The story goes…
Siddhartha , The Buddha, the prince with all earthly possessions he could’ve desired, made effort to disregard his old ways and carve a life out for himself which he saw as his true purpose, or dharma.
Mara approaches him while meditating under the Bodhi tree, with his “temping air of negative feelings, his world-deluding arrows, and an intricately designed bow made of flowers”. Buddha paid no intention to the evil words and destructive arrows shot his way – he simply let them pass by – “leaned away from the sharp edges”. He was not moved by the wickedness or ugliness of Mara and his army. Rather, he saw them as over-excited children of play.
Then God came out of the air to tell Mara that he must “go in peace”. With the arrows by which “the world is smitten in his heart”, Mara walked away sheepishly, knowing he’d been defeated.
Buddha, the “passion free conqueror of the darkness of ignorance” was victorious and “the heavens shown with the moon like a maiden with a smile and there fell a rain with sweet smelling flowers filled with water”.
I keep coming back to this story, I think because I am trying to lead/follow in this “Middle Path”. I don’t exactly know how – or rather – I keep allowing Mara’s arrows to penetrate me. It’s so easy to say that spiritual enlightenment is unrealistic in time, but it was also for The Prince/The Buddha/Siddhartha, who had all the possessions he could’ve desired. Even his own father was intentionally keeping his life lavish so that he would stay tied to the palace life. I’ve observed this behavior in my own and other lives here in the modern world.
We are spirits in physical form, meant to experience liberation.
The key to keeping that “peace of mind”/liberation is to watch the play like “over-excited children”. The thoughts don’t control my actions unless I allow them to. Same goes for the actions of others – they cannot control me unless I allow them to.
I invite you to keep your awareness sharp during practice so that you can notice if Mara’s arrows start coming your way. Rather than responding to them in fear, sway away from them so that they fly on by.
Mara and his soldiers want us to think and feel negatively because that is what keeps us on his delusional path – rather than the path of God, of love, of liberation. They want us to believe that:
– We are not worthy (of love, success, joy, etc.).
– We are not enough as we already are.
– We do not have enough.
– We cannot accomplish our dreams because of x, y, z.
– Fill in your other delusional thoughts…
What are the arrows that have penetrated your heart and mind? See this practice as letting them go now – you don’t need them.