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sgriska
Sadako slave
(11/7/02 10:14:34 pm)
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SaMara/SamSara
While the Buddha was sitting beneath the bodhi tree, having resolved to sit in meditation until such time as he would be enlightened, the demon Mara tried repeatedly to tempt and distract him away from his determination. In a last ditch effort, Mara and his countless minions launched a psychic attack on the Buddha, shooting at him with flaming arrows. The Buddha realized the ultimate emptiness of the entire situation: the arrows were empty projections, Mara was an illusion, and in fact his very own ego empty. Nothing to protect, nothing to be protected from. The Buddha then perceived the flaming arrows as flowers falling from heaven. In this way he defeated Mara, dispelled the last of his own delusions, and became enlightened.

It seems very intriguing to me that the demon depicted in The Ring is named Samara. This name actually contains the name "Mara" as in the above story, and is but a single letter off from the Sanskrit term "Samsara", which is the Buddhist term for this illusory world of suffering and loss within which all sentient beings are born, suffer, die and are born yet again in a never-ending ring.

And, it's not just a coincidence of syllables. Mara and Samara have the same modus operandi: their only weapon is to turn the mind of their victim against itself. They rely on a very basic and reflexive tendency of sentient beings to lose their cool when their egos are threatened. The emotions of the being take over, and any kind of stability and rationality are jettisoned in the mad rush to protect this empty ego core.

Look at how Samara operates. She plants ideas and images into people's minds. She kills using nothing but thought. She plants in the victim the suggestion that they will die in one week. She calls them, and this further suggests to the victim that this is no prank or mere urban legend, that they are dealing with a powerful, dangerous being that will kill them. As the week progresses, they have various other disturbing dreams and visions, and a minor physical symptom (the nosebleed). By the time the week is up, she appears to them and bombards them with disturbing images in a psychic attack very similar to that launched by Mara on the Buddha. The victims are literally scared to death. They die and suffer immediate decay. The Buddha's final words on his deathbed were "All composite things decay. Work diligently for your own salvation." Their decay is like a magnified version of the usual effects of samsara on all things.

So, it seems like there *is* a way to defeat Samara, and that is to handle the situation the same way the Buddha did: keep your head, don't let your emotions get the best of you, look at your own self, your ego, and see that it is empty, nothing to protect. Look at Samara and see that she, too, is even emptier (if such a thing is possible) because she's a ghost, and her only real power is to manipulate your mind and put images in there. Then look at the images and see that these are the emptiest of all, these are nothing but thoughts!! It's like when you are dreaming, and suddenly you realize that you're dreaming -- all of the sudden, *you're* in charge, you control the dream reality, because it's all empty anyway. You can make anything happen. You could turn Samara into a lotus flower and the well into a beautiful lake. It's all up to the "victim" to realize that they aren't a victim at all.

So, in this way, as I consider it all, I don't think Samara is evil, either inherently or otherwise. She's like a force of nature.... well, no, I'd say she's the very Nature of Nature. She's this illusion we call "reality." She's the dream of emptiness and isolation and suffering, and she disguises herself as a powerful demon, but from another perspective, if the beings were to wake up and become Enlightened, she would be something more like an angel.

I expect those flaming arrows now.... <g>

angrygn0me
Sadako slave
(11/7/02 10:25:02 pm)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
wow. I'm nearly speechless. I really like that idea, I had similar thoughts that to believe in the fear makes it real. You summed that up beautifully.

5arah
Sadako slave
(11/7/02 10:29:29 pm)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
another little tidbit...
In the Indiana Jones Adventure ride at Disneyland, the "temple" belongs to Mara.
When the ride first opened, they handed out cards which allowed you to decipher the glyphs on the walls as you waited in line for the ride. The phrase "Beware the EYE of Mara" was most prevalent. ;)

JustaPinoy
Sadako slave
(11/7/02 10:36:53 pm)
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RE: SaMara/SamSara
Interesting post! This kinda reminds me of the Novel-turned-Movie The Sphere (Gasp! Another geometric figure!). It's about a crew who investigate this Sphere that is deep underwater. And they ended up killing each other by manifesting their own fears. In a words, their only adversary/enemy was their own fear, nothing else.

I really love that theory, but I just can't agree with it. I just think that Samara is JUST evil. There was a reason why Anna wasn't able to bear a child without the help of some dark and wicked force. (Because if she did give birth, the outcome would sure to bring evil!)

Again great post!

sgriska
Sadako slave
(11/7/02 10:37:27 pm)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
Brrrr.... The Eye of Mara just gave me shivers. It wouldn't have two weeks ago, but then again, I hadn't seen it yet back then... ; )

mutagene
further down the Spiral
(11/7/02 11:32:57 pm)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
samara did actually make the televisions water and the lid move back on to the well, though. and she unscrewed screws -- she wasn't limited to pure thought.

i love your theory and i kinda wish it was true because i'm not very keen on judeo/christian horror mythology, but i think that [forgot-the-user's-name]'s theory (brought up in another thread, dunno which) about christian allusions might be closer to the target especially since the ring was targetting an american audience. perhaps samara's name is indeed inspired by 'mara' and 'samsara', but the connection may go no deeper than that -- perhaps someone just spent too much time hanging out with george lucas?

sgriska
Sadako slave
(11/8/02 6:47:31 am)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
Well, still, these powers (like the power to cause nosebleeds) seem to me to be relatively minor. She has some power over elements (water, fire...), but it's very clear that her method of attacking beings is mainly in the head.

