“The Tempter [Mara] masters the lazy and irresolute man who dwells on the attractive side of things, ungoverned in his senses, and unrestrained in his food, like the wind overcomes a rotten tree” (Dhammapada 7).
There is a cosmic force of negativity that is the sum total of all the negativity, past and present, that has arisen in the history of creation. This force operates efficiently and therefore may be considered intelligent.
This we may call Mara, as does Buddha, or Ahriman or Satan as do the Zoroastrians and Christians. Besides this there are intelligent beings who either consciously or unconsciously ally themselves with this force, merging themselves in it and becoming its instruments. Such beings may be in a body or disembodied. They may consider themselves evil, neutral, or even good–depending on the degree of their capacity for self-deceit.
Put all together we have a league for evil that can collectively be called Mara. Since it is domination by evil that is being considered here, it matters little which aspect of Mara is doing the dominating–the result will be the same.
It is the nature of evil to coerce, cajole, tempt, entrap, dominate, weaken, and control. The nature of goodness is exactly the opposite–its purpose is to provide freedom, encourage reason, strengthen, and make independent–even of itself. Evil works through threats and the instilling of fear; goodness works through wisdom and freedom from fear. (From this we can see that virtually all religion is part of Mara, is Satanic. In their pure form most religions are free of Mara’s ways, but their degenerate forms are just as Satanic as any other.)
Mara, then, wishes to master men, whereas God wishes to make men masters–gods. (“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” Psalms 82:6.)
But man has free will, so who is subject to Mara’s domination?
The lazy and irresolute man
The one who acts not–whether from laziness or from lack of resolution–is overcome by Mara. Why? Because no one can stand still–we are either moving forward or backward. Those who are doing nothing, standing idle, are swept by Mara into the current of anti-evolution and become increasingly degenerate.
Spiritual laziness is a terrible curse, for it is not actively evil and therefore does not seem so bad. After all, tomorrow is another day, and perhaps then we will set out on the journey to higher consciousness…. Laziness plunges us into spiritual sleep that often becomes the sleep of death (see Psalms 13:3, 4). Solomon wrote: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34). Yes indeed: “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep” and all is lost–at least for that lifetime. Spiritual sleep becomes a habit, even from life to life. Often only intense suffering wakes us up, and then we often blame God or cite it as proof that there is no God.
Irresolution is as much a curse as laziness for the result is the same, though the irresolute person often suffers from his constant vacillation. Irresolution arises from ignorance, fear, and confusion–torments all. Which way should I go? How can I know the right thing? Will I be safe from harm? What will happen to me if I go in that direction?
These and many other agonies torture the irresolute. Seeing this weakness Mara strikes him down and tramples him mercilessly underfoot. Here, too, the slavery can last for ages.
Who dwells on the attractive side of things
Those who are always looking for pleasure, enjoyment, and gratification in all things are specially vulnerable to Mara’s ways, for they have no standards but “I like” and “I want.” Selfish to the core, they have no interest in the consequences of the actions that may be needed to get the things they want, considering that even wrongdoing is justified if that obtains their desires. Nor do they care about the real nature of the desired things.
Addicts of all kinds embody this foolish disregard of reality, refusing to acknowledge the destructive nature of their actions on themselves and others and classically blind to the dangers and defects of the objects of their addiction. So inveterate can addiction to objects become that the addict in time may even admit their harmful consequences but boldly declare that he simply does not care. Spiritual suicide is the end result of all continued addiction.
Ungoverned in his senses
The slave of Mara is dragged along the road of life by the wild horses of the senses–horses he has himself whipped into mad frenzy. “Everyone knows repression and suppression are bad for you!” they trumpet as they plunge on down the path of willful self-destruction. The chariot race of their life gives them no pause for reflection or good sense–they are too busy “living life to the full” and know not that they are sinking into dullness and death.
Such persons often (if not usually) become earthbound after death, obsessing others like them and urging them to like addiction in anticipation of some kind of vicarious experience. Only exorcism can free them from this baleful cycle, for they have truly become demons.
Unrestrained in his food
The importance of diet in the context of spiritual life can hardly be overestimated. What we eat and how much we eat is important for two reasons: the effect of food on the mind and its effect on the body.
Everything is vibrating energy–including the mind. What we eat is absorbed in the form of energy into the various levels of our being. Some energies are life-sustaining, some are life-inhibiting and some are even life-destroying. Animal flesh, alcohol, nicotine, and mind-altering drugs consist of destructive energies, and so do other forms of food and drink, including sugar, coffee, tea (non-herbal) and “junk food.” If we take them into our body we not only harm our body, we distort our mind and greatly hinder any attempts at increased and clear-sighted awareness.
We are already too body-conscious, and if we make ourselves ill we only compound the problem. Overeating does not directly harm the mind, but the motives for it, such as greed and desire for sensory distraction from inner discontent, are evil habits to cultivate. Overeating, however, does greatly harm the body, which in turn distracts the mind. Buddha gave an entire discourse on the importance of eating only once a day–and that before midday. By observing this discipline he claimed to eliminate nearly all disease and functional problems from the body. (Section 2 of the Kitagiri Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 70. See also the sixth section of the Latukikopama Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 66.) In the Jivaka Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 55) he also spoke of the necessity to avoid the eating of meat.
Gandhi discovered that mastery of greed and taste brought about mastery of the other senses as well. “I eat everything” and “I eat what I want, when I want, and as much as I want” are self-imposed death warrants.
Like the wind overcomes a rotten tree
Those who have spent much time in forests know the frustration of sitting or stepping on a fallen tree only to have it collapse into a spongy ruin. The tree looks fine, but a little pressure reveals its thoroughly decayed condition. A rotten tree standing upright can be toppled by the slightest of breezes because its fibers are no longer strong or even intact. The same is true of those who are lazy, irresolute, addicted to pleasure, undisciplined in their senses and their indulgence: they have no moral fiber, no strength of will, no inner integrity. Just a puff from Mara and over they go, because spiritually they are already fallen to the ground. Being self-centered they are neither the friends of God or man–or even of themselves, really.
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