Māra disturbs a teaching on impermanence
Translation of BZA 023. First version published in Buddhist Studies
Review vol. 23-1 (2006).
Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying [north of] rājagaha in the
sītavana forest. at that time the Buddha told the monks: ‘human life is short,
it is bound to end. You should make an effort to follow the path and practise in
purity and celibacy. Therefore do not be lazy, and practise right conduct. You
should train yourselves in the [right] meaning of the Dhamma and true conduct.
At that time the Demon King Māra, having heard what was said, thought: ‘The
renunciant gotama is expounding the principles of the Dhamma for his disciples
in the sītavana forest at rājagaha. I should go there and disturb them.’ Having
thought thus, he turned into a young man and went to the Buddha. He paid homage
at his feet and stood to one side. Then he spoke a verse:
Human life is long // without any cares or worries.
[For those] always at ease // there is no path for death.
The Buddha thought: ‘Māra the Bad has come to confuse and disturb us.’ And he
spoke this verse:
Human life hurries quickly away // filled with confusion and trouble;
Make haste to practise the good // as if your head was on fire, and know the
Bad One // has come to disturb.
There King Māra, having heard the verse, thought: ‘The renunciant gotama knows my
intentions’. and he became depressed and dispirited and felt deep regret. he
made himself invisible and returned to his heavenly palace.
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