by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Mara’s Temptation of the Buddha contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as story of Māra. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
Once, the Buddha was dwelling in a small forest hermitage on the slopes of the Himalayas, in Kosala country. At that time, the kings still enforced their rule by oppressing the people. The Buddha saw the people in the countries of tyrants being ill-treated through various kinds of unlawful taxation and punishment. Being moved with pity, the Buddha wondered whether it was possible for one to be a good ruler without killing by oneself or through another person, without bringing about damage or loss of citizen’s property by oneself or through another person, and without making one grieve by oneself or through another person.
Māra knew what was passing through the Buddha’s mind and he thought: “Now, the Monk Gotama is considering the possibility of being a ruler. Perhaps, now He wants to be a king. Kingship is a cause of negligence. If the Monk Gotama becomes a king, I will have the opportunity to molest him. I will now go and make the Monk Gotama tries for kingship.” So thinking, he approached the Exalted One and said: “Glorious Buddha, let the Glorious One be a king! Let the Exalted One who utters good words becomes a righteous king who does not kill by Himself nor through another person, who does not bring about damage or loss of other’s property by Himself or through another person and who does not make other grieve by Himself or through another person.”
Thus Māra lured the Buddha. The Exalted One said: “Hey, you, evil Māra! What do you see in Me that makes you tell Me like this?” Māra replied: “Glorious Buddha, You have thoroughly and effectively developed the four foundations of supernormal power. If Your mind is inclined to turn the great Himalayas into gold, it will certainly become solid gold. If You act lawfully as a king, I will support You in all matters that require gold or silver.”
Then the Exalted One uttered the following verse:
There may be a big mountain that is made up of pure gold unmixed with copper, iron, lead, or other minerals. Let alone such a mountain of gold. Even a gold mountain that is twice as high as the Himalayas cannot satisfy the craving of a person. The wise man who understands this nature of craving should steadfastly and diligently practise the ten good Dhamma in thought, speech and deed.
If a man knows clearly that all kinds of suffering have their source in the five kinds of sensual objects, why should he be inclined to see anything good in them? In this world, a man (being) who clearly sees sensuality as a substratum (upadhi) of existence that is bound with greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit and false beliefs, should devote himself to threefold training (in morality, concentration and wisdom) in order to overcome sensual desire.
After startling Māra with these verses, the Buddha said: “Hey, you, evil Māra, your teaching is one thing while My teaching is another (you teach to strive to occupy sense objects and sense pleasures while I stress the need for eradicating them.) Certainly, by no means is it possible to enter into a doctrinal discussion with you. I teach as follows.” Then the Buddha preached the following verses:
(In this world), when there is any kind of understanding, (a) friends are a source of happiness, (b) contentment with whatever is available is the source of happiness, (c) when one is dying, the good deeds are a source of happiness. (d) Arahatship, which means the total abandonment of the whole round of suffering inherent in the life cycle, is the source of happiness (Here the cause of happiness is described as happiness in phalupaca method. The same may be said of the following verses. (This verse mentions four causes of happiness.)
In this world, (a) supporting of one’s mother is the source of happiness. (b) So is supporting one’s father. (c) Giving alms respectively to hermits monks and wandering ascetics is also a source of happiness. Moreover, (d) giving gladly and respectively to the Buddhas, Paccekabuddha and ariya disciples is a source of happiness. (This verse also shows four sources of happiness.)
The good moral life involving the observance of the Five, Eight or Ten Precepts is good and productive of happiness until old age when one’s hair turn grey, teeth fall off and the skin become wrinkled.
(Ruby earring, red garments etc. are congenial to people only at a certain age. Young people’s garments are not congenial to adults and vice versa. An adult wearing the garment of a young man or vice verse will cause criticism and gives one the impression of being crazy. But morality comprising the observance of the Five, or Ten Precepts is congenial to young or old, people alike in the three phases of life. A morally good person earns the approbation of other people that is pleasant and delightful to him.
Unwaveringly established faith, mundane and supramundane, is a source of happiness. So is the ability to acquire mundane and supramundane wisdom by diligence. Complete abstinence from doing evil deeds is another source of happiness. This verse also show another set of the four sources of happiness.)
By the end of the discourse, millions of devas realized the Four Truths and became liberated.
——Commentary of Dhammapada——