Mystic Lotus

Majjhima Nikaya

The Middle-length Discourses

Majjhima Nikaya

The Middle-length Discourses

The Majjhima Nikaya, or "Middle-length Discourses" of the Buddha, is the second of the five nikayas (collections) of the Sutta Pitaka.

This nikaya consists of 152 discourses by the Buddha and his chief disciples, which together constitute a comprehensive body of teaching concerning all aspects of the Buddha's teachings.

  1. Mūlapaṇṇāsapāḷi — The Root Fifty Discourses

    1. Mūlapariyāya — The Root of All Things




      Mūlapariyāya Sutta — The Root of All Things

      The Buddha examines how the notion of a permanent self emerges from the process of perception. A wide range of phenomena are considered, embracing both naturalistic and cosmological dimensions. An unawakened person interprets experience in terms of a self, while those more advanced have the same experiences without attachment.


      Sabbāsava Sutta — All the Defilements

      The diverse problems of the spiritual journey demand a diverse range of responses. Rather than applying the same solution to every problem, the Buddha outlines seven methods of dealing with defilements, each of which works in certain cases.


      Dhammadāyāda Sutta — Heirs in the Teaching

      Some of the Buddha’s students inherit from him only material profits and fame. But his true inheritance is the spiritual path, the way of contentment. Venerable Sāriputta explains how by following the Buddha’s example we can experience the fruits of the path.


      Bhayabherava Sutta — Fear and Dread

      The Buddha explains the difficulties of living in the wilderness, and how they are overcome by purity of conduct and meditation. He recounts some of the fears and obstacles he faced during his own practice.


      Anaṅgaṇa Sutta — Unblemished

      The Buddha’s chief disciples, Sāriputta and Moggallāna, use a simile of a tarnished bowl to illustrate the blemishes of the mind and conduct. They emphasize how the crucial thing is not so much whether there are blemishes, but whether we are aware of them.


      Ākaṅkheyya Sutta — One Might Wish

      According to the Buddha, careful observance of ethical precepts is the foundation of all higher achievements in the spiritual life.


      Vatthūpama Sutta — The Simile of the Cloth

      The many different kinds of impurities that defile the mind are compared to a dirty cloth. When the mind is clean we find joy, which leads to states of higher consciousness. Finally, the Buddha rejects the Brahmanical notion that purity comes from bathing in sacred rivers.


      Sallekha Sutta — Self-Effacement

      The Buddha differentiates between peaceful meditation and spiritual practices that encompass the whole of life. He lists forty-four aspects, which he explains as “effacement”, the wearing away of conceit.


      Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta — Right View

      Venerable Sāriputta gives a detailed explanation of right view, the first factor of the noble eightfold path. At the prompting of the other mendicants, he approaches the topic from a wide range of perspectives.


      Satipaṭṭhāna SuttaMindfulness Meditation

      Here the Buddha details the seventh factor of the noble eightfold path, mindfulness meditation. This collects many of the meditation teachings found throughout the canon, especially the foundational practices focusing on the body, and is regarded as one of the most important meditation discourses.

    2. Sīhanādavagga — The Division of the Lion’s Roar




      Cūḷasīhanāda Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Lion’s Roar

      The Buddha declares that only those following his path can genuinely experience the four stages of awakening. This is because, while much is shared with other systems, none of them go so far as to fully reject all attachment to the idea of a self.


      Mahāsīhanāda Sutta — The Longer Discourse on the Lion’s Roar

      A disrobed monk, Sunakkhata, attacks the Buddha’s teaching because it merely leads to the end of suffering. The Buddha counters that this is, in fact, praise, and goes on to enumerate his many profound and powerful achievements.


      Cūḷasīhanāda Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Lion’s Roar

      Challenged to show the difference between his teaching and that of other ascetics, the Buddha points out that they speak of letting go, but do not really understand why. He then explains in great detail the suffering that arises from attachment to sensual stimulation.


      Cūḷadukkhakkhandha Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Mass of Suffering

      A lay person is puzzled at how, despite their long practice, they still have greedy or hateful thoughts. The Buddha explains the importance of absorption meditation for letting go such attachments. But he also criticizes self-mortification, and recounts a previous dialog with Jain ascetics.


      Anumāna Sutta — Measuring Up

      Venerable Moggallāna raises the topic of admonishment, without which healthy community is not possible. He lists a number of qualities that will encourage others to think it worthwhile to admonish you in a constructive way.


