Do you know the story of Buddha and Mara [Buddhist demon]?
There are so many life lessons to learn from Buddism. Mara teaches us many important ones.
Mostly, the story of Buddha and Mara is a story about freeing the mind.
To free your mind you need to know how to stop Mara (demon) from controlling you. Just like how Buddha stopped Mara.
The temptations stopped Buddha from achieving absolute enlightenment, just as temptations and attachments stop you and I from becoming enlightened.
It’s one of the most important stories in Buddhism. And its central message is true for all of us.
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.
How The Buddhist Mara Demon Stops You Being Free
The story of Buddha and Mara tells us a lot about ourselves.
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 things we cling to; those are what stop us from feeling free. Even as long as 600 BC, people knew that mental attachments caused stress.
Take Buddha, for example.
Buddha knew that to be free spirited in life you have to let go of attachments.
How The Buddha Freed His Mind Of The Buddhist Demon Mara
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 Limbini. 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 a tree called 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.
Who is Mara in Buddhism?
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 what was 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.
How The Story Of Buddha And Mara Teaches Us To Free The Mind Of Attachments
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.
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 to defeat Mara.
And it remains the same today.
To Free Your Mind, Let Go Of Your Mara (Demons)
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 to just 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 they will lose all power over you.
That is the basics of Mindfulness Meditation.
When we let things be, we stop temptations, demons, Mara, from controlling us.
How Buddha And Mara Taught Me To Free My Mind
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.
I was also holding my hands in Abhaya Mudra position, which is a hand gesture that defeats fears.
At first the fears came strong. I experienced anxiety. Fear filled my mind. 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. I wasn’t trying to 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 from Mara.
In Buddhism, Mara teaches us that attachments are what stops us from being free
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 very serious 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 own 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.
Buddha And Mara Teach Us To Free The Mind With Mindfulness
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 actually 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. And all you have to do is focus your mind on the present moment and see reality precisely as it is.
Step back from your attachments. Focus the mind on now. That’s the key to complete freedom in life.
But how do you make yourself live in the present moment.
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Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book: Your Best Meditation