“[To attain Buddhahood], you must free
[yourself] from 2 obscurations and 4 mara.” – John Tan, 2020
“According to Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna there are two obscurations that prevent us from fully knowing the nature of phenomena. The first is called the afflictive obscuration, which is the fetter of an internal subjective reference point that the self is attributed to, and the second is called the cognitive obscuration, which is everything else that stands apart from our deluded sense of self, so all objects; persons, places, things.
For some reason these
obscurations can be uprooted at different times.” – Kyle Dixon, 2021
Two obscurations (Tib. སྒྲིབ་པ་གཉིས་, dribpa nyi; Wyl. sgrib pa gnyis) — emotional and cognitive obscurations.
● Emotional obscurations are defined according to their essence, cause and function.
In essence, they are the opposite of the six paramitas, as described in the Gyü Lama:
"Thoughts such as avarice and so on,
These are the emotional obscurations."
Their cause is grasping at a personal ego, or the “self of the individual”.
They function to prevent liberation from samsara.
● Cognitive obscurations are also defined according to their essence, cause and function.
In essence, they are thoughts that involve the three conceptual ‘spheres’ of subject, object and action. The Gyü Lama says:
"Thoughts that involve the three spheres,
These are the cognitive obscurations."
Their cause is grasping at phenomena as truly existent, or, in other words, the “self of phenomena”.
Their function is to prevent complete enlightenment.”
On the four maras,
“According to Sutrayana
- the mara of the aggregates (Skt. skandhamāra; Tib. ཕུང་པོའི་བདུད་, Wyl. phung po'i bdud), which symbolizes our clinging to forms, perceptions, and mental states as ‘real’;
- the mara of the destructive emotions (Skt. kleśamāra; Tib. ཉོན་མོངས་ཀྱི་བདུད་, Wyl. nyon mongs kyi bdud), which symbolizes our addiction to habitual patterns of negative emotion;
- the mara of the Lord of Death (Skt. mṛtyumāra; Tib. འཆི་བདག་གི་བདུད་, Wyl. 'chi bdag gi bdud), which symbolizes both death itself, which cuts short our precious human birth, and also our fear of change, impermanence, and death; and
- the mara of the sons of the gods (Skt. devaputramāra; Tib. ལྷའི་བུའི་བདུད་, Wyl. lha'i bu'i bdud), which symbolizes our craving for pleasure, convenience, and ‘peace’.
The Great Tibetan Dictionary gives the following descriptions:
- The mara of the aggregates prevents one from accomplishing virtue, since if one possesses the aggregates (created by karma and destructive emotions), then one falls under the sway of sickness, aging and decay; the conditions preventing one from accomplishing virtue.
- The mara of the destructive emotions prevents one from accomplishing virtue, since one is under the power of destructive emotions such as desire and anger. The coarse mara of the destructive emotions are the root and subsidiary destructive emotions. The subtle mara of the destructive emotions are for example the emotional habitual tendencies in the mind of an arhat.
- The mara of the Lord of Death causes one to be powerless regarding the ceasing of the life-force faculty.
- The mara of the sons of the gods prevent one from accomplishing virtue through the jealousy of the desire realm's sons of the gods. The coarse mara of the sons of the gods is Garab Wangchuk (kāmadeva), the lord of the realm Controlling Others' Emanations. The subtle mara of the sons of the gods is for example distraction which makes one unable to overcome any of the first three maras.” - https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_maras
krodha commented on Question about Mara
3 points ·
2 days ago
Yeah it’s a complicated topic with much nuance. I don’t say anything I can’t back up in this subreddit. I can’t help that people don’t understand and downvote, that is their limitation.
The tangible demon represents external dangers: fires, floods, precipices, lightning, savage beings, enemies, robbers and thieves, vipers and carnivorous beasts, flesh-eating spirits, and any other frightening things that can harm our bodies and minds.
The intangible demon refers to inner attachment, aversion, bewilderment, and the other eighty-four thousand negative emotions, which give rise to all the sufferings of samsara.
The demon of exultation is the exultation that comes when one is wandering in haunted places, in the mountains, and so on, and one thinks, "My teacher is not like other teachers, his teachings are not like other teachings, there are no practices quite like mine, my vajra brothers and sisters are much better than anyone else's." In short, the demon of exultation is the attachment and infatuation one feels when one achieves the slightest inner warmth or power in one's concentration.
The demon of conceit is the root of the preceding three demons. It is the conceited belief in "I" and "me" that makes one think that the five aggregates are "me" or "mine". If one eradicates this inner demon, all outer demons will automatically be destroyed. For example, when one cuts a tree at the root, all the branches and leaves are brought down in the process. Similarly, since the root of the demons described here is contained in this inner demon of self-centered conceit, it is this that we have to destroy.
There are as many Dharma practitioners as stars in the sky, but few are without the obstacles of māra, like the sun and moon. If one is without the obstacles of māra, it would be easy to attain liberation in a single year. Therefore, necessary to recognize māra and overthrow him.
In the beginning, when one is staying in the city of samsara’s suffering, also one’s faith in Dharma is slight; carried away by the “māra of laziness”, one is angry at enemies, loving to friends, one thinks of mutual satisfaction, one is distracted by mundane activities, one is not mindful of death. Because of the activities of deluded appearances one remains in procrastination. That is called “māra”. The method of overpowering that māra is to seek out a qualified Guru, the cause of unimpaired faith. Meditate on death and impermanence, the cause of unimpaired diligence. Having established one’s priorities, flee towards the Dharma.
