She said…”You are useless!”

DSC00781On another occasion, when Jetsun Milarepa went out [again] for alms, he reached the middle of a great plain and saw many people working on a house. He then lay down on the ground [near-by as if nothing were going on there]. The hostess said to him, “My dear Yogi, you seem to be unoccupied – here are some tools, please use them to work for us a little and I will bring you some hot food.” After a while she returned, and seeing that Milarepa was still lying there, said, “No wonder they say that some people deserve to be treated as good-for-nothing trash! You have plenty of time on your hands, yet you won’t do anything, not even a little patching work. You are useless!” Saying which, she went off and left Milarepa alone.

Then Milarepa followed her into the house where the workers were having their dinner, and begged for some food. The hostess said, “One who does not work with his lazy body should not bother to eat with his lazy mouth.” The Jetsun replied, “I did not help you to patch the walls because I was occupied on other business much more important than yours.” The patrons then asked him what this important business was that had drawn away his attention. In answer, Milarepa sang:

I bow down to all Gurus. Above all,

I take refuge in the Gracious One!

You see me as though I were doing nothing,

But I see myself doing something all the time.

On the plain of the uncreated Beyond-Extremes,

I was building busily the Dhyana Wall;

I had no time to patch clay walls.

On the Northern Plain of Voidness,

I was taming the wild goats of my desires;

I had no time to plough my father’s land.

In the realm of Not-two and the Word-beyond,

I was subduing the demon Ego;

I had no time to fight bitter foes.

In the Palace of Beyond-measure –

The Non-dual Mind-Essence –

I was busily attending my affairs;

I had no time to do household work.

In the Buddha’s Mandala of my own body

I was feeding my little child, “Awareness”;

I had no time to feed others and wipe their noses.

In the courtyard of Great Bliss,

I was gathering the Dharma wealth;

I had no time to make money in this world.

On the mountain of the immutable Dharmakaya,

I was herding the steeds of Self-awareness;

I had no time to tend other sheep and cattle.

With the clay of my flesh and bones,

I was building the Stupa of Immanence;

I had no time to make the Tsa Tsas.

On the triangular Heart Center,

I was kindling the lamp of Illumination;

I had no time to offer butter lamps to deities.

In the chapel of the Bliss-Void,

I was offering Immortality

To the Buddha of Dhyana-Mind;

I had no time to make material offerings.

Upon the paper of Immaculate Mind

I wrote the words of conquering desires;

I had not time to bother with worldly script.

In the Drinking Skull of Sunyata

I was mixing the Three and Five Poisons;

I had not time for priestly rules.

Filled with love and pity,

I was guarding all in the Six Realms;

I had no time to attend my kinsmen.

Before my Father Gurus,

I was brooding over their instructions;

I had no time for worldly actions.

In a quiet hermitage in the remote mountains,

I was practicing the Bodhi teachings;

I had no time to indulge in sleep.

With my triangular, shell-like mouth,

I was singing the song of Dharma;

I had no time for idle talk.

(100,000 Songs of Milarepa, p535-537)


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