The Songs of Milarepa

Tibet’s Milarepa (1052-1135 CE) lived as a cave hermit for 12 years. Practicing extreme austerities and intensive meditation, ultimately he achieved enlightenment. Here is a small taste from the vast storehouse of Milarepa’s wisdom, which has loomed large in Tibetan Buddhism.

I renounced all affairs of this life;
And, no longer lazy,
_!_Cave_Big_Room_Closeup_smDevoted myself to Dharma.
Thus I have reached
The State of Eternal Bliss.
Such is the story of my life.

High above,
Dark clouds gather;
Deep blue and far below
Flows the River Tsang.
The brook chatters
Past pebbles and rocks
At my feet, wild flowers bloom,
Vibrant and profuse.

Comprehending beyond good and evil
Opens the way to perfect skill.
Experiencing the dissolution of duality,
You embrace the highest view.

How foolish to spend your lifetime without meaning,
When a precious human body is so rare a gift.

The affairs of the world will go on forever.
Do not delay the practice of meditation.

When you are young and vigorous
You never think of old age coming,
But it approaches slow and sure
Like a seed growing underground.

Strong and healthy,
Who thinks of sickness
Until it strikes like lightning?
Preoccupied with the world,
Who thinks of death
Until it arrives like thunder?

Who can tell when death will come?
Ever think of this,
And devote yourselves
To Dharma practice.

The time has come for you to help yourself.
Life flees fast. Soon death
Will knock upon your door.
It is foolish, therefore, one’s devotion to postpone.

Rest in a natural way like a small child.
Rest like an ocean without waves.
Rest within clarity like a candle flame.
Rest without self-concerns like a human corpse.
Rest unmoving like a mountain.

Long accustomed
To contemplating compassion,
I have forgotten all difference
Between myself and others.

In the monastery of your heart and body,
you have a temple where all buddhas unite.

When one comes to the essence of being,
The shining wisdom of reality Illumines all
Like the cloudless sky.

Life is short,
And the time of death is uncertain;
So apply yourself to meditation.

Hasten slowly
And ye shall soon arrive.

A yogi, I roam the mountains.
Like a great Mandala, my body is full of bliss.
Cleansed of desires and pride, I feel well and happy.
With longing for diversions extinguished, I feel joy in solitude.

Happy and joyous do I live … without plans or schemes.
I want neither fame nor glory.
Wherever I stay, whatever I wear or eat,
I fell truly content.

My religion is not Buddhism.
My religion is to live and die without regret.

Death is like an oil-dry lamp
(After its last flicker).
Nothing, I assure you,
In this world is permanent.

Veiled by ignorance,
The minds of man and Buddha
Appear to be different;
Yet in the realm of Mind Essence
They are both of one taste.
Sometime they will meet each other
In the great Dharmadhatu.


1. One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa,

2. Sixty Songs of Milarepa, tr. Garma C.C. Chang (Kandy, Sri Lanka, Buddhist Publication Society, 1980), available on line at:







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Bhagavad Gita Gems
Light from the Upanishads
Sayings of Buddha: Dhammapada
Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara
Devotional Song-Poems of Hinduism
The Songs of Milarepa
Vast As the Universe
Vedanta: The Oneness of All
Zen Gems: Return to the Origin
Comforting Bible Verses
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Psalms for Tough Times
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Awakening to Transcendence
The Divine in the World’s Religions
The Lamp of Eternity
Nature and Spirit
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Ten Death Poems


Being centered and present to oneself, the present moment, and existence itself… Here are glimpses of the vast storehouses of wisdom to be found within the ancient faith traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism.


Kathmandu, Nepal

The Bhagavad Gita – from Prabha Duneja’s translation, The Holy Geeta.

The Dhammapada – Sayings of Buddha, from two special translations.

Light from The Upanishads – quotes from the translation of scholar-mystic Swami Nikhilananda.

Selected Devotional Songs of Hinduism – as cited in the epic book, The Gospel of Ramakrishna, a spiritual page-turner.

Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara – a classic, from a translation by Richard Faulds and Danna Faulds. An English rendering of the title is “Entering the Path of Enlightenment.”

The Songs of Milarepa – I have long been fascinated by this extraordinary being who offered his teachings to the world through song – 100,000 songs, it is said! Can you imagine?

Swayambhunath. Photo by JT

Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Vast as the Universe – quotes by Swami Kripalu, a contemporary Yoga master.

Vedanta – The Oneness of All – shining a light on the ancient wisdom of India, drawing from several not-so-common sources.

Zen Gems: Return to the Origin – prized quotes from many sources. Zen philosophy has a unique knack for piercing delusion’s fog and cutting to the spiritual chase.



Although I’ve never taken up spiritual residence in Buddhism, its teachings have graced my way through the years. As the Buddha said, “One who drinks deeply of the Dharma, with a clear and open mind, rests well.”

