A Profound & Essential One-Word Teaching

Briefly, without being mindful of death,
whatever Dharma practices you take up
will be merely superficial.

– Milarepa

He [Milarepa]… said, ‘I have an unusually profound pith-instruction, but it is too precious to just give it away. I am through now, son. You may go.’ Milarepa then embraced Gampopa and bid him farewell on his journey. Gampopa hoisted his pack and crossed the stone bridge, leaving Milarepa standing back on the other side of the river. Gampopa knew that Milarepa had already transmitted all his lineage teachings, and wondered what this more profound doctrine could be. He continued walking east, but when he reached a distance within earshot of where Milarepa still stood, he heard his guru calling him. Turning, he saw Jetsun Milarepa, quite far away now, motioning him to come back. Puzzled, Gampopa walked back, and again crossed the stone bridge to see what it was his guru wanted…

‘Now look!’ Milarepa said, and hoisted the back of his robe, revealing the cheeks of his buttocks, all covered with lumps of hard callus, like the hooves of an animal, due to having sat for so long on stony ground without a cushion. He said, ‘There is no more profound teaching than this. Now you can imagine the hardships I have undergone. My attainment of realisation came from this. It has simply been due to persistent effort that I have accumulated merit and gained accomplishment. You need such effort, and not any other doctrine. This is the essence of my teaching. Whether you become a Buddha or not depends on effort. With it, there can be no question about your liberation. Like a son, do what your father says! You should likewise continue to exert yourself with great perseverance in your meditation. You should continue sitting on one seat, in one place, until you reach realisation. This is the most profound teaching in Buddhism: Practice!’

The Life Of Gampopa
Jampa Mackenzie Stewart

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