Lama Toensang came to the EC to give us the precious empowerment into Milarepa – and so much more… Despite the short notice, 700 people made it for the weekend with empowerment, lecture and spontaneous storytelling in sunny and warm autumn weather. A truly memorable weekend!
This was the fourth empowerment Lama Toensang has given at the Europe Center: A Milarepa empowerment in 2011 was the first. He also gave the first ever empowerment on the grounds of today’s gompa into 1000armed Loving Eyes, when it was still the old barn, in 2012. One year later, we put up a tent to host the many students receiving the empowerment into Medicine Buddha. This time, however, not “only” the empowerment but also many of the inspiring stories shared by Lama Toensang were all about the impressive life of Tibet’s great yogi, Milarepa.
Milarepa (1052-1135) had a dark childhood, and used black magic to wreak revenge on many people who had oppressed his family. Having repented, he turned to Buddhism to purify his past misdeeds. Milarepa built several towers for his teacher Marpa with his bare hands, which Marpa would cruelly tell him to tear down again. In this way, Marpa skilfully removed many karmic obstacles for his student. Milarepa spent years in retreat, and reached enlightenment. He is best known for his spontaneous songs of realization.
Gampopa was Milarepa’s most renowned student. The “doctor from Dhagpo” lost his wife to illness. On her deathbed she made him promise not to take another wife, and so Gampopa became a monk. Gampopa trained with Milarepa, achieved realization, and accumulated perhaps 50,000 students. Four of Gampopa’s students founded four major branches of the Kagyu lineage: Barom Kagyu, Karma Kagyu, Phagdru Kagyu, and Tshalpa Kagyu.
Another of Milarepa’s students, the yogi Rechungpa, brought several important transmissions into the Karma Kagyu lineage, and, along with Gampopa, was a teacher of the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193).