Swayambhunath. Photo by JT

Swayambhunath Stupa, Nepal. Photo by JT

The Dhammapada – Sayings of Buddha, from two special translations:
(1) Thomas Byrom’s version (Shambhala, 1993), and
(2) translated into Tibetan from the Pali by dGe-‘dun Chos-‘phel, then into English (Dharma, 1985)

Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara – a classic, from a translation by Richard Faulds and Danna Faulds. An English rendering of the title is “Entering the Path of Enlightenment.”

Shantideva’s Milarepa – I have long been fascinated by this extraordinary being who offered his teachings to the world through song – 100,000 songs, it is said! Can you imagine? 

Zen Gems: Return to the Origin – prized quotes from many sources. Zen philosophy has a unique knack for piercing delusion’s fog and cutting to the spiritual chase.


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JT_Pic_Red_Shirt_Brick_by_MAReynIn this new era, our biosphere’s continued ability to sustain life and civilization is no longer assured. We have so much to learn and share as we reimagine ways of living that can make a path to a sustainable future.

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Photo_by_Josh_Edgoose_on_UnsplashFriends, we are in an environmental, economic, social and spiritual crisis. For ten years people have been talking about climate change as an 11th hour problem. Now the climate clock has struck midnight, and we have a very small window of time to prevent ecological and social collapse. We find ourselves freestyling—grasping for a viable path to survival because the predicament that we find ourselves in demands no less.   Read more >>

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Quotes and resources at this website:

Gandhi • Peace Pilgrim • Grace Lee Boggs
  Charles Eisenstein • More Charles Eisenstein

  Sacred Song Delights • Familiar Comforting Hymns
Earth Songs and Chants  • Crooner Tunes and Musicals
Dad’s Classical Music Favorites • Quotes on the Soul of Music

Upanishads  • Vedanta • Bhagavad Gita
Hindu Song-Poems • Swami Kripalu

Dhammapada – Sayings of Buddha
Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara
The Songs of Milarepa • Zen Quotes

The Christian Bible • Mechthild of Magdeburg
Comforting Psalms • Quaker Quotes
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

Hazrat Inayat Khan • Mystics of Islam
The Qur’an

Guru Granth Sahib

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Devotional Song-Poems of Hinduism

Unique in spiritual literature, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna—over 1,000 pages in length—is an up-close portrayal of one of the modern era’s great holy beings and his close-in devotees. Here is a sampling of the raw, passionate, inspiring song lyrics that are sprinkled throughout this one-of-a-kind book.


Oh, when will dawn for me
that day of blessedness
When He who is all Good, all Beauty, and all Truth,
Will light the inmost shrine
of my heart?

We know not
whence we come,
nor where we float away.
Time and again
we tread this round
of smiles and tears.
In vain we pine to know
whither our pathway leads,
and why we play
this empty play.


Sri Ramakrishna

How are you trying,
O my mind,
to know the nature of God?
You are groping like a madman
locked in a dark room.
He is grasped through ecstatic love;
How can you fathom Him without it?
He dwells in Everlasting Joy.
When love awakes,
the Lord, like a magnet,
draws to Him the soul.

Fasten your mind, O man,
On the Primal Purusha
Who is the Cause of all causes,
… the Beginningless Truth.
He pervades the infinite universe.
He shines in the cave of the heart.

Light up, O mind, light up true wisdom’s shining lamp,
And let it burn with steady flame
Unceasingly within your heart…
Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God’s Beauty.
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love.

I shall become a yogi and dwell in Love’s mountain cave.
I shall be lost in yoga beside the Fountain-head of Bliss.
I shall draw the waters of Peace into the jar of my soul.
I shall laugh and dance and weep and sing on the heights of Joy.

Thou (art) the Spring of my boundless bliss,
Thou the Helmsman who dost steer my craft
Across the sea of life.

I have made Thee, O Lord, the Pole-star of my life.
No more shall I lose my way on the world’s trackless sea.
In my heart’s inmost shrine Thy face forever beams.

In Wisdom’s firmament the moon of Love is rising full,
And Love’s flood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere.

Om, I bow to You, the Everlasting Cause of the world.
I bow to You, Pure Consciousness,
The Soul that sustains the whole universe.


These are excerpted from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, tr. Swami Nikhilananda (New York, Ramakrishna-Vivekenananda Center, 1942).

Read The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna online.

Sri Ramakrishna lived in Southern India in the later 1800s. He would fly into spiritual ecstasy at the slightest provocation. The soaring notes of a heartfelt hymn at dusk, the sight of a flock of white birds superimposed on dark grey storm clouds, or the sight of his beloved Divine Mother in any of her innumerable forms—all would cause Ramakrishna to become immersed in the joy of union with the Divine Beloved.

