Sources on Mara

Hi again

I am looking for sources (Suttas, Sutras, Articles etc.) where the figure of Mara is linked, maybe even equated to Samsara and/or Dependent Origination.


SN1.50 is close to that?

SN2.30 Mara praised the higher realms
“Whatever forms there are
in this world or the world beyond,
and those of shining beauty in the sky,
all of these you praise, Namuci,
like bait tossed out for catching fish.”

They’re mired in desire to be reborn,
flowing along the stream of lives,
mired in Māra’s sway:
this teaching isn’t easy for them to understand.

They’re mired in desire to be reborn,
flowing along the stream of lives,
mired in Māra’s sway:
this teaching isn’t easy for them to understand.

SN47.6 is also interesting:
So, mendicants, don’t roam out of your own territory into the domain of others. If you roam out of your own territory into the domain of others, Māra will find a vulnerability and get hold of you.

Mara also represents me and mine making (SN4.24)

Conceiving is the domain of Mara (SN22.64)

Delight in the khandha’s is Mara (SN23.11)

See also this serie of sutta’s SN23.24-34

Anusaya lead someone into Mara’s domain
“Having cut off all underlying tendencies
that follow those drifting in Māra’s dominion,
they’re the ones in this world
who’ve truly crossed over,
having reached the ending of defilements”

perceptions of nicca, sukha, atta, subha, beings are caught by Mara

Yes, yes, not all comes out of my thick thumb :stuck_out_tongue:


Thank you @Green, will look at these

It seems to me, all beings but arahant are in Mara’s control.

I have not seen that Mara is really equated with samsara but he surely rules over samsara.

An4.15 says Mara as the foremost in sovereignty.

Rāhu is foremost in size of incarnation,
Mandhātā in enjoying sensual pleasures,
Māra in sovereignty,
shining with power and glory.

I believe you can say that Mara rules in samsara. It is his domain as it were.
If 5 lower fetters or 5 higher fetters, fetters means in Mara’s sway.
Only the fully liberarted have escapes Mara

The stream of existence brings beings in the domain of Mara.

Mara is depicted as a being who can even take possession of others but also more metaphorically as defilements, temptations. Mara is always a man, ofcourse :blush:

Mara can be seen as all that blocks liberation.

SN35.65 says that whereever there is a sense-base, something sense and sense-consciousness there is Mara. And also: Where there is no ear … no nose … no tongue … no body …Where there is no mind, no ideas, no mind consciousness, and no phenomena to be known by mind consciousness, there is no Māra or what is known as Māra.”

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Well yes, I’m figuring that he basically is creation. Wondering if that view can be supported

Maybe, see SN23.21 and further ones. You can more less see this yes. Anything liable to arise or originate and cease is Mara.

Meaning??..are we all Mara?? :blush:

Or would there still be a sneeky asankhata hidden in nature?

Two possibilities:

Yes, and the eightfold path is the way to only “contribute to his cause” as much as we are forced to …

No, and there is an Atman of some kind of which we are part as well (mind? spirit?) with which we can overcome him.

Take this with a grain of salt. It is certainly not doctrine. Coming from a background of philosophy, I suspect that many different philosophical views have found their way into the Suttas and become thoroughly intermingled.

I’d like to think that what the original Buddha really thought comes down to MN63 … which would “take care” also of the above speculation and show it as futile. But again, that’s just me.

I read a lot Plato. Wow, i did like it very much. It felt like i had found finally something of worth. Something that really appealed to me. Inspired me. This was somewhere in the 90’s. I bought all i could find of Plato. I absorbed it. I felt it was amazing that people thousands years ago allready thought about the great themes of life, the good, truth, beauty. And with so much care. So deep.

Later i became interested in a book that blew me away. From a Dutch psychologist and philosopher Heymans. Introduction in Metaphysics,. My God, it had so much impact on my life. It was like i started to see things never seen before and that inspired me very much. His doctrine that reality consists of mind, i was obsessed by it. A bit like panpsychism.

Strange things right? How is it possible that such things really touch ones heart? I feel for myself that such must have some connection to former lifes.

Later i studied Jung and also read all i could find. I really like this descriptions of mind, archetypes, and illnesses etc.

After this i fell in love with Krishnamurti. I read all i could find, visited Krishnamurti meetings in Amsterdam and other cities. Discussed his teachings.
I loved his wish for a better world. That moment i felt no critique at all. I just loved all he said and could not agree more.

and then i was lost…i became very much inspired by mahayana texts. I read them all. Translated some. And now i am totally lost…i even read Pali sutta’s :blush:

I also like the works of mystics like Meister Eckhart and John of Cross.

The strange thing is that i never felt i did not understand things. I just read it and i felt i understood all.
Now i see this as more or less true and not true. I now believe one can really understand things without understanding things :grinning: Like the heart understand and receives it and does not approve nor reject. It understands. But at the same time that is a kind of pittfall, i believe now. Because one must also personally understand things with body and mind. Make things personal. It was only while becoming more involved in reading Pali suttas that i started to realise this. I realised that it is possible to understand things but still not yet in concrete and personal lived through way. And one must also do that, i feel now. This is what i became to see reading the Pali sutta’s. It also inspired me more to really practice in stead of reading, studying.

I think in general the concept of asankhata is not the same as how the Buddha used the concept of atta and talked about the view of eternalism.

You come from a background of philosophy, maybe you can comment on this?

Suppose we assume something that has not the characteristics to arise, cease, and change. Buddha called this asankhata. We cannot say that is has come into existence,like a feeling, body, vinnana etc. always does. That is arising and ceasing dependend on conditions.

