make provision? (With Hts 145-46)

How sad it is to see blood flowing, and to know that confusions and delusions fill the minds of men. (cf Hts 566-67)

Too many vows lead to self-cheating. (Hts 650-51)

Guess not when you make predictions. (Hts 588-89)

I feel most sad for those who never heed their future lives, but indulge in evil deeds. (cf Hts 566-67)

One may offer to a Lama loads of silk for many years, but when an ill-fortune descends, one's faith at once dissolves. (cf Hts 627-28)

Without sincerity and willingness, rich offerings have no real meaning. (Hts 665)

"I want no books, I do not intend to be a learned man." - Milarepa (Hts 422-23)

To find one serious Buddhist in a hundred is difficult! (Hts 116)

The Devas of the five higher and twelve lower realms can only live till their merits are exhausted. (Hts 663] (3)

Question your own thought and examine your mind. Did you dream that you would become an old nanny-goat? (cf Hts 136-39)

You should know the 'Kernel and shell' of Buddhism, so that learning does not lead you only to confusion. (Hts 665)

The people of the world, with burning desires and craving, distracted by affairs, become the slaves of earth. (Hts 64-65)

For those who do not guard their morals, prayers are but wishful thinking. (Hts 626-27] (4)

Gifted disciples heed with attention the profound, Essential Teaching. (Hts 81-83)

How foolish is the thought that it is good to be an animal. (cf Hts 566-67)

He who knows the appropriate way to help men of diverse dispositions, can use expedient words for kind and fruitful purposes. (Hts 665)

Even the dread passions - craving, hatred and blindness - are not so fearful as the state of our future. Why not prepare for yourself provisions? (Hts 114-15)

Seeking fame and glory, trying to preserve them, fearing to lose them - it is far better to have neither fame nor glory. (Hts 288-89)

The sick man feels no comfort when groaning in lament. (With Hts 555)

Ride on the horse of diligence. (Hts 501-2)

It is sad to see that Blindness veils all men who cherish sinful deeds. (cf Hts 566-67)

Are you altruistic in your thoughts and actions? (Hts 422-23] (5)

To amass wealth and money invites enemies. (Hts 122)

Who likes to be surrounded by crowds will soon be disappointed. (Hts 564-66)

A layman's life is like a thief who sneaks into an empty house. (Hts 632-33)

The profound Essential Teaching is not much appreciated by a sick mind.*

Wisely Regulated Living

Dharma is the fount of victory. Those who aspire to it are rare. (Hts 632-33)

Neither monks nor laymen can discard moral discipline. (Hts 501-2)

Women who are pretty-looking like pictures on a wall, need the Dharma, or they have no use. (Hts 290)

Wrong deeds ought to be shunned. (Hts 552)

Affairs and business will drag on forever, so lay them down and practise now the Dharma. (Hts 203-205)

Without Dharma old men are like decaying trees. (Hts 653-54)

It is noble to practice charity. (Hts 501-2] (3)

Dharma-practisers, with caution and vigour they will be successful. (cf Hts 632-33)

Think on my words and meditate with perseverance. (Hts 667)

Without Dharma, young maidens are but decorated cows (Hts 653-54)

He who when old neglects the Dharma, should know that he is bound by Karma. (Hts 554-55] (4)

If one does not forswear hypocrisy and pretence, what is the use of keeping discipline? (Hts 387-88)

If from the depths of your heart you want to practise, if hard and long you meditate, Buddhas will be well-pleased. (Hts 547-48)

Without Dharma, inferior women are just like vixens, deft and cunning, their deeds have little value. (Hts 653-54)

No one can tell where I go and stay . . . where no man comes, and lost to view. (Hts 537-38] (5)

Kind kinsmen circle round the bed of the dying. (Hts 119-120)

To remain in solitude is a natural sign springing from the hearts - of non-attachment and the like. (cf Hts 81-83)


Before you have fully mastered the Awareness within, do not engage in blind and foolish acts. (Hts 588-89)

All followers are phantoms. (Hts 517-18)

Without Dharma, inferior men are like a peddler's asses: a big load does them little good. (Hts 653-54)

Among one thousand heads, you value most your own. (Hts 284)

Did you know that your kinsmen are your foes? If this be true, surely you should leave them. [ (Hts 145-46)

Discard acting blindly. (cf Hts 145-46)

Stop all gossip by being indifferent. (Hts)

To strive for happiness hereafter is more important than to seek it now. (Hts 284)

Wild monkeys are not afraid of falling. (Hts 81-83)

One works hard to gather riches which others will spend. (Hts 122)

Babbling and prattling will only disturb others' minds. (Hts 387-88)

Sweetness cannot be experienced by merely hearing of the taste of sugar. (cf Hts 123-24)

Though the rainbow is richly-coloured, it will soon fade away. (Hts 284] (2)

A hen hatching her egg; but a falling rock may crush it at any time. (Hts 627-28)

Transgressors, like spoiled fat, ruin everything. (cf Hts 632-33) (3)

The fish queen is not afraid of drowning. (cf Hts 81-83)

A fool can never distinguish friend from foe. (Hts 426-27)

The dearest treasure is Wisdom-Paramita. (Hts 501-2)

When dying, some still shout and groan. (Hts 119-120) (3)

If you choose to help an ungrateful foe, you will gain not a friend but damage. (Hts) (4)

Strange indeed are Samsaric phenomena. (Hts 64-65)

A painting in gold fades when it is completed. (Hts 203-205) (5)

For him who cannot practise Dharma, all his life will be meaningless. (Hts 627-28)

