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I would like to share one of the most powerful transformative practices I have evolved over the years.
Have you heard of Māra? He is a figure in Buddhist mythology. He is often depicted having conversations with the Buddha and his monks and nuns. These encounters always end with the recognition of Māra, at which point she disappears.
Māra is sometimes depicted in art as a demon, but in the scriptures (and in the picture above) he is a good-looking young man. He is often dressed as a king, and sometimes wears a lute. We can understand this as Māra is an intelligent Machiavellian who speaks softly.
The name Māra comes from the Sanskrit root, m, which indicates death and destruction. From here we also get our words “mortality” and “murder.” Māra is the destroyer or killer of spiritual practice and the killer of peace and joy.
In the scriptures he appears to spiritual practitioners, including the Buddha himself, trying to tempt them not to practice, or sometimes distracting or frightening them. In addition to appearing young, it can also appear as a fearsome animal, such as a snake or a wild ox. You can do things like throw blocks on a mountain to cause fear. Or it can cause loud and distracting noises. It can also create an unpleasant physical sensation.
Māra has many ways of distracting people, but never, as far as I know, does it really hurt anyone physically. By this I suppose that even the early Buddhists regarded it as a psychological projection.
If you recognize Māra, she simply disappears. Once he challenged the nun, Uppalavaṇṇā, who was meditating under a tree, i he tried to scare her who could be sexually assaulted:
“You’ve come to this flower-crowned salt-tree, and you’re at the root alone, nun. Your beauty is unsurpassed, you foolish girl, aren’t you afraid of scoundrels?”
She recognized him, however, and showed him that she was overwhelmed:
Although 100,000 bastards like you had to come here I wouldn’t shake a hair or panic. I’m not afraid of you, Māra, not even.
Māra then disappears. This represents the way in which consciousness can dispel unskilled or unhelpful thoughts.
And that has become my own practice.
When I am upset, or discouraged, or impatient, or anxious, just saying “I see you, Māra” – just acknowledging that Māra was trying to deceive me – was enough to break her spell and return me to a sense of calm. the balance.
I highly recommend trying this. Whenever you are suffering, or are trapped by anger, discouragement, worry, etc., observe the thought processes that are taking place. Observe the feelings that arise within you. And then say, “I see you, Māra.” Recognize the forces that act within you, trying to unbalance you. And you refuse to let them fool you.
Valuing the Mara
But there is another aspect of this practice that I would like to highlight. This is one thing that is very important to me: recognizing how smart Māra’s tricks are.
Like the previous one, the experience of a useless emotional arousal acts as a trigger to recognize Māra. Any of the emotions I have described above, and any others that lead to a feeling of suffering, are signs that the Mother is working. Even a slight distraction in meditation can be a trigger.
Now, instead of saying, “I see you, Māra,” which is what people do in the scriptures, you can say something like, “Good luck, Māra!” This is a way to let these disruptive inner forces know that I am in them and that I refuse to be manipulated.
You may be amazed at how compelling Māra’s tricks are. After all, he totally cheated on you! The story that was causing you suffering was totally believable. It looked like you I had to respond with anger, or fear, or discouragement, or whatever. Does anyone criticize you? Well, of couse you have to be upset and defensive. Is the money tight? Well of course you have to worry. Did something go wrong? WHO I wouldn’t be frustrated
And then the feelings you had were so vivid. They’re like really good special effects in a Hollywood movie. The overwhelming weight of despair, the buzz of anxiety, the hot rise of discomfort. These feelings are not only vivid, they are powerfully convincing. It’s like you I had to act on them.
So you can applaud Māra. “Great special effects, Māra! You really made me go!” Admire the whole reactivity process. It’s fantastic!
There are a couple of reasons why I think this act of appreciation for Māra’s work is important and powerful. One is that appreciation is a skillful mood. Even if what you are appreciating is Māra (who is not skillful), appreciation itself is still skillful. (It’s not like you approving Because appreciation is a skillful mood, it helps to strengthen your newly discovered freedom from the (unskilled) world of deception of Māra.
The other reason why appreciating Māra’s work is useful is that you appreciate it as an illusion. You are recognizing that the feelings that motivate you, and the thoughts and emotions that arise from those feelings, are all illusory.
Seeing the illusory nature of reactions as they occur is a powerful and liberating practice.
This perspective is supported by teachings such as how the Buddha compares form (this includes the forms we perceive in the world and also those we imagine in the mind), feelings, perceptions, emotions, and consciousness with various phenomena similar to il · Illusions:
The shape is like a piece of foam;
the feeling is like a bubble;
perception seems like a mirage;
emotions like the non-existent core of a banana tree;
and consciousness as a magic trick.
(I’ve adjusted the translation here for clarity.)
These are the famous “five skandhas (aggregates)” that constitute our experience and that we take to be our “I”.
Feelings have no substance. Neither thoughts nor emotions. They are like mirages, dreams, bubbles or conjuring tricks. They arise within us only as patterns of sensation, caused by the firing of neurons. Why be scared by a bunch of shooting neurons?
Speaking of skandhas above date, the Buddha does not mention Māra. Elsewhere, however, he says them they are Mara:
How is Māra defined? Form is Māra, feeling is Māra, perception is Māra, emotions are Māra, consciousness is Māra. Seeing this, a noble scholarly disciple is disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, emotions, and conscience.
It is by seeing the illusory nature of skandhas — seeing them as tricks, designed to make us react — that we can break free from reactivity and find peace.
This is what happens when I admire the tricks of the Māra.
Sending love to Māra
The other night I woke up from an anxious dream in which the US had become a fascist state. Once again I recognized Māra and congratulated her on the vivacity and conviction that were her special effects. It wasn’t just that the dream was realistic. It was that feelings of anxiety in my body had convinced me that something was really wrong.
But at this point I brought another aspect to my practice, which enriches it even more
Māra is not literally a demon who wants to catch me. He is part of my mind and is trying to help, within his definition of help. For this particular Māra, fascism is not just something I should be concerned about. He thought he needed it panic about this. He thought he must be in a state of fear. He thought he should give me a good dose of suffering to help motivate me. He was wrong about that, but he doesn’t know it. So he is not my enemy. In fact, he needs my compassion. So I looked at Māra with loving eyes, offering her kindness.
Now, even though I watched the anxiety from a place of calm and peace, and I didn’t feel touched by it, my body still reacted as if I was in danger. So I hugged him too with my loving look.
Now I felt completely at peace. And although the anxiety that had arisen might have kept me awake for hours, at that moment I was so comfortable that I went back to sleep in a matter of minutes.
So I would suggest that whenever you feel upset about something or know that suffering is present, acknowledge that Mother is working. Not only do you acknowledge him, but you feel a little honest recognition for how convincing his attempts are to make us suffer. And not only do you admire him, but you offer compassion and compassion to your whole being.
And as the scriptures say,
And then that disappointed spirit
He disappeared to the same place.
And two or three minutes after waking up from an intensely anxious sleep, I went back to sleep and rested for the rest of the night.
Again, if you find this helpful and would like to benefit more from my teaching activity, please read the Wildmind Meditation Initiative.
#recognize #respect #love #Māra
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