      Cetokhila Sutta — Emotional Barrenness

      The Buddha explains various ways one can become emotionally cut off from one’s spiritual community.


      Vanapattha Sutta — Jungle Thickets

      While living in the wilderness is great, not everyone is ready for it. The Buddha encourages meditators to reflect on whether one’s environment is genuinely supporting their meditation practice, and if not, to leave.


      Madhupiṇḍika Sutta — The Honey-Cake

      Challenged by a brahmin, the Buddha gives an enigmatic response on how conflict arises due to proliferation based on perceptions. Venerable Kaccāna draws out the detailed implications of this in one of the most insightful passages in the entire canon.


      Dvedhāvitakka Sutta — Two Kinds of Thought

      Recounting his own experiences in developing meditation, the Buddha explains how to understand harmful and harmless thoughts, and how to go beyond thought altogether.


      Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta — How to Stop Thinking

      In a practical meditation teaching, the Buddha describes five different approaches to stopping thoughts.

    3. Opammavagga — The Division of Similes




      Kakacūpama Sutta — The Simile of the Saw

      A discourse full of vibrant and memorable similes, on the importance of patience and love even when faced with abuse and criticism. The Buddha finishes with the simile of the saw, one of the most memorable similes found in the discourses.


      Alagaddūpama Sutta — The Simile of the Snake

      One of the monks denies that prohibited conduct is really a problem. The monks and then the Buddha subject him to an impressive dressing down. The Buddha compares someone who understands only the letter of the teachings to someone who grabs a snake by the tail, and also invokes the famous simile of the raft.


      Vammika Sutta — The Ant-Hill

      In a curious discourse laden with evocative imagery, a deity presents a riddle to a mendicant, who seeks an answer from the Buddha.


      Rathavinīta Sutta — Prepared Chariots

      Venerable Sāriputta seeks a dialog with an esteemed monk, Venerable Puṇṇa Mantāniputta, and they discuss the stages of purification.


      Nivāpa Sutta — Fodder

      The Buddha compares getting trapped by Māra with a deer getting caught in a snare, illustrating the ever more complex strategies employed by hunter and hunted.


      Pāsarāsi Sutta — The Noble Search

      This is one of the most important biographical discourses, telling the Buddha’s experiences from leaving home to realizing awakening. Throughout, he was driven by the imperative to fully escape from rebirth and suffering.


      Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta — The Shorter Elephant’s Footprint Simile

      The Buddha cautions against swift conclusions about a teacher’s spiritual accomplishments, comparing it to the care a tracker would use when tracking elephants. He presents the full training of a monastic.


      Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta — The Longer Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint

      Sāriputta gives an elaborate demonstration of how, just as any footprint can fit inside an elephant’s, all the Buddha’s teaching can fit inside the four noble truths. This offers an overall template for organizing the Buddha’s teachings.


      Mahāsāropama Sutta — The Longer Simile of the Heartwood

      Following the incident with Devadatta, the Buddha cautions the mendicants against becoming complacent with superficial benefits of spiritual life and points to liberation as the true heart of the teaching.


      Cūḷasāropama Sutta — The Shorter Simile of the Heartwood

      Similar to the previous. After the incident with Devadatta, the Buddha cautions the mendicants against becoming complacent and points to liberation as the true heart of the teaching.

    4. Mahāyamakavagga — The Great Division of Pairs




      Cūḷagosiṅga Sutta — The Shorter Discourse at Gosiṅga

      The Buddha comes across three mendicants practicing diligently and harmoniously, and asks them how they do it. Reluctant to disclose their higher attainments, they explain how they deal with the practical affairs of living together. But when pressed by the Buddha, they reveal their meditation attainments.


      Mahāgosiṅga Sutta — The Longer Discourse at Gosiṅga

      Several senior mendicants, reveling in the beauty of the night, discuss what kind of practitioner would adorn the park. They take their answers to the Buddha, who praises their answers, but gives his own twist.


      Mahāgopālaka Sutta — The Longer Discourse on the Cowherd

      For eleven reasons a cowherd is not able to properly look after a herd. The Buddha compares this to the spiritual growth of a mendicant.


      Cūḷagopālaka Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Cowherd

      Drawing parallels with a cowherd guiding his herd across a dangerous river, the Buddha presents the various kinds of enlightened disciples who cross the stream of transmigration.


