Mara

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Mara

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:24 pm

Real being or manifestation of the defiled mind? Or both?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Mara

Postby bodom » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:27 pm

clw_uk wrote:Real being or manifestation of the defiled mind? Or both?


In Buddhism, Māra is the demon who tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be his daughters. [1] In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.

The early Buddhists, however, rather than seeing Mara as a demonic, virtually all-powerful Lord of Evil, regarded him as more of a nuisance. Many episodes concerning his interactions with the Buddha have a decidedly humorous air to them.

In traditional Buddhism four senses of the word "mara" are given.

Klesa-mara, or Mara as the embodiment of all unskillful emotions.
Mrtyu-mara, or Mara as death, in the sense of the ceaseless round of birth and death.
Skandha-mara, or Mara as metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence.
Devaputra-mara, or Mara the son of a deva (god), that is, Mara as an objectively existent being rather than as a metaphor.
Early Buddhism acknowledged both a literal and "psychological" interpretation of Mara. Mara is described both as an entity having a literal existence, just as the various deities of the Vedic pantheon are shown existing around the Buddha, and also is described as a primarily psychological force - a metaphor for various processes of doubt and temptation that obstruct religious practice.

[1] See, for instance, SN 4.25, entitled, "Māra's Daughters" (Bodhi, 2000, pp. 217-20), as well as Sn 835 (Saddhatissa, 1998, p. 98). In each of these texts, Mara's daughters (Māradhītā) are personified by Craving (taṇhā), Aversion (arati) and Passion (rāga).

:namaste:
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: Mara

Postby Element » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:48 pm

For me, a real being. Mara came to Buddha and his arahant disciples many times. If Mara was the defiled mind, Mara could not approach arahants.

One false aspect of Buddhism, is the propanganda in it that most of the deities loved the Buddha.

One meaning of Mara is devaputra-mara, or Mara the son of a deva (god), that is, Mara as an objectively existent being rather than as a metaphor.

Deities love the doctrine of self and the doctrine of God. Deities do not like Buddhism.
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Re: Mara

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:13 pm

Couldnt it be said that deities and heaven etc are states of mind, including mara?

Mara appearing to an arahant could just be a tempting thought or experience but one that the arahant is able to discard with ease?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Mara

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:26 pm

What is mind? No matter!
What is matter? Never mind!

The Five Māras
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Re: Mara

Postby Heavenstorm » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:19 pm

bodom_bad_boy wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Real being or manifestation of the defiled mind? Or both?


In Buddhism, Māra is the demon who tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be his daughters. [1] In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.

The early Buddhists, however, rather than seeing Mara as a demonic, virtually all-powerful Lord of Evil, regarded him as more of a nuisance. Many episodes concerning his interactions with the Buddha have a decidedly humorous air to them.


Mara is not all powerful, he is the mere ruler/lord of sixth heaven. He has influences over the beings of the desire realm because of their attachments to sense objects but devas of form and formless realms are very much removed from his influences since its almost impossible to break through and disturb their deep level of concentration.
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Re: Mara

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:25 pm

Heavenstorm wrote:
bodom_bad_boy wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Real being or manifestation of the defiled mind? Or both?


In Buddhism, Māra is the demon who tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be his daughters. [1] In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.

The early Buddhists, however, rather than seeing Mara as a demonic, virtually all-powerful Lord of Evil, regarded him as more of a nuisance. Many episodes concerning his interactions with the Buddha have a decidedly humorous air to them.


Mara is not all powerful, he is the mere ruler/lord of sixth heaven. He has influences over the beings of the desire realm because of their attachments to sense objects but devas of form and formless realms are very much removed from his influences since its almost impossible to break through and disturb their deep level of concentration.


Yep, thats exactly what the article says.

:namaste:
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: Mara

Postby AdvaitaJ » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:14 am

clw_uk wrote:Real being or manifestation of the defiled mind? Or both?

