What The Buddhist Mara Demon Teaches Us About Life And Attachments

Budhist mara demon art
Art of Buddhism's mara demon

Do you know the story from Buddhism of the mara demon and Buddha?

It is a Buddhist teaching that is all about freeing your mind

To free your mind, you need to know how to stop what Buddhism calls the Mara (demon) from controlling you. Just like how Buddha stopped Mara.

While the Buddha was trying to find enlightenment, the Buddhist Mara demon tempted Buddha with visions of beautiful women who were Mara’s daughters [1].

The temptations stopped Buddha from achieving absolute enlightenment, just as temptations and attachments stop you and me from becoming enlightened.

We are all tempted by “demons”. We all have temptations and desires. And those temptations stop us from living in the moment with pure peace. To find inner peace, we need to free the mind of Mara.[

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How The Buddhist Mara Demon Stops You Being Free

The story of Buddha and Mara tells us a lot about ourselves. It is a very potent Buddhist wisdom [READ: Best Buddhist Wisdoms]

We all want to have free minds. We all want to stop the negative thoughts, to enjoy a quiet mind, and to have inner peace.

But it’s hard, isn’t it?

Attachments. Things like work, material possessions, ideas of the self…. All of those million attachments we cling to; those are what stop us from feeling free. Even as long as 600 BC, people knew that mental attachments cause stress. That is why we must strive to release ourselves from attachments.

buddhist demon mara art

Buddhist Mara Demon Story

Many people now visit the Great Buddha Statues and follow Buddha. And we love to put beautiful Buddha statues in our homes and gardens, remembering the purity of the Buddha.

But we need to remember Buddha’s struggle, too.

To become Buddha, Guatama Sidhartha had to follow the path (Om Mani Padme Hum) and let go of attachments.

Buddha was born a royal prince in 624 BC in Lumbini. He had everything a man could ever want. He was pampered and lived a life of complete luxury and indulgence. But then, Buddha realized a vital truth. He realized that all those luxuries and indulgences were holding him back. He knew that there was more to life. And so he set out on a journey of discovery.

Buddha detached himself from everything. He no longer sought material possessions. He sought complete peace of mind.

One day the Buddha sat by the Bodhi tree. He said he would not move until he found complete peace of mind. He wanted to feel complete freedom in life, just like you and I. He wanted freedom from a very specific thing: Mara (demon).

In Buddhism, Mara is the demon / devil.

While Buddha was meditating by the Bodhi tree, Mara entered Buddha’s mind.

In one of the most famous stories in Buddhism, Mara showed the Buddha images of beautiful women, material possessions, indulgences, power, and all those other temptations. You know; the temptations you and I feel every day of the week. Buddha felt those temptations too.

Just like you and I are tempted by sex, wealth, power… so was Buddha. But Buddha knew a valuable secret. He knew that those temptations were stopping him from achieving complete peace of mind. Those were the things keeping Buddha’s mind from freedom.

And so the Buddha sat and refused to move until he had conquered Mara.

What The Buddhist Mara Demon Teaches Us

The Lesson

In Buddhism, Mara is the personification of the things that stop us from being free.

The story of Buddha and Mara teaches us to free the mind.

Buddha saw Mara’s temptations, he saw the thoughts you and I see. And at first, he tried to fight them. He wrestled with Mara. He fought to push Mara back. But every time Buddha pushed Mara back, Mara became stronger.

Fighting with temptations makes those temptations stronger.

Buddha needed a different strategy.
buddha and mara (1)
buddha and mara (1)

Buddha couldn’t beat Mara by fighting him. He needed a different strategy. And so he allowed the Mara demon into his mind, and he simply observed Mara.

He didn’t fight those temptations. He just allowed them to exist. He was simply mindful of them.

It’s one of the main lessons of Buddhism: Mara (demons / attachments) can be conquered with mindfulness.

Buddha learned that when you see your thoughts and temptations (when you see Mara) and you focus on Mara with pure consciousness—not fighting those temptations, just mindfully observing them—those temptations, those demons (Mara) lose power over you.

Pure consciousness was the weapon with which Buddha defeated Mara.

And it remains the same today.

Let Go

If you want to be free in life, you have to let go of all the things you’re clinging on to. Letting go of those things is one of the best ways to quiet your mind.

You have just to accept things the way you are. And you have to see things for what they are.

When you observe your temptations, your desires, your anger, and other mental states with pure consciousness, you gain power over them.

That is the basics of Mindfulness Meditation.

When we let things be, we stop temptations, demons, Mara, from controlling us.

My Experience Following Buddha’s Wisdom

A couple of years ago, I was at a real low point and afraid for my health.

You could say my Mara demon had its grip on me. My mind was full of fear.

I took myself out into the pouring rain half-naked and stood for hours in the rain, focusing my mind on the present moment.

At first, the fears came strong, and I experienced severe anxiety and fear, but then I simply observed the fear mindfully.

After several hours I was able to focus on my fear with pure consciousness. I wasn’t fighting my fear or ignore it. I wasn’t running from it. I was focusing on the reality of fear.

And then it happened.

I saw my fears in the pure light of day, and they evaporated like the puddles at my feet under the pure heat of the rising sun. And that was when I started to live without fear.

When you focus the mind on the actual reality of your existence, you find complete freedom.

Focusing on the moment frees your mind from attachments, from fears, from desires, from anxieties, and Mara.


Attachments are things the mind clings to.

For instance, you might cling on to a relationship even though it’s over. You might cling on to a career you know just isn’t going to work out.

When you cling on to those “attachments”, you’re trying to force your view on the world, rather than just letting things be.

Attachments are a severe problem.

Attachments are like a disease that consumes the mind.

When you’re afraid for your health, for instance, those fears wrap around your mind and change the way you see the world, almost like tinted glasses over your eyes.

But when you step back and observe your mind with pure consciousness, you free your mind from negative states.

Strip yourself of attachments, and you will find complete freedom in life.

Whether you want to feel free in your relationship, or you want to feel free from depression, or you want to feel free from stress, anxiety, tension…. Whatever it is you want to be free from, you will find freedom when you remove attachments, like a ship freed of its anchor.


Present moment mindfulness is a practice in which you focus your mind on the present moment.

And it’s been scientifically proven to boost happiness levels, eradicate stress, and yes, create feelings of complete freedom in life.

University of Oregon researchers even discovered that integrative body-mind training can result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness.

And all you need to do is focus the mind on the present moment.

The present moment.

It’s like a gift that you can open at any time. A gift that will immediately make you peaceful, happy and free. All you have to do is focus your mind on the present moment and see reality precisely as it is. Because when you are mindful of the present moment, you release attachments, and this will help free your mind.

Step back from your attachments. Focus the mind on now. That’s the key to complete freedom in life.

Learn more about Buddhism with these free online Buddhism courses.

By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. "My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation" - Paul Harrison

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