Do you believe in Mara

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Do you believe in Mara?

It is a real devil who harasses those who try to enlighten
6
38%
It is just a metaphor for our own low mental states
8
50%
I believe in 2 but not sure why Mara is shown as a real devil in suttas
2
13%
 
Total votes : 16

Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:37 pm

Is it a real devil who tried to torment the Buddha and his disciples.
Is it just a metaphor
You believe it is a metaphor but you cannot explain why it appears so much as real devil in suttas
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:37 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Is it a real devil who tried to torment the Buddha and his disciples.
Is it just a metaphor
You believe it is a metaphor but you cannot explain why it appears so much as real devil in suttas


Well, suppose we try to find an explanation that asks us to assume the least; we want to keep speculation to a minimum, presumably.

So, the assumption that there are demons is a hefty one rife with many concomitant requisite claims, while seeing such things as being examples of religious literature assumes very little - we can simply assume "Buddhist religious literature is similar to religious literature worldwide in certain ways".

We can easily see how an author might be concerned, not with historical objectivity, but with subjective edification using various narrative devices. That these assume cultural shapes is simply to be expected.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:26 pm

You mean the many many suttas mention Mara are just literature stuff added by authors. They are not really accurate? More like fairy tales?
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:00 pm

Not like fairy tales... more like allegories.

And I don't mean to say that this sort of thing was added by various authors, while other parts were not - each of the Nikayas exemplifies the hands of various editors, so the presence of moral cosmologies, hagiography, birth narratives, and other forms of religious literature are not surprising.

One cannot draw a line in the sand and say "all texts up to here are infallible" - it takes a much more nuanced approach than that to get at the heartwood.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby santa100 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:09 pm

John Constantine (played by Keanu Reeves in the movie "Constantine") put it best:

Angela Dodson: Well, this has been real educational, but... I don't believe in the devil.
John Constantine: You should. He believes in you!
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:14 pm

Does it matter? The lesson is the same either way.

G.K. Chesterton has a quote: "Fairy tales are true not because they teach us that dragons are real, but that dragons can be beaten." That's my approach here. I don't read the suttas to learn whether or not this demon or that mountain is real; I read them because they teach me how to deal with what I know is real, i.e. my defilements.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:18 pm

daverupa wrote:Not like fairy tales... more like allegories.

And I don't mean to say that this sort of thing was added by various authors, while other parts were not - each of the Nikayas exemplifies the hands of various editors, so the presence of moral cosmologies, hagiography, birth narratives, and other forms of religious literature are not surprising.

One cannot draw a line in the sand and say "all texts up to here are infallible" - it takes a much more nuanced approach than that to get at the heartwood.

Difficult to understand you. Sorry my english is not that good.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:27 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
daverupa wrote:Not like fairy tales... more like allegories.

And I don't mean to say that this sort of thing was added by various authors, while other parts were not - each of the Nikayas exemplifies the hands of various editors, so the presence of moral cosmologies, hagiography, birth narratives, and other forms of religious literature are not surprising.

One cannot draw a line in the sand and say "all texts up to here are infallible" - it takes a much more nuanced approach than that to get at the heartwood.

Difficult to understand you. Sorry my english is not that good.

What he means is that the collections of teachings that we have are all the Buddha's words, but they have many different people who put them together, and it makes sense that a lot of "religious" things like demons and miracles and such should be expected.

It's hard to say "This is real but this is not" when you read the scriptures. You can't have one pile for "real" and one pile for "not real." It's harder than that because many things, like I said above, are not meant to be taken as explanations of how the world works. They're meant to be taken as guides for how people can deal with problems in their own minds. Does that make sense?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:32 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
daverupa wrote:Not like fairy tales... more like allegories.

And I don't mean to say that this sort of thing was added by various authors, while other parts were not - each of the Nikayas exemplifies the hands of various editors, so the presence of moral cosmologies, hagiography, birth narratives, and other forms of religious literature are not surprising.

One cannot draw a line in the sand and say "all texts up to here are infallible" - it takes a much more nuanced approach than that to get at the heartwood.

Difficult to understand you. Sorry my english is not that good.

What he means is that the collections of teachings that we have are all the Buddha's words, but they have many different people who put them together, and it makes sense that a lot of "religious" things like demons and miracles and such should be expected.

It's hard to say "This is real but this is not" when you read the scriptures. You can't have one pile for "real" and one pile for "not real." It's harder than that because many things, like I said above, are not meant to be taken as explanations of how the world works. They're meant to be taken as guides for how people can deal with problems in their own minds. Does that make sense?

yes thank you friend
:anjali:

Easier to understand the way you said it
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby FatDaddy » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:47 pm

Of all the personifications found in Buddhist cosmology, Mara is the one that presents the most difficulty for me. With the exception of Mara, they all exist as a result of kamma. Mara seems to exist outside of cause and effect.

All of my defilements are internal and cannot be attributed to any outside agency. I am struggling with myself, not some devil who “made me do it”.
Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large,
middling, short,
subtle, blatant,
seen & unseen,
near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.
— Sn 1.8
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:51 pm

FatDaddy wrote: Mara seems to exist outside of cause and effect.


