Saturday, January 11, 2020

Sutra: How NOT to meditate (MN 50)

Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, MN 50 (majjimanikaya.wordpress.com); Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Majjhima Nikaya = "The Middle-Length Discourses (Sutras) of the Buddha"
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Blessed One, your disciples are no meditators.
In this fascinating discourse, the chief male disciple foremost in magical powers is assailed by Mara, the Tempter. He lectures Mara as being on a bad course, just as his forebears, then tales him a hair raising tale of past lives when he, Maha Moggallana, was a mara named Mara Dusi, "the Corrupter" and this Mara now was his nephew.

§12. “Then, Evil One, Mara Dusi considered: ‘There are these virtuous wandering ascetics [allegedly] of good character, but I do not know their coming or going. Let me now take possession of these Brahmin householders, telling them: “Come now, abuse, revile, scold, and harass the virtuous wandering ascetics of good character. Then perhaps, when they are abused, reviled, scolded, and harassed by you, some change will come about in their minds whereby Mara Dusi may find an opportunity.'”
  • [522: That is, by causing defilements to arise in their minds, Mara Dusi will prevent them from escaping from samsara, the round of repeated rebirths, or from the Kama Loka, the Sphere of Sensuality.]
"‘These bald-pated recluses, these swarthy menial offspring of the Kinsman’s feet
  • [Note 524: “The Kinsman” (bandhu) is Brahma {the Supreme, God, Lord}, who was called this by the Brahmins because they regarded him as their primal ancestor. MA explains that it was a belief among the brahmins that they themselves were the offspring of Brahma’s mouth, the khattiyas of his breast, the vessas of his belly, the suddas of his legs, and samanas {wandering ascetics, shamans, monastics, recluses, monks/nuns} of the soles of his feet.]
"[They] claim: “We are meditators, we are meditators!” and with shoulders drooping, heads down and all limp, they meditate, premeditate, outmeditate, and mismeditate.
  • [525: jhayanti pajjhayanti nijjhayanti apajjhayanti. Though the verbs individually do not have an established pejorative [negative] sense, the string is obviously intended as a denigration. At MN 108.26 these four verbs are used to describe the meditation of one whose mind is obsessed by the Five Hindrances.]
"Just as an owl on a branch waiting for a mouse meditates, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates,

"or just as a jackal on a riverbank waiting for fish meditates, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates,

"or just as a cat by a door post or a dustbin or a drain, waiting for a mouse, meditates, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates,

"or just as a donkey unladen, standing by a doorpost or a dustbin or a drain, meditates, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates

"so, too, these bald-pated recluses, these swarthy menial offspring of the Kinsman’s feet, [they] claim:

“We are meditators, we are meditators!” and with shoulders drooping, heads down and all limp, they meditate, premeditate, outmeditate, and mismeditate.’

"Now, Evil One [Mara], on that occasion most of those human beings, when they passed away, reappeared [were reborn] on the dissolution of the body, after death, in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell [Avici].

§14. “Then the Blessed One Kakusandha [Buddha], accomplished and fully-enlightened, addressed the wandering ascetics thus: ‘Meditators, Mara Dusi [Mara the Corrupter] has taken possession of these Brahmin householders telling them: “Come now, abuse, revile, scold, and harass the virtuous wandering ascetics of good character. Then perhaps, when they are abused, reviled, scolded, and harassed by you, some change will come about in their mind whereby Mara Dusi may find an opportunity.”

Does that make sense? Would a video help?
"Come, wandering ascetics, abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness (metta), likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Just so [pervade] above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to yourselves, abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility, and without ill will. Abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion… with a mind imbued with appreciative joy... with a mind imbued with equanimity… abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility, and without ill will.’
  • [526: The Four Divine Abidings (brahma-viharas) are the appropriate antidote for the hostility of others, as well as for the tendencies to anger and dejection in one’s own mind.] More

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