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Mara and Mahaparinibbana

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  • mastram101 <mastram101@yahoo.com>
    Bows to the honourable members of the holy bhikkhusangha. I have a question. I have a question. It is not so important from the practice point of view. But
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 31, 2002
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      Bows to the honourable members of the holy bhikkhusangha.

      I have a question. I have a question. It is not so important from the
      practice point of view. But anyhow I feel like asking it.

      I have read the mahaparinibbana sutta. In this sutta, the Mara
      appears before the buddha after anada fails to get the clue from
      buddha's utterances that the mahaparinibbana is approaching. Mara
      appears before buddha after that and requests him to enter
      mahaparinibbana, since all the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are now well
      versed in the dhamma and the buddha dhamma is firmly established.

      What can be the significance or higher meaning behind this incident?
      did buddha enter mahaparinibbana because of the request from mara?
      no. because he said everything which has orginiated has to come to
      end. and his body is like an old cart.

      So what can be higher meaning behind this incident?

      R.O.Jadhao
      Nagpur, India
    • mastram101
      Bows to the honourable members of the holy bhikkhusangha. I have asked this question once before, but did not get any reply. I am asking it for the second
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 1 5:13 AM
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        Bows to the honourable members of the holy bhikkhusangha.

        I have asked this question once before, but did not get any reply. I
        am asking it for the second time.

        I have a question. I have a question. It is not so important from
        the
        practice point of view. But anyhow I feel like asking it.

        I have read the mahaparinibbana sutta. In this sutta, the Mara
        appears before the buddha after anada fails to get the clue from
        buddha's utterances that the mahaparinibbana is approaching. Mara
        appears before buddha after that and requests him to enter
        mahaparinibbana, since all the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are now well
        versed in the dhamma and the buddha dhamma is firmly established.

        What can be the significance or higher meaning behind this incident?
        did buddha enter mahaparinibbana because of the request from mara?
        no. because he said everything which has orginiated has to come to
        end. and his body is like an old cart.

        So what can be higher meaning behind this incident?

        R.O.Jadhao
        Nagpur, India
      • Ashin Punnobhasa
        Dear Jadhao, It was a very thoughtful question. I, as a member of Sangha, owed you an apology for not answering your previous question. You have read the
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 3 12:35 PM
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          Dear Jadhao,
          It was a very thoughtful question. I, as a member of
          Sangha, owed you an apology for not answering your
          previous question.
          You have read the mahaparinibbana sutta. It is good
          to consider the significant meaning behind this
          incident. The request of Mara was not the reason for
          the Buddha�s mahaparinibbana. Even if Mara did not
          request Him, Buddha would enter mahaparinibbana. But
          there is a meaning behind the failure of Ananda Thera
          to request the Buddha to live longer.

          First I would like to mention the answer given in the
          commentary and sub-commentary of that sutta. Buddha
          gave Ananda Thera the clue that He would not enter
          mahaparinibbana at that time if Ananda requested Him
          not to. Buddha gave the clue knowing that Ananda
          would fail to request him. And also there is no
          reason for the Buddha that He should live longer
          since, as you mentioned in your question, all the
          bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are now well versed in the
          Dhamma and the Buddha�s Dhamma is firmly established.
          The commentary said that Buddha�s intention was to
          lessen Ananda�s grief for His parinibbana by
          convincing Ananda that he made a mistake. The
          Sub-commentary explained further that people could
          lessen their grief if they saw their own fault in
          losing an opportunity.
          This is the point for you to be considered whether you
          can lessen your grief for losing a good opportunity
          thinking that it was you who did not take it. Or
          rarely or may be sometimes one may be consoled by
          thinking that he has done as much as he could.
          Now I would like to discuss what I think about this
          incident rather than what is explained in the
          commentary and the sub-commentary. If my discussion
          was not a wise one I apologize you and Bhikkhu Sangha,
          and also request bhikkhu sangha to correct me. I have
          no doubt about Buddha�s sabbannutanana. Buddha surely
          knew about the consequence of what he said. Later in
          that story, Ananda Thera became an enlightened person.
          Ananda Thera was the one who had learnt whatever the
          Buddha taught through out His life and therefore
          bhikkhu sangha should include Ananda Thera as the most
          important member (the one who give all the answers
          concerning about Dhamma to Mahakassapa Thera who was
          the chair-person of the council) of that council.
          Ananda Thera was not an enlightened one before the
          Sangha council. The enlightenment of Ananda Thera was
          necessary for him and bhikkhu sangha in order to
          organize the first Sangha council since the decision
          that would be made at the council should be worthy of
          trust. Buddha pointed out forgetfulness of his
          disciple, Ananda Thera, and later also bhikkhu sangha
          pointed out the same in different way. That would
          make Ananda Thera to have a sense of emergency for
          what should be done and to make a strong determination
          that he would not fail another opportunity again. My
          point here is that Buddha and other enlightened
          bhikkhus taught Ananda Thera a good lesson. This is
          what I could think about the significance of the
          incident in the sutta. I do not expect that your
          question was answered well. Any way I just wanted to
          share my thoughts about it and also wanted to
          appreciate your thoughtful study of the Dhamma.

          with metta,

          Ashin Punnobhasa

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        • mastram101
          Pujaneeya Bhante. I understood from your reply as to why Ananda failed to get a clue from the Buddha and did not request him to stay for kalpas for the welfare
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 5 4:06 AM
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            Pujaneeya Bhante.