      Cūḷasaccaka Sutta — The Shorter Discourse With Saccaka

      Saccaka was a debater, who challenged the Buddha to a contest. Despite his bragging, the Buddha is not at all perturbed at his attacks.


      Mahāsaccaka Sutta — The Longer Discourse With Saccaka

      In a less confrontational meeting, the Buddha and Saccaka discuss the difference between physical and mental development. The Buddha gives a long account of the various practices he did before awakening, detailing the astonishing lengths he took to mortify the body.


      Cūḷataṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Ending of Craving

      Moggallāna visits the heaven of Sakka, the lord of gods, to see whether he really understands what the Buddha is teaching.


      Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta — The Longer Discourse on the Ending of Craving

      To counter the wrong view that a self-identical consciousness transmigrates from one life to the next, the Buddha teaches dependent origination, showing that consciousness invariably arises dependent on conditions.


      Mahā-Assapura Sutta — The Longer Discourse at Assapura

      The Buddha encourages the mendicants to live up to their name, by actually practicing in a way that meets or exceeds the expectations people have for renunciants.


      Cūḷa-Assapura Sutta — The Shorter Discourse at Assapura

      The labels of being a spiritual practitioner don’t just come from external trappings, but from sincere inner change.

    5. Cūḷayamakavagga — The Shorter Division of Pairs




      Sāleyyaka Sutta — The People of Sālā

      The Buddha explains to a group of brahmins the conduct leading to rebirth in higher or lower states, including detailed explanations of the ten core practices which lay people should undertake, and which also form the basis for liberation.


      Verañjaka Sutta — The People of Verañja

      Similar to the previous. The Buddha explains the conduct leading to rebirth in higher or lower states, including detailed explanations of the ten core practices.


      Mahāvedalla Sutta — The Great Classification

      A series of questions and answers between Sāriputta and Mahākoṭṭhita, examining various subtle and abstruse aspects of the teachings.


      Cūḷavedalla Sutta — The Shorter Classification

      The layman Visākha asks the nun Dhammadinnā about various difficult matters, including some of the highest meditation attainments. The Buddha fully endorses her answers.


      Cūḷadhammasamādāna Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on Taking Up Practices

      The Buddha explains how taking up different practices may have harmful or beneficial results. The memorable simile of the creeper shows how insidious temptations can be.


      Mahādhammasamādāna Sutta — The Great Discourse on Taking Up Practices

      The Buddha explains how taking up different practices may have harmful or beneficial results. The memorable simile of the creeper shows how insidious temptations can be.


      Vīmaṃsaka Sutta — The Inquirer

      While some spiritual teachers prefer to remain in obscurity, the Buddha not only encouraged his followers to closely investigate him, but gave them a detailed and demanding method to do so.


      Kosambiya Sutta — The Mendicants of Kosambi

      Despite the Buddha’s presence, the monks of Kosambi fell into a deep and bitter dispute. The Buddha taught the reluctant monks to develop love and harmony, reminding them of the state of peace that they sought.


      Brahmanimantanika Sutta — On the Invitation of Brahmā

      The Buddha ascends to a high heavenly realm where he engages in a cosmic contest with a powerful divinity, who had fallen into the delusion that he was eternal and all-powerful.


      Māratajjanīya Sutta — The Rebuke of Māra

      Māra, the trickster and god of death, tried to annoy Moggallāna. He not only failed but was subject to a stern sermon warning of the dangers of attacking the Buddha’s disciples.

  2. Majjhimapaṇṇāsapāḷi — The Middle Fifty Discourses

    1. Gahapativagga — The Division on Householders




      Kandaraka Sutta — With Kandaraka

      The Buddha discusses mindfulness meditation with lay practitioners. Contrasting the openness of animals with the duplicity of humans, he explains how to practice in a way that causes no harm to oneself or others.


      Aṭṭhakanāgara Sutta — The Man From The City Of Aṭṭhaka

      Asked by a householder to teach a path to freedom, Venerable Ānanda explains no less than eleven meditative states that may serve as doors to the deathless.


      Sekha Sutta — A Trainee

      The Buddha is invited by his family, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu, to inaugurate a new community hall. He invites Venerable Ānanda to explain in detail the stages of spiritual practice for a lay trainee.


      Potaliya Sutta — With Potaliya the Wanderer

      When Potaliya got upset at being referred to as “householder”, the Buddha quizzed him as to the true nature of attachment and renunciation.


