There he was, sitting alone under a tree. Fresh or exhausted from six years of tapas, intense spiritual practice, fasting and discipline that would make an Amish school marm quake, now he sat beneath a dawn sky, at ease, alert and about to wake up as The Buddha...
But, there was this dude who had other plans for the awakening one -- Mara, King of Demons. Do you think, in your wildest dreams, Siddhartha was going to just quietly wake up as the Buddha without the Grand Terrible One noticing? What does it tell us about this physical plane, this world of opacity, gravity and due bills, that when one is about to wake up in it, the Demon King himself appears to make damn sure that doesn't happen?
First, Mara tried to seduce the Buddha back into delusion by showering him with all kinds of alluring pleasures and delights, pressing every desire, lust and pleasure button she could find. But the awakening one seemed buttonless. No reaction. No grasping. So, Plan B, Mara tried to scare the living daylights out of him, tsunamis of horrific images, every 3D gore movie you can imagine, but the Buddha proved to be button-free here, too. Not indifferent. Not armored. Just button-free.
Why would the forces at work in a world of self-centered fixation be so alarmed at the prospect of awakening that they throw the full force of Mara at one little guy sitting under a Bodhi tree? What is so all fired important to those forces about maintaining problematic, imagined self-hoods, full-mental-jacket identified with wee dense bodies that arc across the mortality map a brief moment and are no more? Self-absorption is our drug and few of us, it seems, give a ratsass about going cold turkey. Perhaps, the Buddha got Mara to withdraw by clearly seeing Mara as withdrawal.
In one of his brilliant treatments of Buddha Dharma, Stephen Batchelor points out that many years after the Buddha's awakening, a group of monks came across him in a small hut high up in the mountains. Inside the hut, the Buddha was enjoying tea and conversation... with Mara. Awakening is not about rejection.