Inviting Mara to Tea

In my last post I said that I " invited Mara to tea ." I think I should explain that a little better.  There are many versions ...

In my last post I said that I "invited Mara to tea."

I think I should explain that a little better.  There are many versions of the story, and I'm going to paraphrase a bunch, so just stick with me.

Mara is the Buddhist demon personification of doubt, fear, temptation, etc... i.e. all of the things that bring about suffering.  While Siddhartha Guatama was under the bodhi tree trying to seek enlightenment, Mara did his best to distract Siddhartha from his spiritual journey.  But each time Siddhartha was able to push back against Mara's forces and continue on his path.  It wasn't until Siddhartha metaphorically jumped in Mara's mouth (i.e. met fear head-on) that Mara realized he had no power over Siddhartha.  This is when he became the Buddha.

The Buddha then went out into the world to share his experiences and teach people how to find enlightenment.  Sometimes he would see Mara in the distance in the same form of doubt, fear, temptation and instead of trying to fight Mara, the Buddha would wisely invite Mara to sit beside him, pouring a glass of tea for his guest.  The Buddha wouldn't let Mara distract him from the task at hand, but he would acknowledge his presence.

I guess this is what I'm trying to say.  It's okay to be fearful. It's okay to have doubts and temptations, but they only cripple you when you try to fight them.  Work with your fears and they enable you to achieve more than you would have expected.

So I admit my fears.  I realize that I was scared (and misguided).  I thought I'd have to run every day and eat rabbit food for the rest of my life.  In the two weeks that I've slacked off (haven't really been to the gym, but still staying on track with a moderate/balanced diet), the scale only shows a 3lb gain -- and that was weighing myself at 4pm, after having eaten lunch (it could also be from my period or just water weight).  Either way it doesn't mean I have failed in any way.

I didn't lose 29lbs over night. I won't put them back on over night.
Talk to anyone who has lost weight and this is their fear -- undoing the work. But admitting that you're afraid doesn't mean you're weak. It just means you're human.

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6 comments

  1. I really like this post. I don't know much about Buddhist dogma, and I really like reading and learning about it. It's such a good lesson, that the fear of something is always stronger / bigger than whatever you actually fear.

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  2. Nicole: I think the more familiar story for most people would be Jesus going into the wilderness for 40 days (lent) to face the devil. I just went with the story that's (1) older and (2) more familiar to me. Also Jesus overcomes the devil by words, the Buddha overcomes Mara by actions. That appeals to me as well, as I'm trying to overcome what's holding me back by taking action, not just spouting rhetoric.

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  3. Very interesting perspective

    I spent several weeks on "intuitive weight loss" which didn't work for losing weight (though it pretty much did work as maintenance) and it REALLY worked at learning to trust myself.

    I'm also not where I need to be with having exercise as an ingrained habit to rely on - hence my current focus...

    I started a "No Gain Holidays" pledge on my blog - at a minimum hold the line between pre-Thanksgiving and post-New Year's

    http://lowstressweightloss.com/blog/make-the-pledge-no-gain-holidays/2364/

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  4. I am working with my dietitian on a similar pledge -- but it's not about weight, it's just about focusing on taking care of yourself no matter what happens.

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  5. That is a great way of dealing with fear and doubt. Awesome post!

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  6. What an inspiration! I'll have to try that! It's not easy to face your fears head on and deal with them. I also think making a pledge to take care of yourself no matter what is an awesome idea. Keep up the great work!

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<3 Robby