Mahāli Sutta

1. Mahāli Sutta. The Licchavi Otthaddha (Mahāli) visits the Buddha at the Kutāgārasālā and reports to him a conversation he had had with Sunakkhatta, who claimed to be able to see heavenly forms but not to hear heavenly sounds. Mahāli inquires how such a faculty can be acquired, and the Buddha tells him, but explains that it is not for the sake of acquiring these powers that people join the Order. Asking what then is their object, he gradually leads the conversation on to the question of arahantship, along the Eightfold Path. The Buddha then raises a quite different question, as to whether the soul and the body are identical. The discourse on this again leads to the question of arahantship (cp. Jāliya Sutta), but it is significant that the Buddha leaves this last question unanswered (D.i.150 8).

Buddhaghosa explains (DA.i.316) that the Buddha raised the point of body and soul, because he knew that Mahāli harboured the heretical belief that a soul exists and that it has form.

2. Mahāli Sutta. The Licchavi Mahāli visits the Buddha at the Kūtāgārasālā and questions him regarding the doctrine of Pūrana Kassapa that there is no cause or condition for the impurity of beings. The Buddha contradicts this view, and explains that it is because beings take delight in the body, etc., that they become impure. When they feel revulsion towards the body, etc., they become pure. S.iii.68f.

3. Mahāli Sutta. The Buddha, in answer to a question of Mahāli, says that greed, ill will, dullness cause the continuance of evil action, and right reflection and a well poised mind cause the continuance of good. The existence of these two different sets of qualities cause the good and evil in the world. A.v.86f.

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