During the same Summer of 2007 that Ringu Tulku taught Patrul Rinpoche’s “9 Ways To Help Senient Beings” at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland:
Ringu Tulku continued to teach from the Collected Works of Patrul Rinpoche with:
“An Instruction on Victory Over The Maras
or Examining Daemons & Maras and How To Get Rid of Them“
These 16 recordings are split into: Ringu Tulku explaining Patrul Rinpoche’s instructions; and Q&A sessions.
Rinpoche starts by encouraging us to examine the causes of maras or obstructions, obscurations & hindrances.
The historical Buddha Shakyamuni overcame many different kinds of maras (including desire and fear) to achieve Full Enlightenment.
Unless one has attained enlightenment, there are 2 main types of General and Particular/Specific maras:
Rinpoche lists 4 General maras:
There are some secondary maras:
In this way, maras can come in the form of: things; beings; thoughts & emotions; & incidents.
Rinpoche then describes classes of Negative Spirit Beings who wish to obstruct people in a variety of ways: from conventionally unfavourable things (illness and death); to superficially nice things (that can subsequently bring avarice, clinging, attachment, distraction or fear. In essence: worldly successes and distractions that waste our time and undermine genuine spiritual progress).
There are 8 classes of spirit beings including:
Even a vision of the Buddha or a yidam may be a mara, if it then brings about pride and arrogance in a practioner’s mind and leads to them losing their Bodhicitta.
Patrul Rinpoche advises students who believe they have had visions, to ask:
Rinpoche then talks about WHY obstacles or maras come to those on the Path of Liberation. It is akin to a slave revolting against slavery; the slave master will try to prevent it. Whereas in our case, when we are trying to free ourselves from delusion, the more positive we become, the more that obstacles can become stronger. So we should be prepared for problems and to face obstacles.
Rinpoche then quotes a Sutra teaching, where Manjushri advises that “the maras of Bodhisattvas come from their diligence: as if there’s no diligence, there won’t be any obstacles, as they won’t be resisting any maras”.
Guru Rinpoche taught that that maras can seemingly come from outside, but whether they are obstacles or not, depends on how we are inside.
However the darker the age, the stronger Padmasambhava’s power to assist.
In the Afternoon session of 20/6/07 Ringu Tulku describes 3 classes of Specific Maras:
1.The Outer Maras include:
2. The Inner Maras include:
These Inner Maras are our own emotions, negative karma, our wrong way of relating to things; creating obtacles on the Path.
In an evening teaching on 20/6/07 Ringu Tulku explains the difference between:
Rinpoche describes in detail how these practices are connected with visualisation of Chenrezig and the practice of generosity.
In the morning session of 21/6/07 Rinpoche describes:
3. The Secret Maras
Rinpoche then describes some Top Secret Maras (regarding the 6 Paramitas)
So even the 6 Paramitas, if applied in the Wrong Way, can be unhelpful! For in-depth guidance on how to correctly apply the 6 Paramitas, see Ringu Tulku’s in-depth commentaries on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara:
Any instruction is only useful if it addresses the samsaric state of mind and helps beings to reduce suffering.
Whatever harms the progress of a practitioner, and is an obstacle to liberation, is a mara.
Rinpoche then lists:
In the Q&A session, Rinpoche encourages us to transform maras into accomplishment using wisdom and compassion.
In the Tibetan calendar, the 29th day before the new moon, is taught when spirits are most active; hence why Mahakala practice is done then.
In the next session on the morning of 22/6/07, Rinpoche starts by mentioning that encountering maras are often considered positive signs of achievement; whereas visions of buddhas and siddhis (seemingly desirable experiences and attainments) may, in actuality, be obstacles. How can we tell? Whatever happens, we should look at the mind and ask: is it calmer? Are our mind poisons less? Are jealousy and anger diminished? If not, we haven’t obtained realisation nor attainment; merely a mara! In essence, anything that increases aversion and attachment is a mara.
HOW TO PACIFY AND CLEAR MARAS:
In the Q&A session Rinpoche then answers questions on:
In the next session on 22/6/07 Rinpoche continues with the remedies to purify maras:
4. Accumulation of Merit
5. Developing Faith & Diligence
6. Transforming your Mind
In the final sesson on the morning of Saturday 23/6/07, Rinpoche emphasises the most important thing about maras is to understand them, and to skilfully use them as fuel for progress in our practice. Without obstacles, we have nothing to work on; so they should be seen as support for our path. This then enhances our diligence and brings joyful confidence to our experience and realisation; so maras can usefully be seen as emanations of Buddhas. As every Buddhist knows, from the story of Shakyamuni, enlightenment is dependent upon how we transform maras. Those yogis and yoginis who understand the ultimate nature see maras and obstacles actually as friends and support for progress.
Rinpoche ended these teachings with a Bodhisattva Vow Ceremony on 23/6/07.
Photography and notes taken contemporaneously during these teachings in 2007 at Kagyu Samye Ling by Conrad Harvey.