Four maras

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The four maras (Skt. catvāri māra; Tib. dü shyi; Wyl. bdud bzhi) are the four types of obstructive, 'demonic' forces which create obstacles to practitioners on the spiritual path. It is important to understand that they have no inherent existence and are only created by the mind.

There are two categorizations of the four maras:

  • one according to the Sutrayana, and
  • one according to the Vajrayana, which is especially related to the teachings on the practice of chö.

According to Sutrayana

  1. the mara of the aggregates (Skt. skhanda mara), which symbolizes our clinging to forms, perceptions, and mental states as ‘real’;
  2. the mara of the destructive emotions (Skt. klesha mara), which symbolizes our addiction to habitual patterns of negative emotion;
  3. the mara of the Lord of Death (Skt. yama mara), which symbolizes both death itself, which cuts short our precious human birth, and also our fear of change, impermanence, and death; and
  4. the mara of the child of the gods (Skt. devaputra mara), which symbolizes our craving for pleasure, convenience, and ‘peace’.

According to Vajrayana