Despite the many sectarian differences among Tibetan Buddhists, they all unite in holding the Great Yogi Milarepa in highest reverence and esteem, considering him the prototype of a great saint. However, a disciple of Milarepa, suspecting that his teacher may have been a fully enlightened buddha, once asked the religious leader his true identity. Not flattered, Milarepa explained that there could be no greater insult than to suggest that he was an emanation of a buddha. To do so was to deprecate the excruciating suffering he had to undergo in order to expunge from him the sins of his youth; to do so was to minimize the remarkable effort he made living in solitary caves and eating only nettles; to do so was to create a barrier to one's own practice.
In this extraordinary biography of Milarepa, readers gain a rich and vivid perspective of the celebrated man's struggles, work, and insight. Moreover, W. Y. Evans-Wentz offers - through the lens of Milarepa's experiences and teachings - an unprecedented amount of knowledge that accompanies the ancient and universal wisdom that is Buddhism. But the story of Milarepa is not solely about religion; it also addresses the legacy that followed the death of one of the greatest religious gurus, exploring questions of lineage and legitimacy that were important in the centuries after Milarepa died.
Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa, W. Y. Evans-Wentz, Oxford University Press, Paperback, 315 pages, $34.99