in what is called bhumisparsha-mudra (earth-touching esture). In this way he connected with the source of life and transformed attack into blessing. This one meditation was a legendary journey, a story that has been told and retold for thousand of years. The movie poster would read, "It was a battle against impossible odds - one man's quest for enlightenment." When you or I close our eyes to meditate, the rhythm of the story is similar. There is a Call to the Inner Adventure. We have a Desire or intention to find inner peace, and to function at our best in life. Obstacles arise - Mara has now morphed into the song of the iPhone, a to-do list, the call of the outer world. "Don't ake a minute to center yourself before you rush out to do things! There isn't a minute to spare!" There is an Ordeal, for when we open up to the inner world, we are shot with guilt over all the undone chores, poked by sharp thoughts and impulses telling us to jump up and do this or that. There are surprising reversals on this journey, because relaxation often does not feel like relaxation. When tension in the muscles starts to let go, we become aware of what we were stressed about. Sometimes we have to relive the tension as bizarre little mental movies, often with agonizing detail, before releasing completely. Relaxation is the gateway to a weird universe of sensations as the flow of blood washes fatigue out of the muscles. Even though releasing stress is an important and healing phase of meditation, Mara tries to sabotage us with a very effective line: "You are having too many thoughts, so you aren't really meditating." A 20-minute meditation can feel like an ordeal, and we are often tempted to bail on the whole nterprise, give it up. When we let down our guard and face all those nagging thoughts that have been clouding our minds, sometimes they pour rain on us, sometimes lightning, sometimes they mysteriously disappear in an instant. Within the general rhythm of the inner adventure, there are infinite variations. No one knows what is going to happen from one moment to the next in meditation. This unpredictability keeps us on our toes, our attention riveted and engaged. The man who sat down and leaned against the Bo tree was not yet Buddha. His name was Siddhartha, and he became Buddha, the Awakened One, (buddha
in Sanskrit is awakened, awake) because he woke up in
the process of facing Mara. Each attack inspired him to
connect more deeply with life within and around him.
In a sense, without Mara, there would be no Buddha.
Mara is just everyday life, with its calls and demands,
and in meeting them, we have the chance to wake up:
The greater the obstruction, the greater the need for
us to join up with our inner powers. As we live and
love, we face inevitable challenges that demand our full
Dr. Lorin Roche was trained as a meditation teacher in 1969 and has
been sharing the delight ever since. Lorin is the author of Meditation
Made Easy, Meditation Secrets for Women, and The Radiance Sutras, and
has a PhD from the University of California.