I often wonder what the Buddha really thought. Was it the equivalent of one of us today saying "the devil made me do it" or was he literally describing interactions with a supranormal being. :shrug: No matter what, I don't let it interfere with my practice.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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Re: Mara

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:18 am

well we know it can be one, but arent sure if it can be the other, so why not avoid the mara we can and not worry about the mara that may or may not exist?
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Mara

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:29 am

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/StephenBatchelor.html

There are two talks by Stephen Batchelor on Mara. The first contains a careful look at Mara in the Pali texts and is very good. He also talks about the difference betwwern how Mara is understood in the suttas and how Mara is understood in the Mahayana sutras. The second is a Q&A which is mixed.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Mara

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:22 am

Hi all
On the subject of Mara, here is something that may pique some interest...

In Brahmanimantanika Sutta (MN 49) there is a particularly interesting interaction between the Buddha and Mara in the retinue of Baka the Brahma. The Buddha appeared in the Brahma realm after perceiving the pernicious view of eternalism that was taking hold in Baku's mind.
On the meeting between Buddha and Baka, Baka says:
'Come, good sir! Welcome, good sir! It is long, good sir, since you found an opportunity to come here. Now, good sir, this is permanent, this is everlasting, this is eternal, this is total, this is not subject to pass away; for this is where one is neither born nor ages nor dies nor passes away nor reappears, and beyond this there is no escape'
4 When this was said, I told Baka the Brahma: 'The worthy Baka the Brahma has lapsed into ignorance; he has lapsed into ignorance in that he says of the impermanent that it is permanent, of the transient that it is everlasting, of the non-eternal that it is eternal, of the incomplete that it is total, of what is subject to pass away that it is not subject to pass away, of where one is born, ages, dies, passes away, and reappears, that here one is neither born nor ages nor passes away nor reappears, and when there is an escape beyond this, he says there is no escape beyond this'


Then, something interesting happens...

5. 'Then Mara the Evil One took possession of a member of the Brahma's Assembly and he told me: 'Bhikkhu, bhikkhu, do not disparage him, do not siparage him, for this Brahma is the Great Brahma, the Overlord, the Untranscended, of Infallible Vision, Wielder of Mastery, Lord Maker and Creator, Most High Providence, Master and Father of those that are and ever can be. Before your time Bhikkhu, there were recluses and brahmins in the world who condemned earth...
...Be sure, good sir, to d only as the Beahma says; never overstep the word of the Brahma. If you overstep the word of athe Brahma, bhikkhu, then like a man trying to deflect an approaching beam of light with a stick, or like a man losing his hold on the earth with his hands and feet as he slips into a deep chasm, so it will befall you, bhikkhu. Be sure, good sir, to do only as the Brahma says; never overstep the word of the Brahma. Do you not see the Brahma's Assembly seated here, bhikkhu?' And Mara the evil One thus called to witness the Brahma's Assembly.


It would appear that Mara, instead of confronting the Buddha head-on, was trying to entice the Buddha to ensure that Baka the Brahma remained in the fools paradise of eternalism. The commentarial explanation referenced in Bhikkhu Bodhi's note to paragraph 5 reads:

MA Mara's intention is to show: 'If you do as a Brahma says without overstepping his word, you too will shine with the same splendour and glory as that with which the Brahma's Assembly shines'


Then the story thickens...

The Buddha says:
When this was said, I told Mara the Evil One: 'I know you, Evil One. Do not think "He does not know me". You are Mara, Evil One, and the Brahma and the Brahma's Assembly and the members of the Brahma's Assembly have all fallen into your hands, they have all fallen into your power. You, Evil One, think: "This one too has fallen into my hands, he too has fallen into my power"; but I have not fallen into your hands, Evil One, I have not fallen into your power


After that, Baku and the Buddha engage in dialogue to see who is more powerful.

12-23 "Brahma, having directly known water as water,...fire as fire...air as air...beings as beings...gods as gods...Pajapati as Pajapati...Brahma as Brahma...the gods of Streaming Radiance as the gods of Streaming Radiance...the gods of Refulgent Glory as the gods of Refulgent Glory...the gods of Great Fruit as the gods of Great Fruit...the Overlord as the Overlord...all is all, and having directly known that which is not commensurate with the allness of all, I did not claim to be all, I did not claim to be apart from all, I did not claim all to be 'mine', I did not affirm all. Thus Brahma, in regard to direct knowledge, I do not stand merely at the same level as you, how could I know less? Rather, I know more than you.'

