Mara is the greatest predator of all.
This beast, as I described it in the Dharmakaya Sutra, literally lives and grows on the power of a divided and misdirected Spirit; the latter being one most beautiful jewel. One that against all better knowledge and judgment, due to a singular desire and decision to descend into the grosser consciousness field of the senses, becomes entrapped by Mara’s realms. Trapped it falls asleep and suddenly finds itself in a state of amnesia, becoming doubtful, confused and uncertain about its own true nature.
If you applied this relation within the divided and dialectical states of a dreaming Spirit, of which one is false and the other true (dharma), you would get an inverse curve where the more confused, undisciplined and divided Spirit becomes (in terms of focusing on itself and nothing else), the lesser awakening power (bodhi) it produces .
Likewise, on an inverse level, Mara gains more power from your diminished Spirit, to confuse, divide (manipulate) and present incalculable patterns/images; all aimed to divide and conquer Spirit into submission and rebirth in a myriad realms of heavens and hells.
In order to stay invisible to this evil predator, Spirit (your innermost pure will), has to become somewhat of a “spiritual” phasmid. This of course, until the conception of the bodhichild is complete, and it possesses enough bodhi-power (produced by its direct access to prajna or intuitive instantaneous noble wisdom) as to become impervious to Mara, and the trickery this evil beast has to offer those of lesser abilities (prithajhana).
The Buddha, in its infinite wisdom devised a certain set of exercises and rules for the lesser able, upaya aimed to tame their own external beast from the pure will within (Spirit), keep it calm and docile until awakening was at hand and the bodhi-child one day decided to put aside all games and desires of the world, focusing on the things that mattered most; thus offering its own light of the supreme Dharma to all needing and oppressed souls, dwelling in the world of darkness and despair.
 A rare south american insect that disguises itself as a stick in order to confuse its predators.
I encountered one of these creatures once in south america. They are indistinguishable from a dry stick, and it is an apt metaphor.
I have read several of your comments on this blog and seen your bodhi signature in a pretty clear light. Take this small advice from an old zen coot for what it is;
Until enlightenment, do not follow illusion [image/thought] in its creation, nor concern yourself with its illustrious presence or annihilation.
What is illusion is not the true self, yet as such, illusion it is not beyond the true self, hence its great power of deception and entanglement. What is the true self is not illusion, but a reality, forever beyond illusion. No thing or no-thing is closer to yourself than this true self, hence you do not need to travel afar to find it, whether in mind or body.
The Mind that instantaneously “revealed” the string of patterns above as words, as easy as IT reveals sounds or scents as such before conditioned reference to other phenomena, is the Mind of enlightenment. Initself, pure, Unborn; always at your service with boundless compassion and intuitive intelligence [Prajna]. This Mind is not and have never been different from the Mind Buddha Gautama awoke to and bathed in its full unobstucted light under the Bodhi tree, having seeked it for so many years without knowing what exactly it was before awkening to it.
Your “mind” that on the other hand tries to “understand” THAT, which requires no real understanding as it is effortessly illuminating ITSELF before ITSELF (permanently), is the slef-empty (anatta) mind of Mara; the one holding you down in samsara, suffering the various heavens and hells through the constant stream of differentiating between “self”and other”. This and that and so on.
This mind tries to divide and re-arrange the pieces of the whole One Mind and then understand this “willed” illusion, a mere string of concepts, or a mere reflected desire of what originally was pure, uncreated Mind. I call this the curse of the dialectical mind. It is the child that has abandoned the grace of the sun above it to chase shadows in the forest of division and illusion.
Don´t worry most of this worlds sharpest minds in philosophy, mathematics and many other sciences and arts have fallen prey to this devil and followed him to their next incarnation without true knowledge to cut the chains and escape such rebirth.
I suggest you contemplate this Mind in your next meditation and then, when you hit the Pure Imageless Mind Ground, where not one single thought or image can arise (even if it’s for a split second), compare this Mind to the daily monkey mind you allow govern your Spirit.
Actually tozen, these monkeys work in shifts (unionized) but apart from this minor advancement, I cannot say that you are wrong as to the nature of mind.
Contemplating the pure Mind is doomed to fail because you will be making images of what is imageless.
What you should contemplate, is exactly the deluded mind. This is because if you make the object of your contemplation the pure, then the contemplation will be impure. But if you make the object of the contemplation the impure, then the contemplation will be pure.
“What you should contemplate, is exactly the deluded mind. This is because if you make the object of your contemplation the pure, then the contemplation will be impure. But if you make the object of the contemplation the impure, then the contemplation will be pure.”
Imaging the true to be false and the false to be true…brilliant, just brilliant.
