Is it a duty for buddhists following gautama to confront the demon mara? and other toxic nonsense
The catch with the ‘royal path’ is that buddhism may have destroyed it. Early buddhism is really a version of raja yoga (but yogis gave buddhism a wide berth) but it became entangled with the ‘myth’ of buddha and the demon mara: was this a myth or was buddha attacked by a demon, and what is a demon? And why would mara attack buddha? was he like e j gold applying a denying force trap to followers of a path? Will his followers confront the same demon on the path? If they don’t are they on the right path? It is probably nonsense but since buddha said so you are stuck having to believe it. In modern times secular students don’t pay any attention to this, which is sensible,but the are no longer on a buddhist path. The problem is that an egregious ambiguity enters the whole subject: if you meditate will you become entangled in a demonic and unlike buddha simply go mad or end up a demon yourself. The metaphysics of demons is impossible to clarify, science rejects it out of hand because it isn’t empirical. And the implication arises that to follow buddha you follow his path and this will involve attacks by the demon mara. Gautama’s blunder here was monumental, but it may be the result of later followers. We don’t know and can’t find out adding further ambiguity. Soon the whole thing is confusion. A further confusion arose in the mahayana where the aspriant vows to not reach enlightenment until everyone else does. This raises the spectre of two final boddhisattwas going down a black hole playing enlightenment chicken. The dilemma compounds: you must meditate but it can’t have a result. So we enter the realm of ‘pointless mediation’ and this injects noise into the whole subject. It is possible buddhism produces more of a result than this suggests, but in fact we have no real understanding of its history. The axial age starting point only implies that some process influenced the initialization of buddhism, but this might imply a causal generation at the same, tending to make the whole thing fake, a causal history. The point is that buddhism is a human creation in the context of some ‘spiritual’ history: noone, even gautama can control its future. This axial age effect suggests that the beginning of buddhism was beautiful, its future something else.
I find it hard to believe buddha was such an idiot: clearly the whole subject is about something else, a hidden agenda is at work, and unlike yoga which involves individuals slipping away to work alone, buddhism is a mass movement with an absolute authority on top and a hidden elite developing into an exploiting class, spiritual cannibalism is very much a temptation as the elite soon finds out…
The axial age suggests the resolution: buddhism is taken up as a spiritual entity in the axial age destined to create a religion in parallel to monotheism. But to be in a religion soon has little to with a real path: it is the preeminent fake path. A close look at Tibet shows the truth of this: as rajneesh noted, after the almost artificial buddha creation one on one with milarepa as some kind of tradition creation token, not a single tibetan monk reached enlightenment in his wake. I find that hard to believe but rajneesh did in fact say it.
So the question of buddhism lurks in the mix of what is a hopeless mess of buddhists who without anything from the demon mara end up with a mysterious equivalent in the frozen arrest of a fake path.
Let me conclude by saying i don’t believe in demons, the demon mara, or the devil, but the probable reality is that disembodied states are probably real in some sense yet we operate blind to what is really real. dead buddhas, or simply ghosts can indeed self-invoke inside a path, and a royal path must find a way here…