The Great Battle

The moment that the world had been waiting for was now at hand. Siddhartha, who had given up a kingdom in search of truth, was approaching the tree. On his way, he passed a man carrying freshly cut grass and asked him for a small bundle. This he would use his seat.

As he drew closer the air became very still. It was as if the whole world was holding its breath, anxiously awaiting what would happen next. The branches of the tree bent down as if welcoming him to come and sit down under its shade. Siddhartha carefully arranged the grass into a small cushion and sat down, facing the east. He crossed his legs in a firm meditation posture on rested his hands in his lap. Then he made a bold and determined vow: "I shall not arise from this position until I have reached my goal, even if I die sitting here !" And all the spirits of the air looking on rejoiced, hearing Siddhartha's great pledge. It was the full moon day of the fourth month, and the sun was about to set. But the ancient stories tell us that not everyone rejoiced at this moment. There was one force, called Mara, who was terrified and angry. For Mara, She is the name the ancient Indian people gave to the evil forces that disturb our minds. Mara is our greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy, doubt and all the other poisons bringing people unhappiness and grief.

Thus, when Mara saw Siddhartha seated under the tree of enlightenment, he was enraged. Calling his sons and daughters around him he shouted, "Look, all of you. Siddhartha is seated in meditation. If he is successful and discovers the way to end all suffering, what will happen to us? Don't you understand that we shall lose all our power ? We can not harm people if he teaches them the truth. We must disturb his meditation, or else we doomed !" So Mara and his evil forces tried everything to disturb Siddhartha. They produced a fearful storm and hurled lightning bolts down around him. They churned up a great wind until everything around seemed ready to crash down. But beneath the branches of the tree everything remained calm, protected by the force of Siddhartha's meditation.

Mara saw that the storm had no effect so he turned to his troops and shouted, "Attack!" The whole horde of evil spirits, demons and nightmare shapes turned against Siddhartha. They ran towards him wildly, yelling blood-curdling screams. They shot poisoned arrows of hate at him. But as these arrows flew towards the Siddhartha, they turned into lotus petals and fell harmlessly at his feet. Nothing could disturb the peace of his meditation. "If these weapons and fearful shapes do not distract him," Mara thought, "perhaps a vision of beauty will disturb his mind." All at once the frightful demons turned into the most beautiful and alluring of women. These bewitching creatures danced in front of the meditation, but even they could not affect him. Memories of the pleasure palaces, visions of his wife and son, heavenly music, delicious food-nothing could break through the calm determination of this seeker of truth.

Mara felt defeated. But he had one last plan. Dismissing his attendants, he appeared alone in front of the Prince . Addressing him in a mocking voice he said, "so you are the great Prince Siddhartha ? you think you are a great meditation. So many holy people have failed to find the truth, but you think you will succeed ! "How foolish you are ! Don't you know that it takes a lot of preparation to find the truth you are looking for. First you wasted twenty-nine years pampering yourself. Then you wasted six more years starving yourself. Now you sit here thinking that wisdom will just come to you. How foolish ! Quit this meditation, or at least show me a witness who will swear that you are worthy of succeeding where all others have failed. "

These scornful words failed to bother Siddhartha . Silently he lifted his right hand from his lap, reached in front of him and touched the earth. Yes, the earth itself was Siddhartha's witness ! For countless lifetimes he had appeared on this earth in various forms. He had practiced generosity and patience, he had acted lovingly and had avoided harming others, and he had meditated on the truth. He had done all these things-sometimes as a man, sometimes as a woman; sometimes rich, sometimes poor-over and over again. He had done this all , just for the sake of discovering the end to all suffering. And the earth was his witness. Mara realized that now he was truly defeated, and faded away like a bad dream. Siddhartha was left completely alone. The storm clouds parted and the moon shone brightly in the sky. The air smelled sweet and a light dew glistened on the tips of the grass. Everything was ready.