Chapter XI — Mara's Deeds (RiBa)
~MARA’S DEEDS ~
Various Deeds of Mara
Subhuti: The Lord proclaims virtues of sons and daughters of good family. Are any obstacles here which arise in such ones?
The Lord: Many obstacles are here, and are seen and thought of as the deeds of Mara.
Subhuti: What kind of obstacles are these?
The Lord: The Bodhisattvas discoursing this perfection of wisdom, either understand this after a long time, or, as understanding is generated, it immediately becomes disturbed. Or some write yawning, laughing and sneering, or study this with thoughts disturbed. Or write with minds on other things, not gaining in mindfulness. These may write as deriding or sneering at one another, or with distracted eyes. This writing is in mutual discord. "We gain no firm footing in it, we derive no enjoyment from it"...with such words these take their leave. As such thoughts derive from a source seemingly devoid of serene faith these think "I am not predestined for perfection of wisdom,"...and get up and leave. Or, as these merely see and think this book does not name the place they're born, does not mention their own name and clan, nor of their mother and father, nor of their family, these may decide to not listen to perfection of wisdom, and take their leave. Each time these take their leave, again and again these take to birth-and-death for as many aeons as they have productions of thought, and still even now, at some point during these aeons these ones may make new efforts. All this, and for what reason? Bodhisattvas refusing to listen deeply to perfection of wisdom cannot go forth to spiritual dharmas, be these worldly or supramundane.
The Perfection of Wisdom and the Sutras of the Disciples
In addition, some of us may or may not recognize whether or not we belong to this vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, and some give up and think to abandon perfection of wisdom...this understanding beyond knowledge which nourishes this cognition of all-knowing. We might decide to look for other Sutras, the understanding of which may or may not come to reveal this uniform awareness for our nourishment, this pure cognition common to beings beyond number, yet exceedingly rare to be found and understood. Indeed, as rare as a turtle which happens upon a single life preserving float amidst an infinite ocean, which ferries it upon it's natural currents to a shore of rest and nourishment. Indeed, Subhuti, exceedingly rare is this.
Many of us do not learn and understand perfection of wisdom, and thus presently do not want to train in both worldly and universal spiritual dharmas, nor do we avail ourselves of these. As we do not learn and understand perfection of wisdom, we cannot avail ourselves of worldly or universal spiritual dharmas.
Though all possess this identical potential, some get rid of and abandon perfection of wisdom, which is the root of the comprehension of worldly and universal spiritual dharmas as these are, and instead decide to look for support in what are different branches. As a dog spurns a morsel of food offered by it's master, and takes a mouthful of water from a servant instead, just so, beings recognized as implicitly related to this vehicle of Bodhisattvas spurn perfection of wisdom which is the taproot revealing cognizance of all-knowing, yet decide to look for the core, for growth, for Buddhahood, in vehicles of Disciples as Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, which corresponds to branches, leaves and foliage. This also may be seen as done to them by Mara.
Again, all beings have equal potential yet do not equally recognize concentrated right effort and mindfulness towards perfection of wisdom and apply this, hereby nourishing cognition of all-knowing. Still most of us at one time or another get rid of, abandon, spurn, or even simply forget perfection of wisdom, and decide to study, as if superior to this, Sutras by which we welcome the level of a Disciple or Pratyekabuddha which are compared to branches, leaves and foliage. A Bodhisattva does not train in the same way in which a being recognized as belonging to the vehicle of a Disciple or Pratyekabuddha is trained.
How does a Disciple and Pratyekabuddha train? Well, I make up my mind thus, following this teacher over here and the knowledge I derive hereof, I in my turn teach others what I come to understand, and so one single self I have tamed, one single self I pacify, one single self I lead to final Nirvana. Thus I undertake exercises and practices which are intended to bring about wholesome roots for the sake of taming myself, pacifying myself, leading myself to Nirvana.
Bodhisattvas train ourselves differently. On the contrary, we train ourselves thus: "To benefit infinite sentient beings equally as one, in coming to realize Suchness as such and indicating such to sentient beings beyond number. This process of perfection of wisdom as well as this Bodhisattva vehicle is being so indicated, shown, and proven as available to all, hereby clears the path for liberation from samsara of infinite sentients and revelation of Nirvana. Also, propensities allowing, karma neutralized...the eventual clearing of obstructions to the reality-limit, any may become revealed to full enlightenment and advancement to parinirvana...the whole immeasurable universe of beings. With this right intention a Bodhisattva engages all the exercises which bring about the wholesome root. But one boasts not regarding this...For imagine a being which, unable to see an elephant, would try to determine it's color and shape. In the darkness this one would touch and examine the foot of the elephant, and decide that the color and shape of the elephant should be inferred from his foot. Is this an intelligent thing to do?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: The same is true of any persons who belong to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, who do not understand this perfection of wisdom and ask no questions.