This exchange was followed up by a display of supernormal power during a contest whereupon the Buddha vanished from the Brahma's gaze but the Brahma could not vanish from the Buddha's gaze.

Brahma and his Assembly were suitably impresed. But then...

29 Then Mara the Evil One took possession of a member of the Brahma's Assembly, and he said to me: 'Good sir, if that is what you know, if that is what you have discovered, do not guide your [lay] disciples or those gone forth, do not teach the Dhamma to your [lay] disciples or to those gone forth, create no yearning in your [lay] disciples or in those gone forth.


Here again, Mara tries to dissuade the Buddha from teaching the path that leads one out of misery with the paltry incentive that after death, the enlightened one will be established in 'a superior body'. The Buddha then rebukes Mara and outlines that the Tathagata has abandoned all the taints that defile and is not subject to future arisings, and that the nature of the Tathagata is that he will teach the Dhamma out of compassion, unlike the motivation of Mara.

What many Theravadins hold is that Mara is a real being who lives in the deva realm, but Mara is also used as a metaphor for one's defilements. My view is that both positions are relevant and neither are mutually exclusive of the other.
Metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Mara

Postby AdvaitaJ » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:48 am

I found this part of the sutta equally interesting:
"So I — having known with my awareness the train of thought in Baka Brahma's awareness — as a strong man would extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, vanished into the root of the royal sala tree in the Subhaga forest in Ukkattha and appeared in that brahma world.

Q1: What was meant by the arm flexing comments? Is the Buddha just pointing out how easily he can do what follows next?
Q2: Are there other suttas where the Buddha "vanishes into the root of a tree" and is there anything special about a "royal sala tree"? (A two-fer, I know ;) )
Q3: Is the "brahma world" one of those other planes of existence or is this just a phrase that could mean showing up in the brahma's palace grounds, etc?

AdvaitaJ
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Re: Mara

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:59 am

Hi AdvaitaJ

AdvaitaJ wrote:Q1: What was meant by the arm flexing comments? Is the Buddha just pointing out how easily he can do what follows next?

Yes, I imagine you could substite with 'in the blink of an eye' or 'in the snap of the fingers' to indicate the ease and speed of the event.
AdvaitaJ wrote:Q2: Are there other suttas where the Buddha "vanishes into the root of a tree" and is there anything special about a "royal sala tree"? (A two-fer, I know ;) )

I think there are a few instances where the Buddha and his chief disciples went to another realm to teach or to straighten out a being's view.
AdvaitaJ wrote:Q3: Is the "brahma world" one of those other planes of existence or is this just a phrase that could mean showing up in the brahma's palace grounds, etc?

An interesting question. I think the Brahma realm is both real and metaphorical. When I mean metaphorical, I mean that there are cittas that correspond to the different realms, and so by experiencing one of the fine material or non-material cittas, one is actually in the corresponding realm. As per:
The compendium of process-freed consciousness opens with a survey of the topography of the phenomenal world, charting the planes of existence and the various realms within each plane. The author (Acariya Anuruddha) undertakes this survey before examining the types of process-freed consciousness because the external universe, according to the Abhidhamma, is an outer reflection of the internal cosmos of mind, registering in concrete manifest form the subtle gradations in states of consciousness. This does not mean that the Abhidhamma reduces the outer world to a dimension of mind in the manner of philosophical idealism. The outer world is quite real and possesses objective existence. However, the outer world is always a world apprehended by consciousness, and the type of consciousness determines the nature of the world that appears. Consciousness and the world are mutually dependent and inextricably connected to such an extent that the hierarchical structure of the realms of existence exactly reproduces and corresponds to the hierarchical structure of consciousness.

-- Vithimuttasangaha, Bhikkhu Bodhi, 2000, Abhidhammatthasangaha: A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma, Pariyatti


Kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Mara

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:18 pm

both we are what we think after all!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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