A Parable on Dealing with Shadow

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Eventually he returned with firewood to his cave, and found it invaded by five horrific demons with eyes as large as saucers. Shocked, Milarepa politely introduced himself and asked them to leave. At this, the demons became menacing, surrounding him while growling, grimacing, and laughing maliciously. Milarepa was alarmed and attempted the most powerful of exorcism recitations, to no avail. The demons became even more threatening. Next, the yogin tried with great compassion to pacify them with Buddhist teachings, but they still remained, more vivid and horrible than before. 

 Finally Milarepa realized that his approach was mistaken, and that he needed the most direct means possible. Supplicating his teacher Marpa, he acknowledged that the demons, and all phenomena for that matter, were of his own mind, which is of the nature of luminosity and emptiness. The demons were his own projections, and seeing them naively as external demons served as an obstacle to his practice. At the same time, their malicious nature was actually radiant and transparent, no different from awakening itself. If he could respond to them appropriately, he could reap great spiritual benefit. Milarepa then applied his guru's instructions and sang one of his famous dohas, or songs of realization. 

In it he proclaimed his lineage of wakefulness and the mastery of his own mind. He prayed to Marpa, who had himself conquered the Maras, referring to him as a queen snow lioness, a golden Garuda (intrepid master of all birds), and as the king of fishes. Then, professing himself as Marpa's son in each of these forms, he proclaimed his meditative maturity and unshakable fearlessness, leaping from the snowy precipices, flying in the lofty heights of the sky, or swimming the thundering waves of the ocean. Finally, he spoke of himself as a Buddhist meditator, son of his guru's lineage. Faith grew in my mother's womb. A baby, I entered the door of Dharma; A youth, I studied the Buddha's teaching; A man, I lived alone in caves. Though demons, ghosts, and devils multiply, I am not afraid .... I, Milarepa, fear neither demons nor evils; If they frightened Milarepa, to what avail Would be his realization and enlightenment?  Having proclaimed the fearlessness which he had discovered in his practice, Milarepa followed the training given him by his guru. He invited the demons to stay with him and to receive his hospitality. He also challenged them to a friendly contest of teachings. 

"Ye ghosts and demons, enemies of the Dharma, I welcome you today! It is my pleasure to receive you! I pray you, stay; do not hasten to leave; We will discourse and play together. Although you would be gone, stay the night; We will pit the Black against the White Dharma, And see who plays the best. Before you came, you vowed to afflict me. Shame and disgrace would follow If you returned with this vow unfulfilled."  

We may notice that when Milarepa invited the demons, he displayed several moods successively. This can be understood in terms of the Tibetan tantric expression of four enlightened stages of skillful, appropriate action, called the four karmas. These karmas are the strategies employed by the realized yogin when working with intractable situations, whether they be in practice or in daily life.  These methods are based on "not accepting, not rejecting" in the sense that the most threatening situations are excellent opportunities for practice. The first karma is "pacifying," in which one opens fully to negativity, with the line "I welcome you today!" When we open to the shadow in this way, we reverse the habitual tendency to ignore or hide it. Next, the yogin inspires the unacknowledged aspects with confidence by creating an atmosphere of celebration, free from aggression, in an action called "enriching" ("It is my pleasure to receive you!"). Taking the attitude of enriching, we affirm the power of the shadow rather than discounting it as we usually do. Then, with the third karma of "magnetizing," the yogin draws the negativity toward him or her with an actual invitation: "Do not hasten to leave; we will discourse and play together ... stay the night." In this way, the shadow is charmed into relationship and its power is harnessed. The last karma, "destroying," is the final resort for an accomplished yogin like Milarepa. Often the shadow material does not require this final step, for its ferocity has rested primarily on our denial of it, and the inviting nature of the first three karmas removes its threatening qualities. However, when negativities are entrenched in conceptual justifications and defenses, we must employ "destroying," in which we challenge and threaten the crystallized, residual negativity with extinction. Milarepa did this with the challenge, "we will pit the Black against the White Dharma, and see who plays the best." 

Here he was referring to the black magic and sorcery of his past training, his central shadow, directly confronted by the white magic of Buddhism, which can accommodate and purify the black. Having challenged the demons, Milarepa arose and rushed with great confidence directly at them. They shrank in terror, rolling their eyes and trembling violently, and then swirled together into a single vision and dissolved. With this, the destroying was completed, and Milarepa the black sorcerer was reclaimed by Milarepa the white sorcerer. It is important, however, to understand that in Buddhism the motivation to reclaim the shadow can never be in service to the ego, or fulfilling only one's own personal potential. The "white sorcerer" Milarepa was the great Buddhist yogin who harnessed the powers of the destructive magician, who was interested only in egocentric ends, and brought them into the service of the Dharma, the egoless aspiration for the awakening of all beings.

Source: http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/simm.htm