Over the past few months I have been studying the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’ by Dharmaraksita. This is part 3 in a series about the text.
The messenger of “mara” is the self-cherishing, the big ego, the “me first”, “self-centred” attitude. With this attitude, I have performed various negative actions that have kept my karmic storehouse stocked for suffering in future lifetimes.
The “mara” itself is the view of self-grasping which causes the self-cherishing attitude to run amok. The view of self-grasping is that there is something objective, independent, concrete, and unquestionable about the “I” or “self”. The “I” or “self” might be defined in various mistaken ways, such as the following:
Self entity: A separate thing that is separate from the body and mind but owns and controls them.
Unchanging self: A self that remains the same over time.
Consumer self: That is defined by the clothes that I wear, my haircut, my car, possessions, education, or career.
In summary, the view of self-grasping reinforces the notion of an objective, independent “I” or “self”; based on that view, the self-cherishing attitude arises that is “self-centred”; based on that self-cherishing attitude various mental afflictions arise and I performed various negative actions. Some of those negative actions will form the throwing karma, causing me to be involuntarily reborn again and again in the 6 realms of samsara.
— Negative emotions / mental afflictions
—- Negative actions
—– Negative karma
—— Suffering of cyclic existence
Antidotes can be applied at any one of these three stages before I perform a negative action: self-grasping, self-cherishing, or negative emotions. This might be when the mental affliction is arising, when the self-cherishing attitude arises, or at the view of self-grasping. Lama Tsongkapa states that  pg.269 “when you see that you can eliminate the conception of self, you will vow to realise its cessation, which is also the cessation of suffering”. Indicating that the involuntary rebirths can be stopped by eliminating the self-grasping attitude.
 ‘Peacock In The Poison Grove’ by Geshe Lhundrub Sopa; Wisdom Publications, 2001.
 ‘The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’ by Lama Tsongkapa; Snow Lion Publications, 2001.