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DN 6 Mahāli Sutta - About Mahāli, Heavenly Sights, Soul and Body

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1. Thus have I heard. Once the Lord was staying at Vesālī, at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. And at that time a large number of Brahmin emissaries from Kosala and Magadha were staying at Vesālī on some business. And they heard say: ‘The ascetic Gotama, son of the Sakyans, who has gone forth from the Sakya clan, is staying at Vesālī, at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. And concerning that Blessed Lord a good report has been spread about: “This Blessed Lord is an Arahant, a fully-enlightened Buddha, perfected in knowledge and conduct, a Well-Farer, Knower of the worlds, unequalled Trainer of men to be tamed, Teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha, a Blessed Lord.” He proclaims this world with its gods, māras and Brahmās, the world of ascetics and humans, a Buddha, a Blessed Lord.” He proclaims this world with its gods, māras and Brahmās, the world of ascetics and Brahmins with its princes and peoples, having come to know it by his own knowledge. He teaches a Dhamma that is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the letter, and he displays the fully-perfected, thoroughly purified holy life. And indeed it is good to see such Arahants.’

2. And so these Brahmin emissaries from Kosala and Magadha went to the Great Forest, to the Gabled Hall. At that time the Venerable Nāgita was the Lord’s personal attendant. So they approached the Venerable Nāgita and said: ‘Reverend Nāgita, where is the Reverend Gotama now staying? We would like to see him.’ ‘Friends, it is not the right time to see the Lord. He is in solitary meditation.’ But the Brahmins just sat down to one side and said: ‘When we have seen the Lord Gotama, we will go.’

3. Just then Oṭṭhaddha the Licchavi came to the Gabled Hall with a large company, saluted the Venerable Nāgita and stood aside, saying: ‘Where is the Blessed Lord staying, the Arahant, the fully-enlightened Buddha? We would like to see him.’ ‘Mahāli, it is not the right time to see the Lord, He is in solitary meditation.’ But Oṭṭhaddha just sat down to one side, and said: ‘When I have seen the Blessed Lord, the Arahant, the fully-enlightened Buddha, I will go.’

4. Then the novice Sīha came to the Venerable Nāgita, stood aside and said: ‘Venerable Kassapa, these many Brahmin emissaries from Kosala and Magadha have come here to see the Lord, and Oṭṭhaddha the Licchavi, too, has come with a large company to see the Lord. It would be well, Venerable Kassapa, to allow these people to see him.’ ‘Well then, Sīha, you announce them to the Lord.’ ‘Yes, Venerable Sir’, said Sīha. Then he went to the Lord, saluted him, stood aside and said: ‘Lord, these Brahmin emissaries from Kosala and Magadha have come here to see the Lord, and Oṭṭhaddha the Licchavi likewise with a large company. It would be well if the Lord were to let these people see him.’ ‘Then, Sīha, prepare a seat in the shade of this dwelling.’ ‘Yes, Lord’, said Sīha, and did so. Then the Lord came out of his dwelling-place and sat down on the prepared seat.

5. The Brahmins approached the Lord. Having exchanged courtesies with him, they sat down to one side. But Oṭṭhaddha did obeisance to the Lord, and then sat down to one side, saying: ‘Lord, not long ago Sunakkhatta the Licchavi came to me and said:”Soon I shall have been a follower of the Lord for three years. I have seen heavenly sights, pleasant, delightful, enticing, but I have not heard any heavenly sounds that were pleasant, delightful, enticing.” Lord, are there any such heavenly sounds, which Sunakkhatta cannot hear, or are there not?’ ‘There are such sounds, Mahāli.’

6. ‘Then, Lord, what is the reason, what is the cause why Sunakkhatta cannot hear them?’ ‘Mahāli, in one case a monk, facing east, goes into one-sided samādhi and sees heavenly sights, pleasant, delightful, enticing…but does not hear heavenly sounds. By means of this one-sided samādhi he sees heavenly sights but does not hear heavenly sounds. Why is this? Because this samādhi only leads to the seeing of heavenly sights, but not to the hearing of heavenly sounds.

7. ‘Again, a monk facing south, west, north goes into a one-sided samādhi and facing upwards, downwards or across sees heavenly sights[in that direction], but does not hear heavenly sounds. Why is this? Because this samādhi only leads to the seeing of heavenly sights, but not to the hearing of heavenly sounds.