      Jīvaka Sutta — With Jīvaka

      The Buddha’s personal doctor, Jīvaka, hears criticisms of the Buddha’s policy regarding eating meat, and asks him about it.


      Upāli Sutta — With Upāli

      The Buddha disagrees with a Jain ascetic on the question of whether physical or mental deeds are more important. When he hears of this, the Jain disciple Upāli decides to visit the Buddha and refute him, and proceeds despite all warnings.


      Kukkuravatika Sutta — The Ascetic Who Behaved Like a Dog

      Some ascetics in ancient India undertook extreme practices, such as a vow to behave like an ox or a dog. The Buddha meets two such individuals, and is reluctantly pressed to reveal the kammic outcomes of such practice.


      Abhayarājakumāra Sutta — With Prince Abhaya

      The leader of the Jains, Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta, gives his disciple Prince Abhaya a dilemma to pose to the Buddha, supposing that this will show his weakness. Things don’t go quite as planned.


      Bahuvedanīya Sutta — The Many Kinds of Feeling

      The Buddha resolves a disagreement on the number of kinds of feelings that he taught, pointing out that different ways of teaching are appropriate in different contexts, and should not be a cause of disputes. He goes on to show the importance of pleasure in developing higher meditation.


      Apaṇṇaka Sutta — Guaranteed

      The Buddha teaches a group of uncommitted householders how to use a rational reflection to arrive at practices and principles that are guaranteed to have a good outcome, even if we don’t know all the variables.

    2. Bhikkhuvagga — The Division on Bhikkhus




      Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta — Advice to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhika

      Using the “object lesson” of a cup of water, the Buddha explains to his son, Rāhula, the importance of telling the truth and reflecting on one’s motives.


      Mahārāhulovāda Sutta — The Longer Advice to Rāhula

      The Buddha tells Rāhula to meditate on not-self, which he immediately puts into practice. Seeing him, Venerable Sāriputta advises him to develop breath meditation, but the Buddha suggests a wide range of different practices first.


      Cūḷamāluṅkya Sutta — The Shorter Discourse With Māluṅkya

      A monk demands that the Buddha answer his metaphysical questions, or else he will disrobe. The Buddha compares him to a man struck by an arrow, who refuses treatment until he can have all his questions about the arrow and the archer answered.


      Mahāmāluṅkya Sutta — The Longer Discourse With Māluṅkya

      A little baby has no wrong views or intentions, but the underlying tendency for these things is still there. Without practicing, they will inevitably recur.


      Bhaddāli Sutta — With Bhaddāli

      A monk refuses to follow the rule forbidding eating after noon, but is filled with remorse and forgiven.


      Laṭukikopama Sutta — The Simile of the Quail

      Again raising the rule regarding eating, but this time as a reflection of gratitude for the Buddha in eliminating things that cause complexity and stress. The Buddha emphasizes how attachment even to little things can be dangerous.


      Cātumā Sutta — At Cātumā

      After dismissing some unruly monks, the Buddha is persuaded to relent, and teaches them four dangers for those gone forth.


      Naḷakapāna Sutta — At Naḷakapāna

      Those who practice do so not because they are failures, but because they aspire to higher freedom. When he speaks of the attainments of disciples, the Buddha does so in order to inspire.


      Gulissāni Sutta — With Gulissāni

      A monk comes down to the community from the wilderness, but doesn’t behave properly. Venerable Sāriputta explains how a mendicant should behave, whether in forest or town.


      Kīṭāgiri Sutta — At Kīṭāgiri

      A third discourse that presents the health benefits of eating in one part of the day, and the reluctance of some mendicants to follow this.

    3. Paribbājakavagga — The Division on Wanderers




      Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta — To Vacchagotta on the Three Knowledges

      The Buddha denies being omniscient, and sets forth the three higher knowledges that form the core of his awakened insight.


      Aggivacchagotta Sutta — With Vacchagotta on Fire

      Refusing to take a stance regarding useless metaphysical speculations, the Buddha illustrates the spiritual goal with the simile of a flame going out.


      Mahāvacchagotta Sutta — The Longer Discourse With Vacchagotta

      In the final installment of the “Vacchagotta trilogy”, Vacchagotta lets go his obsession with meaningless speculation, and asks about practice.


      Dīghanakha Sutta — With Dīghanakha

      Deftly outmaneuvering an extreme skeptic, the Buddha discusses the outcomes of belief and disbelief. Rather than getting stuck in abstractions, he encourages staying close to the feelings one experiences.


