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In day to day interaction, people treat me as if I exist. They say "'Dheeraj' would you like to see a movie?" They say "'Dheeraj' you are married." They say, "Would you like to eat spicy food or non spicy food?" Socially I am acceptable as an individual called 'Dheeraj'. If society is not collectively wrong in their view, then I exist. If society is collectively wrong about me, then myself is an error, illusion or dream, not just for me but for the entire society... Therefore if there is an escape for 'Dheeraj' from Self then it necessarily means that 'Dheeraj' has to escape from the society which believes that 'Dheeraj' exists. From Buddha's point of view if Self is Mara then Society is the follower of Mara as it encourages the growth of self. So my question is: is society the follower of Mara , the evil one?

6

If society is collectively wrong about me then ,myself is an error , illusion or dream, not just for me but for the entire society...

Yes. Correct. The Buddha said:

174. Blind is the world; here only a few possess insight. Only a few, like birds escaping from the net, go to realms of bliss.

Lokavagga



From Buddha's point of view if Self is Mara then Society is the follower of Mara as it encourages the growth of self.

Yes. Correct. This is the Buddhist view.

44. Who shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods? Who shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom as an expert garland-maker would his floral design?

45. A striver-on-the path shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods. The striver-on-the-path shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom, as an expert garland-maker would his floral design.

46. Realizing that this body is like froth, penetrating its mirage-like nature, and plucking out Mara's flower-tipped arrows of sensuality, go beyond sight of the King of Death!

47. As a mighty flood sweeps away the sleeping village, so death carries away the person of distracted mind who only plucks the flowers (of pleasure).

48. The Destroyer brings under his sway the person of distracted mind who, insatiate in sense desires, only plucks the flowers (of pleasure).

Pupphavagga

The Buddha taught individual people have different dispositions & inclinations (MN 12). This means people should find a religion that suits their disposition and to not harass other religions. For example, the Buddha did not harass other religions.



So my question is : Is society the follower of Mara , the evil one?

Of course society is the follower of Mara. In India, for 100s of years, there has been the evil caste system, with millions of people living in condemned institutionalized poverty. For thousands of years, there is war after war. Only 70 years ago, 50 million people were slaughtered in a world war, including fire & nuclear bombings of civilian cities. The current world has technology to be able to feed & house every person, but there remains war, poverty, greed, abuse. Nations & peoples lives are destroyed in unprovoked wars, such as in Iraq, Libya & Syria. The public internet has evil pornography on it, which governments allow & the people do not object to. The word is full of broken families. Slavery and slave labour has returned. A mafia of billionaires has just become the USA govt; which replaced a murderous war mongering government. Yet most of the American people agree with one of those governments. Of course society is the follower of Mara.


Note: Christianity appears to have the same view:

Question: "How is Satan god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)?"

Answer: The phrase “god of this world” (or “god of this age”) indicates that Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.

Satan is also called the "prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians 2:2. He is the "ruler of this world" in John 12:31. These titles and many more signify Satan’s capabilities. To say, for example, that Satan is the "prince of the power of the air" is to signify that in some way he rules over the world and the people in it.

https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-god-world.html

3

From this perspective, society reinforces the view of selfhood and calls it individuality, although it is a mere repetition of the movements of the social conditioning;

It also reinforces self-grasping creating an illusory cocoon and reifying it as something real.

Modern societies follow Mara, from the perspective of the golden ages, principle, insights and laws of ancient thought-systems. It seems like Kali Yuga.

One way to deal with that is to develop authenticity, and retaining a selfhood that you can use as a puppet on the scene, otherwise you would have to refrain from all social interaction.

As long as you command the puppet of selfhood, and are well-aware of its illusory nature, not grasping at it, you can play the theatre and further practice.

If you are pushed into the attachment to the selfhood by everyone else, you might at first feel encircled, but then it let's go.

These are not good times for people opposing Mara, soon there are newer and newer distractions, whims etc.

Of course, the other part is the danger of developing an elitist view, or air of superiority and inflation. When you separate yourself from the rest, who cherish selfhood and grasping at self at a societal level. Or even worse - doing so blindly and not knowing otherwise, you may risk self-attachment through aggrandizement and separate yourself into an even worse condition.

