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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
44 Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner's QuarTerly in TranslaTion 45 translations in English, the most recent two with the short title The Life of Milarepa. The second part of Tsangnyön’s work is much more extensive and primarily concerns Milarepa’s teachings and songs following his own attainment of realization. Originally titled The Collected Songs Expanding on the Life of the Jetsun Milarepa, this larger volume was published in English for the first time more than fifty years ago as The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa by the great scholar and practitioner Garma C. C. Change (1920–1988). Although other translations of excerpts from the Songs are avail- able, Chang’s work has been the only complete English translation to be published. While it is now well known that there are mistakes in Chang’s work, given his personal experience in Milarepa’s prac- tice tradition and his command of both Tibetan and English, the translation he produced was a great contribution. The importance of Chang’s groundbreaking work cannot be overstated; it was founda- tional in the development of this new translation. Students and practitioners of Milarepa’s tradition revere the Col- lected Songs not only for its primary narrative but also for the light it sheds on his teaching. Milarepa’s main mode of instruction is the singing of “songs of realization,” or dohas, a tradition brought to Tibet by the lineage of mahasiddhas, great unconventional realized masters of India. In this tradition, masters sing spontaneously from their own immediate experience about what they have realized directly, often giving instruction on how others may come to have the same understanding. In Milarepa’s particular style, colloquial, idiomatic language and commonplace examples are employed, mak- ing the teaching accessible and relatable for individuals who may not have engaged in any formal study of Buddhist philosophy. This direct experiential approach to teaching inevitably helps the students portrayed in the stories establish a connection with the teaching in a personal way. May all who encounter this work connect with the heart of the teachings of Milarepa and his practice lineage and, by doing so, bring great benefit to all sentient beings. — Christopher Stagg