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I have recently started reading a book we picked up at the bargain table at Borders a little bit ago. So far, it's been quite interesting reading. It's written by someone born into the Christian tradition that converted to Buddhism, and, generally speaking, the book examines the concept of the Devil throughout religious traditions (Ahriman of Zoroastrianism, Mara of Buddhism, Satan from the Jewish/Christian/Muslim faiths, etc.) and examines the impediments we all throw up to stop ourselves from "being good."

Anyhow, I really enjoyed the following two paragraphs from separate parts of the book and wanted to share...


Nowhere is Mara's treachery more apparent than when he suggests that death is nothing to worry about. For while personifying death, Mara is that quiet, consoling conviction that one will be exempt from it. "Long is the life span of human beings," he whispers. "One should live like a milk-sucking baby." Mara infantilizes us, makes us crave the blissful forgetfulness of being cuddled and nourished. He jump-starts the furious insistences to have what we want and the whine of thwarted desire. "Short is the life span of human beings," counters Buddha. "One should live as if one's head is on fire."



The devil is the contradictoriness of our nature. As soon as we make a foolhardy commitment to "enlightenment" or "salvation," we start being torn apart by diabolic forces we only dimly understand and can scarcely control. For when we choose to follow a path that Buddha described as "going against the stream," we choose to confront those fears and desires that hitherto we had either repressed or acted out. Like someone who has been swimming downstream with minimal effort only to discover how exhausting, uncomfortable, and unrewarding it is to swim against the current, so one who embarks on such a path will invariably encounter a legion of obstacles.


- Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil - by Stephen Batchelor

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October 2013

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