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10/31/07
The Blessed,Noble,Awakened One-The Tathagata-Vipers-Mara Meets His Match
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Posted by: site admin @ 6:26 am

The Blessed,Noble,Awakened One-The Tathagata

Vipers

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove. Then he addressed the monks, “Monks, suppose there were four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom.Coral Snake Then a man would come along โ€” desiring life, desiring not to die, desiring happiness, & loathing pain โ€” and people would tell him: ‘Good man, these four vipers, of utmost heat & horrible venom, are yours. Time after time they must be lifted up, time after time they must be bathed, time after time they must be fed,

Pacific Rattlesnake Picture

Sidewinder (side winder) Rattlesnake Picture

Speckled Rattlesnake Picture

time after time put to rest. And if any of these vipers ever gets angered with you, then you will meet with death or death-like suffering. Do what you think should be done.’

Then the man โ€” afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom โ€” would flee this way or that. They would tell him, ‘Good man, there are five enemy executioners chasing right on your heels, [thinking,] “Wherever we see him, we’ll kill him right on the spot.” Do what you think should be done.’executioner cartoons, executioner cartoon, executioner picture, executioner pictures, executioner image, executioner images, executioner illustration, executioner illustrationsexecutioner cartoons, executioner cartoon, executioner picture, executioner pictures, executioner image, executioner images, executioner illustration, executioner illustrations

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Then the man โ€” afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners โ€” would flee this way or that. They would tell him, ‘Good man, there is a sixth executioner, a fellow-traveler, chasing right on your heels with upraised sword, [thinking,] “Wherever I see him, I’ll kill him right on the spot.” Do what you think should be done.’executioner cartoons, executioner cartoon, executioner picture, executioner pictures, executioner image, executioner images, executioner illustration, executioner illustrations

Then the man โ€” afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners, afraid of the sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword โ€” would flee this way or that. He would see an empty village. Whatever house he entered would be abandoned, void, & empty as he entered it. Whatever pot he grabbed hold of would be abandoned, void, & empty as he grabbed hold of it. They would tell him, ‘Good man, right now, village-plundering bandits are entering this empty village. Do what you think should be done.’http://gary2idaho.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/we-are-all-paying-rush-limbaugh-salarythanks-america/http://www.torrentportal.com/details/942833/(Q)+Bandits+%5Bwww.dvdquorum.es%5D.torrenthttp://www.irwin.army.mil/Units/11TH+Armored+Cavalry+Regiment/11thACR-1stSquadron/Bandits.htm

Then the man โ€” afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners, afraid of the sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword, afraid of the village-plundering bandits โ€” would flee this way or that. He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, ‘Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, & leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands & feet?’ Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, & leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands & feet. Crossed over, having gone to the other shore, he would stand on high ground, a brahman.

Stock Photo titled: China Guangxi Yangshuo Portrait Of A Cormorant Fisherman On Li River Jiang Standing Up On His Bamboo Raft, USE OF THIS IMAGE WITHOUT PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED

“Monks, I have made this simile to convey a meaning. Here the meaning is this: ‘The four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom’ stands for the four great existents: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire-property, & the wind property. ‘The five enemy executioners’ stands for the five clinging-aggregates: the form clinging-aggregate, the feeling clinging-aggregate, the perception clinging-aggregate, the fabrications clinging-aggregate, the consciousness clinging-aggregate. ‘The sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword’ stands for passion & delight.FRUITS STILL LIFE III

“‘The empty village’ stands for the six internal sense media. If a wise, competent, intelligent person examines them from the point of view of the eye, they appear abandoned, void, & empty. If he examines them from the point of view of the ear… the nose… the tongue… the body… the intellect, they appear abandoned, void, & empty. ‘The village-plundering bandits’ stands for the six external sense-media. The eye is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable forms. The ear is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable sounds. The nose is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable aromas. The tongue is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable flavors. The body is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable tactile sensations. The intellect is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable ideas.

“‘The great expanse of water’ stands for the fourfold flood: the flood of sensuality, the flood of becoming, the flood of views, & the flood of ignorance.

‘The near shore, dubious & risky’ stands for self-identification. ‘The further shore, secure and free from risk’ stands for Unbinding. ‘The raft’ stands for just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. ‘Making an effort with hands & feet’ stands for the arousing of persistence. ‘Crossed over, having gone to the other shore, he would stand on high ground, a brahman’ stands for the arahant.”

Mara Meets His Match

The nun Soma has entered Andhavana (Blind Man’s Grove) near Savatthi to practice meditation. Mara, the embodiment of delusion, sees her there and desires to make her waver and abandon her concentration. He addresses her with a verse:

That which can be attained by seers
 โ€” The place so hard to arrive at โ€”
Women are not able to reach,
Since they lack sufficient wisdom.

[Soma replies:]

What difference does being a woman make
When the mind is well-composed,
When knowledge is proceeding on,
When one rightly sees into Dhamma?
	
Indeed for whom the question arises:
“Am I a man or a woman?”
Or, “Am I even something at all?”
To them alone is Mara fit to talk!



Translator’s note

This, in my view, is the definitive statement in the Buddhist tradition regarding the equality of the sexes. Whatever other words have crept into the literature โ€” from ancient times to the present โ€” whatever attitudes may have been expressed by Theras, Lamas, Roshis or Teachers over the ages, this position of thoroughgoing equality in light of the Dhamma is plainly stated by Soma, one of the Buddha’s contemporary nuns.

Soma was the daughter of the chief priest of King Bimbisara of Magadha, and was an early convert to the Buddha’s teaching. She spent many years as a lay supporter before eventually becoming a nun, and achieved awakening โ€” like so many of her sisters โ€” not long after joining the order.

In this exchange Mara is clearly trying to provoke and discourage Soma, but only reveals his delusion. The expression he uses literally means “two fingers’ [worth]” of wisdom. It may originally have been a reference to the domestic task of checking if rice is cooked by examining it between the fingers, but here it is obviously used pejoratively to impugn that women are less capable of liberation. Soma not only refrains from getting offended (perhaps remembering Buddha’s teaching to always “forebear the fool”), but calmly points out how ludicrous the statement is when viewed in light of the Buddha’s higher teaching about the nature of personhood.

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