MN 50 From… Māratajjanīyasutta: The Rebuke of Māra

[NOTE: In the section below, Arahant Mahā Moggallāna is recounting a story from the time he was reborn as a Māra named Dūsī.]

…Then it occurred to Māra Dūsī, ‘I don’t know the course of rebirth of these ethical mendicants of good character. Why don’t I take possession of these brahmins and householders and say, “Come, all of you, abuse, attack, harass, and trouble the ethical mendicants of good character. Hopefully by doing this we can upset their minds so that Māra Dūsī can find a vulnerability.”’ And that’s exactly what he did.

Then those brahmins and householders abused, attacked, harassed, and troubled the ethical mendicants of good character: ‘These shavelings, fake ascetics, riffraff, black spawn from the feet of our Kinsman, say, “We practice absorption meditation! We practice absorption meditation!” Slouching, downcast, and dopey, they meditate and concentrate and contemplate and ruminate. They’re just like an owl on a branch, which meditates and concentrates and contemplates and ruminates as it hunts a mouse. They’re just like a jackal on a river-bank, which meditates and concentrates and contemplates and ruminates as it hunts a fish. They’re just like a cat by an alley or a drain or a dustbin, which meditates and concentrates and contemplates and ruminates as it hunts a mouse. They’re just like an unladen donkey by an alley or a drain or a dustbin, which meditates and concentrates and contemplates and ruminates. In the same way, these shavelings, fake ascetics, riffraff, black spawn from the feet of our Kinsman, say, “We practice absorption meditation! We practice absorption meditation!” Slouching, downcast, and dopey, they meditate and concentrate and contemplate and ruminate.’

Most of the people who died at that time—when their body broke up, after death—were reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell.

Then Kakusandha the Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha, addressed the mendicants: ‘Mendicants, the brahmins and householders have been possessed by Māra Dūsī. He told them to abuse you in the hope of upsetting your minds so that he can find a vulnerability. Come, all of you mendicants, meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. Meditate spreading a heart full of compassion … Meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing … Meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.’

When those mendicants were instructed and advised by the Buddha Kakusandha in this way, they went to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, where they meditated spreading a heart full of love … compassion … rejoicing … equanimity.

Then it occurred to Māra Dūsī, ‘Even when I do this I don’t know the course of rebirth of these ethical mendicants of good character. Why don’t I take possession of these brahmins and householders and say, “Come, all of you, honor, respect, esteem, and venerate the ethical mendicants of good character. Hopefully by doing this we can upset their minds so that Māra Dūsī can find a vulnerability.”’

And that’s exactly what he did. Then those brahmins and householders honored, respected, esteemed, and venerated the ethical mendicants of good character.

Most of the people who died at that time—when their body broke up, after death—were reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm.

Then Kakusandha the Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha, addressed the mendicants: ‘Mendicants, the brahmins and householders have been possessed by Māra Dūsī. He told them to venerate you in the hope of upsetting your minds so that he can find a vulnerability. Come, all you mendicants, meditate observing the ugliness of the body, perceiving the repulsiveness of food, perceiving dissatisfaction with the whole world, and observing the impermanence of all conditions.’

When those mendicants were instructed and advised by the Buddha Kakusandha in this way, they went to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, where they meditated observing the ugliness of the body, perceiving the repulsiveness of food, perceiving dissatisfaction with the whole world, and observing the impermanence of all conditions. …


Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 50 Māratajjanīyasutta: The Rebuke of Māra by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

SN 4.24 Sattavassānubandhasutta: Seven Years of Pursuit

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Uruvela on the bank of the river Nerañjara at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree. Now on that occasion Mara the Evil One had been following the Blessed One for seven years, seeking to gain access to him but without success. Then Mara the Evil One approached the Blessed One and addressed him in verse:

“Is it because you are sunk in sorrow
That you meditate in the woods?
Because you’ve lost wealth or pine for it,
Or committed some crime in the village?
Why don’t you make friends with people?
Why don’t you form any intimate ties?”

The Blessed One:

“Having dug up entirely the root of sorrow,
Guiltless, I meditate free from sorrow.
Having cut off all greedy urge for existence,
I meditate taintless, O kinsman of the negligent!”

Mara:

“That of which they say ‘It’s mine,’
And those who speak in terms of ‘mine’—
If your mind exists among these,
You won’t escape me, ascetic.”

The Blessed One:

“That which they speak of is not mine,
I’m not one of those who speak of mine.
You should know thus, O Evil One:
Even my path you will not see.”

Mara:

“If you have discovered the path,
The secure way leading to the Deathless,
Be off and walk that path alone;
What’s the point of instructing others?”

