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Buddhadharma : Summer 2014
SUMMER 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 77 heightened the tension in the story of Milarepa as an ordinary being leading an exemplary spiritual life. Tsangnyön may also have chosen to portray Milarepa as an ordinary being as part of his emphasis on returning to the Kagyu core values of yogic medita- tion and mountain retreat, which he fol- lowed himself throughout his life, thus distancing himself from religious institu- tions and hierarchies, such as the tulku system, as well as from the intellectual- ism represented by Milarepa’s encoun- ters with a number of geshes. Maybe Tsangnyön also found it strange that even though Milarepa was supposed to be an emanation of a Dzogchen mas- ter and not a Kagyu forebear, he failed miserably in Dzogchen before he met Marpa. Ironically, in a parallel story of a student asking Tsangnyön whose incarnation he was, he admitted that he was indeed Milarepa’s rebirth. More- over, Tsangnyön’s biography of Marpa retained the tradition of Marpa being an incarnation of Dombi Heruka and an emanation of Hevajra. Whether Milarepa’s life story and songs are read as a model for the path to liberation, as spiritual poetry, or as a document of the social history of eleventh-century Tibet, they never fail to engage and inspire. Quintman offers us a rare glimpse into the vastness of the biographical materials on Milare- pa’s life and an insightful look at their development. One small criticism that could be made is that when the author lists modern translations and adaptations of Milarepa’s songs of realization, he fails to mention the collections of Mil- arepa songs translated, set to melody, and recorded under the direction of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche by Jim Scott, Ari Goldfield, and others, which represent a continuation of the living tradition of these vajra songs in English. For many modern-day practi- tioners, these songs are an important link to Milarepa’s life and teachings and a source of great inspiration. SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. Own the Art that Wakes You Up VISIT THE SHAMBHALA SUN ONLINE STORE www.shambhalasun.com ENJOY OUR EXPANDED collection of dharma art in beautiful archival quality giclée prints. Taken from the pages of our magazines, ten beautiful new pieces are now available for your home or office, including calligraphies by Thich Nhat Hanh and Buddhist- inspired works by Impressionist Odilon Redon. Wakes You Up (Above) Enso by Kazuaki Tanahashi REVIEWS