Jetsun Milarepa was a famous saint
who is still revered among all four lineages in Tibet. However,
this was not always the case. Jetsun's life was full of
intrigue, disaster, and amazing feats. Adam
Yauch saw similarities in his own life when he heard
Milarepa's tale of how Jetsun transformed from an avenging
black magician into a supremely powerful yogi, thus pointing
the way to self-knowledge and liberation. Hanging out with
Rick Rubin and Russell
Simmons on the Licensed
to Ill tour was not exactly the same as practicing
black magic, but both of those paths were seen as potentially
As the story goes, in approximately the year 1060 Milarepa
sought vengeance on unscrupulous relatives for mistreating
his mother and sister. Having been trained in sorcery, he
commanded a rain of scorpions, snakes, and lizards to attack
the villains. But when his teacher rebuked him for his evil
deeds, Milarepa turned his back on black magic in order
to seek mystic truth. He retreated to a cave where, after
years of intense meditation, he acquired the power to change
his body into any shape and fly across the sky like a bird.
But most important, he achieved the greatest victory of
all: mastery over his own self.
For the sake of not oversimplifying the man's biography,
Milarepa's spiritual story is divided into fifteen sections.
The first tells of how he was born and of his family history.
It turns out that his father was a trader in wool and had
become wealthy by the standards of the time when his wife
bore a son. It is interesting to note that at the time when
Licensed to Ill was on top of the pop charts, it
was often brought up by the media that Adam Yauch was the
son of a "well-to-do" family.
The second section deals with Milarepa's study of black
magic, how he destroyed the house of his aunt and uncle
and sent hail into the valley. The third treats how Jetsun
met the genuine Dharma. The fourth covers how Jetsun practiced
strictly according to his master's word. The fifth concerns
the initiations Milarepa received and his yidam practice,
including how the deities directly appeared to him. The
sixth chapter deals with his first retreat, where he stayed
for eleven months. The seventh shows how Jetsun came out of retreat, met Marpa for the
last time, and returned to his home country. The eighth
tells how Jetsun came home, experienced the suffering of
having lost his parents and his family, and then traveled
White Horse Tooth Rock Cave to practice. The ninth chapter
covers the various things in which he engaged. One of the
things Milarepa is best known for was the enlightening music
he shared with people after his transformation.
Inspired by Jetsun's story, Erin
Potts and Adam Yauch selected to call their organization
the "Milarepa Fund." Following the release of
Communication (1994), the two set out to bring public
awareness to the human rights violations going on in China
. With the success of four Tibetan Freedom Concerts under
their belts, the Milarepa Fund continues to use a combination
of song and sincerity to carry the message of nonviolence
around the world today.