Tea with Mara

web  Tea with Mara

Tea with Mara

There are various versions of this story. This is my summary of the lengthy myth:

Just prior to enlightenment, the Buddha was approached by Mara, the Demon God, along with his daughters and an army representing craving, boredom, passion, anger, and pride. The story goes that Mara tempted and challenged the Buddha to leave his enlightened state and re-enter the world of the mind and ego, but the Buddha did not give in and Mara and his army went away. But not for good.

In the future when Mara would show up with his enticements, the Buddha would invite him in to have tea. Mara would stay a while and then leave, and the Buddha would be left undisturbed.

Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield write, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, that we are challenged by hindrances again and again in the course of our lives, and so it is important to learn to work with them when they show up. Pema Chodron writes, “Mara represents the false promise of happiness and security offered by our habitual responses.” However If we are willing to sit what he brings, without fighting, suppressing or ignoring the feelings, we can strengthen, clarify and deepen our awareness and understanding of ourselves and be freed from old patterns and habits.

In my piece, Tea with Mara, I have set the myth in contemporary times and left it up to the viewer to decide who is the Buddha and who is Mara.  In the myth, both are male, but they are meant to represent everyone.

For the creation of this piece, I had people pose in multiple positions and I chose the positions that worked best. The lines in the background are from a vintage astronomy chart, and the words underfoot are from different texts which tell the story of Mara and the Buddha. Between them on the floor is a vintage astronomy chart of a black hole. Two of the books of the table are my creation (Tea with Mara and False Promise of Happiness; the third is Jung’s Man and His Symbols. The “cover” of Jung’s book is a war scene from a vintage Spanish WWI card.  As always, the color and texture from the piece comes from photos that I have taken of weathered paint, paper, rust and other colors and textures I have photographed. The cage on the table, which I found at an antique shop, represents the psychological confinement we suffer unless we become aware of our tendencies, habits and self-made traps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *