So you want to hear the story of Milarepa again do you little ones? I guess even though he was one of our rare failures it’s worth the telling just so you don’t feel so bad should it happen to you one day. Yes; now they think he is a saint and Buddhists all over the world remember his songs, poems and deeds, but it wasn’t always that way.
To begin at the beginning, he was just an ordinary Buddhist monk who had decided to live and meditate in a cave half way up a mountain in the middle of nowhere- and there is plenty of nowhere in Tibet as you may find out one day. Well, at the time, me and my gang were hanging out in the mountains round there ready to do a bit of screaming and wailing and scare the habdabs out of any pilgrims who came through those mountain passes, when this prime opportunity, as it seemed then, was put right in our way. You see, with human beings, it doesn’t matter where they are really, they can so easily get screwed up and give us pain to eat. Mostly they just stay asleep and work all their little traumas and complexes (as they seem to call them these days) out on one another, become miserable, angry and all the rest of it and we can feed off them no trouble, as you know. Baby Demon Food we call them. But every so often along comes one of these humans who starts to wake up and sees what a mess they are and wants to do something about it. Aha! We say, now the fun begins because this one is going to generate food for us like there’s no tomorrow (which there isn’t as you know, but we never let on to the humans of course.)
So Milaripa goes off to sit in his cave and meditate and spends a lot of time on his own. People come to see him from time to time because he is a monk and they think he can give them good advice and Milaripa, just like all the other phonies in robes, pretends to be wise and trots out all the cliches. But he was beginning to be aware of his screwed up mind and he was trying to get to the bottom of it, which is something generally we love, because we know that the suffering that effort will bring is some of the best food we can get. That’s why, one day, when he went out to find some food or fuel or something we all bundled into his cave and sat waiting for him. We were have a right laugh and a really noisy party when he came back. All that pain, all that suffering, all those childhood traumas and adult hang ups and all so wonderfully conscious. We were eating the lot and high as kites. Milaripa was stunned and didn’t know what to do. They never do, these humans. In these situations they always run to whatever is the latest fashionable craze for taking the sting out of suffering. These days it is therapy groups and analysis, once it was prayer and asceticism and there is always a market for Gurus and Spiritual teachers, but hey! It’s all the same to us. They go on wallowing in their pain for a lifetime and we get fat!
So this Milaripa he starts on the usual routine. First he ignored us and tried to do his chanting and rituals. We enjoyed that. Then he tried meditating for even longer periods during the day. Nice one; his mind went over and over his problems and we ate them up as fast as they could bubble up. And believe me they can bubble up for ever. Next he found he couldn’t get us off his back that way so he started talking to us. ‘I know you’re only illusions in my mind.’ Says he, ‘But I still think you will benefit from hearing the dharma.’ So he starts to try to teach us Buddhist philosophy and psychology. What a laugh, that’s like trying to make the tide come in by throwing pebbles in the sea. We were all so fat by then we had trouble moving about in the cave and poor old Milaripa was getting squashed to death. Which just added to the fun, of course.
That was where it went wrong for us though, because suddenly he say’s, ‘Well, it looks like you guys have come to stay. I had better just make you welcome and live with you.’ Oh my god, that did it. If there is one thing us demons can’t take it’s being liked and loved. All my gang, off they scampered, until only I was left. But I had seen one little crack in his armour and, as boss of the gang, I was going to give it a go.
You see there was one source of pain left. He had made friends with everything in himself except his sense of failure. He felt he had failed himself and he had failed all the other human beings he knew. He had wanted to be so good and he was just a failure. Of course there is a little bit of inverted pride in that as well but it just adds to the pain and I was going to eat it, and with a bit of luck all the rest of his troubles would start up again and the gang would be back in that cave in a flash.
Well he sat with his misery looking at me eating away and suddenly he said the thing we hate to hear. ‘So you want to eat my misery do you, Demon, OK, if that’s what you want, have the lot and he walked over and stuck his head right in my mouth. Oh god, but that tastes horrible. When a human being accepts you completely and just says, ‘So be it. I accept exactly what I am- even if it kills me.’ It’s time to quit. There is nothing left to eat there. So I scrammed and the rest is history, as they say.
The moral of my story for you little Demons? Well it’s this; never push a human to the point where they give up the fight and just accept who they are because, what we know, but they don’t, is that that is just the point at which they taste awful. Still there are plenty more suffering suckers where he came from so I don’t think we are going to go hungry any time soon.