I found a neat picture on the web about Buddha touching the earth while surrounded by Mara’s delusions. The one on the web was not of the best quality and probably copied from a book source ( which I can’t find) so I had a pro photographer friend massage it. The above image isn’t as high a resolution as the one I keep on my computer, so contact me if you’d like a copy.
This is meaningful to me as it represents ( among other things) What my mind feels like at times and what I aspire toward.
…picture is an image of when Mara, the Buddhist “Devil”, sent “fear” to the Buddha to interfere with his meditation. At other times, he sent other temptations and wild emotions to pull the Buddha from his Zazen. In modern interpretations, Mara represents the devilish aspects of the human mind, thoughts and emotions, such as anger, fear, jealousy, excess desires and the like.
Of course, the Buddha just sat with all that, unperturbed, in equanimity and his Zazen went on. Just the same as we sit in Shikantaza with the mind games of “Mara,” unperturbed in equanimity at whatever games pass through the mind.
By the way, the earth touching mudra is lovely in traditional beliefs …
the Bhumisparsha mudra, translated as the earth touching gesture. Buddha statues with this mudra are commonly known as the “earth-witness” … This gesture represents the moment of the Buddha’s awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment. Just before he realized enlightenment, it is believed that the demon Mara tried to frighten him with the armies of demons and monsters including his daughters who tried to tempt him to get out of meditation under the Bodhi tree. While the demon king Mara claimed the throne of enlightenment for himself, his demon army claimed to be the witness for Mara’s enlightenment. Mara then challenged Siddhartha about the witness. Then the former prince reached out his right hand to touch the earth as it is believed that the earth itself roared “I bear you the witness!” Hearing the roar from the earth herself, the demon king disappeared. The following morning saw the first appearance of the one who is awakened, the Buddha. Hence, it is believed that the Bhumisparsha mudra, or “the earth witness” mudra commemorates the Buddha’s victory over the temptation by the demon King Mara.
This particular mudra does not only represent the defeat of Mara and his demonic army by the Buddha, it also represents the unwavering or firmness shown by the Buddha while he was in the pursuit of enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi tree.