While searching through Youtube for different depictions of the battle between Mara and Buddha, I came across this clip from Stephen Batchelor. If you prefer to just watch the video, there’s no need to read this post at all, I just basically point out what I found interesting in the first half… (^_^)
In the first part, he explains that Buddha and Mara are actually inseparable and that “the Buddha is not Buddha because at some point in his biography he overcame Mara. Buddha is Buddha because in each moment of his life he is not identifying with, he is letting go of Mara.”
After his enjoyable description of the typical meditation experience (he has me pegged anyway!) he points out that as Buddha represents consciousness or awareness, Mara is the darkening of the mind rather than the enlightening of the mind. In this way the two become symbiotic, “you can’t have one without the other, you can’t have Buddha without Mara or Mara without Buddha, they go hand in hand.”
I clicked on it, curious about what he had to say about Mara, but what intrigued me the most was what he spoke of Buddha Nature, a phrase I’ve heard, read, and used a lot over the past few years. As he explains, the term Buddha Nature comes from the Chinese term Bul Seong (the same in Korean) but the original Sanskrit word is Tathāgatagarbha, which means Buddha-womb.
“A womb is also an emptiness, a space. A space that is fertile. A space that can be impregnated in which something can then grow, in which life can then come about and be born. So Buddha Womb is that capacity, in a way, to give birth to life, to live. Buddha is thereby an image of life. What prevent that birth and giving of life from coming forth is, metaphorically, this enormous counter-tendency to prefer a sort of death. A life in which everything is ordered, everything is in place, everything is somehow secure, but there’s something fundamental about it which is lost.”