Yet, while desirous of full enlightenment, these spurn this and prefer to look to the Sutras which welcome the level of Sravakas or Pratyekabuddhas. Also this is -seen- as being done -to- any one of these by Mara. If a person who desires jewels would not look for them in the great ocean, but in a puddle in a cows footprint, and would thus in effect equate the great ocean with the water in a cow's footprint, would this one be using one's potential for intelligence wisely?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: Well and now, the same applies to any beings which vow to this vehicle of Bodhisattvas which...though we make ourselves available to perfection of wisdom, we nevertheless cut ourselves off from continuous exposure and reference to this, without plunging or probing at all times, in all times exceedingly deeper as a means of perfection to endless, placeless, timeless wisdom.
Yet...we may still prefer the Sutras which welcome any level of Sravakas or Pratyekabuddhas through advocating dwelling in concentrated but unconcerned inactivity, and which do not recommend the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, but only the taming, appeasing, Nirvana of one single self. The decision to seclusion, to the fruits of a holy life, from the fruit of a Streamwinner to Pratyekabuddhahood, to enter Parinirvana after one has in this very life freed thought from the outflows without further clinging, -that means to be in accord with the level of a Sravaka as Disciple or Pratyekabuddha.
Bodhisattvas do not focus thought only to such as this. For as we have set out in this great vehicle Bodhisattvas don a great armour. Our thoughts are not singularily focused to any unconcernedness whatsoever. For we are concentrated as diamonds, guides of the world, promoters of the world's weal. Here, we continuously and always train in and as these six perfections. But as beings which vow to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, and without knowing and understanding Sutras which accord with the six perfections spurn perfection of wisdom, and prefer these Sutras which welcome this level of Sravakas as Disciples, or Pratyekabuddha, -our wholesome root is yet immature, our intelligence still obscured and yet lacking in profound qualities, our resoluteness still weak. We may reflect as a mason, or mason's apprentice, who wants to build a palace of the size of the Vaijayanta palace, and who takes its measure from measuring the car of sun or moon. A similar procedure is adopted by us if we are to reject perfection of wisdom and in earnest try to find all-knowledge through Sutras in accord with this level of Sravakas as Disciples, and Pratyekabuddhas, Sutras which recommend the taming, appeasing, and Nirvana of nothing more than one individual being as self only. If we would look for such Sutras and train with these intentions, would these Bodhisattvas, this type which we turn to be, be using much of our intelligence?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: This also is -seen as being- done to such by Mara. In truth and ultimately undeniable my friend, such is done unto ourselves by this turn within and pandering to what is wantonly believed to be the sole needs and comforts of singularity and individual appeasement, and, while yet donning a cloak of austerity, hereby yielding still only a mask of humility...and misleading and contrived wisdom.
So, suppose a person who first sees a universal monarch, and makes determinations from the signs of what is seen in his complexion, shape, beauty and majesty. Then, this peson does the same with the commander of a fort. If the person were unable to make a distinction, and then this one were to say to the commander of a fort, just like this is the universal monarch in complexion, shape, beauty and majesty, if this one were to, in other words, equate universal monarch with the commander of a fort, would this be an intelligent thing to do?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: The same applies to persons who avow themselves to this Bodhisattva-vehicle and who in some future reject this perfection of wisdom, and seek for all-knowledge through sutras associated with level of Sravaka as Disciple, or Pratyekabuddha. This also is -seen as- done to these ones by Mara. On the contrary, I certainly do not say, "Bodhisattvas, seek for all-knowledge through the Sutras associated with the level of Sravaka as Disciple or Pratyekabuddha." Bodhisattvas certainly do not go forth to reveal supreme enlightenment unless trained in what Tathagatas have announced in the perfection of wisdom as the skill in means of these Bodhisattvas. For the full knowledge of a Bodhisattva is unknown in other Sutras.
