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Milarepa, thanka from Bhutan (late 19th – early 20th century

Milarepa (1040–1143) is the revered saint and poet of Tibetan Buddhism. He attained great mastery in the yogic powers, including levitation and flight through the air. He is characteristically depicted with his right hand cupped to his ear or near his ear. Some have surmised that this indicates that he is a shravaka, which is a disciple of the Buddha, a “listener.” (Shravaka means “hearing, listening to.”) Others believe the gesture may also symbolize Milarepa’s capacity to retain Buddhist teachings and doctrines in his ear. Milarepa was a master of the esoteric teachings of the tantra, which were orally transmitted from guru to disciple.

The story of his life

Tibetans universally revere Milarepa as a great Buddhist saint who became fully enlightened. The story of his life and path are recorded in a biography written by one of his disciples. In it, Milarepa recounts to his students the events of his life—from his practice of the black arts as a youth and his penance and probationary period under a Guru of the True Doctrine, to his initiation on the “Path of Light” and his practice of renunciation and meditation.[1]

Milarepa learned the black arts in order to bring vengeance upon his wicked relatives. During his cousin’s wedding feast he brings down the home of his uncle by his sorcery, causing the death of all the guests. When the villagers seek to avenge this slaughter, he creates hailstorms and destroys their crops.

Feeling deep remorse for these acts, Milarepa goes in search of a guru who will teach him the true dharma. A lama advises him to go to a monastery in Wheat Valley to seek out the “worthiest among the worthiest of men”—Marpa the Translator. “Between thee and him there is a karmic connection, which cometh from past lives,” says the lama. “To him thou must go.”

Milarepa meets his teacher and guru, Marpa, and begins a rigorous path of chelaship. He endures many hardships. Before he is accepted as a disciple, Marpa makes him build a house and then has him tear it down and begin again. This happens four times.

The walls of these houses represented walls of black magic that Milarepa has built in his subconscious. Black magic is the misuse of the sacred fire of the Divine Mother. Practiced in the past or the present, it is very binding, leaving distorted, out-of-alignment states and jagged lines of force. Milarepa had to be willing to tear down the walls of black magic and build again. While he was building and unbuilding, Milarepa was dismantling his electronic belt. The outer work was the sign of the inner work that was taking place.

During this process, Milarepa was also unlearning the false teachings of the dark ones who imparted to him knowledge of the manipulation of energy. He had to overcome the practice of black magic and to balance the karma of his misdeeds. When he finally earned the right to be the chela of a true master, his pride had been broken, and in humility, he walked the way of attainment.

Milarepa, the One Who Harkened, Nicholas Roerich (1925)

The lessons of Milarepa’s life

The ascended master Lanello has spoken of the lessons of Milarepa’s life:

Was not Milarepa continually building and tearing down houses? For Marpa, his guru, demanded excellence and ultimately exacted from Milarepa that excellence. When Marpa accepted Milarepa as a pupil, he warned him: “If I impart to thee the Truth, it will entirely depend upon thine own perseverance and energy whether thou attainest liberation in one lifetime or not.”[2]

Over time Marpa asked Milarepa to build four houses, each time directing him, after the house was well under construction, to fully or partially tear it down. When Milarepa brought to Marpa’s attention his cracked and bruised hands and legs and the large oozing sores on his back, Marpa said: “... If thou art really in search of the Truth, do not boast so about thy services, but continue waiting patiently and working steadily till thy building task is entirely finished.”[3]

Milarepa said of this incident, “Considering within myself that such was the wish of my Guru, I felt that I must go on and do as commanded. I therefore took up my loads and carried them in front of me now, and thus went about the work.” He later realized, “It was because of my having committed such terribly wicked deeds in the earlier part of my life, that now I had to suffer such excruciating and indescribable tortures at the very outset of my search for a Faith and Doctrine to emancipate me.”[4]

When Milarepa had passed his initiations, Marpa explained to him, “My son, I knew thee to be a worthy shishya [disciple] from the very first.... And it was with a view to cleansing thee from thy sins that I had thee to work so hard upon the four houses. The houses themselves symbolize ... the four types of action, each house representing one of the four, namely, the peaceful, the powerful, the fascinating and the stern, respectively.

“I purposely wanted to fill thy heart with bitter repentance and sorrow, verging on despair, by turning thee out ignominiously. And thou, for having borne all those trials with patience and meekness, without the least change in thy faith in me, shalt have, as the result, disciples full of faith, energy, intelligence and kind compassion, endowed from the first with the qualifications essential to worthy shishyas.”[5]

Be reminded of the yogi, beloved. Be reminded that if you desire enough to get out of the cage of self, you will get out of it and you will transcend yourself!

Did not Milarepa sit in a cave in obedience to his guru? Did he not become green from eating nettles and yet would not budge from his cave until he received the key to his victory? When you want something enough, beloved, you will have it.

Therefore, Padma Sambhava and I come to you. And we remind you of the teaching that your call compels our answer. If your call is a weak little call, halfhearted, you will get a weak little answer, halfhearted.

But if, with all the fervor of your heart and mind and being, you cry out to God and to the Great White Brotherhood on behalf of those who are suffering in the earth, and you offer powerful invocations as you walk up and down in the night, beloved—if you do this daily with the intensity that you would offer to God if, for instance, you held your dying child in your arms and were pleading for his life, you will establish such a tie with the heart of the Godhead that no lawful prayer you offer for the rest of your life will be denied you!

And the intensity of God’s power that will be given to you in return shall be enough to literally move mountains of your karma and open the way for resolution through your Holy Christ Self and God Harmony, that great cosmic being who ensouls the harmony of God.[6]

In the age of Aquarius, the ascended masters teach that the work of Milarepa becomes the inner work of undoing the misdeeds of our past lives and past karma. We must rebuild our house through striving and service and the use of the science of the spoken Word and the violet flame.

As Lanello says:

This will take time and hard work, but you can do it, beloved. You can and you must correct those things that only you can correct. For you have built a flawed structure, and the only thing you can do is to tear it down and build again.[7]


Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Masters and Their Retreats, s.v. “Milarepa.”

  1. See W. Y. Evans-Wentz, ed., Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa: A Biography from the Tibetan, 2d ed. (1951; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, Galaxy Books. 1976).
  2. Ibid., p. 91.
  3. Ibid., p. 105.
  4. Ibid., pp. 106, 128.
  5. Ibid., pp. 133, 134–35.
  6. Lanello, “I Am Sent to Father You and to Mother You,” Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 38, no. 37, August 27, 1995.
  7. Ibid.