" The Hundred Thousand Songs: Selections from Milarepa, Poet-saint of Tibet "
At a young age, Milarepa lost his father and his family’s estate passed into the hands of his father’s brother, who, with his wife, virtually enslaved Mila’s mother and family, making them work in the field. He, along with his mother and sister, went through tremendous suffering because of the ill treatment of his uncle and aunt. When his father died, Milarepa's uncle and aunt took all of the family's wealth. At his mother's request, Milarepa left home and studied sorcery. While his aunt and uncle were having a party to celebrate the impending marriage of their son, he took his revenge by summoning a giant hail storm to demolish their house, killing 35 people, although the uncle and aunt are supposed to have survived. The villagers were angry and set off to look for Milarepa, but his mother got word to him, and he sent a hailstorm to destroy their crops.
Many of Milarepa's deeds took place in Chokyi Dronma's homeland and his life and songs were compiled by Tsangnyön Heruka, sponsored by Chokyi Dronma's brother, the Gungthang king Thri Namgyal De.
Knowing that his revenge was wrong, Milarepa set out to find a lama and was led to Marpa the Translator. Marpa proved a hard taskmaster. Before Marpa would teach Milarepa he had him build and then demolish three towers in turn. Milarepa was asked to build one final multi-story tower by Marpa at Lhodrag: this 11th century tower still stands.
Milarepa was finally shown the spiritual teachings. He then left on his own, and after protracted diligence for 12 years he attained the state of Vajradhara (complete enlightenment). He then became known as Milarepa. 'Mila' is Tibetan for; 'great man', and 'repa' means; 'cotton clad one.' At the age of 45, he started to practice at Drakar Taso (White Rock Horse Tooth) cave – "Milarepa's Cave", as well as becoming a wandering teacher.
Milarepa's lama was Marpa, a.k.a. 'Marpa the Translator,' whose guru (teacher or lama) was Naropa, who's guru was, in turn, Tilopa. Milarepa is famous for many of his songs and poems, in which he expresses the profundity of his realization of the dharma. His songs were impulsive, not contrived or written down, and came about while he was immersed in enlightened states of consciousness. His life represented the ideal Bodhisattva, and is a testament to the unity and interdependency of all Buddhist teachings – Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. He showed that poverty is not a deprivation, but rather a component of emancipating oneself from the constrictions of material possessions; that Tantric practice entails discipline and steadfast perseverance; that without resolute renunciation and uncompromising discipline, as Gautama Buddha Himself stressed, all the sublime ideas and dazzling images depicted in Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism are no better that magnificent illusions.