In Buddhism and many other religions, Mara symbolizes that collective and obstructive dark force generated by dark desires and ignorance of all sentient beings.
It is often a matter of speech to denote Mara as a “he”, but Mara can also be known in different cultures as a “she”, it and “they”.
Absolute truth has only ONE face. But evil needs many faces in order to compensate for its lack of truth.
The obstructive force of Mara has only one purpose and that is to keep the dreaming mind, dreaming onwards, in its various realms of desire and ignorance.
Such destructive power of this force should not be underestimated under any circumstances.
To a dreamer, it is as real and devastating as the proclaimed laws of physics of the apparent “reality” in this Universe.
In order to keep the collective asleep, this most evil seductive “light” and collectively generated dark force has a large variety of tools and views, that aligns and saturates such perceptive phenomena as science, philosophy, semantics, religion, social behavior and expectations and above all the five skandhas, by which the dreaming mind perceives and upholds the reality of the dream-realms Mara tells it to be existing and real.
But evil is even more subtle and refined than this.
Only the wise and enlightened knows that the whole basis of its samsaric, multifaceted web, is based and sustained on one sole thing; Mind’s ignorance about the true nature of its true SELF.
It is thus natural that Mara does everything in his power to delude, seduce, show logical alternatives, even spiritual ones that deny the reality and “existence” of such a self.
What is offered instead, are various views and seductive experiences that easily takes a worthy adept astray from the true and only path to self-realization and propels him into a guaranteed world of suffering or various degrees of dissatisfaction.
All the Buddha’s know this and make grave warnings about it.
But sentient beings have the bad habit of often taking refuge in that which *seems* extremely easy or extremely hard.
Unaware and incapable of seeing the false path, their karmic choices unfolds into, they walk on various paths which they believe to be personal and true.
Thus, they forget that the path to perfect self-realization and awakening is only ONE and completely impersonal.
On the lower and simpler categories, one can find pure, Mara worshippers that believe War and death and suffering to be the ultimate meaning and purpose of life.
Other’s again take refuge in pure and unbound hedonistic pleasures of the corporeal body (or even transformation bodies in spiritual realms) which they are prepared to pay any price for; just as long as their skandha-sustained senses can be satisfied for even the shortest moment.
It is here, Mara steps in, with his enslaved army of demons and does a very good job.
Unless you do not, turn-about, from your unwholesome habits and erroneous views and use Right view , Right concentration and Right Effort in order to calm and UNITE your volatile Mind with this, wholesome bodhipower, you will continue to fall prey to the phenomenal whims that Mara will manifest upon your Mind.
The choice, is yours.
When I talked to my wife about “Mara” once she looked at me like I said a bad word … then she explained the word is actually used as a vulgarism in Japan.
I assume people felt their little organ was some kind of “Mara” that drove them to do unbuddhist things, so that’s why they started calling the penis with the name “Mara”
Apparently there’s even a penis-monster named Mara created by the Japanese imaginative mind – it’s rather cool in a strange way … like a phallic Cthulhu:
As a fan of Lovecraft your .jpg was quite funny!
The nature of evil is personified in Mara, the Buddhist Devil, who represents temptation, sin, and death, while thefinal escape from evil. Until you have seen this beast straight in the eye you have not the slightest notion of what true evil really is and how swift and seductive it is. It is said that the power of Mara is activated you hold on to a singlethought or image and for us who study and devote our lives to contemplate the Mind´s original nature this is indeedtrue.
Mara as such is originally identified with Namuche, one of the wicked demons in Indian mythology with whom Indra struggles. Namuche is the mischievous spirit who prevents rain and produces drought. The name Namuche means “not letting go the waters.” or obstructor /divider of life-giving-force. However, Indra, the god of thunder-storms, forces him to surrender the fertilising liquids and restores the life-bringing element to the earth.
Mara is also called Papiyan the Wicked One or the Evil One, the Murderer, the Tempter, the king of the Heaven of sensual delight in addition he is said to be Varsavarti, meaning “he who fulfils all desires.”
Varsavarti, is according to mythology one of his favorite names. In his capacity as Varsavarti (pali – Varsavatti). Mara personifies the fulfilment of desire or the triple thirst -trishna, which is the thirst for existence, the thirst for pleasure and above all the thirst for power in whatever form.
This is not at all to detract from Tozen’s truly informative exegesis, but after seeing the link Methexis provided, any illusion I may have had that Methexis is unstained like the lotus has weakened somewhat.
Without likewise detracting from any serious-stamp, ol’ Mara is quite the favorite on the Dragon Mind of Zen video series over the years–it has the most hits and approvals.
I can only imagine that when this Tarot-series is completed, that the “Mara Card”, when drawn from the deck, would truly cause one to pause and reflect as to the significance of that particular draw.
In perfect seriousness there is no reason the series could not also be converted to an application for smart phones and portable computers. It might make a handy reference for people to refer to when they are not wi-fi acessible. This would follow on the innovative and quite superb you-tube series.
You intrigue me, n.yeti. Do you have the Tech-savvy skills to put this great concept together?
I neglected to thank-you for the compliment. For me, The Dragon Mind of Zen video series reminds me of something that PBS broadcasts at the end of a broadcast-day–the Star-Gazer series out of Ft. Lauderdale; imagine watching one DMOZ video each night, before retiring; it seems to have that feel to it.
Unfortunately not at present, but I cannot imagine this would present unsurmountable obstacles, and there may even be some kind of design software available which would convert what you already have into the right format without much trouble.
RE: the Star-Gazer series out of Ft. Lauderdale. Even beyond that. Words don’t describe them.
Now you’ve really got my head running wild; a software Apt that allows one to watch the series as stand-alone video; and as Tarot–highlighting one of the cards each time one clicks the bottom Black Dragon-Eye Mandala image–wild!!!
(I mean that in a good way!)
Of course this app would be available free. We’re presently waiting for a friend to get-well who’s going to be activating a new WordPress Plugin, Bookshelf Slider, here on the site that looks like a real-library-shelf design that can portray books and other such multimedia; this new Dragon Mind of Zen App could also be available. Both Tozen and our friend have also urged me to set-up a donation-button–like a bitcoin plugin, available for those who would like to contribute to our online Unborn Mind Zen Monastery here. Perhaps that suggestion could offset the cost for the development of this new app. Possibilities here…
The roots of a lotus are in the mud.