            I understood from your reply as to why Ananda failed to get a clue
            from the Buddha and did not request him to stay for kalpas for the
            welfare of the man kind. But my question is regarding appearance of
            Mara requesting Him to enter maha parinibbana. What does this
            suggest? Does it suggest that Mara was asking him to enter
            mahaparinibbana for selfish reasons?
          • Ashin Punnobhasa
            Dear friend, I am sorry for I did not mention about the significance behind Mara’s appearance of the Buddha before his enlightenment. It was my
            Message 5 of 7 , Apr 7 2:44 PM
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              Dear friend,
              I am sorry for I did not mention about the
              significance behind Mara�s appearance of the Buddha
              before his enlightenment. It was my forgetfulness.
              As you have already known Buddha�s mahaparinibbana is
              nothing to do with Mara�s request. He entered into
              the mahaparinibbana only because he knew it was the
              time. But Mara�s request to the Buddha
              high-lighted the nobly perfect nature of the Buddha.
              Noble people do what they have to do irrespective of
              what other people think or tell about them.

              Mara requested the Buddha, as you mention in your
              question, for selfish reason. I guess you know about
              five kinds of Mara. We may discuss about it seperately
              if you want. Maras are so called because they are the
              very reasons of death (dying again and again in
              Samsara). That deity who was know as Mara was so
              called for that reason. I imagine that he liked
              making people fool. He did not want people to be free
              from his influence. That kind of personalities are
              every where, in every religion, and in every society.

              Buddha told Mara that he not be worry about Buddha�s
              mahaparinibbana. Just imagine one thing about that.
              Mara has been worried about Buddha�s appearance in the
              world for he will lose control over people�s mind if
              the Buddha�s appearance. He tried to stop Prince
              Siddhatha on the way of renunciation, he tried to
              convince the Buddha not to teach the Dhamma to the
              world, and he asked him to enter into parinibbana.
              Don�t you think it was very evil? He had been wishing
              to delude the people�s mind; he had been trying to
              prevent people�s enlightenment. It was a serious
              unwholesome act that would make him suffer in the
              future as a result. So, Buddha told him not to worry
              about that any more. Buddha told him that out of
              compession for him. Mara should not worry about
              Buddha�s parinibbana since Buddha had already decided
              to do so. His worry was useless and also dangerous
              for him.
              Another significant point about this incident is that the
              conversation between Buddha and Mara shows that
              Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Upasaka, and Upasika had learned
              the Dhamma sufficiently; Buddha had taught the Dhamma
              sufficiently enough for us to follow. It showed that
              the aim of Buddha�s appearance in the world is
              completed. And also it showed that we should not
              worry about not having the Buddha in person; He had
              taught us everything he needed to teach.
              With metta,
              Ashin Punnobhasa


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            • sam he
              Dear venerable sir, I am very interested in the explanation about mara, can you describe more about what is mara, what kind of deity he is, and why such a
              Message 6 of 7 , Apr 11 2:35 AM
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                Dear venerable sir,

                I am very interested in the explanation about mara, can you describe more about what is mara, what kind of deity he is, and why such a developed personality like Venerable Ananda could be influenced by mara, so he did not aske Sidharta Gautama to stay longer, even though Sidharta Gautama himself had given hints to Ven.Ananda.
                Also from the dhammapada I noted that one mighty brahma who thought he was the highest entity and the creator of the universe before Buddha and several arahants enlightened him, was also in the influence of Mara, Moreover on several occasion mara gave difficulties to Buddha, such as when he influenced the mind of people in a town ( I don`t remember the name of the town, I read it from the dhammapada story)so when Buddha went for his food alms, he got nothing from the people in that town.
                How do we a buddhist lay people can overcome mara's influence?, while a mighty brahmas, venerabale ananda, can be inflenced by mara, and mara can even give difficulties to even a Sammasambuddha.
                Thank you before hand sir, I look forward to hearing from you
                Sincerely
                Suryajayo from indonesia







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              • Ashin Punnobhasa
                Dear Suryajayo, There are five kinds of Mara that are mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. (1) As you have been already aware of, it was the name of a deity who
                Message 7 of 7 , Apr 14 2:11 PM
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                  Dear Suryajayo,

