MN54 The True Meaning of Renouncing the World: talk by Piya Tan

(Gahapati) Potaliya Sutta (MN54)


The (Gaha,pati) Potaliya Sutta, the Discourse to Potaliya (the houselord), recounts the Buddha explaining to the houselord Potaliya what it means to truly renounce all worldly affairs. The Sutta reports that Potaliya, who fancies himself to be a renunciant, is offended because the Buddha addresses him as a “houselord.”

Potaliya feels that he should not be called a houselord, because he has left behind all worldly affairs, having handed over his wealth to his children and living merely on what he needs to subsist. The Buddha, however, explains to him that “leaving behind all worldly affairs” or renouncing requires more than that. Potaliya is keen to hear the Buddha’s explanations [§3.8]. At the close of the teaching, he goes for refuge.