I have similar thoughts, and balancing between the mask and puppets of selfhoods (or selfhood) and attempt to be liberated from them is a rather difficult game, but it is doable.

There is no need to escape society, it is a question of developing a strong selfhood that deals with society, but detaching it as if non-existent when necessary.

Meditation most definitely helps, not only in regular practice, but also mindfulness in the streets, at work, whenever you go. Apart from (honestly admitting - scant) Samadhi meditation, Invocations, Prayers on Void-Level, I use my spare time on public transport too meditate and detach both from myself and society, yet attempting to embrace it, not separating myself as a "lonely island". I combine it with Neoplatonic Theurgy, as Occidental and Oriental minds differ, and sometimes it is necessary.

To answer your question, yes - globalized societies are by and large polluted by Mara.

Homage to Boddhisatvas, the heroes and conquerors.

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There is nothing wrong in using personal pronouns like I, you, me, he, she etc. or addressing oneself or others. After all, the Buddha used personal pronouns and addressed others too.

For example, from the Akkosa Sutta, the Buddha said:

"In the same way, brahman, that with which you have insulted me, who is not insulting; that with which you have taunted me, who is not taunting; that with which you have berated me, who is not berating: that I don't accept from you. It's all yours, brahman. It's all yours.

In another example from the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta, the Buddha said:

"And to whom, worthless man, do you understand me to have taught the Dhamma like that? Haven't I, in many ways, said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'? But you, through your own poor grasp, not only slander us but also dig yourself up [by the root] and produce much demerit for yourself. That will lead to your long-term harm & suffering."

It is not that the self does not exist. The self does exist, but it is not permanent, and it arises out of the inter-working of the five aggregates. The self does not exist standalone as an agent or entity by itself. The self is also not eternal.

In the Sabbasava Sutta, it is stated that both the views that "I have a self" and "I have no self" are wrong:

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self ....(cut)... This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair.

Instead, the Buddha taught that the correct way to see this is through dependent origination (see Acela Sutta). He also taught that these false views arise due to the association of the self with the five aggregates (see Yamaka Sutta). Please see this answer and this answer for more details.

Hence, in my opinion, it is wrong to blame society or Mara or anybody else if anyone possesses wrong views regarding the self.

As stated in Mahaparinibbana Sutta:

"Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

Should you then blame yourself instead? Of course not. Instead, we should strive to seek a correct understanding based on the teachings.

  • 1
    the correct answer, i think – sorta_buddhist Aug 12 '17 at 22:33
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A letter from Mara. An interesting reading.

https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/maracontent.html

======== Mara in Buddhism symbolizes the passions that overwhelm human beings as well as everything that hinders the arising of the wholesome roots and progress on the path of enlightenment. Mara is the lord of the sixth heaven of the desire realm and is often depicted with a hundred arms, riding on an elephant.

According to legend, the Buddha Shakyamuni was attacked by Mara as he was striving for enlightenment, because Mara wanted to prevent him from showing men the way that liberates from suffering. Mara first called up a horde of demons, but Shakyamuni did not fear them. Then he sent his most beautiful daughter to seduce Shakyamuni, but before Shakyamuni's eyes she turned into an ugly hag, where upon Mara admitted conclusive defeat.*

*The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen

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According to the Suttas, the Buddha and the Noble disciples used names to refer to or identify the various disciples: they spoke of the various disciples, by name.

There's the story of Nagasena and the simile of the chariot (in The Questions of King Milinda), who explains that "Nagasena" is just a name.

There are problems with society. And there are problems with attaching to form and so on, and identity view. And some people do "leave society" e.g. in order to become monks instead. But perhaps you should practice equanimity to society and the name 'Dheeraj'.

It's true that in the canon, people identify 'Mara' when some thought of self-identification occurs: see the Vajira Sutta (SN 5.10).

Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

I wonder though whether identifying society as Mara might be another example of "grasping a view".

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You do exist. You exist as a collection of processes. Buddha never said you don't exist. My understanding is that what he said is that what we think of as the self is not lasting or permanent. That the sense of continuity is an illusion. You clearly have a body and a mind and for people to function in this world we find ourselves in we need to label things hence your name is deeraj.

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