Also, to respond to an earlier post, I don't think that just because she had a miraculous birth that really proves anything as to her inherent evil or lack thereof. I think these kind of births are very, very common in mythology, among the good, the evil and the indifferent. Think Jesus, Abraham, John the Baptist, the Buddha, Je Tsongkapa, heck, look at all the weird parenting and birthing going on in Greek mythology, as well. I think these kinds of miraculous birth situations mostly exist to say "Hey, so-and-so's not like you and me. They're real special. There's more going on here than you might think. Bigger forces are involved." But, does that prove whether the parents are demons or gods? I don't think so.

But, yeah, I agree. It really, really bugs me that 90% of American horror films presuppose a Judeo-Christian mythos, and one of the things I really like about this one is that it doesn't. At least, if it does, it's so subtle it's possible to ignore it. And that, more than anything, I think is my point. It kind of bugs me to see posts saying Samara is the anti-Christ or whatever, because I think she's a hell of a lot more interesting than that. What's cool about Samara, I think, is that she doesn't seem to have that clear-cut an agenda. She seems to just kind of do her destructive and disruptive thing, sets the whole tape thing rolling, and the really doesn't appear to be "working" for anybody (the devil, for instance).

I also think, at the very least, that the film is something of a parable... well, I'm not sure that's the word I want. But, it's like this: You're going through life, minding your own business, caught up in your own little dramas. Something happens to make you aware that guess what, death is actually real, and it is going to happen to you. Real soon. I mean, that's something most of us are in a state of denial over, to one degree or other. There are very few alive who are prepared for death, or have even really emotionally dealt with it. We like to pretend we're immortal, and we kind of believe it, most of the time. So, something happens to shake that all up. As the time gets closer, we find more and more reason to believe death is coming. And, bottom line, we have to make a choice, how are we going to face it when death comes, or Samara climbs out of the tv, or whatever. If we react with knee-jerk horror, we don't have a chance of anything higher than death and decay. If we took another path, I think we might have a chance -- maybe not to save our egos, our bodies and minds might die anyway -- but we might be able to at least put Samara in her place, achieve some enlightenment, escape the ring (of rebirth). And that's part of what I like about this film, is it takes that situation that happens to every single one of us, to one degree or other (some die suddenly, so I suppose not to them....) and it exaggerates it enough so you can start to see possibilities "Hey, wait a minute, is there a way to defeat Samara??" I think there is. I think somebody in another film ought to try it, just try to keep their head.

mellybeanTC
further down the Spiral
(11/8/02 7:02:37 am)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
"asura" in Buddhism means "hungry ghost" ... Sadako and Samara remind me of hungry ghosts, clinging to the living, causing themselves and others suffering.

there's a big locus of Buddhists in the Pacific Northwest, i wonder if that had anything to do with the name choice?

along this line of thinking, i wonder if Sadako/Samara could be defeated the way Neo finally overcame the bullets from the agents in The Matrix ... he held up his hand and simply said "No." realizing he was ultimately responsible for his perception of reality. only then could he see his reality was in fact computer code, and he could take charge of it. (his role in The Little Buddha really helped back up that moment in The Matrix!)

although i can't imagine just saying "no" to Samara would defeat her ... have you ever tried saying no to a kid? ;)

peace,
mellybeanTC

Edited by: mellybeanTC at: 11/8/02 7:04:52 am
Rhyamoonlight
Sadako slave
(11/8/02 1:17:46 pm)
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Re: Re: SaMara/SamSara
i dont know... i kinda think if noah had answer'd the phone then rachel could have kept him from bein so scared... i think he coula lived....


me.....

Rachael
further down the Spiral
(11/8/02 8:10:50 pm)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
*clutching head*

My dog's breath smells like dog food.

sgriska
Sadako slave
(11/8/02 11:12:37 pm)
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Re: SaMara/SamSara
Interesting thought about the asuras. I had a somewhat similar thought run through my head about ghosts in general. I mean, what is a ghost? If you reject the concept of a soul, it seems that a ghost must be nothing but the energy and determination of a being not to let go of their ego following death. Which is then, in a way, a kind of hell, not because some authoritarian god or whatnot has damned this being, but because they trap themselves in a space where their desire to cling to their ego edges out the possibility of hope. It's kind of the opposite of enlightenment. If enlightenment is seeing the emptiness of ego, that kind of intense clinging to ego, to the extent that you don't even reincarnate anymore, is something like a sad mirror image of Nirvana. Yeah, you're off of the ring of rebirth, but there's no hope to escape suffering, either.

And this all kind of fits the feeling I get about Samara. She's so tired of being "a nothing" that she's gonna make sure the world thinks she's something. They're all gonna hear about this!! And that kind of fits what I would think the model of someone not likely to relinquish their ego upon death would be. Bound and determined to make them all pay, to the extent that she can't let go and move on and get a new brain and forget this nasty life she's had. And, like I was saying above, the powers she does have are relatively minor, but it's the brilliance (if you can call it that) with which she utilizes them that makes her seem so much bigger and more powerful than she is. And, you know, if it's true (and I imagine it is) that sentient beings are infinite in number, she's gonna be at this vengeance thing forever. So, in a way, she's kind of pitiful--a miserable little ghost stuck in her own private hell, and the only one that can let her out is herself, but she's on too much of an ego-trip to ever do that. And, in the process, she makes other beings suffer, too. I mean, as tempting as it is to say, "Well, damn you then, you evil little bitch..." I think part of why so many of us are drawn to her is precisely that there's a lot of compassion you can feel for her, in spite of herself.