"New birth" depends as much upon sex energy as do physical birth and the propagation of
species. George Gurdjieff
In the tutorial on Deviation, we followed
Siddhartha's early development until his bold departure from his father's kingdom, having
rejected Mara's temptation to stay in comfortable luxury.
In search of liberation, Siddhartha now chooses the opposite extreme to his former life. He
will travel the path of asceticism. However, after six years of ascetic life,
and although his body becomes as thin as a skeleton, he still does not attain enlightenment.
On the verge of starvation, he witnesses a music teacher instructing his student how
to tune a lute. "Too loose and the string won't sound," says the teacher; "too tight
and it will snap. You must find the middle way."
Siddhartha realizes that he has erred in swinging to the extreme of asceticism. He, too, must
find a middle way. Inspired by this new revelation, he sits under a Bodhi tree facing east and
resolves never to move till he attains liberation.
Mara said, "While he yet stands within my reach and while his spiritual eyesight is
not yet attained, I will assail him to break his vow..." He announced the news to his army
and drew out to battle... In that army no two persons carried the same weapon; they
were all different in their appearance..." The tutorial on Deviation taught us to expect
our habits to strengthen as a result of our efforts to control them. It also taught us
to expect them to approach with subtlety. Mara and his army embody these two principles.
Siddhartha's resolution elicits their resistance unlike ever before. They crowd upon him in
various shapes and forms, to deviate him from his purpose.
Siddhartha responds with the only reasonable response to imaginary assault: he disregards
it. The more he keeps aim, the more fiercely Mara opposes his aim.
Siddhartha has now fashioned his cosmos in the image of the Hindu Churning myth, the
parts affirming his aim pulling on one end, and those denying it pulling on the other.
Despite Mara's assault, the determined Siddhartha remains untroubled, like a lion seated in
the midst of oxen. This picture of serenity amidst chaos has become a hallmark in Buddhist
imagery, illustrating the effort and price that precede liberation.
"The less the saint feared the frightful hosts of that multitude, the more did Mara continue
his attacks in grief and anger. One rained down from the sky a great shower of live embers...
But that shower scattered at the foot of the Bodhi tree and became a shower of red lotus-petals...
Others poured a shower of stones upon that tree, but it turned to a pleasant shower of
flowers." The legends of the Assault of Mara and the
Churning of the Milky Ocean draw from natural principles. Friction generates energy. But
the process of generating energy through friction doesn't last indefinitely. Churning reaches
a point of combustion, which fundamentally alters the nature of the entire process.
Once churned matter combusts, the resulting flame bears its own momentum. The "I"s that
formerly threatened our effort now augment its flame, as water and wind only strengthen
an established fire. Thus, at a certain point in Siddhartha's meditation,
Mara's interruptions are no longer experienced as assaults, but as fuel. Embers hurled at
him turn into lotus petals; stones turn into flowers. What was previously a negative influence
now turns positive. This marks the point of Transformation.
The many "I"s remain, but their sense of "I" is lost. Our persistent efforts have transformed
our identity from the many "I"s to real "I." We are what observes, not what we observe.
"If it uses its own energy, the sex center stands on a level with the higher emotional
center. And all the other centers are subordinate to it." George Gurdjieff
Sex energy now fuels consciousness rather than habit, which means that our efforts are
driven by a new surge. Our chaotic functions fall into subordination. Our internal churning
has reestablished order in our Micro-cosmos. We have achieved inner liberation.
True identity is neither in Buddha's discipline nor in Mara's army; neither in the gods nor
the demons; neither in affirmation nor in negation. True identity resides in the part
that witnesses the struggle. We are what observes, not what we observe - the "Middle Way" alluded
to by the music instructor. Which brings us to this week's exercise:
To verify the principle of transformation. Aim to tug against a difficult group of "I"s
to the point of transformation. If it is a particular form of negativity, then aim to
avoid its expression. If it is a particular physical habit, then aim to avoid its manifestation.
Within a limited period of time, focus all your resources on this struggle, just as Siddhartha
focuses his. Aim to witness a shift in identity. Once you
verify that the struggle with the many "I"s doesn't last indefinitely, that your persistence
brings you to a point of combustion, then you have verified the principle of Transformation.
Assault of Mara, 450 525 AD Ajanta Caves, India