Is this explained in the Pali Canon?

Then the Blessed One went with a large number of monks to the Black Rock on the slope of Isigili. From afar he saw Ven. Vakkali lying dead on a couch. Now at that time a smokiness, a darkness was moving to the east, moving to the west, moving to the north, the south, above, below, moving to the intermediate directions. The Blessed One said, “Monks, do you see that smokiness, that darkness …?” “Yes, Lord.” “That is Mara, the Evil One. He is searching for the consciousness of Vakkali the clansman: “Where is the consciousness of Vakkali the clansman established?” But, monks, it is through unestablished consciousness that Vakkali the clansman has become totally unbound.”— SN 22:87


3 Answers 3


In many cases Mara the Evil One appears when he realises that someone somewhere is about to escape from his grips, when they are practising ardently, about to attain enlightenment, and his purpose is to arouse fear, trepidation, and so on to disrupt their practice.Kassaka Sutta,Brahma-nimananika Sutta,Soma Sutta,Sister Vajira Sutta etc..

IMHO Mara is searching to see if Vakkali has actully escape from him. If Mara has to search, that means that that consciousness has already gone beyond his domain.


Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_(demon)

Mara personifies unwholesome impulses, unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He wants to be a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making mundane things alluring, or the negative seem positive.

The question is about Mrtyu-mara who identifies with death (in the sense of the ceaseless round of birth and death) but Mara is more generally a metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence. The Pali canon nowhere gives Mara a skilful reason for his actions and instead suggests Mara's existence is nothing more than a samsaric error that vanishes upon Enlightenment.

The whole story of Buddha's confrontation with Mara is a mythological development that is not seen in the Pali canon except that phrases in some of the later parts such as Mara's army (Marasena), Mara's assembly (Maraparisa), victor of Mara (Marabhibhu) imply that the legend was then known. Rhys Davids has attempted to see in the Mara story "a subjective experience under the form of objective reality". The struggle with Mara was really a psychological struggle with secular temptations.

G.C.Pande, Studies in The Origins of Buddhism, p.381


Without sounding too general or non-specific, but Mara is always there. That is why pain and suffering can occur anywhere at anytime. That is why we must practise mindfulness through meditation.In doing so, we limit Mara's opportunities from our ignorance!

If you think of death and rebirth on a sensory level, then if ignorance occurs during the changing of seeing,hearing,smelling, tasting..etc- death and rebirth of one moment to the next- then Mara is everpresent!!

It seems crazy, the fixation we have on the physical death when the physical death can only be observered sensorily...so, the question could be; Is the physical just an illusional construct which brings untold amounts of pain and suffering?...unless realised!!


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