Here is authentic biography of Milarepa, the eleventh-century yogi and poet, who is the most legendary saint in Tibetan Buddhist history.
Milarepa is a holy but enchantingly human figure who developed from a vindictive black magician into a supremely powerful yogi, pointing the way to spiritual liberation and complete self-knowledge.
This book is replete with authoritative information gathered by the author during his years of wandering through the great Himalaya.
The book points out that anthropologically the human race is one family, and that external differences due to hereditary racial characteristics, pigmentation and physical environment are, in fact, purely superficial.
W.Y. Evans-Wentz, an anthropologist, had deep interest in exploring the religious experience of mankind. His other famous books in the present series include Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines , The Tibetan Book of the Dead , and The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation. Evans-Wentz spent several years in the high Himalaya and on the Tibetan frontiers of Kashmir, Garhwal and Sikkim. He firmly belived that humanity is one family, eternally transcending geographical demarcations, national limitations, and every fettering concept born of the unenlightened mind.
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This life story of Milarepa - the important Tibetan religious leader who lived over 800 years ago - is part of a remarkable four-volume series on Tibetan Buddhism produced by the late W.Y. Evans-Wentz, all four of which are being published by Oxford in new editions. While there are many parochial differences among the several sects of Tibetan Buddhism, each holds the Great Yogi Milarepa in the highest reverence and esteem. For exemplified in Milarepa's life, as we discover in these pages, are all of the teachings of the great yogis of India - including those of Gautama the Buddha, the greatest yogi known to history.
Amid his detailed introductory and explanatory notes for this text, Evans-Wentz also reveals compelling similarities between the life and thought of Milarepa and those of Jesus, Gandhi, and "saints ... in ancient China, or India, or Babylonia, or Egypt, or Rome, or in our own epoch". In composing this translation from the original Tibetan, the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup, who was Evans-Wentz's guru for many years, aimed to show Western readers "one of our great teachers as he actually lived ... much of which is couched in the words of his own mouth, and the remainder in the words of his disciple Rechung, who knew him in the flesh". For this third edition, Donald S. Lopez, author of Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West , has written a critical foreword that updates and contextualizes this crucial part of Evans-Wentz's scholarship within the yoga tradition.
Despite the many sectarian differences among Tibetan Buddhists, they all unite in holding the Great Yogi Milarepa in highest reverence and esteem, considering him the prototype of a great saint. However, a disciple of Milarepa, suspecting that his teacher may have been a fully enlightened buddha, once asked the religious leader his true identity. Not flattered, Milarepa explained that there could be no greater insult than to suggest that he was an emanation of a buddha. To do so was to deprecate the excruciating suffering he had to undergo in order to expunge from him the sins of his youth; to do so was to minimize the remarkable effort he made living in solitary caves and eating only nettles; to do so was to create a barrier to one's own practice.
In this extraordinary biography of Milarepa, readers gain a rich and vivid perspective of the celebrated man's struggles, work, and insight. Moreover, W. Y. Evans-Wentz offers - through the lens of Milarepa's experiences and teachings - an unprecedented amount of knowledge that accompanies the ancient and universal wisdom that is Buddhism. But the story of Milarepa is not solely about religion - it also addresses the legacy that followed the death of one of the greatest religious gurus, exploring questions of lineage and legitimacy that were important in the centuries after Milarepa died.