At Belly Cave in Nyanang, Milarepa saw the Lion-Face Dakini as the sun was rising. “Milarepa,” she said, “the Indian Padampa Sangye is going to Tongla. Won’t you go see him?”
When they met, Milarepa sang a song and Padampa Sangye in turn sang about Easing Suffering. The Jetsun listened to Dampa Sangye with keen pleasure. Absorbed in the song, he’d been sitting with his penis freely exposed. Dampa Sangye now exclaimed, “Look at you! That’s the one place you really should keep covered up . . . I wonder if you’re not a bit mad.” So the Jetsun sang the Song of the Madman:
Homage to the holy Lamas!
I take refuge in your kindness.
Please dispel obstacles
And lead me the right way.
People ask themselves,
Isn’t Milarepa a bit mad?
In truth, I think I am,
And here’s the method to my madness:
Mad father, mad son—
Madness is passed on.
Great Vajradhara is mad,
My ancestor, the excellent Tilopa, is quite mad,
And my grandfather, Naropa, is definitely mad.
Mad is my old father Marpa,
And I, Milarepa, why, I’m mad too!
This Vajradhara transmission
Of four enlightened bodies is madness.
Is an absolute madness.
Naropa’s ascetic awareness
Is mad, mad, mad!
My father, Marpa Lotsawa,
Is crazed by the demons of the four classes of tantra.
I, Milarepa, know mind and energy—
Most certainly a madness.
Mad is the view that holds no favorite
Mad the meditation that refuses references
Mad the conduct that hides no agenda
Mad the result that preys on neither hopes nor fears
Mad the promises kept honestly.
I’m more than mad, I’m a raving lunatic—
I drive demons mad
With the Lamas’ instructions.
I turn witches mad
With the dakinis’ blessings.
I dement the happy demented
With ultimate absorption.
I craze she-demons of realization
With games of enjoyment.
I’m more than a raving lunatic, I’m really sick—
I’ve got backaches from Mahamudra
And chest pains from Dzogchen
I’m weak from ‘vase breathing’
Feverish with wisdom from above
Chilled by meditation from below
Hot and cold from bliss and emptiness.
I vomit—oh-uh, there’s the oral instructions.
Then reality arouses me, and I lie back.
I’m beyond sickness, I’m a dead man—
In the view, which is vast,
I died along with my prejudices.
In meditation, which is spacious,
I died along with my ups and downs.
In conduct, which is extensive,
I died along with my moral claims.
In fruition, which is inclusive
I died along with my hopes and fears.
In samaya, which is universal,
I died along with my pretenses.
I, the yogi, died
In the planes of enlightenment.
I’m to die tonight? No shrouds for my body then:
Rather, the subtle perceptions of external appearances.
No strings for me:
Rather, the rope of the central channel.
No maudlin relatives:
Rather, the child-disciple of awareness.
For this yogi’s body, no gray funeral:
Rather, the path to enlightenment.
Guided by the dakinis,
Led by the Kagyu Lamas—
No meadow on a hill for my corpse:
Rather, the peak of Samantabhadra.
No cemeteries visited by foxes:
Rather, the pleasure grounds of wisdom and skillful means.
Yes! Vajradhara’s own grave!
Dampa Sangye was tickled. “I get your kind of madness!” he grinned.
“What would you say if we performed a feast offering?” Milarepa responded.
“You’re the host here,” said Dampa Sangye, “why don’t you set it up?”
So Milarepa split his own skull and took out his brains. He chopped off his neck and both his legs—these served to form the fire pit. Next he blazed flames from the tummo inner heat at his navel, setting his skull on fire brightly. Now Dampa Sangye turned his body into seven replicas, each sitting on a stalk of grass. Milarepa transformed into seven mandalas of the deity Demchok, complete with eight gates, and settled on seven grass stalks as well, sated with feast offerings. After a time, they each returned to his own home.
This story is one of several in the upcoming book Milarepa: Songs on the Spot. Details on the book are available here.