Chung Tai’s Milarepa


One day, a lay disciple offered an expensive tree to the monastery. The Master instructed a certain monk, “Find a place to plant this tree.” The very next morning, the Master said, “This place is not good; plant the tree over there.” The monk followed the Master’s instruction.

In the afternoon, the Master interrogated him, “Who asked you to plant it here? Plant it in that place over there.” Sweating, the monk dug up the tree and planted it again.

That same evening, the Master again commanded him, “It is planted too far left; move it over a little to the right.”

Thus, ever since this precious tree arrived, this monk was kept busy planting and replanting the tree. The lay disciple observed this and told the Master, “The tree costs a lot. If we keep moving it around, will it not die?”

The Master replied, “If it can help a disciple to mature and attain realization, however expensive the tree is, would it not be worth the price?”


*  Milarepa (1052-1135) is one of the most famous masters in Tibetan Buddhism history. In his youth he had been a black magician and killed many people, but having repented, he became a Buddhist under the strict guidance of Marpa The Translator (1012-1097). Milarepa is famous for having endured many unusually harsh trials under Marpa to cleanse himself of the transgressions and to reach enlightenment.

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