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Lions Roar : March 2009
58 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 Smile at Fear Spiritually Speaking, i come from an eccentric fam- ily. the patriarch of my family was the indian mahasiddha tilopa who, while spiritually accomplished, was not mo- tivated by worldly success. He held humble jobs: grinding sesame seeds into oil during the day, and at night, procur- ing clients for a prostitute. later in life, having attained the supreme realization of the Vajrayana, he became a wander- ing yogi, known to feast on fish entrails left by fisherman down by the lake. at least, that’s the story passed down to me, told with a great deal of family pride. His spiritual son, naropa, was a renowned scholar at the greatest indian university of his era, nalanda. after re- alizing that he didn’t understand the inner meaning of the texts he was studying, he left the university to study with tilopa. naropa was subjected to a series of difficult tri- als by his teacher, such as jumping off buildings or lying in leech-infested water. eventually, he attained complete, stainless enlightenment when tilopa whapped him across the cheek with his sandal. the next forefather, Marpa, owned a farm in tibet and was married with children. From time to time, he trav- elled to india to study the dharma. there he found naropa. Marpa had brought a bag of gold dust to make offerings to the teachers he encountered. When naropa demanded the whole bag, Marpa didn’t want to part with it, but he gave in. at that point, naropa scattered the gold dust into the air, singing: “gold, gold, what is gold to me? the whole world is gold to me.” this was the beginning of Marpa’s training with naropa, which led to his ultimate liberation. the next spiritual son, Milarepa, studied black magic and sent a hailstorm to destroy the farm of his aunt and uncle, who had made him and his mother into servants, but the vengeance did not fundamentally satisfy him. eventually he found Marpa, who asked him to construct a series of buildings in exchange for receiving the teach- ings. Milarepa had to carry large boulders and shove them into place by himself, but Marpa would show up, often drunk, and ask Milarepa just what in the name of heaven he was doing. Ordered to dismantle the edifice, he would have to put up another somewhere else. Finally, when Mila was completely broken down and close to suicide, Marpa give him formal initiation. Mila eventually left to pursue meditation in solitude, spending the remainder of his life Carolyn rose Gimian is an author and editor living in Halifax, nova scotia. she is the editor of many of the books of Chö- gyam Trungpa, including Conquering Fear: the Heart of Sham- bhala, forthcoming in 2009. When we face difficult circumstances—as so many people do these days—fear can overwhelm us. Carolyn Gimian shows us how we can discover the fearlessness of the great meditators—by welcoming fear as a precious opportunity to open up and let go. and that can make us smile. FreergalleryOFart,SMitHSOnianinStitutiOn,WaSHingtOn,D.C.:giFtOFCHarlSlangFreer,F1909.51