Can something that is not arising be called existent? or must something first come into existence to be called existent?

I love what you share of yourself, Green. Maybe we are kindred sou… well :upside_down_face:

Happily. But first I have to admit that I do not know what the asankhata concept is. I assume that what is meant by it is something like the “One” or Atman/Brahman (or an ultimate spiritual entity or divine “spark”).

The problem I see with that is that a system built on these would necessarily have to be monistic. And the concepts of singularity and/or plurality (infact our whole human logic) could, as Kant famously showed, in the end just be appearances or categories of our thought (our “software”, so to speak) that do net necessarily have to say anything about the underlying reality (“input” to the software). So even if such a system could be set up without any logical contradictions, it would still remain metaphysical speculation.

Unfortunately I think that nobody today can know what the original Buddha really tought and what the specifics of his enlightenment were. But if his approach was phenomenological - which the Sutta I shared kind of suggests - then it is easy to see how a phenomenological approach, if not understood properly, can quickly turn into metaphysical realism. I think this is what happened with annata.

Because this much is true, that we find our minds finite and limited - which can be shown with logical antinomies and paradoxa. But that alone does not allow us to draw any metaphyiscal conclusion about our minds.

What the Buddha’s approach, if it was indeed phenomenological, would suggest so beautifully, is that no matter how we explain the world metaphysically, no matter what philosophical side we’re on (even if there could be found a set of metaphyisics without inherent contradictions), the condition of our human existence and how we immediately perceive it would still not change! It would still be mainly Dukkha.

So prioritizing getting rid of Dukkha, with the four noble truths and eightfold path as adequate tools, seems to make a lot of sense even today … :wink:


From a standpoint of characteristics asankhata is the opposite of sankhata.
This is described in AN3.47

In the context of elements or aspect of life that have to be known, too. This is described in DN34 and MN115

In SN43 it is described that Buddha teaches the Path to Asankhata and in that context it is synonymes for Nibbana, the constant, te stable, the truth, the island, the refuge, the not-desintegrating etc, see SN43 in total.

Other sutta’s that deal with are Ud8.1, Ud8.3, Iti43 and ofcourse all that deal with Nibbana.

Knowing this, can you comment my earlier question?

I agree with this.

I also see that it can be expacted that a person who does not connect from the heart with Dhamma, not wishing wellbeing for oneself and all beings , not having a sincere wish not to harm and hurt, not seeing faults in impurity, corruptions, wilderness of the heart, goes downhill and many with him. Such a person will not hesistate to become violent. And in his foolishness, even while abusing others, he even thinks is a sincere Dhamma protector.

I do not understand enough of the concept of dependent origination in order to comment.

Generally, it is always possible that there are aspects of reality that we can not perceive or access by means of empirical measurement. But there is no way of ever proving or disproving anything in this hypothetical realm.

A purported experience of Nibbana can be explained as a mental phenomenon or as belonging to another realm. It’s your pick

Oke thanks, sou…brother :innocent:

At this time i re-read a book about Great Masters in Tibetan Buddhism. Their lifestories portrayed by interviews with people close to them. They also report miracles, at least what we regards as miracles. I believe this changes things. If someone is really able the levitate, fly, if someones body does not decay for many weeks and does not smell, or some can dive into the Earth, if somene can even with his bare hands make a knot in a shotgun, do all wondrous things, then we really must admit that these people have an understanding of reality that must be very different then that of materialist, scientist and normal people have. They show that there is something fundamentally wrong with our ideas of reality. I also believe in this.

The following article may be useful for your question:

Choong Mun-keat, “A comparison of the Pali and Chinese versions of the Mara Samyutta , a collection of early Buddhist discourses on Mara, the Evil One”, The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, vol.10, 2009, pp. 35-53.

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So it would seem that his findings were pretty much inconclusive.

His findings also suggest that Mara “can be defeated only in a psychological sense, not by physical force” (p. 40).

This is about early Buddhist adaptation of general Indian religious beliefs on devas ‘divine beings/deities’. Mara is one particular type of deva.

Sutta’s also teach that there is not only one Mara but there are also mara’s

He proclaims this world with its gods, maras and Brahmis, the world of ascetics and Brahmins with its
princes and peoples, having come to know it by his own knowledge”. (for example DN6)
Mara, has, as it were also a kind of court.

DN16 also says there are 8 kind of different assemblies of beings, and the assembly of mara’s is one of them (also, MN12). Buddha even visisted this assembly of mara’s in disguise of being himself a mara, and taught them Dhamma (AN8.69)

In buddhists communities worldwide and also in christianlity it is also accepted that humans can be possessed, and some teachers are seen as skilled in expelling these evil spirits. I do not know if these mara’s can be seen as such. I know that Mara is also described in the sutta’s as being able to possess beings.

Mara is, like Maha Brahma, a kind of cosmological function, or role. The same being is not constant Mara nor Maha Brahma. But apparantly one can take rebirth in that role.
Even holy beings can have a history of being a mara such as maha mogallana (MN50)

The realm of death is also refered to as the realm of mara. But, i believe, this does not mean that one must first die and cease, before one can be out of this realm of Mara.

So I found out that in some sources Mara is actually named as a link in the chain of dependent origination. That makes a lot of sense …

Could he even be thought of as ignorance personified? Could ignorance be thought of as the “cosmic” cause of dependent origination, much like in emanation as taught by Plotinus and the ancient Greeks?

Anyway, before this leads to far, let’s conclude this thread …