Milarepa sits at ease on a splendidly colourful lotus with his robe loosely draped around him. A red meditation belt, used during long sessions of meditation to keep the body upright, is slung across his right shoulder. Milarepa’s right hand cups his ear. This is the most intriguing feature in the portrayals of Milarepa. In a general way, this gesture is appropriate for a Buddhist adept who is a shravaka, or listener. Specifically relevant to Milarepa is the fact that he was a master of the esoteric teachings of Tantra, which were only orally transferred from guru to disciple. This gesture, therefore, signifies Milarepa's capacity to retain those doctrines and teachings in his ear. As he himself said: "Unless the secret teachings be retained within one's ear, what gain is it to suffer sorrow?"
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