Methexis i joke sometimes because it is my way of dealing with unreality (phenomena) but it is childish to joke about something as deadly serious as this. The knowing of mind is the prime directive of my spiritual practice, and while I will not insult your spirituality by declaring this to be true for you, it is not an absurd or trivial intention. It should be undertaken with great sobriety and respect for those who, by many hard lifetimes and against all probability managed to relearn the forgotten truth lost to ignorance. Any metaphor, any commentary is so much phenomenal detritus. It is necessary to go further, much further through concept and all clues as to its nature. The nature of mara, no matter how we wish to describe it, fights bitterly against its extinction. It is a death struggle with a drowning man who will pull you beneath the waves to rebirth. It is helpful to me, who struggles so awfully on this path of gnosis, to tell myself always, as a provisional practice, this is mind this is mind this is mind. Knowing ignorance, we can peel it away and clean the scales from our eyes. But not by speculative banter or messing around. The level of focus should be as a condemned man escaping from the gallows. Trivialities should not enter the mind in this endeavor!
Contemplation, also known as Dhyan, Jhana and so on, is Mind. It is Mind being One with itself and no thing else. Mind is the essence of contemplation, Dhyan, Jhana.
To allow Mind (by not obstructing it, intercepting it with the Monkey mind) contemplate itself as [Unborn] Mind, thus giving it chance to RECALL ITSELF as ABSOLUTE is to close the “electrical” circuit and allow the electricity (juice/bodhipower) go full circle thus like a lamp, illuminating with its wondrous light the false house of Mara, revealing it as unreal, empty of true self. When this happens (fast for some with much good merit, very painfully and slow for others , of bad karma and deeply in love with the world of pain and pleasure) we speak of Mind en-lighten-ed, TO ITSELF, BY ITSELF and FOR ITSELF.
When Mind is perceived as such, that is, as Pure, Unborn, Imageless; it is the sanctuary of all bodhisattvas. All sutras is about this Mind. All sutras talk about this Mind and nothing else. You might read about this name or that name, this buddha or that buddha, but all is about Mind seeking to recognize itself through a myriad fables, metaphors and phenomena until one day, at a moment beyond the limitations of samsara it stands face to face with its own original nature.
Why make a fuss about my post? Tozen says “like a lamp, illuminating … the false … revealing it as unreal, empty of true self ” – which to me is the same as my “You should contemplate the deluded mind, not the pure mind”? You don’t need to illuminate the light itself; it’s darkness that has to be illuminated.
But N. Yeti, you can be my master and teach me. It’s what everybody seems to do on the Internet nowadays. Just ask about Zen on the Internet and suddenly 10 Masters appear.
I’m glad to be your student. I just hope you’re not teaching me to convince yourself that you know. Parents do it with religion. They don’t really believe in God themselves, so they push it on children. They hope that if they manage to convince someone else, it will be true in a way, even without actually believeing it.
The Internet is full of teachers. Go on any forum and you will see. There are so few students, though. When the supply increases too much over demand, the price plummets. There’s currently a Zen Master inflation.
Why “know”? Why “know how to practice”? Why know about “the right way to practice”? What’s the hurry?
To me it’s much more interesting to “not know”, to write with your own blood and sweat, to not have too much absolute words in your mouth. It’s like using high culinary terminology to describe a McDonalds hamburger.
Does your speech really accord with the level of your practice?
Methexis, where you commin’-up with this “master” crap? I think i’ll start naming you Loki–you really pop-in full of a lot of tricks these days.
I am merely suggesting that we suckle the tit of ignorance, verily suckle it dry and drain it of all substance, as did Lord Krishna, when his Nagi demoness wetnurse practiced to envenom him. It is said her immense form, now voided of obscuration, yielded the perfume of sandalwood at the last.
Did you see the movie Patton, about the legendary American general? After WWII is over, there’s a party held for American and Russian military officers to celebrate the victory over the Nazis. A Russian general approaches Patton with a translator. But Patton hates the fake formalism and pretend polite discourse – he prefers brutal honesty as a basis for a genuine relationship. The scene unfolds like this:
Translator: The general would like to know if you will drink a toast with him.
Patton: Thank the general and tell him I have no desire to drink with him or any other Russian son of a bitch.
Translator: [Nervous] I can’t tell him that!
Patton: Tell him, every word.
Translator: [In Russian] He says he will not drink with you or any Russian son of a bitch.
Russian general: [In Russian] Tell him he is a son of a bitch, too. Now!
Translator: [Very nervous] He says he thinks you are a son of a bitch, too.
Patton: [laughing] All right. All right, tell him I’ll drink to that; one son of a bitch to another.