8. ‘In another case, Mahāli, a monk facing east…hears heavenly sounds but does not see heavenly sights…

9. ‘Again, a monk facing south, west, north, facing upwards, downwards or across hears heavenly sounds, but does not see heavenly sights…

10. ‘In another case, Mahāli, a monk facing east goes into two-sided samādhi and both sees heavenly sights, pleasant, delightful, enticing and hears heavenly sounds. Why is this? Because this two-sided samādhi leads to both the seeing of heavenly sights and the hearing of heavenly sounds.

11. ‘Again, a monk facing south, west, north, facing upwards, downwards or across sees heavenly sights and hears heavenly sounds…And that is the reason why Sunakkhatta comes to see heavenly sights but not to hear heavenly sounds.’

12. ‘Well, Lord, is it for the realization of such samādhi-states that monks lead the holy life under the Blessed Lord?’ ‘No, Mahāli, there are other things, higher and more perfect than these, for the sake of which monks lead the holy life under me.’

13. ‘What are they, Lord?’ ‘Mahāli, in one case a monk, having abandoned three fetters, becomes a Stream-Winner, not liable to states of woe, firmly set on the path to enlightenment. Again, a monk who has abandoned the three fetters, and has reduced his greed, hatred and delusion, becomes a Once-Returner who, having returned to this world once more, will make and end of suffering. Again, a monk who has abandoned the five lower fetters takes a spontaneous rebirth [in a higher sphere] and, without returning from that world, gains enlightenment. Again, a monk through the extinction of the corruptions reaches in this very life the uncorrupted deliverance of mind, the deliverance through wisdom, which he has realized by his own insight. That is another thing higher and more perfect than these, for the sake of which monks lead the holy life under me.’

14. ‘Lord, is there a path, is there a method for the realization of these things?’ ‘There is a path, Mahāli, there is a method.’ ‘And, Lord, what is this path, what is this method?’ ‘It is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely Right View, Right Thought; Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood; Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. This is the path, this is the way to the realization of these things.’

15. ‘Once, Mahāli, I was staying at Kosambī, in the Ghosita Park. And two wanderers, Maṇḍissa and Jāliya, the pupil of the wooden-bowl ascetic, came to me, exchanged courtesies with me, and sat down to one side. Then they said: “How is it, friend Gotama, is the soul the same as the body, or is the soul one thing and the body another?” “Well now, friends, you listen, pay proper attention, and I will explain.” “yes, friend”, they said, and I went on:

16. ‘ “Friends, a Tathāgata arises in the world, an Arahant, fully-enlightened Buddha, endowed with wisdom and conduct, Well-Farer, Knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, Teacher of gods and humans, enlightened and blessed. He, having realized it by his own super-know-ledge, proclaims this world with its devas, māras and Brahmās, its princes and people. He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle, lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the letter, and displays the fully-perfected and purified holy life. ‘” A disciple goes forth and practices the moralities ( Sutta 2, verses 41-63). On account of his morality, he sees no danger anywhere. He experiences in himself the blameless bliss that comes from maintaining this Ariyan morality. In this way, he is perfected in morality. (Sutta 2, verses 64-74)… It is as if he were freed from debt, from sickness, from bonds, from slavery, from the perils of the desert…Being thus detached from sense-desired, detached from unwholesome states, he enters and remains in the first jhāna…and so suffuses, drenches, fills and irradiates his body, that there is no spot in his entire body that is untouched by this delight and joy born of detachment. Now of one who thus knows and thus sees, is it proper to say: ‘The soul is the same as the body’, or ‘The soul is different from the body’?” ’’ It is not, friend.” “But I thus know and see, and I do not say that the soul is either the same as, or different from the body.”

17. ‘ “And the same with the second…, the third…, the fourth jhāna (as Sutta 2, verses 77-82).

18. ‘ “The mind bends and tends towards knowledge and vision. Now, of one who thus knows and thus sees, is it proper to say: ‘The soul is the same as the body’, or ‘The soul is different from the body’?” “It is not, friend.”

19. ‘ “He knows: ‘There is nothing further here.’ Now of one who thus knows and thus sees, is it proper to say: ‘The soul is the same as the body’, or ‘The soul is different from the body’?” “It is not, friend.” “But I thus know and see, and I do not say that the soul is either the same as, or different from the body.” ‘

Thus the Lord spoke, and Oṭṭhaddha the Licchavi rejoiced at his words.


Dīgha Nikāya 6
Division One – The Moralities
Translated by Maurice Walshe
Contributed by Ariya Zhong

 

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