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Goodbye Jesus

Buddhism And The Temptation Of Jesus

Neon Genesis

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A friend of mine linked me today to this article on the Buddha and Mara from the atheistic Buddhist perspective: http://www.tricycle.com/essay/living-with-the-devil

BUDDHA AND MARA are figurative ways of portraying a fundamental opposition within human natures. While “Buddha” stands for a capacity for awareness, openness, and freedom, “Mara” represents a capacity for confusion, closure, and restriction. To live with the devil is to live with the perpetual conflict between one’s Buddha-nature and one’s Mara-nature. When Buddha-nature prevails, fixations ease and the world brightens, revealing itself as empty, contingent, and fluid. When Mara-nature dominates, fixations tighten, and the world appears opaque, necessary, static. William Blake evokes a similar opposition in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”




Buddha-nature and Mara-nature are inseparable. Like a valve that can either be opened or closed, this organism has the capacity to unfold (Buddha) or shut down (Mara). The Sanskrit term translated as “nature” is garbha, which means “womb.” Buddha-nature is like the empty, warm, fertile space from which I was born. My womblike nature suggests that I am not the necessary, static self I feel myself to be, but a contingent creature with an extraordinary but often untapped capacity for growth and change. My Mara-nature, however, is that side of me that compulsively resists such transformation, refuses to be touched and impregnated with any ideas other than its own certainties, and stubbornly clings to the illusion of being a frozen and isolated self.




Or think of it like this: “Buddha-nature” stands for that open perspective whence one is free to respond to the call of others; “Mara-nature” stands for those fixed positions that prompt one to react. While a perspective allows the possibility of pursuing a path into the unknown, a position ensures that you never stray from the territory you have already staked out. Designating that territory as “Buddhist” or “postmodern” does not prevent it from becoming another stronghold of Mara. What was once a perspective can crystallize into a position. Convinced that you were moving ahead, you find that you have only traced another circle.

And here's another article that my friend linked me to from the perspective of a liberal Christian comparing the story where Jesus is tempted in the desert by the devil to the Buddha and Mara. http://www.examiner.com/x-1390-Religion--Culture-Examiner~y2009m7d18-The-devil-is-not-what-you-think
Written five hundred years before the stories of Jesus’ temptation, the Buddhist story tells how Mara tempts and stretches Buddha in every conceivable way. As in the Jesus story, Buddha is tempted by the seductive idea of being able to save the world. When Buddha resists, Mara harnesses the forces of nature to terrify the Buddha. First there are explosions, then earthquakes, fires, and ferocious storms. Mara was so good with special effects that it seemed to the Buddha as if the world was splitting open.


Still the Buddha resists. He continues to remain in a state of equanimity as Mara appears in the form of a giant elephant, a king cobra, and an ox. Mara appears in the natural world in all its glory and horror, says Batchelor. And like Jesus, the Buddha remains unshakable.


The Jesus and Buddha temptation stories are not identical. Yet in both, the devil does not try to tempt them toward evil, per se. The devil, says Batchelor, tempts them to believe that life is a puzzle to be solved. Satan and Mara make the same promise: Do this one thing and everything will be perfect. Here. Believe this, meditate on that and you will find the answer, experience salvation, reach enlightenment. You will get everything you want. But the Buddha refuses to give in to this interpretation of reality.

I don't know much about Buddhism, but I thought it was an interesting read.
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Wow, excellent find! It's going to take a little more time than I have available right now to comment. I'll be back later. :)

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Interesting articles, Neon.


I often hear people speak of the spiritual journey as if it were a destination vacation. If we are spiritual enough, we’ll get there; we’ll arrive and finally get saved or enlightened. We all want certainty. We all want to believe that if we find the right formula, get the right belief, or follow the one true path, everything will turn out exactly as we want it to. The deeper temptation is to believe that it’s possible to fix life as we know it. This is the same devil that appeared to Jesus and the Buddha.



There is a lot of truth in the above statement taken from the second article.

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I gotta give Batchelor a lot of credit for working so hard to demythologise Buddhism. If you would be so kind as to pass along a message to your friend asking what connection they are drawing between the two articles.


If you don't want to play middleman and they are up for it, I can PM you my email. :)

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