January 21, 2011

Hipposattva? Meet the hippo who rescues animals from Mara!

You couldn’t make this up.  “Visitors to a safari camp close to where the film Out Of Africa was shot stood in awe as they witnessed the annual wildebeest migration…. and then… check it!

On top of all of that wonderful inter-species goodwill of rescuing helpless creatures from a river, this happens to be the River Mara!

Mara is a Buddhist term that means the antithesis of all the Buddha taught.  “In Buddhism, Māra… is the demon who tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters.  In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the “death” of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.

The early Buddhists, however, rather than seeing Mara as a demonic, virtually all-powerful Lord of Evil, regarded him as more of a nuisance. Many episodes concerning his interactions with the Buddha have a decidedly humorous air to them.

In traditional Buddhism four senses of the word “mara” are given:
Klesa-mara, or Mara as the embodiment of all unskillful emotions.
Mrtyu-mara, or Mara as death, in the sense of the ceaseless round of birth and death.
Skandha-mara, or Mara as metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence.
Devaputra-mara, or Mara the son of a deva (god), that is, Mara as an objectively existent being rather than as a metaphor.”

Perhaps this pachyderm is an actual bodhisattva!  Life truly is stranger than fiction.  Hollywood would kill to come up with such novel story lines…. they need a hippo (or an Elephant ; ) to help ’em out.


p.s. my new book, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity, is finally out and available!  : )

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Roger Wolsey  |  Contribution: 12,700