At that time, māras turning one’s thinking in the wrong direction will arise. Some will manifest as one’s kin and companions, “Don’t practice Dharma” they will say and will cause obstacles by various means. Some will manifest as terrifying enemies or manifest as competitors and property. Since the human life of deceptions is exposed, slipping away day after day, and in the end one sinks deeper into the mire of samsara. To subdue it, having entrusted one’s mind to the jewel of the Guru, it is necessary to have the resolve not to seek advice from secular counselors. [8/a]
When one arrives in the presence of the Guru, the mārawho accompanies doubts arises. The sign of his entry is to not perceive the qualities of the Guru. Even subtle faults are perceived. Incorrect views regarding his practice of interpretable deeds arise.
Thinking it is necessary to go to hell after giving whatever donations were received to the Dharma is a māra. To subdue it, develop the thought of the Guru as a Buddha.
At that time, the māra of turning away from Dharma arises. One will think of women, wealth, business, be deceitful and hoard. The sign of the entry of that māra is one will give up one’s Dharma clothes, companions, and Dharma practice. One will not wish to listen to Dharma. One’s behavior will be mundane and one will have attachments and aversions. One will be greatly attached to evil alcohol. One will turn one’s back on the teachings of the Buddha. To subdue it, develop perseverance towards the Dharma, sublime of the sublime. One should be diligent whatever profound Dharma to which one is inclined. Remain very far away from women and irreligious activities. It is important to think about the liberation accounts of one’s predecessors.
At that time, the māra of being jaded about hearing different Dharmas will arise necessarily. The sign of his entry is one speaks proudly “I made this request for this Dharma.” There isn’t an intellectual understanding because one has not understood the meaning. Because one understands empty words alone, one explains secret words in public. Despite whatever profound meaning is explained, one thinks “I have heard it before” and certain knowledge does not arise. One does not reach perfection in Dharma, that is a called a māra. To subdue it, one must engage in hearing and contemplation as before again and again, and truly integrate the meaning of Dharma.
At that time, māra of seeking many qualities enters. Since one understands qualities, māra is disguised as benefactors and students. On their arrival, one doesn’t engage in practice. One becomes conceited about one’s learning, and one sees oneself as important. One becomes attached to wealth. Obstacles preventing one from traveling the path of Dharma are created. The method of subduing it is, stay in mountain retreat for a long time, and change all other activities which will not realize the Dharma.
At that time, the māra of tenets will arrive. Having arrived as a Dharma of five poisons with the biases of oneself and others, give up the jealousies of tenets, train in unbiased pure vision.
At that time, when meditating on the deity, the māra of having doubts about the deity enters. Concepts about taking and putting down the deity, and is it good or bad arise. [9/a] Wishing to subdue demons with power, with completing the approach, hurrying the activities, practicing subjugation and evil mantras, to tame the māra of animosity with the wisdom deity, whatever deity one meditates, do not meditate with or without characteristics, but develop only the inner radiance of awareness and be steady in one’s commitments of the three doors.
If one is freed from that māra, once again when one is meditating the channels and winds, the māra of introducing obstacles to practice arises, creating obstacles to spiritual practice, even slight suffering is unbearable. One stops that practice and later one is apprehensive of doing it. For that, meditate on the faults of samsara and one will be free from obstacles.
If one is free from that, again, enhancing great bliss, the dākinī māra arrives. Having accepted mantra, the woman bears children. Since one cannot care for them, various non-virtues occur. Cut the snares of attachment to her, what one does not have one needn’t protect.
If one is free from that, when meditating emptiness, the māra of emptiness arising as an enemy occurs. “Nothing is accomplished” and one confuses good deeds and misdeeds. One will have not faith in the Three Jewels. One will not arouse compassion for sentient beings. For that, one should increase virtue and purify misdeeds. One should train in pure vision, devoted faith, dependent origination and inseparable emptiness and compassion.
Further, the māra of compassion arising as an enemy is that without oneself being liberated one rushes to help migrating beings, and delay in accomplishment, etc., occurs. So to avoid that, develop aspirational bodhicitta and be relaxed about engaged bodhicitta.
If one is free from that, the māra of predictions arising as an enemy occurs. Impersonating one’s deity or Guru, when such predictions occur in one’s experience or in dreams as “Help migrating beings!” and “One will become accomplished if one has helped migrating beings”, etc., for that dissolve the wisdom being, if it remains clearly, it is the deity or Guru. But if it does not remain clearly, it is a māra and an obstacle. One should determine that with certainty.
If free from that, because the māra of ascetic conduct arises as an enemy, one wanders continually in towns, some are drunks, others show crazy behavior, others are lewd, behavior which is not correspond with the sublime Dharma occurs. To counter act that, [10/a] stay in one place, meditate on candali, be impartial towards the eight dharmas.
Otherwise, the obstacles of māra while one has not obtained perfect Buddhahood are endless, and also the explanations which follow. Having given up material things, if one practices one pointedly, no kind of obstacle or māra will affect one.
krodha commented on What are your thoughts on moving your altar out of prominence in the living room if a guest comes to your house?
2 points ·
2 days ago
If you practice Vajrayāna for example, you’d most likely keep your altar concealed anyway, if not, then its up to your own discretion.
krodha commented on What do you think most people misunderstand about Buddhism?
3 points ·
2 days ago
Well, devas, which are a class of sentient being.
krodha commented on Question about Mara
4 points ·
2 days ago
· edited 2 days ago
Hi all, quick question. Do most Buddhists understand Mara as a literal, existing in space and time being similar to how most Christians understand Satan to be a literal being, or do most see Mara as a metaphor for our desires and untamed mind?
A mara is any obstacle to buddhahood. Not a literal being. If māra is something physical, then it is physical obstructions and dangers, etc.
Maras are classified as (i) tangible māras, (ii) intangible māras, (iii) the māra of exultation, and (iv) the māra of conceit. The fourth is the root of the other three, which if severed will eliminate all other māras.