Here now, Subhuti, Tathagatas seeing this advantage in perfection of wisdom, by manifold methods show this to Bodhisattvas, instigate and introduce these ones to this, fills these with enthusiasm about this, make these rejoice at this, entrusts these with this, in the knowledge herein that any Bodhisattva may become irreversible to full enlightenment. Subhuti, do these Bodhisattvas appear to be very intelligent who, having obtained and met with the irreversible, the great vehicle, and then again abandon this, turn away from this, and prefer an inferior vehicle?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: If a starving man refuses superior and excellent food, and prefers to eat inferior and stale food, is he using the full potential of his intelligence?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: Just so, Subhuti, in the future some Bodhisattvas still refuse this perfection of wisdom, and prefer the Sutras associated with the level of Sravaka, the Disciple or Pratyekabuddha, and still seek all-knowledge through Sutras which welcome the level of Disciple or Pratyekabuddha. Do these Bodhisattvas use the full potential of their intelligence?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: Also, this is -seen as- being done to these ones by Mara. A man who had got a priceless gem and who considered it equal to a gem of inferior value and quality, is he using the full potential of his intelligence?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: So, here too, in this future some persons belonging to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas who, though these have got this deep and brightly shining gem of perfect wisdom, nevertheless think this should be considered equal with the vehicle ofSravakas, these Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas, and decide to seek all-knowledge and skill in means on the level of Disciple or Pratyekabuddha. Are these using the full potential of intelligence?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: This also is -seen as- being done to such as these by Mara.
Various Deeds of Mara (2)
Moreover Subhuti, as perfection of wisdom is being indicated, demonstrated, explained, learned, recited, repeated, or even merely written down, many flashes of insight come up in bewildering multitudes, and these make for confusion of thought. This also -is seen as having been- done to us by Mara.
Subhuti: Is it at all possible to write down perfection of wisdom?
The Lord: No, Subhuti. It is also -seen as- a deed of Mara as one writes down perfection of wisdom, this one either thinks this is perfection of wisdom which is written down, or is not perfection of wisdom which is written down, or one adheres to perfection of wisdom either in the letters, or as something not in the letters.
Moreover Subhuti, while these write down perfection of wisdom, our minds are on all sorts of things: places, villages, towns, cities, country districts, nations, royal cities, pleasure groves, preceptors, tales, robbers, bathing places, streets, palanquins, occasions for happiness, occasions for fear, women, men, neuters, unsuitable situations, mother and father, brothers and sisters, friends, maternal relatives, kinsmen, chief wives, sons and daughters, houses, food and drink, clothes, beds, seats, livelihood, obligations, occasions of greed, hate and delusion, on right times, lucky times, unlucky times, on songs, music, dances, poems, plays, treatise, business, jokes, musical shows, sorrows, troubles, and...ourselves.
These and other acts of attention Mara, the Evil One, -is seen to- arrange as perfection of wisdom is being indicated, studied, or merely written down, and thus he -is seen to cause- obstacles and confusion of thought to Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas recognize this as being -merely seen as a deed of- Mara, and avoid it, mostly by avoiding seeing it as such. [!] In addition, our thoughts may also be on kings, royal princes, elephants, horses, chariots and troops of soldiers. Also this is -seen as having been- done to us by Mara. In addition, our thoughts may be on fire, temptations, money, corn and affluence. This also Mara is -seen as- doing to him.
Moreover, difficulties arise about gain, honor, robes, alms-bowl, lodging, and medicinal appliances for use in sickness, or alternatively, thoughts relishing gain...honor and fame torment Bodhisattvas which indicate, explain, repeat or merely write perfection of wisdom. This also is -seen as- Mara doing this to us. We recognize and avoid -seeing these as- "deeds of Mara".
Furthermore, Mara, the Evil One, comes while Bodhisattvas indicate, expound, write, etc., perfection of wisdom, and he brings along those very deep Sutras which are in accord with the limits of Sravakas as Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas. He advises us to...train in these, write, expound, and repeat these, for from this all-knowledge is created. But, Bodhisattvas skilled in means are not long for these Sutras. For although these indicate Emptiness, the Signless and Wishless, still any skill in means of Bodhisattvas are neither announced nor alluded to. A Bodhisattva which remains without this more refined knowledge of distinction of the cognition of cognition of skill in means, deeply spurns this true perfection of wisdom, and seeks instead skill in means in the Sutras which accord with the limitations of Sravakas as Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas. This also is -seen as- Mara's deed being done to this Bodhisattva.
