issue 16 summer 01
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Hermit of Go Cliffs

Timeless instructions from a Tibetan mystic

Translated and introduced by Cyrus Stearns

Wisdom, 2000; $19.95/£15.95 p/b

Godrakpa (1170-1249) was, in his time, the famous yogi of Go Cliffs whose main practice was intensive meditation. He had a reputation for non-sectarian alliance that makes him an early forebear of the 'no boundaries' masters, such as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kontrul. Godrakpa spent many years practising in some of the same caves as Milarepa, and indeed this new publication brings together a collection of 44 poetic songs with a style and content similar to his better-known precursor.

The songs are fresh and spontaneous, most avoid technical jargon, and many are profound and pithy:

Entering the Dharma circle is easy; weariness with samsara is hard.

Relying on solitude is easy; giving up things to do is hard.

As one might expect from a realised yogin, Godrakpa also combines humour with direct teachings. Stearns' translations are lucid, the Tibetan text is reproduced on facing pages, and black-and-white photographs of the Tibetan landscape complement and add atmosphere to the verses. This is a precious addition to the translated canon of yogi-songsters.