using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2018
T IS SAID THAT JUST AS THE BUDDHA was close to approaching awakening, his nemesis Mara appeared, desperately determined to stop him. Mara’s attack centered on the Buddha’s body, first with sensual temptations, next with threats of harm. This lurid archetypical scene—the Buddha serenely sitting, Mara’s minions hurling arrows and flames—is the very image of the human drama. Our bodies are under attack. Flesh is vulnerable. And yet, if we are determined, wise, and strong, we can avoid defeat. Like the Buddha, we can not only endure; we can heal and transcend. We can become enlightened beings. The Buddha is often called the Great Healer. He is the ultimate physician, providing medicine to cure the human disease. His four noble truths follow the classical medical model of diagnosis, treatment, and cure. In their classical formulation they are: 1. The truth of suffering (diagnosis); 2. The truth of origi- nation (cause); 3. The truth of stopping (cure); 4. The truth of the path (treatment). The diagnosis is drastic: “All conditioned exis- tence has the nature of suffering.” That is, we human beings are inherently ill, even when we think we are not. What we think of as health isn’t really that, for beneath our apparent health, illness lurks. Illness is the basic human condition. The cause of this condition is desire, which includes not only sensual desire but even the very desire to remain healthy and to stay alive. As long as we cling and grasp we will suffer, because nothing can be held onto. Everything changes, slipping away moment by moment. Since we can never eliminate desire, our condi- tion seems hopeless. Yet the Buddha asserted that our disease can be cured. That is, though desire can’t be got rid of, it can be clarified and trans- muted. Healing is possible. The fourth truth, the path, outlines the course of treatment—a thorough- going way of living and understanding that will bring us to full health and wholeness, if only we practice it with diligence. This straightforward program sounds good to us empowered modern people conditioned by gen- erations of scientific know-how and progress. We believe that health is good and illness is bad and can be eliminated. With enough effort and energy, and with good doctors and psychotherapists, we can, like the Buddha, overcome suffering. We can defeat Mara. But notice that in the gentle stories of the Bud- dha’s life, as told in the Pali suttas, Mara is never entirely defeated. He appears throughout the Bud- dha’s lifetime, constantly trying to foil the great sage. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, in one traditional tale Mara becomes discouraged, and the Buddha tells him, “Mara, don’t quit! I need you. Without you I can’t be Buddha.” Buddha and Mara depend on one another. What is health? What is illness? In the modern medical model, health is the default, the norm. When I get my blood test, I want to hear that all my indicators are in the “normal” range, which means I am healthy. Illness is, by this definition, abnormal. But as the first noble truth implies, there is no ultimate physical health. The human body can’t be perfectly free of impediment. There is always some- thing more or less wrong. Even a child has bumps and afflictions, and throughout our lives illness and health are constantly jockeying for dominance. What we call health is simply a brief period of homeostasis. Even a person who seems to have pre- served this homeostasis for a lifetime will undergo aging, in which physical vitality gradually decreases until it breaks down entirely and death occurs. Health is an illusion. “Health” and “healing” literally mean “whole- ness.” Wholeness implies inclusion of everything—of well-being as well as illness, the good along with the bad—into a larger sphere. In spiritual cultures, notions of healing and health always evoke a category larger than physical and psychological well-being, though physical and psychological well-being are included in it. I LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 52