Sources of Discord between Guide and Pupil
As well, here are deeds which are seen to be of Mara and have the potential to ruin any or all chances of cooperation between any guide and pupil. First of all, perhaps the pupil is enthusiastic, and aspires to engage perfection of wisdom, but the guide is indolent, and does not aspire to demonstrate Dharma.
Or, the guide is untiring, and inspired to indicate perfection of wisdom, while the pupil is tired or too busy. Secondly, it may be that the pupil is quite diligent, and aspires to engage, to bear in mind, indicate, study, spread, or merely to write about this process of perfection of wisdom, is clever, intelligent and blest with good memory; but the one who may guide moves into a different district, or is unacquainted with main points, unacquainted with details, and without higher knowledge.
Or, this guide may be untiring, in possession of the higher knowledge, inspired to indicate perfection of wisdom; but the pupil set out for another district, or is unacquainted with main points, unacquainted with details, without higher knowledge. Further, the guru may be a person who attaches weight to fleshly things, to gain, honor and robes, while the pupil is a person of few wishes, easily contented, and quite detached.
Or one or the other or both may be persons unwilling to give away anything of value. This also causes discord, when it is a question of training toward perfect wisdom, or of copying this, such as this is. On the other hand, a pupil may be full of faith, inspired by merely hearing of the process of perfection of wisdom and of understanding the meaning of this, liberal and generous; but the lama has no faith, is too easily satisfied, and does not aspire to expound regarding perfection of wisdom.
Or, the pupil may be full of faith, and aspire to hear and to understand the meaning; but it may be that the guru, because some obstacle hinders access to Dharma, does not have these Sutras, or cannot fathom them; a pupil would obviously be out of touch with a guide who has not obtained these.
Or again, a guide may aspire to point out, while a pupil is not single-minded and aspiring at least to hear this. Further, it may be that the pupil does not want to listen because hindered by sloth, weighed down by bodily fatigue, but the Rinpoche is willing to point out; conversely, any guide may, although the pupil wants to listen, not want to teach because hindered by sloth or physical fatigue. This discord also makes writing, speaking and study difficult.
Misdirection of Aim
Moreover, while beings write, or indicate perfection of wisdom, or train in the process, someone comes along and belittles life in the hells, in the animal world, among the Pretas and Asuras, saying "so ill are all these forms of life, so ill are all conditioned things; do make an end to just this length of cloth, and leave these beings to their fate." This also is -seen as- a work of Mara.
Or again, some being comes along and praises life among the Gods: "So happy are the Gods, so happy is life in the heavens. One will do well here to end sense-desires in the world of sense-desires, enter into the well-known trances in the world of form, and enter into the well-known attainments in the formless world."
Considered in a view with wisdom, all this is nothing but rebirth in suffering. The Lord has said: "I do not praise any kind of rebirth in becoming, because this lasts no longer than a finger-snap. For everything conditioned is impermanent.
"Anything causing fear is ill. All in the triple world is empty. All dharmas are without self. As any of these wise may come to understand all is thus devoid of eternity, is impermanent and ill, doomed to reversal, now these may just here attain to the fruits of holy life, from the fruit of a Streamwinner to Arhatship.
"However, let us now beware of meeting any further with such attainments, which are really failures, and which abound in suffering. But nevertheless, to some Bodhisattvas this is a source of anxiety [because these come to feel deterred from the quest for full enlightenment in favor of aspiring to rebirth among the Gods.] This also is -seen as- Mara doing this." (!)
More Discord between Lama and Pupil
Furthermore, the Lama may be a monk who is fond of solitude while the pupils prefer a communal life. He tells them he will give this perfection of wisdom to any coming to where he is, but not to any who do not. In their desire and zeal for dharma which these value they go to where the lama is, and still he gives these no opportunity to learn anything. He is one eager for trifling bits of fleshy things, but these do not want to give him anything that he values. Wherever he goes he is short of food, surrounded by troubles, and in danger of his life. And his pupils hear from others that that place is short of food, full of troubles and dangers to life. And that lama will say to these children of good family: This place is short of food. Of course, all you of good family, you may come here if you wish. But I am afraid that you will regret having come. This is a subtle device by which he outwardly rejects them. In disgust they will interpret these remarks as signs of refusal, not as signs of a desire to give. Convinced he does not want to give, they do not go to where he is.
