Saṃyutta Nikāya 4

Connected Discourses with Mara

21. A Number

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Silavati. Now on that occasion a number of bhikkhus were dwelling not far from the Blessed One—diligent, ardent, and resolute. Then Mara the Evil One manifested himself in the form of a brahmin, with a large matted topknot, clad in an antelope hide, old, crooked like a roof bracket, wheezing, holding a staff of udumbara wood. He approached those bhikkhus and said to them: “You, sirs, have gone forth while young, lads with black hair, endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, without having dallied with sensual pleasures. Enjoy human sensual pleasures, sirs; do not abandon what is directly visible in order to pursue what takes time.”

“We have not abandoned what is directly visible, brahmin, in order to pursue what takes time. We have abandoned what takes time in order to pursue what is directly visible. For the Blessed One, brahmin, has stated that sensual pleasures are time-consuming, full of suffering, full of despair, and the danger in them is still greater, while this Dhamma is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.”

When this was said, Mara the Evil One shook his head, lolled his tongue, knit his brow into three furrows, and departed leaning on his staff.

Then those bhikkhus approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported everything in full. The Blessed One said: “That was not a brahmin, bhikkhus. That was Mara the Evil One, who had come in order to confound you.”

Then the Blessed One, having understood the meaning of this, on that occasion recited this verse:

“How could a person incline to sensual pleasures
Who has seen the source whence suffering springs?
Having known acquisition as a tie in the world,
A person should train for its removal.”