As in most Buddhist teachings, the point of Mara
is not to "believe in" Mara
but to understand what Mara represents in your
own practice and
experience of life.
"Mara's army is just as real to us today as it
was to the Buddha," Jnana Sipe
said. "Mara stands for those patterns of
behavior that long for the security
of clinging to something real and
permanent rather than facing the question
posed by being a transient and
contingent creature. 'It makes no difference
what you grasp', said Buddha,
'when someone grasps, Mara stands beside
him.' The tempestuous longings and
fears that assail us, as well as the views
and opinions that confine us are
sufficient evidence of this. Whether we talk
of succumbing to irresistible
urges and addictions or being paralyzed by
neurotic obsessions, both are
psychological ways of articulating our current
cohabitation with the devil."
from somewhere on the internet ,^)
posted to Daily Dharma by Amrita
Work, Watch, Wait by Art Ticknor
So Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you live by what I
you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will
free." John 8:31-32
Chela-A: What does it mean to know the truth? Teacher: Knowing the truth
is not a knowing in any form you're familiar with. It's seeing what is as
opposed to what seems. "What is" is what you truly are. Do you know what
you are? Do you see the truth?
A : Apparently not. I don't really know what I am, and I certainly don't
free. So I must not see the truth.
T : What do you tell yourself the reason for the non-seeing is? Do you feel
it's because the truth is in the dark and when light reveals it
you'll be able
to see it? Because a new "eye" has to open in
order to see it? Something
A : I keep seeing my personal self! It's annoying. It's just a damned
but I take it to be so real. No, no other light, or new
eye, just a stupid
conviction that needs to stop happening.
"Unclenching" sounds kind of like
T : Yes, the personal self is a clenched fist. A fist has no sight. Only
Truth/Self sees, and only the Truth/Self sees itself.
Reflecting back on
my life, I could say: "I looked away and saw
a projection of myself. I
looked back and saw my real self."
Teacher to Chela-B: Do you feel you currently see the Truth, or that it's
hidden from you? If you do see it: do you recognize it or admit the
implications of what you see; if not, how do you explain to yourself the
non-recognition or non-admission?
B : I feel that I can see the Truth. I can see that all things arise and
disappear in the view, including every single aspect of I/me.
I/me is not-I,
yet all not-I are contained in I.
I tell myself that there must be something I'm NOT seeing clearly, which is
why I persist in craving, seeking and trying to become
something. I don't
know which of the two categories this
explanation falls in, since the
explanation probably contains
aspects of both. I am tending toward the
interpretation that if
I notice what I haven't yet noticed, then the
non-admission would be impossible to sustain.
T : "As a child, I held on to childish beliefs."
Chela-C: Hidden. The mind is attached to the mental drama and pretend
ego-building but could tire of this and begin to turn its inquiry to
the observer truthand over time somehow the resistance would
wear out and a vision would happen that hasn't yet. I've also been
assuming, since what I see isn't me I need to see something I
haven't yet, when the observation is part of the truth too. It's that
kind of mental blinders (in this case a misinterpretation perhaps)
that keep the view focused on the parts rather than the whole and
I don't know how many are left and how long it'll take to see them.
T: "I was in love with sorrow."
Chela-D: I often feel like I see the Truth. I don't fully accept it because
still have attachments to untruth. Some of these attachments I'm
not seeing yet. Some I'm not willing to let go of yet.
"I concocted elaborate stories to try to still the troubled waters."
Chela-E: It feels like it's hidden. I tell myself it's not seen
because I'm not
ready yet due to continued strength of the ego (individuality sense)
and all its attachments. I can hypothetically understand that Truth
may be perfectly obvious and I'm just ignoring it because of this.
Also, the Truth as expressed by those reporting back feels
extremely right, but somehow seems too good to be true. T: "I
prayed to my Self, imploring my Self to show me the way, to reveal
the truth of myself to myself. But when my Self asked me if I were
ready, I said: 'Not just yet.'"
Chela-D: I've been working hard, writing down my observations, learning
things, etc. Is all this an elaborate story I've invented to avoid the
T: That's a question you'll have to answer for yourself. You're
authority to gauge whether my response ("I
concocted elaborate stories
to try to still the
troubled waters.") fits your situation.
D: Is despair a valid strategy?
T: Despair (loss of hope) is not a strategy. It's a
generates a belief or
conviction. The feeling is a fact; the belief or
conviction is an interpretation that may be more or less valid. The
existentialists like Sartre and the popular crop of
today's advaitins (who
share the view that "you're
already enlightened … just admit there's no
etc.) represent exhausted seekers who stop short of realization by
latching onto the belief that there's nothing to be
done. That's a
premature interpretation of
hopelessness. Of course some people never
seeking due to an adolescent interpretation of hopelessness
("there's no answer" or "it's too big for me to
tackle," and so on). A
valid strategy is to make
our life a laboratory for finding the truth of
we are and to feel our way intuitively, allowing intuition to refine
the strategy as we go along. Mental clarity
increases as we "back up"
within the mind ... as
more and more of the mind's activity comes into
view. Final mental clarity is only possible if we can see mind from a
Chela-B: There was a deflating effect of your statement that endures to
right now. Thing is, we've done this before. The affliction, the response,
story, the forgetting – and repeat the cycle. Perhaps there is a bit
honesty, a bit more acceptance of my complete ignorance, than the last
What is it that your question and feedback was designed to do? Is
better way for me to approach this? To show that it's time that I
let go of
mental forms that have been repeating since childhood? But if I am
convinced I am those mental forms then how is that necessary higher
T: What I said was a statement reflecting my life-experience
your answer to the question. You might
take a look at whether your
prolonged focus on your
balloon's frequent deflation is a possible
mechanism that allows you to avoid looking at the facts that life
is trying to present to you … and therefore allows
a reinflating of the
balloon (ego, self-belief) to
prevent its collapse.
Chela-E: Had a big blow to the seeker ego this past week by realizing that
I'm the same old unenlightened schleb I've always been. It's like there was
house of cards being built up represented by hours of meditation, retreat
attendance, doctrine study, etc., which was severely shaken and damaged if
not toppled. This resulted in being distraught and a lingering feeling of
gloominess. Seeking activities will continue, but I feel the grandiose
Enlightenment need to be replaced with practicality, simplicity
~ ~ ~
Recognizing what you truly are takes work – possibly years or a lifetime of
work. I doubt if anyone puts in the necessary effort unless they come to see
(i.e., intuit) that it's the only solution to their deepest question, desire
What obstructs our clear view is a field of faulty beliefs about what we
Life erodes those beliefs over time, sometimes providing traumas that
them down. We can speed up the process by intentionally looking for
and consciously doubting them. Introspection – watching the mind's
and looking for patterns – provides the data to challenge the
self-beliefs. We work then relax; pray then listen; push then
We can't force a breakthrough to self-knowing. The pins have to line up
properly for the lock to open, and we don't know what key will do that.
If you have any questions or comments of your own, email Art Ticknor .