Moreover, this lama may have set out for a spot where there is danger from vermin, from beasts of prey, from ghosts. And he yet still moves from there to a wilder place with beasts of prey, snakes and robbers, marked by drought and famine. To these prospective pupils he says: "You are aware, I suppose, in this spot for which we have set out are many dangers, from vermin, beasts of prey, flesh-eating ghosts, and it is swarming with snakes and robbers, it has neither food nor water. So you must be able to experience a great deal of suffering." Thus he outwardly rejects these with a subtle device. Disgusted, they do not go with him, and turn back.
Finally, the teacher may be one of the monks who attaches weight to relations with the friendly families who feed them. All the time he goes to see them, he is kept very busy that way, and refuses those prospective pupils on the ground that, first of all, there is someone I must go and see. This also is a source of discord when this perfection of wisdom is being written and studied. This also is -seen as- Mara's work. In such ways Mara appears to bestir himself to prevent people from learning, studying, teaching and writing this perfection of wisdom. Here then, Subhuti, all these factors which prevent cooperation between guide and pupil needs be only recognized as Mara's deeds, and being so seen, one is admonished to try to avoid them.
Mara seen as Dissuading from Perfect Wisdom
Subhuti: What, O Lord, is the reason why Mara is seen to make such great efforts and bestir himself to prevent, by this or that device, people from learning and studying this process of perfection of wisdom?
The Lord: Perfection of wisdom is a beginningless and thus endless source of all-knowledge of Buddhas, the Lords, which in its turn is the source of endless devotion of Tathagatas, which leads immeasurable and incalculable beings to dissolve their defilements and obscurations by this simple revelation. So, to any, having dissolved their defilements, Mara is seen as not being able to gain entry, and this gives him cause for distress and being dispirited, and the dart of sorrow is realized as having vexed him. In consequence, as the process of this perfection of wisdom is being written and studied, he is seen as making in his great tribulation a tremendous effort, bestirring himself, and with this or that device, to attempt to prevent the study of this perfection of wisdom. Mara, the Evil One, is seen moreover, as coming along in a guise of a Sramana, a religious mendicant, and attempting to cause dissent.
In order to dissuade the ones born of good family who have but recently set out in the vehicle he will say: "This is not the great perfection of wisdom which your Honors listen to. As it has been handed down in my Sutras, as it is included in my Sutras, such is the perfection of wisdom. Thus it is seen as some 'him', or an 'other', attempting to sow doubts in the minds of the Bodhisattvas having but recently set out in the vehicle, whose intelligence is usually not too expansive, but rather sluggish and limited, who are usually lacking in vision, and whose enlightenment in any future is not as yet predicted. Seized by doubt these will not learn, study or write this perfection of wisdom. This also is seen as Mara doing this to them. Moreover, Mara may be seen as coming along in guise of a Buddha, with magically created monks around him, and maintain that some Bodhisattva coursing in profound Dharmas is one who realizes the reality-limit, and should be happy to become a Disciple and NOT a Bodhisattva, as this Bodhisattva certainly has. This also is seen as one of Mara's deeds. Subhuti, when this perfection of wisdom is being written and studied, Mara, the Evil One, produces these deeds which I mention, as well as many others. These all may come to be seen, recognized by a Bodhisattva, and avoided, not cultivated. The Bodhisattva may come to reply to these with vigour, mindfulness and self-possession.
Antagonism between Mara and Buddha
Subhuti: So it is, O Lord. Whatever is very precious, this provokes much hostility. Because it is so superior, being hard to get, and of great value. One can herein expect as a rule many obstacles will arise to this perfection of wisdom. When, overawed by these obstacles, someone becomes lazy, one can come to know that those people who decide not to learn, study and write this perfection of wisdom are people who are seen as beset by Mara have but recently set out in the vehicle, their intelligence is small, sluggish, limited and perverted,  and their thought refuses to function in these very sublime dharmas.
The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. And while it is true that these deeds of Mara which we see as such are bound to arise, a great many agencies will arise in their turn which oppose the faults of Mara. Those who decide to learn, study and write this perfection of wisdom are swayed by Buddha’s might, by his sustaining power, by his grace.  For whereas Mara, the Evil One, will be seen to make great efforts to cause obstacles, the Tathagatas in turn send help.
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