Conversations with Mara

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Conversations with Mara

Postby Stephen K » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:28 am

In the Pali Canon there are many suttas that depict meditators having conversations with Mara who tries to make them 'fall away from concentration'.

Are these conversations with Mara real or do they symbolize the inner struggle of the meditators with their defilements?
My philosophy is simple: saying 'yes' to the positive and 'no' to the negative; because the positive is so much better than the negative.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:02 am

Hi Stefan,
What do you think?
kind regards

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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Stephen K » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:03 am

Hi Ben. I don't know. That's why I asked. :smile:
My philosophy is simple: saying 'yes' to the positive and 'no' to the negative; because the positive is so much better than the negative.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby bodom » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:06 am

Hi Stefan

I found this article helpful:

The Buddha's Encounters with Mara by Ananda W.P. Guruge

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el419.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Stephen K » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:09 am

Thanks Bodom!
My philosophy is simple: saying 'yes' to the positive and 'no' to the negative; because the positive is so much better than the negative.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:14 am

Certainly there are conversations with Mara recorded in the suttas.
Is mara real or just a metaphor?
The question itself and the answer to it, isn't important to me. The Dhamma isn't going to cease working if I don't believe in invisible beings. The important thing, I believe, is to extract the message from those suttas, whether you believe in mara the being or not, and continue to work towards your liberation.
And that's why I put the question back to you, Stefan. Anyone else's answer isn't nearly so important as your own perspective.
kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby 5heaps » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:15 am

the big demon in the wheel of life painting is Yama. there he represents subtle impermanence itself, meaning that the causes of our death are contained within our birth. even though hes figurative there it doesnt preclude that he is an actual person somewhere as well. same for Mara
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Stephen K » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:18 am

Ben wrote:Certainly there are conversations with Mara recorded in the suttas.
Is mara real or just a metaphor?
The question itself and the answer to it, isn't important to me. The Dhamma isn't going to cease working if I don't believe in invisible beings. The important thing, I believe, is to extract the message from those suttas, whether you believe in mara the being or not, and continue to work towards your liberation.
And that's why I put the question back to you, Stefan. Anyone else's answer isn't nearly so important as your own perspective.
kind regards

Ben


You're right and I agree with you. :smile:
My philosophy is simple: saying 'yes' to the positive and 'no' to the negative; because the positive is so much better than the negative.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Moggalana » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:34 pm

I understand Mara as a metaphor for the five hindrances - in whichever form they might arise.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Sekha » Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:06 pm

I think that the reason why the Buddha used to refer to Mara as a being is, besides it being certainly true, that in this way we do not identify ourselves with the negative pulsions in ourselves, which would be very harmful. In the end, it's a kind of trick to make us think about these negativities: 'this is not me, this is not my self, this is not what I am', so that we don't feed them by considering them as part of our self.

Observing my mind, I have no difficulty in believing Mara is an actual class of beings who are able to boost up the negativities that lie within us. But I noticed that Maras have a positive counterpart, that is good beings from the same realm having the same powers, using them for good. But as far as I know the Buddha never said anything about them, because it is not so harmful to believe that their positive influence is part of our self, also because it might have the result for certain people to lessen in them the strengh of the action of these devas, and possibly because it would have been another thing some people would have to take on faith, which I believe the Buddha wanted to happen as less as possible.

Actually, I have come to think that these interactions with devas controling the creations of others happen all the time in ourselves, so that it might even be considered as a form of symbiosis inter-realms.

To me, that sheds light on the otherwise cryptic saying of the Buddha reported in SN 45.2:
Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby unspoken » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:11 pm

No matter is it Mara, or not Mara. When we are doing samatha.
One and only one is the subject to us.
Not invisible being, not supreme attainment, not hellish suffering.
Only ONE is to be concentrate.
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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Aloka » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:43 pm

.

For me, Mara is the personification of mental distractions and the obstructions we ourselves create to our practice.

Ajahn Buddhadasa described Mara as follows :



MARA


Now we turn to a rather strange word, the word "Mara" (the tempter, the devil), The Mara of everyday language is conceived as a kind of monster with body, face, and eyes of repulsive and terrifying appearance. Mara in Dhamma language, however, is not a living creature but rather any kind of mental state opposed to the good and wholesome and to progress towards the cessation of dukkha. That which opposes and obstructs spiritual progress is called Mara. We may think of Mara as a living being if we wish, as long as we understand what he really stands for.

No doubt you have often heard the story of how Mara came down from the Paranimmitavasavatti realm to confront the Buddha-to-be. This was the real Mara the Tempter. He came down from the highest heaven, the Paranimmitavasavatti realm, which is a heaven of sensual enjoyments of the highest order, a paradise abounding in everything the heart could desire, where someone is always standing by to gratify one's every wish. This is Mara the Tempter, but not the one with the ugly, ferocious countenance and reddened mouth, who is supposed to go around catching creatures to suck their blood. That is Mara as ignorant people picture him. It is the Mara of the everyday language of ignorant people who don't know how to recognize Mara when they see him.

In Dhamma language, the word "Mara" means at worst the heaven known as Paranimmitavasavatti, the highest realm of sensuality.

In general it means any mental state opposed to the good and wholesome, opposed to spiritual progress. This is Mara in Dhamma language.


http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books5/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Two_Kinds_of_Language.htm




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Re: Conversations with Mara

Postby Goedert » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:00 pm

Stefan wrote:In the Pali Canon there are many suttas that depict meditators having conversations with Mara who tries to make them 'fall away from concentration'.

Are these conversations with Mara real or do they symbolize the inner struggle of the meditators with their defilements?


Palikanon Dictionary defines:

Māra
(lit. 'the killer'), is the Buddhist 'Tempter-figure. He is often called 'Māra the Evil One' (pāpimā māro) or Namuci (lit. 'the non-liberator', i.e. the opponent of liberation). He appears in the texts both as a real person (i.e. as a deity) and as personification of evil and passions, of the totality of worldly existence, and of death. Later Pāli literature often speaks of a 'fivefold Māra' (pañca-māra): 1. M. as a deity (devaputta-māra), 2. the M. of defilements (kilesa-m.), 3. the M. of the aggregates (khandha-m.), 4. the M. of the karma-formations (kamma-m.), and 5. Māra as death (maccu-m.).

As a real person, M. is regarded as the deity ruling over the highest heaven of the sensuous sphere (kāmāvacara), that of the paranimmitavasavatti-devas, the 'deities wielding power over the creations of others' (Com. to M. 1). According to tradition, when the Bodhisatta was seated under the Bodhi-tree, Māra tried in vain to obstruct his attainment of Enlightenment, first by frightening him through his hosts of demons, etc., and then by his 3 daughters' allurements. This episode is called 'Māra's war' (māra-yuddha). For 7 years M. had followed the Buddha, looking for any weakness in him; that is, 6 years before the Enlightenment and one year after it (Sn. v. 446). He also tried to induce the Buddha to pass away into Parinibbāna without proclaiming the Dhamma, and also when the time for the Buddha's Parinibbāna had come, he urged him on. But the Buddha acted on his own insight in both cases. See D. 16.

For (3) M. as the aggregates, s. S. XXIII, 1, 11, 12, 23. See Padhāna Sutta (Sn. v. 425ff.); Māra Samyutta (S. IV).


I hold the view that Mara is both used as a metaphor and as a real being. There is a sutta that Moggallana is possed by Mara and Moggallana also said that he was Dusi the last Mara before the present one.
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