Read about Sri Ramakrishna on Tumblr.

The page number for each of the above song excerpts is:

(1)   p. 276
(2)   p. 927
(3)   p. 107
(4)   p. 153
(5)   p. 153 and p. 574
(6)   p. 409
(7)   p. 207
(8)   p, 808
(9)   p. 122
(10) p. 517


Encountering the Divine in the World’s Religions

The following quotes offer a thimbleful from the oceans of words that people have reached for to express the inexpressible, incomprehensible Source of All.

Truth is one;
the sages call it by many names.
(Hinduism, The Rig Veda)

There are
many paths
to the top of
the mountain,
but the view
is always the same.
(Chinese Proverb)

You may follow one stream.
Know that it leads to the Ocean,
but do not mistake the stream for the Ocean.

God is one, but his names are many.
Religion is one, but its ways are many.
Spirituality is one, but religions are many.
Humanity is one, but human beings are many.
(poem, author unknown)

O Mother of all things,
who dost pervade the universe:
You appear with form,
to him who loves You as a Person;
You are the Absolute,
to him who worships formless Truth.
Each one, according to his measure,
makes his image of the Truth,
calling to it the highest Brahman.
Beyond this shines the Indescribable.
O Mother of all things,
who dost pervade the universe,
Every one of these is You!
(Hindu Devotional Song)

He to whom you pray
is nearer to you
than the neck of your camel.
(Muhammad, Islam)

There is a spirit in the soul,
untouched by time and flesh,
flowing from the Spirit,
remaining in the Spirit…
In this principle is God,
ever verdant, ever flowering
in all the joy and glory
of His actual Self.
(Meister Eckhart, Christianity)

The souls of all that live
are the splendor of the Divine.

Meditating on the lotus of your heart,
in the center is the untainted;
the exquisitely pure, clear, and sorrowless;
the inconceivable;
the unmanifest, of infinite form;
blissful, tranquil, immortal;
the womb of Brahma.
(Kaivalyopanishad, Hinduism)

The kingdom of God is within you.

The deity is immanent in man
and man is inherent in the deity.
(Shinto Tradition)

Cherish that of God within you.
(Christianity, Quaker, author unknown)

Seated in my higher mind,
I live in communion with God
and within me rings ever
the unstruck Music (of Bliss).
(Sikhism, The Holy Guru Granth Sahib)

There is not a single place
in all the corners of the world
where God is absent.
(Omoto Kyo)

It is said that when you take
only one step toward Him,
He advances ten steps toward you.
But the complete truth is that
God is always with you.
(Muhammad, Islam)

In the beginning was God,
Today is God
Tomorrow will be God.
 (African Traditional Religions)

When one comes to the Essence of Being,
the shining Wisdom of Reality
illumines all like the cloudless sky.
(Milarepa, Tibetan Buddhism)

The destination of all is to God.

God hugs you.
You are encircled by the arms
of the mystery of God.
(Hildegarde of Bingen, Christianity)

My mind is hushed in a wide and endless light.
(Sri Aurobindo, Hinduism)


1.   From the ancient Hindu scripture, The Rig Veda, Book No. 1, Hymn No. 164, verse 46.


3.  Poem read at the Sarva-Dharma-Sammelana at Bengalore — “Visions of an Interfaith Future”

4.   Quoted in Essential Sufism, ed. James Fadiman, Robert Frager (1999).

5.   Devotional song from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, by M., tr. Swami Nikhilanda.

6.   From the Hadith (Sayings of Muhammad),

7.  Quoted in Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (Harper & Row, 1945).

8.   From a reading at a Yom Kippur morning service.

9.   From Kerry Brown, ed., The Essential Teachings of Hinduism: Daily Readings from the Sacred Texts (London, Arrow Books Ltd., 1990; originally published by Rider, 1988).

10.  From Christianity’s Bible, Luke 17:21 (NIV).

11.   Quoted in World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, ed. Dr. Andrew Wilson, International Religious Foundation, 1991.

12.   From Questions and Counsel, 1988, the Society of Friends (Quaker).

13.   Sri Rag Var, Shloka M. 3, the Holy Guru Granth Sahib (the sacred scripture of Sikhism).

14.   Omoto Kyo, Michi-no-Shiori, quoted in World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts (see citation above).

15.   Quoted in Essential Sufism, ed. James Fadiman and Robert Frager (1999).

16.  Pygmy Hymn, Zaire, quoted in World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts (see citation above).

17.  The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, tr. Garma C.C. Chang (abridged edition, New York: Harper, 1962).

18.  The Qur’an, Surah 35:18.

19.  Quoted at

20.  Quoted in 1,001 Pearls of Buddhist Wisdom, ed. Desmond Biddulph (San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2007).