The secretary consults her notes; "The next army is 'sloth and accidy.' Mara, what's 'accidy?'"

"You could look it up."

She sighs, "Why bother?"

Fifth Army
Sloth and Accidy

Greetings to the dull grey heavy hordes of sloth and accidy! (Aside: "'accidy'; an old spelling of 'acedia' a pathological mental or spiritual torpor." "Thanks sweetie!" ) I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but keep up the good work!

It may seem as if your power is slipping; people have been working longer and longer hours ever since the industrial revolution but you and I know that the real spiritual laziness is more prevalent than ever before. The quick fix, the instant salvation is all they are interested in.

Nature has made our work simple. The fundamental cosmic law of entropy is our greatest ally. In the sphere of mental life, this means that the spark of consciousness is always engaged in a struggle to keep from sinking back into the darkness of unknowing. Let them but relax the effort, a simple and inviting temptation, and the level of mind will inevitably decline.

That Teacher of theirs, the one who sadly escaped my grasp, has often praised effort and diligence. This emphasis has done much to undercut the real popularity of his teachings over the centuries. I seem to recall one of his own monks who broke with the order and declared that the teaching was no good because it only worked if you followed it. We would to well the endorse the reasonableness of this view.

Every one of us engaged in the work of this organization is aware of the great complexity of the maze we have built for our "clients." Layer upon layer of delusion has carefully and methodically been constructed. It is not an easy task for the worldling to cut through this timeless tangle. Not easy by any means, but regretfully still just possible. So redouble your own efforts and take the wind out of theirs! They will not cut through with a dull blade.

Let us review the techniques that have worked well in the past. Remember, the qualities we want to foster are dullness, heaviness, lethargy, idleness and mindlessness. The oldest and still very profitable method is sleep. Lots of it; in big soft comfy beds. Not hard to persuade them to roll over in the morning! Let them lie in bed more than six hours and they're ours!

Another wonderful tool is the whole pharmacopoeia of dulling and befuddling agents that so may of them like to pop into their mouths, lungs and veins. You almost can't beat the old perennial standard ethyl alcohol for reducing them to a sub-human level, but these days we have a much wider range of intelligence reducing agents readily available -- both natural and synthetic. Better living through chemistry! Many of them are so eager to drown their wits that they will even inhale various toxic byproducts of the industrial revolution. (Now that was a great idea with all sorts of unexpected benefits!)

Speaking of technology I cannot praise the use of television highly enough. It requires no thought or effort of any kind and completely stultifies the brain with a panorama of sensually enticing images. Some of you were skeptical when I began Project Vidiot, even citing possible undesirable educational and cultural side-effects but now that we have whole generations weaned on the tube we can all see that the results have more than vindicated my enthusiasm.

"That's why you make the big bucks, Mara!"

"Don't interrupt when I'm bragging. Now where was I?"

Don't neglect the simpler dodges either. Procrastination is a wonderful vice. They can diddle away several lifetimes if properly guided. Over-eating is an effective measure; the full belly makes for a dull mind. Bad posture, soft furniture, lack of exercise are all to be encouraged.

Perhaps most fundamental of all is the fostering of an attitude of hopelessness. Let them think that the spiritual life is too hard for the ordinary person. The goal too far away, the effort too daunting. A sense of dull grey ennui is a miasma that chokes the spirit of contemporary humanity and keeps them in our sway. When economic times are good, they are befuddled with empty luxuries; when times are bad they descend into the pit of despair and turn on each other with petty nastiness. Underlying all the cycles is the spirit of hollowness and futility that is our greatest contribution to the modern age.

Copyright © 1997 Arrow River Community Center

Punnadhammo Bhikkhu
mara/mara05.html