I thought Mara is a title. The being appointed to the title come and go based on kamma.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:46 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:What he means is that the collections of teachings that we have are all the Buddha's words, but they have many different people who put them together, and it makes sense that a lot of "religious" things like demons and miracles and such should be expected.


Mostly what I was saying; I wouldn't go so far as to say that the collections are all the Buddha's words, though. That oversteps the evidence. The Nikayas, as the earliest collections, cover a fairly wide chronology of development.

---

Part of Mara being a title is that it's one aspect of the effort to moralize the cosmos; rather than being mechanically structured around a Vedic/Brahmanic understanding of ritual action, it became centered on the moral consequences of intention. This is the important point.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:40 pm

daverupa wrote:Mostly what I was saying; I wouldn't go so far as to say that the collections are all the Buddha's words, though.


If I get it you say not all are Buddha words. Right? If not what ones are Buddha words please? I don't want to waste my time with what is not.

I mean I understand it is hard to you to give definite answer. Like this is Buddha word, This is not. But can you please give me some guideline? I am new commer to sutta reading.

Thank you
:anjali:
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:17 pm

BlueLotus wrote:If I get it you say not all are Buddha words. Right? If not what ones are Buddha words please? I don't want to waste my time with what is not.

I mean I understand it is hard to you to give definite answer. Like this is Buddha word, This is not. But can you please give me some guideline? I am new commer to sutta reading.

Thank you
:anjali:

The suttas are not set up to be historical records. The suttas were designed to be read like an instruction manual and they were designed to be easily memorized because they were not written down right away. The Buddha's wisdom and teaching fills all suttas but some may not be perfect word-for-word copies of what he said. But it doesn't matter. What matters is whether or not the wisdom in the suttas helps you and makes sense and works in real life, and I don't think there's anything in the whole collection of suttas that doesn't.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby Alobha » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:38 pm

One can say there are several modes of Mara:

You may benefit from Bhikkhu Pesala's post on the 5 kinds of Mara over here

Bhikkhu Gavesako also gave a Dhammatalk a while ago about the modes of Mara. The talk can be found here.

Best wishes,
Alobha
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:15 pm

I use certain guidelines in assessing Suttas, but this is the same as saying I have certain biases. These may or may not be helpful, but they are almost certainly imperfect.

So, nevermind what they are; given that time is short, I recommend studying discourses which describe the gradual training, and I would apply myself to those with great vigor. Mara & Brahma aren't really important.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby whynotme » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:36 am

BlueLotus wrote:
daverupa wrote:Not like fairy tales... more like allegories.

And I don't mean to say that this sort of thing was added by various authors, while other parts were not - each of the Nikayas exemplifies the hands of various editors, so the presence of moral cosmologies, hagiography, birth narratives, and other forms of religious literature are not surprising.

One cannot draw a line in the sand and say "all texts up to here are infallible" - it takes a much more nuanced approach than that to get at the heartwood.

Difficult to understand you. Sorry my english is not that good.

May I ask you what is your native language?

Here is a thread a member described his experience seeing gods:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=12955

Doubt about things aren't bad, but don't use doubt or the lack of evidence to reject everything.

Regards
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby SarathW » Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:27 am

BlueLotus wrote:Is it a real devil who tried to torment the Buddha and his disciples.
Is it just a metaphor
You believe it is a metaphor but you cannot explain why it appears so much as real devil in suttas


I believe in Mara and Brahma. They all some form of aggregates. Five aggregates can be manifested in any combination or permutation. Hence we are talking about millions of possible aggregates. For example in Asanna realm only the Rupa (matter) but no mind. In Arupavachara realm only the mind but not matter exist.
End of the day they all come down to one thought moment. In that regard I can see Mara and Brahma in human, animal and in any living matter. Through deduction I can imagine that there could be very fine material existences.
I have experienced very fine matters something like a smoke passing by me in a very short period of time. But no direct communication except as thought experiences. Hence I wonder whether they are just mind created.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby robertk » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:31 am

FatDaddy wrote:Of all the personifications found in Buddhist cosmology, Mara is the one that presents the most difficulty for me. With the exception of Mara, they all exist as a result of kamma. Mara seems to exist outside of cause and effect.

All of my defilements are internal and cannot be attributed to any outside agency. I am struggling with myself, not some devil who “made me do it”.

Mara, the god, exists in the higher kamaloka, he is not a demon (as someone suggested). Nor is he outside of cause and effect and he will die and be reborn in some realm suitable to the kamma he is making.
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Re: Do you believe in Mara

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:52 am

I don't like the mara concept either. I don't like to think there are beings out there who lead the craving kama world and they want us in their control. It's scary.

BUT, I find it really hard to see how these guys keep appearing is sutta if they are just mental. If Mara is symbol for our own craving how did he appear to enlightened ones? Doesn't make sense.

Maybe the sutta are not completely rights as devarupan said.
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