The Struggle for Enlightenment

Gautama went around the tree three times as a sign of his determination and then sat facing the east. It was under this tree that he made the firm resolution:

“ My skin and bones may dry up,
My flesh and blood may dry up in my body, But until I attain Enlightenment,
I will not leave this seat.”

Thus he expressed his determination to attain Enlightenment. One who is determined to attain this highest goal for the sake of all is called a Bodhisattva. While meditating under the Bodhi tree, the Bodhisattva was approached by Mara, the tempter, who urged him to give up the struggle for Enlightenment.

Mara said, “How thin and pale you look. You are so close to death. The path of struggle is rough, difficult and hard to bear. Live, and enjoy yourself!”

To this, the Bodhisattva replied,“O! You, friend of the indolent, the wicked one. Why do you come to tempt me? I have faith, power and understanding. While I am exerting myself, why do you speak to me of enjoyment? While the body is wasting away, the mind gets more tranquil, meditation gets more steadfast, and understanding deeper. I no longer look for sensual pleasures.”

“Desire, discontent, hunger and thirst, craving, laziness and drowsiness, cowardice, doubt, hypocrisy and dullness, gain, fame, honour, celebrity and conceit — these are your armies. None but the brave will conquer them.”

“Death in battle is better for me than living defeated. Seeing on all sides an army, I am going to fight. I will shatter your armies with understanding, just as one shatters a claypot with a stone.”

“Having my thoughts under control, and my attention firm, I shall go from kingdom to kingdom, training many disciples. They will be determined and energetic.”

Mara was shaken and, admitting defeat, retreated submissively.

Gautama learned meditation from two teachers, but found that it alone could not lead him to the Truth. He practised extreme asceticism for six years. When he realised that it only unsettled the mind and weakened the body, he decided to give it up. After receiving offerings of food and grass, he seated himself under the Bodhi tree, determined to realise the Truth. Then he overcame the temptation of Mara.

Title: Buddhism for Beginners
By: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Chapter 7 | Page 36 to 38
ISBN 978-981-08-3641-2