My Very Short Life with Milarepa


One of the first books I read about Tibetan Buddhism was the Life of Milarepa. I found the story of his life and enlightenment a great inspiration. Reading about Milarepa always invoked a feeling of familiarity with him, as if I might have actually known him myself, in a past life. Such a thought filled me with joy, and maybe a little self-satisfaction.

One afternoon, I was sitting with the Vidyadhara in his bedroom at his retreat in Mill Village, Nova Scotia. The Vidyadhara was sitting up in bed, and I was sitting on the floor, facing him. I decided to ask the Vidyadhara about this association I felt with Milarepa. I told him about my strong feeling of familiarity with the great teacher, how I was almost certain I had been with Milarepa in his cave. Then I asked, “Sir, do you think I might have actually been with Milarepa?”

The Vidyadhara paused, looked at me, and smiled enigmatically. He said, “Hmm, maybe you were.”

“Really, sir?” I said, surprised and excited. To myself, I said, “I knew it! I knew I had studied with Milarepa, and now Rinpoche is going to confirm it.”

“Yes,” he said slowly, “Yes, perhaps you were…a puppy dog.”

2004 by Alan Sloan


Alan Sloan met the Vidyadhara in Boulder, Colorado in 1970, becoming his student the following year. He is a leadership coach and facilitator in community and organizational development, living in Halifax. Alan is a senior Shambhala Training director.