Mara ain't no satan, but he's that demon inside you

by The Hippie Dharma, The Buddhist Channel, 24 April 2024

San Diego, USA -- Buddhism is confusing, especially if you are not a Buddhist. Coming from a Christian realm, I always wondered if there was ever an alter-ego to Buddha, you know like satan to God.

Reading Buddhist texts confirms one thing though, that Mara, the Buddhist satan, or devil, or demon, or the evil one - whatever you call it - could be a myth, or a real person. It all depends on the state of your mind (famous Buddhist quote if you don't have an answer!)
One thing is for sure though, Mara is painted as devious, slippery and stealthy. It gets around and inside you, entices your ego and massages your greed.

You want to meditate? Why bother sitting down doing nothing. Ever heard of making money? You know, earning some dough so that you get to buy things that you don't really need, as long as you are happy?

Mara, as we know, dwells in the Kāma (sense desire) world, hanging out among the Parinimitta-vaśavatti devas (the highest of the six desire realm heavens in Buddhist cosmology), those high-flying beings who wield some serious power over desires.

OK, so why do we call Mara "Vasavatti"? Well, it's all about his gig in the cosmic order. "Vasavatti" basically means he's the one calling the shots, the big boss, the head honcho, if you will.

And trust me, he's got some serious sway, especially in the Parinimitta-vaśavatti realm where he kicks back. It's kind of like his turf, where he throws his weight around, testing folks on their spiritual path, nudging them away from their goals with his tempting offers.

Now, let's get to the big question: Is Mara real or just a story we tell ourselves? In Buddhism, Mara's more than just a spooky bedtime tale. He's real, alright. Picture him as the embodiment of all the stuff that trips us up on our spiritual journey. Greed, hatred, delusion - you name it, Mara's got it covered.

But here's the twist: he's not just some abstract idea. He's an actual celestial being, with powers that put ours to shame. Dude's got a mind-made body, glows in the dark, and lives longer than you can imagine. He's like a cosmic heavyweight, but he's not immune to getting tangled up in his own mess of pride and desire.

Now, let's break it down into three key points. First off, Mara's not just a literal dude; he's also a symbol, representing all the junk cluttering up our minds.

Secondly, he's up there with the big shots, a high-level deva who's earned his stripes through some impressive karma. But don't forget, he's not immune to the same old samsaric traps that trip us all up.
Lastly, Mara's not just lurking in the shadows. He's out there, actively trying to derail anyone seeking enlightenment, be it the Buddha himself or the most seasoned practitioners.

So, yeah, Mara is a real deal in the grand scheme of things. But here's the kicker: as we dig deeper into our spiritual practice, Mara doesn't necessarily get slicker. It's more about the challenges he throws our way becoming sneakier.

Think of it like leveling up in a video game. The higher you climb, the tougher the obstacles. You might think you've got it all figured out, but then Mara hits you with some next-level temptation, testing your resolve like never before.

So what's the key to beating Mara at his own game? Mindfulness and discernment, my friend. As we journey towards enlightenment, we gotta stay sharp, keep our eyes peeled for those subtle traps Mara sets for us.

It's all part of the ride, this ongoing battle against our inner demons. But hey, every victory brings us one step closer to liberation, so let's keep on fighting the good fight!
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