Thursday, October 18, 2007

Milarepa

Just a quick post on a movie the four of us saw this past weekend. Milarepa is a story that combines, for us, a very familiar story with some exotic landscape and ideas.

Let's start with the exotic. Milarepa is a major historical figure in Tibetan Buddhism, a yogi who produced many songs, poems, and disciples that are remembered and revered to this day. But before he ascended to this exalted status, he was a young man who practiced sorcery and murder. You see, after his wealthy father's death, Milarepa's uncle and aunt stole all of his family's wealth. For years, Milarepa, his mother, and his sister lived in absolute poverty. Eventually, as the story goes, Milarepa's mother, motivated by revenge, sent him away to learn black magic. And learn he did. Before long, Milarepa was able to run at incredible, superhuman speeds and to summon natural forces on his behalf. These powers were used toward ill ends when Milarepa brought death and destruction down upon his village, in the form of wind, rain, and mountain slides.

So where's the familiarity? Well, there is the moral of the story. Power and gifts should not be used for evil purposes, but to do good in society. This can be found in tales as simple as the origin of Spider Man (go back and read the first issue). It is also found in many religious traditions, including Christianity. I, for one, was struck by the similarities between Milarepa and Paul. Paul, of course, made the transition from being a notorious persecutor of early Christians to being one of the most important missionaries and theologians in church history. Likewise, Milarepa ultimately recognized the mistakes he had made and became a great teacher in Tibetan Buddhism.

Thankfully, we all can be redeemed!

~Steve

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