[Main ROKPA Homepage]

The aims of our charitable Trusts. How we started.
Kagy Samye Ling and Kagyu Samye Dzong centres in Europe and Africa
Resident and visiting lamas. Other lineage teachers and dharma helpers.
HH the 17th Gyalwa Karma, Urgyen Tinley Dorje. The illustrious Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
A useful collection of Buddhist teachings - theory and meditation.

The Indian Patriarchs who founded the Kagyu lineage Mahamudra and the Six Yogas, the sublime content of the Kagyu lineage
This section: the Tibetan masters of the Karma Kagyu lineageThe Gyalwa Karmapas, supreme masters of the Karma Kagyu lineage


Meditation Experiences

First page on Gampopa  This section: 2nd part of Gampopa hagiography  3rd part of Gampopa hagiography  4th part of Gampopa hagiography

(continued from Part One ...) Saying that, Milarepa gave a very basic teaching and sent Sonam Rinchen off to meditate on it for seven days. After seven days of practicing, he gained such vital energy that he no longer needed ordinary clothing to remain warm but just a very thin layer of cotton cloth. He was also able to become absorbed in a very profound meditation, needing only to take one special breath a day. When he went back to Milarepa and reported his great progress, Milarepa did not praise him nor find fault with him, but just told him to keep on meditating.

He returned to his meditation. This time he experienced great darkness, so obscure that he was unable to see anything. At the same time he heard cries, but because everything was so dark he could not tell what was happening. Once again he went to Milarepa and told him about this experience. Again Milarepa said that this signified neither blessing nor curse, and that he should keep on meditating. "In fact," he said, "when you are meditating there are changes in your nerve impulses and channel systems. So when you are sitting and feeling some changes in your usual perception, you are in the meditative experience."

Following the advice of Milarepa, Gampopa went and kept on practicing, and in his next experience he became very uncomfortable. He experienced dizziness and felt nauseous, and he thought that he must be sick. So he went to Milarepa and told him that he must be sick because he felt dizzy and nauseous. Milarepa said that he must keep on meditating, just as he had explained before, no matter what he experienced. But Milarepa added that this time the cause of the problem could possibly be that Gampopa had tied his meditation rope too tightly, and so he should loosen it.

Then, Milarepa taught him some more ways of mastering the various energies and their channels in the 'subtle body'. These are known as yogas. He taught him the various skilful methods of inner heat, known as tummo in Tibetan or candali in Sanskrit. Then he sent Gampopa back to meditation.

Gampopa was then able to see very clearly the beings of the six realms, from the god realm to the hell realm. Not only that, he saw that they were all enjoying the milk of the stars, and it was a very fascinating experience. However, he also saw his own mother in a very weak condition. She seemed to be sick, with a very weak physical body. She was suffering from hunger and thirst, while all the other beings were enjoying the milk of the stars.

He went back to Milarepa and told him of this experience, and Milarepa said, "Those are simply meditative experiences. Your previous experience of feeling nauseous was also a meditative experience. They come from the vital air entering the nerve channels and systems."

Milarepa continued, "Now this experience of seeing beings of the six realms enjoying the milk of the stars happens when the 'tigle' enters into the vital nerve system. The reason you experience the suffering and starving of your mother is that you have one nerve system that was not opened when the tigle entered." Because of that blocked channel, Sonam Rinchen experienced suffering.

Giving him another yoga instruction, Milarepa then told Sonam Rinchen to go back and meditate without fear, expectation, or hope. At the same time Milarepa mumbled a word or two, and Sonam Rinchen thought he said, "There is a supreme being." When he went back and meditated, this time he saw the mandala of the deities, the complete mandala of Chakrasamvara. He was able to see this complete mandala of the deities because he thought that was what Milarepa had meant by saying that there was a supreme being.

Milarepa once again told Sonam Rinchen that this was neither a good nor a bad experience, and that he must go back and continue to meditate without fear or hope. He then gave him another yoga practice. This led to his next experience, seeing the solar and lunar eclipses at the same time. The way he saw it in his vision, the eclipse was caused by a very thin, thread-like cloud. This thread-like shadow had the capacity to completely obscure the sun and the moon.

Sonam Rinchen went back again and told Milarepa about the experience of the eclipse. Milarepa said that it was neither good nor bad, it was just a meditation experience. This one was caused when the tigle entered into the two nerve channels, called "roma" on the left and "kyangma" on the right. The entering of the tigle into the right and left nerve channels causes the experience of the fine, thread-like eclipse.

Although Milarepa again told Sonam Rinchen that his experience was neither good nor bad, and that he must continue meditating, this time he gave him some advice. "It seems," he said, "that you are over-taxing yourself in meditation. Meditate with less force, less tension. You must relax." Then, taking these words, and some new yoga instructions, Sonam Rinchen went back to meditate, as instructed by his guru Milarepa.

Milarepa sent Sonam Rinchen (Gampopa) back to meditate many times and gave him many yoga instructions. Gampopa had by this time become very advanced in his meditations, and could accomplish them in very difficult situations with no discomfort. He learned lung (breath) practice and supplication prayers to his guru Milarepa.