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Selected Discourses

Many thousands of discourses were given by the Buddha and his leading disciples. Here you will find just a few containing key teachings that every Buddhist should be familiar with. Some are available as PDF files framed with a decorative border for printing on a single sheet of A4. If you download the PDF, you can print a copy to put on the wall as a daily reminder.

The Buddha spent the rainy season residing in one particular monastery, in the Bamboo Grove at Rājagaha during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of the sāsana, and often at the Jeta Grove donated by Anāthapiṇḍika in Sāvatthī during the later years. After the rains he would set off on tour with the monks, journeying from town to village on foot. During the last months of his life, he walked from Rājagaha to Kusināra via Pāṭaliputta and Vesāli.

This Map of India gives some perspective to the life of the Buddha and the monks as they wandered throughout the Ganges valley, or even further afield, to spread the teaching about the path to nibbāna.

Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana Tipiṭaka

If you wish to read the Pāḷi texts for yourself, download this free software from Tipitaka.org. Read my review page for some help installing and using it.

Āditta Suttaṃ — The Fire Sermon:

The Buddha’s discourse to 1,000 Fire-worshipping ascetics led by the three Kassapa brothers on the fiery nature of greed, hatred, and delusion. After the Dhammacakka Sutta, the Hemavatta Sutta, and the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, this is the fourth discourse taught by the Buddha. It is found in the Vinaya, Mahāvagga, and is there called the Ādittapariyāya Sutta, but in the Saṃyuttanikāya it is called the Āditta Sutta — the Ādittapariyāya Sutta in the Saṃyuttanikāya refers to a different sutta on a similar topic, but with a more detailed exposition.

Āmagandha Suttaṃ — The Stench

The Buddha relates a discourse given by a previous Buddha named Kassapa, to an ascetic who was a strict vegetarian, who condemned the eating of meat and fish.

Anattalakkhaṇa Suttaṃ — The Discourse on Not-self

The Buddha’s third discourse (the second was the Hemavata Sutta), given to his first five disciples. After listening to the discourse, they all became Arahants.

Apaṇṇaka Suttaṃ — The Incontrovertible Discourse

An extract from a discourse of the Majjhimanikaya, teaching sceptics how to choose a wise course to follow.

Caṇḍala Suttaṃ — The Outcaste

The behaviour that leads to becoming an “outcaste,” a person who should be shunned by good and wise followers of the Buddha.

Dhammapada and Commentary.pdfThe Dhammapada

A collection of 423 verses in 26 chapters, with a brief extract from the Commentary explaining the circumstances in which the Buddha uttered each verse.

Anuruddha Mahāvitakka Suttaṃ — Eight Thoughts of a Great Man

Eight essential characteristics of a wise man who could fully understand the Buddha’s teaching.

Gītassara Suttaṃ — A Musical Intonation

A warning by the Buddha on how not to chant the sacred discourses. When recited as they often are these days, the audience fails to pay attention to the meaning, and becomes distracted by listening to the sound only.

Kesamutti Suttaṃ — The Buddha’s Discourse to the Kālāmas

More commonly known as the “Kālāma Sutta,” this is the Buddha’s advice on how to make a thorough investigation of the teachings. It is often misquoted as a “free-thinker’s charter” to reject any teaching that doesn’t agree with logical reasoning, or with “common-sense.” A closer examination of this discourse shows that “logical reasoning” and “common-sense” are not to be trusted. One should make a thorough inquiry by experimentation.

Kesi Suttaṃ — The Horse Trainer

A warning to his disciples on always remaining open to instruction and admonishment by one’s fellow brahmafarers and well-wishers.

The Buddhist path is a voluntary training. Monks can disrobe at any time if they don’t wish to follow the training any longer. However, if they remain in the monkhood they should at least try to follow the training.

It is similar for lay people who voluntarily undertake the five or eight precepts — although it is customary, there is no obligation to do so as they are not Commandments. If one wishes to follow the eightfold path to nibbāna then one should be willing to undertake the necessary training and discipline.

Mahāsuññātasuttaṃ — On Voidness

A brief extract from »» Maha-suññata Suttaṃ, with the Buddha’s advice to Ānanda for monks to cultivate seclusion, and to avoid socialising.

Paritta Suttas — Protection Discourses

Some discourses commonly recited for protection of danger, disease, and other misfortunes. Includes links to audo and video files.

Paṭṭhānuddesa — Conditional Relations

This is the introduction to the Paṭṭhāna of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, enumerating the twenty-four typs of conditional relations: Root Condition (hetupaccayo), Object Condition (ārammaṇapaccayo), etc.

Sacetana Suttaṃ — The Chariot Maker

A charming discourse from the Gradual Sayings advising how to do things thoroughly, not hastily.

Salla Suttaṃ — The Arrow

A discourse from the Suttanipāta on the removal of grief.

Saṃkitta Suttaṃ — A Brief Discourse to Gotamī

The Buddha’s advice to his step-mother, who was the first Bhikkhuṇī, on how to distinguish Dhamma from what is not Dhamma.