There are periods when we face problems and unwholesome states of mind in our practice, caused by how we relate to the sensual realm, where the three daughters of Māra, “Miss Rāga”, “Miss Arati” and “Miss Taṇhā” come to challenge us.
In these periods, try to hold on and ask yourself: Where do these challenges come from? In what kind of form do they arise? They all come by way of perceptions in our own minds. They are mental food that we have created ourselves. They are saṅkhāras. This is a very important point we have to understand. Otherwise the doubts and worries that we may experience (about ourselves and our practice) can become so strong that we might think it is better to get up and leave or to put down our efforts towards our task to attain enlightenment.
We are tempted to give it all up, but there is still this tiny little bit of feeling left deep inside of us that tells us that we shouldn’t resign. Do you know the type of Buddha image where the Buddha is shown in the posture of subduing Māra? What exactly is the meaning of the Buddha’s gesture? Can you see, the Māra: the deity personifying evil? Māra has three daughters, each personifying a certain defilement, rāga: lust, arati: aversion, taṇhā: craving.
In this case, conditioned phenomena of the mind, or proliferations of the mind, Buddha’s physical body already wants to get up: his knee already is lifted upwards, but his hand still is pushing it down. It is as if he were saying, “Hold on, wait a second, let’s have a close look at this first.” This is how we need to face this kind of situation.
This reflection by Luang Por Liem is from the book, No Worries, pp. 19-20.