Marpa was an extremely frightening child. When he was 3 or 4 years old, everybody in the city was afraid of him. He had an immense power in him, and everybody said, “This child, either he is going to become a spiritual teacher, or he is going to destroy all of us as soon as he gets a little older.” It is said that if you see the pictures of Marpa, you will understand.
It is said he is an incarnation of the mind of Padmasambhava (lit. “Lotus-Born”), also known as Guru Rinpoche. Padmasambhava himself, before dying, mentioned he will be reborn again, his mind would reincarnate as that person.He found some teachers in Tibet, but none of them were great enough, so he traveled to India to meet the greatest teacher of that time, Naropa. Since Marpa is an incarnation of Padmasambhava, he was clean karmically. He was ready and could just receive the teachings. He went there, and Naropa looked at him and said, “yes, you have all the spiritual credentials.” He gave him the teachings, and Marpa, the Great Translator, translated all these yogas and brought them to Tibet. And until today, everywhere you study yoga in Tibet, you study by the scriptures that Marpa took from Naropa.
Marpa had the feeling he had to make a lot of money to give his teacher when he met him and he was very powerful, so he made a ton of money, and he came with sacks of gold. He said, “When I find Naropa, I will give him the gold and be worthy of the teachings.” He brought it as gold dust, and finally when he met Naropa, he gave it to him.
Naropa said, “Wow so much gold, so nice, let’s give it to the dharma.” He spread it out over the cliff and Marpa was heartbroken. He had worked for years to get this gold, and then was all down the cliff; Naropa said, “Don’t worry about it.”
He touched a rock and said, “See now it is all good. You feel better? Now let me teach you.”
Marpa came back to Tibet, became the central teacher, the greatest of Tibet at that time. He was due to have a disciple who would be even greater than him, probably the greatest of all the lineage there. It is very rare that the disciple becomes greater than the master, but here in this case, we find the disciple who is even greater. And he has a very interesting life story. So we had Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, and then the next one is called Milarepa.