The Blessed One:

“Those people going to the far shore
Ask what lies beyond Death’s realm.
When asked, I explain to them
The truth without acquisitions.”

Mara: “Suppose, venerable sir, not far from a village or a town there was a lotus pond in which a crab was living. Then a group of boys and girls would leave the village or town and go to the pond. They would pull the crab out from the water and set it down on high ground. Then, whenever that crab would extend one of its claws, those boys and girls would cut it off, break it, and smash it to bits with sticks and stones. Thus, when all its claws have been cut off, broken, and smashed to bits, that crab would be unable to return to that pond. So too, venerable sir, all those distortions, manoeuvres, and contortions of mine have been cut off, broken, and smashed to bits by the Blessed One. Now, venerable sir, I am unable to approach the Blessed One again seeking to gain access to him.”

Then Mara the Evil One, in the presence of the Blessed One, recited these verses of disappointment:

“There was a crow that walked around
A stone that looked like a lump of fat.
‘Let’s find something tender here,’ he thought,
‘Perhaps there’s something nice and tasty.’

But because he found nothing tasty there,
The crow departed from that spot.
Just like the crow that attacked the stone,
We leave Gotama disappointed.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 4.24 Sattavassānubandhasutta: Seven Years of Pursuit by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com.

Snp 3.2 Padhānasutta: Exertion

To me—
     my mind resolute in exertion
     near the river Nerañjarā,
     making a great effort,
     doing jhāna
     to attain rest from the yoke—

Nāmuci came,
     speaking words of compassion:
“You are ashen, thin.
     Death is in
     your presence.
Death
has 1,000 parts of you.
Only one part
is your life.
Live, good sir!
Life is better.
          Alive,
     you can do
     acts of merit.
Your living the holy life
and performing the fire sacrifice
will heap up much merit.
     What use is exertion to you?
Hard to follow
—the path of exertion—
hard to do, hard
to sustain.”

Saying these verses,
Māra stood in the Awakened One’s presence.
And to that Māra, speaking thus,
the Blessed One
said this:

“Kinsman of the heedless,
     Evil One,
come here for whatever purpose:
I haven’t, for merit,
even the least bit of need.
Those who have need of merit:
Those are the ones
Māra’s fit to address.

In me are
          conviction
          austerity,
          persistence,
          discernment.
Why, when my mind is resolute,
do you petition me
     to live?
This wind could burn up
     even river currents.
Why, when my mind is resolute,
shouldn’t my blood dry away?
As my blood dries up,
gall & phlegm dry up,
as muscles waste away,
the mind grows clearer;
mindfulness, discernment,
concentration stand
     more firm.
Staying in this way,
attaining the ultimate feeling,
the mind has no interest
in sensuality.
     See:
     a being’s
     purity!

Sensual passions are your first army.
Your second     is called Discontent.
Your third     is Hunger & Thirst.
Your fourth     is called Craving.
Fifth     is Sloth & Torpor.
Sixth     is called Cowardice.
Your seventh     is Uncertainty.
Hypocrisy & Stubbornness, your eighth.
Gains, Offerings, Fame, & Status
     wrongly gained,
and whoever would praise self
& disparage others:

That, Nāmuci, is your army,
the Dark One’s commando force.
A coward can’t defeat it,
but one having defeated it
     gains bliss.
Do I carry muñja grass?
I spit on my life.
Death in battle would be better for me
     than that I, defeated,
          survive.

Sinking here, they don’t appear,
     some brahmans & contemplatives.
They don’t know the path
by which those with good practices
          go.

Seeing the bannered force
     on all sides—
the troops, Māra
along with his mount—
I go into battle.
May they not budge me
     from
     my spot.
That army of yours,
that the world with its devas
     can’t overcome,
I will smash          with discernment—
as an unfired pot     with a stone.

Making my     resolve mastered,
               mindfulness well-established,
I will go about, from kingdom to kingdom,
training many disciples.
They—heedful, resolute in mind,
doing my bidding—
despite your wishes, will go
     where, having gone,
     there’s no grief.”

Māra:
“For seven years, I’ve dogged
the Blessed One’s steps,
but haven’t gained an opening
in the One Self-Awakened
     & glorious.
A crow circled a stone
the color of fat
     —’Maybe I’ve found
     something tender here.
     Maybe there’s something delicious’—
but not getting anything delicious there,
the crow went away.
Like the crow attacking the rock,
I weary myself with Gotama.”

As he was overcome with sorrow,
his lute fell from under his arm.
Then he, the despondent spirit,
          right there
     disappeared.


Read this translation of Snp 3.2 Padhānasutta: Exertion by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net.