                  There are five kinds of Mara that are mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. (1) As you have been already aware of, it was the name of a deity who tried to delude people�s mind so that they cannot realize the Four Noble Truths. Before we talk about him, let us talk about planes of existence. According to kamma that we have done, there are possible planes of existence in which we may be reborn. We may be born in one of the woeful planes (apayabhumi), such as in an animal�s womb. We may be born in the sensuous blissful plane (kamasugatibhumi). We may be born in the fine-material-sphere plane (rupavacarabhumi) if we could develop jhana. This is the realm in which gross matter is absent and only a subtle residue of matter remains. Rebirth into these realms is achieved by the attainment of the meditative states called jhanas, high attainments in the development of concentration (Samadhi). And also we may be reborn in the immaterial-sphere plane (arupavacarabhumi) in which matter has been totally transcended and only consciousness and mental factors remain. Rebirth into this immaterial sphere plane comes about through the attainment of the arupajjhanas, the four immaterial or formless absorptions, which are reached by developing concentration beyond the five jhanas of the fine-material sphere. Mara, a deity, belongs to the second one, sensuous blissful plane. In every religion, we may find individuals who represent the dark side and the light.

                  This is also true in our day-today life, isn�t it? One person may be at some times evil-minded and at another time very kind-hearted one. Actually, what is wholesome and unwholesome is the mind. So, Mara is a deity who enjoys seeing people suffers in samsara the circle of birth and death. That is why he even tries to stop the prince Siddhattha not to go forth in search of the truths. Mara could influence on people who are not free from all the defilements, especially the attachment to sensual pleasure, hatred or anger or fear, and delusion. Ananda Thera was a person who still had certain level of those defilements in his mind. He was just a sotapanna. Possibly, his mind was, at that time when he was with the Buddha, overwhelmed by worry about Buddha�s sickness. If he were very mindful, Mara surely could not deceive him. Mara never found a chance to deceive the Buddha even before His enlightenment. My suggestion to you is to be mindful so that you will not be the victim of Mara, the deity.

                  (2) Mara as kilesa (defilements).

                  There are ten kilesas. (1) lobha � greed, (2) dosa � hatred, (3) moha � delusion, (4) maana - conceit, (5) ditthi � wrong views, (6) vicikicchaa � doubt, (7) thina � sloth, (8) uddhacca � restlessness, (9) ahirika � moral shamelessness, and (10) anottappa � fearlessness of wrongdoing. [I spelled the term maana to indicate that aa represents a with the bar above. It should not be confused with nama which means mind.] These defilements are considered to be mara (Here it should be spelled as maara but in order for convenience I would type mara only) because one will be born again and consequently will die if one cannot eradicate them.

                  (3) Mara as five aggregates (pancakkhanda)

                  A person (such as a human being) is nothing but five aggregates in the ultimate sense. These five aggregates are (1) rupakkhandha � the materiality aggregate, (2) vedanakkhandha � the feeling aggregate, (3) sannakkhandha � the perception aggregate, (4) sankharakkhandha � the mental formations aggregates, and (5) vinnanakkhandha � the consciousness aggregate. Being born as a human being means the arising of these five aggregates after the death in the previous life. [I am using a human being as an example in order to avoid giving too much information at one time. That would make you confused.] Since you are born, you will surely die one day. If you long for having an existence, you will die again, and again. You will not die if you are not being born again. Well, strictly speaking, there is no you and I as a person. It is a continuous arising and passing away of five aggregates. So, five aggregates are called mara because one will die after arising of them.

                  (4) Mara as death

                  The death itself is considered to be mara. I guess the reason is obvious. In previous explanations, mara is defined as the reason of death whereas here it is defined as the death itself.

                  (5) Mara as kamma (abhisankha)

                  I know that when you see this sub-title, you would say, �what?� Please remember that an enlightened one will not accumulate any kamma. Kamma literally means action or deed. Strictly, kamma refers exclusively to volitional action. From the technical stand point, kamma denotes wholesome or unwholesome volition (cetana), volition being the factor responsible for action. All volitional action, except that of a Buddha or an Arahant, constitutes kamma. The Buddha and the Arahants do not accumulate kamma, since they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of kamma. Nevertheless, even the Buddhas and Arahants are bound to experience the ripening of their past kamma as long as their psychophysical personality persists, that is, until they pass away. [These sentences that explain kamma are directly from the Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma by Bhikkhu Bodhi.] Buddha and Arahants also act, but their action is not kamma. It is called kiriya (functional action) since it will not produce any fruits (phala). If you still accumulate kamma, you will be reborn and consequently will die again.

                  So, in order to overcome Mara�s influence, one should be mindful. One should be mindful of eradicating defilements. One should develop mindfulness till one attains enlightenment.

                  With metta,

                  Ashin Punnobhasa





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