Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Enlightened Nun and Mara the Evil One

Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.), Uppalavanna Sutra (SN 5.5); A. Larson, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly

Mara appears to Uppalavanna
At Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the fully enlightened Buddhist nun [one of the Buddha's two chief female disciples, foremost in psychic powers] Uppalavanna [Theri] dressed... she stood at the foot of a sal tree in full flower.
Then Mara [Devaputra] the Tempter, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in Ven. Uppalavanna, desiring to make her fall away from absorption [samadhi, coherence, collectedness, concentration], approached her and addressed her in verse:
Having gone to a sal tree with flowering top,
You stand at its foot all alone, nun.
There is none whose beauty can rival your own:
Foolish girl, have you no fear of rogues?

Mara as Kamadeva, Cupid, Eros
Then it occurred to Ven. Uppalavanna: "Now who is this...? This is Mara the Tempter... desiring to make me fall away from absorption."

Then Ven. Uppalavanna having understood, "This is Mara the Tempter," replied to him in verses:
Though a hundred thousand rogues
Just like you might come here,
I stir not a hair, and I feel no terror;
Even alone, Mara, I fear you not.
I can make myself disappear,
Or I can enter inside your belly.
I can stand between your brows,
Yet you would not catch a glimpse of me.*
For I am the master of my mind/heart;
The bases of power are well developed;
Therefore, I fear you not, friend. 
Then Mara the Tempter realizing, "The nun Uppalavanna recognizes me!" was sad and disappointed and vanished right then and there.

*NOTE: Compare these psychic displays to the Buddha's chief male disciple foremost in psychic powers, Maha Moggallana. In one incident, he actually outmaneuvered Mara with them, baffling him in the process that a mere disciple of the Buddha was more powerful than the great Mara himself.

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