Practise concentration and contemplation inwardly with self-composure. (Hts 92-93) (6)

Getting Old

When old age descends on one, one's straight body becomes bent; (Hts 554-55)

"Have I practised Dharma with great earnestness?" (Hts 203-205)

With feeble legs you waddle like a thieving goose; senile and clumsy is your body. Grandmother, your ugly face is wrapped in wrinkles. Grandmother, you are now a wretch, half woman and half bitch. (Hts 136-39)

When the time of death arrives, the unlucky cannot make appeal. (Hts 119-120)

Trying not to suffer, one only suffers more. (Hts 554-55)

Health and strength will in time desert you. (Hts 632-33)

Painful it is to see one's body becoming frail and quite worn out. (Hts 554-55) (2)

You watch the time of death draw nigh. Grandmother, can you face death with confidence? (Hts 136-39) (3)

Old age is like a fire spreading through the fields - suddenly it is at your heels. (cf Hts 632-33)

Always Happy

I am happy while alive. (Hts 110-12)

My mind is always happy. With or without associates, always happy and contented. (Hts 517-18, 537-38)

As I need prepare for nothing, I am happy. (Hts 110-12)

As I do not wear the lofty garb of priesthood, I am happy. (Hts 110-12)

I live the way I please; I worry not about property (Hts 110-12, 579-80)

The non-distinguishing Wisdom of Dharmadhatu [three different aspects or descriptions of Enlightenment] is itself happy. (Hts 110-12)

Natural I live, I feel happy, joyful, always happy. (Hts 422-23) (6)

Advice to a Close Disciple

Whenever thoughts of clothing arise, clothe yourself in the blissful heat of tummo.

Recognize all homelands as illusion.

Whenever thoughts of gems and money arise, take the seven Aryan riches as your treasure.

Seven Aryan riches - Arya means 'superior being'. The seven riches on the path to ultimate awakening are faith, discipline, generosity, learning, moral behavior, modesty, and knowledge.
When thoughts of companionship arise, enjoy self-existing wisdom as your companion.

When thoughts of the guru arise, [see] him as inseparable from you, at the crown of your head. Meditate on him at the centre of your heart.

Further Teachings

Prefer the pleasure grounds of wisdom and skillful means. (cf Mss).

Wisdom gods and goddesses don't say no to sensory pleasures; a great yogi knows this full well. ("Song of Six Essential Points", in Mss]

"Skilled individuals get it at once. It comes more gradually for those of average and mediocre abilities. Some develop definitive realization, others don't, and others still get signs that look like realization, but aren't really." (Ibid.)

Recognize as spontaneous the luminous self-awareness. (Ibid.)

Luminous mind itself, free of fixation, is naturally blissful. (Ibid.)

Your very essence, clear as space, is simple. (Ibid., mod)

Samsara and nirvana are experienced as one. (Ibid.)

Conceptual thoughts are at great awareness. (Ibid., mod)

How to Settle Your Mind

Like a calm ocean without waves, adhere to peace. Esm)

To cope with thoughts, try to see the waves of the sea. They are not apart from the sea. Esm)

The frantic runs in nature, yet from nature it is not apart. Esm)

When you cherish the most rare gem, soon to others it will belong. ("On transcience", Esm)

Gazing nakedly on Essence, the Pure Reality beyond word play, I relax, I let go. ("Mahamudra Instruction", Esm)


Milarepa Milaraspa teachings, of Tibetan Buddhism, Mi-la ras-pa sayings, Jetsun Milarepa, Vajrayana, Mila Grubum selections, Buddhist teachings, Literature  

Words and phrases in square brackets are compiler-added. Those in round brackets are of the English edition. Sayings marked by a star (*) are of T. K.

Dmm: Lama Kunga Rinpoche and Brian Cutillo, trs. Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs of Tibet's Beloved Saint, Milarepa: Eighteen Selections from the Rare Collection: Stories and Songs from the Oral Tradition of Jetsün Milarepa.. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Wisdom Publications, 1995. ⍽▢⍽ Partial view at Google Books.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, yearly.

Esm: Seaton, Paul K. The Essential Songs of Milarepa. Booklet 87. Grand Rapids, MI: Quiet Mountain, 1995-2000.

Hts: The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa. Tr. Garma C. C. Chang. London: Shambala, 1999. ⍽▢⍽ Readable, poetic, and comprehensive. Milarepa is considered by Tibetans of all four of the main Buddhist schools to be agreat Buddhist practitioner in Tibet. A great sinner early in his life, he turned to intense, prolonged practice and gained Enlightenment. This book is a centuries-old collection of his "vajra songs" and spiritual teachings as he wandered through the mountains and villages of 12-century Tibet. The eminent translator, Garma Changm was of Milarepa's school or line (Kargyu), and knew both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism well. The pagination above conforms to that of Vols 1 and 2, New York: University Books, 1962.

Lmt: Chögya Trungpa, ed. The Life of Marpa the Translator: Seeing Accomplishes All. Ill ed. Boston: Taylor and Francis, 1982.

Mss: Riggs, Nicole. Milarepa: Songs on the Spot. Eugene, OR: Dharma Cloud Press, 2003.

Sis: Garma C. C. Chang, tr. Sixty Songs of Milarepa. Selected and introduced by Bhikkhu Khantipalo. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, The Wheel No. 95/97, 1980 and 2006.

Som: Mi-La-Ras-Pa, Milarepa. Songs of Milarepa Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003. ⍽▢⍽ Partial view at Google Books.

Tm: Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 2000. ⍽▢⍽Partial view at Google Books.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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