Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Milarepa's Song on the Six Perfections: Commentary for the Dull-Witted

Lekshe posted Milarepa's Song on the Six Perfections. I wanted to chew on it a little, and make a commentary for myself.

Beyond ending the maintenance of a sense of self, There is no other generosity.

Looking back at my generosity, so much of it now seems ill-placed and ill-timed. Gifts given for the wrong reason, at the wrong time, to the wrong person. Given to prove something about myself. Given when I happened to have a surfeit, rather than when someone else happened to have a need. Given, typically, to someone young and female, rather than old and male -- not so much because I was attracted to them (though I was) but because my sense of myself as an attractive man hinged on their attention. And that sense I had to feed, at all costs.

I want to give. That's a good thing. But the goodness of it rises from just one place: the place of connection. And it's hampered by just one thing -- my sense of myself, of what's due to my dignity or necessary to maintain my character. Why does Mila say there is no other generosity? Not because this one special kind is so much better, that no other generosity even rates. But because the connection that becomes visible when my sense of self is stripped away is the single source of all true generosity. "Perfect generosity" isn't a special, better kind of generosity that only yogis know about. It's the living heart of any generosity.

Beyond ending deception and cunning, There is no other morality.

He means it. The beginning and end of doing the right thing is knowing what we are doing, and showing it transparently to other people. It's not possible to act badly in complete honesty. Do this: go back to the last three bad things I did, and look for the dishonesty. It will be there somewhere. Somewhere there will be the lie, the twist, the little wriggle away from honesty. Dishonesty either with myself or with others. Generally, both.

Beyond being without fear of what is ultimately true, There is no other patience.

Waiting in dread, afraid to see and afraid to act, is not patience.

Beyond being never apart from practice, There is no other effort.

Well, Mila should know. This is a hard one for me. I resist it over and over. How many times do I need to run the experiment, before I'll accept the results? I've tried ten thousand methods for fixing my life and making myself a better person. The farther away from practice they stood, the less effect they had.

Forget "real life." It's not real, and it's not life, and it's not getting fixed.

Beyond resting in composure, There is no other meditative stability.

Help. I don't have the faintest idea what this means.

Beyond knowing how things are, There is no other understanding.

Oh, that's harsh. How things are. If there really is no other understanding, then I have squandered so much, so much of my time and effort. I am in fact wasting my time right now, writing this.

Mila sits high in my refuge tree, long-haired and graceful. He looks at me with all that good heart, and with the flicker of mischief that never quite leaves his figure or his story, however be-sainted he has become. He has never had a word of discouragement for me. You would think my hardships in the Dharma -- sore knees, stiff back, and (above all) procrastination, would move him to scorn. I don't know why they don't, given all he suffered. But all he ever says to me -- as if our situations were completely parallel -- is, "I know. It's so hard. So hard."

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