The Awe-inspiring View of Reality

An Excerpt from Karl Brunnhölzl’s Milarepa’s Kungfu: Mahāmudrā in his Songs of Realization

From the foreword by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Have you ever stood at a vista point that looked out over a vast landscape to the meeting point of endless ocean and brilliant sky? It’s a joyful, speechless, and breathtaking experience. We are carried right to that awe-inspiring point as we read Milarepa’s songs, but with one difference. Milarepa was sitting at the vista point of reality and looking straight at its true nature, an expansive, profound, and blissful view.

If, in the course of things, you find yourself there in Mila’s same spot looking straight at that view, see how your mind begins to bend! It bends to the point that you won’t even recognize it as mind. At that moment, you glimpse the nature of your present mind, the same nature Milarepa saw—open, spacious, blissful, and free from thoughts. To say the least, the mind is not at all rigid; in fact, it is infinitely supple and flexible. This awesome mind is quite funny, too. If you confine it, it wants to escape. If you let it go, it just stays. If you look at it, there is nothing there. When you are not looking, it’s full of spontaneous creative energy and continuously manifesting in a multitude of ways, as wisdom, love, and drama as well.

"The mind is not at all rigid; in fact, it is infinitely supple and flexible."

Like many yogins of India, Milarepa often expressed his experiences in spontaneous songs, as a way to recollect or communicate them to others. These songs are classically known as dohas (couplets). Most famous poetry draws its inspiration from deep emotional experiences. But for Milarepa, his inspiration was his realization of mind and its reality.

“Seeing is believing” is a phrase we often hear. It makes sense and it’s mostly how we operate. When I hear it, I’m reminded of this view—the reality we can’t believe until we see it. Seeing is a direct experience that goes beyond thought’s imaginations. As Milarepa developed certainty in what he saw, the view of the nature of mind, he gained confidence in that view. That is believing, or unshakable conviction.

That breathtaking view from the vista point can become part of your everyday experience if you sit there frequently. Otherwise it may simply remain as a picture in your device. Not only may you not be able to find that picture when you need it, you may not even remember that experience! So, seeing reality alone is not enough to gain complete freedom from mundane thoughts and confusion. The view may be intriguing but still it’s just a momentary experience, which will soon pass. In order for that experience to become more consistent or continuous, you need to familiarize yourself with it again and again. Deepening the view through familiarization is what’s called “meditation.”

"That breathtaking view from the vista point can become part of your everyday experience if you sit there frequently."

When you are able to be at that viewpoint with certainty at all times, then all you do is embraced by the aura of that vast view and meditation. This is what’s known as “action” or “conduct.” It enables you to act with love and awareness and to see things more clearly within the experience of openness and spaciousness. This brings great joy in life because now you are seeing the reality in everything your mind touches.

Finally, as you go deeper, there’s a sense of oneness of the seer, the view, and the experience. There’s no gap between you and the reality. This is the result of view, meditation, and action becoming one with your whole being. This is called “fruition,” the revelation of your full potential, and being able to manifest that will free your mind from delusion and pain. You can find peace and freedom in every moment of life; thus, life becomes beautiful and joyful.

"As you go deeper, there’s a sense of oneness of the seer, the view, and the experience."

In this book, Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl, our Nalandabodhi Mitra, unveils the secret of view, meditation, and action as sung by the king of yogins, Milarepa. This book is certain to open a new dimension for your mind and bring the mind-bending experience of the yogi into your heart on the spot! These teachings of Milarepa are a timely and straight-to-the-heart wisdom that will surely benefit many in this century and beyond.

I truly appreciate Mitra Karl accepting my request to teach this doha in the beginning, turning that into a book in the middle, and bringing it into our world at the end. With heartfelt gratitude, I close with the aspiration that all who even glance at this book may see the reality and free their mind.
—Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche


Excerpted from the foreword to Karl Brunnhӧlzl’s Milarepa’s Kungfu: Mahāmudrā in his Songs of Realization.

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