Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rootedness of Existence

“Whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained, in food immoderate, indolent, inactive, him verily Mara overthrows, as the wind (overthrows) a weak tree.
Whoever lives contemplating “the Impurities”', with senses restrained, in food moderate, full of faith, full of sustained energy, him Mara overthrows not, as the wind (does not overthrow) a rocky mountain.”..... Dhammapada Chapter 1: 7-8

Continuing the commentary on the Dhammapada, the above lines stress the importance of being grounded in an existence that is conducive to spiritual progress. It is essential that we understand what the Gautama meant when he said that the act of being overthrown is attributed to Mara. Mara is usually referred as the Satan. Where does the Satan reside or originate from. Both in Christianity and in Buddhism, accounts may be interpreted figuratively, as referring to a principle, rather than a being, of evil and seduction. Indeed, some Buddhist texts clearly present Mara as a state of the human mind--a metaphor for the principle of evil, passion, and diversion from the Dharma: "Heretical views and the three poisonous elements [i.e. greed, anger, and delusion] are Mara.... When our nature is dominated by [these], we are said to be possessed by the devil." Other passages, such as the account of the Buddha's temptation in the ‘Sutta Nipata’, refer to such evil mental states as the armies or forces of Mara, while maintaining his existence as a real being who stands “right next to the Buddha.” The conclusion to be drawn is that the Buddhist concept of Mara--as being or as principle--is at least as much open to debate as is the similar question in Western theology. Personal conceptions of the Tempter among believers undoubtedly range from popular superstition to abstract allegorical philosophy, just as in the West. A notable difference is that in the more overtly philosophical Buddhist tradition, many scriptures literally support the more allegorical concept of the devil, while Western scripture nearly always personifies him.
In my view Mara or Satan refers to the ‘nature of operating principle’ of the human mind from which thoughts and actions emanate.
The reference to the wind, whose direction and intensity is extremely difficult to predict, as the cause that uproots a weak tree further endorses the unpredictable nature of the source which is a mental construct. This is the reason that the Buddha clearly states the nature of contemplation which leads to the power of Mara becoming active in one’s being. When the sense oriented state of euphoria are given undue priority there is an aggregation of unwanted state of consciousness which leads to alienation from own divine nature. The next statement is very essential for a practical way of life wherein one achieves a higher level of consciousness for living a spiritually oriented life. The Buddha states that there is an inevitability of contemplating the corrupting nature of ‘the impurities’ thrown up by the senses. But how one should handle this situation is further elaborated by him. Senses should be restrained and all nourishments of the body, the emotions and the mind should be moderated. This is similar to the Sattvic principle advocated by the Vedic philosophy. In order to achieve this one should have faith and sustained energy. The faith that the Buddha talks of is not a dogmatic faith in some manmade belief system but rather in the innate power of the self which can be unleashed through an inner journey.

Let us contemplate on this two beautiful saying so full of meaning.

Love to you all.

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