Sep 15, 2021

The Demon Waits

Zen Training Stories

The demon Redeye stands guard over a Bodhi Tree waiting for a man who would reach full awakening. The Buddha’s enlightenment story, as told from the point of view of the Demons.

Buddha, resisting the demons of Mara


See page for author, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

A Tibetan story tells that Mara, King of the demons, hearing of a prophecy, sent his demon Redeye to stand watch over the Bodhi Tree.

He had heard that one day the Buddha-to-be would sit under that tree and attain Full and Perfect Enlightenment and he wanted to be ready to lure the Great Being back from the brink and thus avoid his, Mara’s, Kingdom of Samsara being depopulated by the teachings of liberation.

So, Redeye sat and watched and the years and centuries rolled by. He saw many come and go, some walked by the tree, others went around it and some sat underneath it but Redeye just ignored them and carried on watching.

One day the doors to Mara's palace burst open and Redeye, panting and in great agitation, came running before his King.

"Lord, Lord, come quickly! I have seen a man approaching the tree and from the look in his eye I believe that whatever he sets his mind to do he will accomplish."

Mara, in great consternation at this dread news gathered his retinue of daughters and sons and made his way to the Bodhi Tree.

Thus began the temptations of the Great Bodhisattva before his final Awakening.

This story was told by Ven Sogen. In commenting on this, he said that this 'whatever he sets his mind to accomplish' is the way to approach the seat of our own meditation every day.

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