      Māgandiya Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Lion’s Roar

      Accused by a hedonist of being too negative, the Buddha recounts the luxury of his upbringing, and his realization of how little value there was in such things. Through renunciation he found a far greater pleasure.


      Sandaka Sutta — With Sandaka

      Venerable Ānanda teaches a group of wanderers how there are many different approaches to the spiritual life, many of which lead nowhere.


      Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta — The Longer Discourse with Sakuludāyī

      Unlike many teachers, the Buddha’s followers treat him with genuine love and respect, since they see the sincerity of his teaching and practice.


      Samaṇamaṇḍikā Sutta — With Samaṇamaṇḍikā

      A wanderer teaches that a person has reached the highest attainment when they keep four basic ethical precepts. The Buddha’s standards are considerably higher.


      Cūḷasakuludāyi Sutta — The Shorter Discourse With Sakuludāyī

      A wanderer teaches his doctrine of the “highest splendor” but is unable to give a satisfactory account of what that means. The Buddha memorably compares him to someone who is in love with an idealized women who he has never met.


      Vekhanassa Sutta — With Vekhanasa

      Starting off similar to the previous, the Buddha goes on to explain that one is not converted to his teaching just because of clever arguments, but because you see in yourself the results of the practice.

    4. Rājavagga — The Division on Kings




      Ghaṭīkāra Sutta — With Ghaṭikāra

      The Buddha relates an unusual account of a past life in the time of the previous Buddha, Kassapa. At that time he was not interested in Dhamma, and had to be forced to go see the Buddha. This discourse is important in understanding the development of the Bodhisattva doctrine.


      Raṭṭhapāla Sutta — With Raṭṭhapāla

      A wealthy young man, Raṭṭhapāla, has a strong aspiration to go forth, but has to prevail against the reluctance of his parents. Even after he became a monk, his parents tried to persuade him to disrobe. The discourse ends with a moving series of teachings on the fragility of the world.


      Makhādeva Sutta — King Makhādeva

      A rare extended mythic narrative, telling of an ancient kingly lineage and their eventual downfall.


      Madhurā Sutta — With Madhurā

      In Madhurā, towards the north-eastern limit of the Buddha’s reach during his life, King Avantiputta asks Venerable Mahākaccāna regarding the brahmanical claim to be the highest caste.


      Bodhirājakumāra Sutta — With Prince Bodhi

      Admitting that he used to believe that pleasure was to be gained through pain, the Buddha explains how his practice showed him the fallacy of that idea.


      Aṅgulimāla Sutta — With Aṅgulimāla Ja 55

      Ignoring warnings, the Buddha ventures into the domain of the notorious killer Aṅgulimāla Ja 55 and succeeds in converting him to the path of non-violence. After becoming a monk Aṅgulimāla Ja 55 still suffered for his past deeds, but only to a small extent. He uses his new commitment to non-violence to help a woman in labor.


      Piyajātika Sutta — Born From the Beloved

      A rare glimpse into the marital life of King Pasenadi, and how he is led to the Dhamma by his Queen, the incomparable Mallikā. She confirms the Buddha’s teaching that our loved ones bring us sorrow; but that’s not something a husband, father, and king wants to hear.


      Bāhitika Sutta — The Imported Cloth

      King Pasenadi takes a chance to visit Venerable Ānanda, where he asks about skillful and unskillful behavior, and what is praised by the Buddha. He offers Ānanda a valuable cloth in gratitude.


      Dhammacetiya Sutta — Shrines to the Teaching

      King Pasenadi, near the end of his life, visits the Buddha, and shows moving devotion and love for his teacher.


      Kaṇṇakatthala Sutta — At Kaṇṇakatthala

      King Pasenadi questions the Buddha on miscellaneous matters: caste, omniscience, and the gods among them.

    5. Brāhmaṇavagga — The Division on Brahmins




      Brahmāyu Sutta — With Brahmāyu

      The oldest and most respected brahmin of the age sends a student to examine the Buddha, and he spends several months following his every move before reporting back. Convinced that the Buddha fulfills an ancient prophecy of the Great Man, the brahmin becomes his disciple.


      Sela Sutta — With Sela

      A brahmanical ascetic named Keṇiya invites the entire Saṅgha for a meal. When the brahmin Sela sees what is happening, he visits the Buddha and expresses his delight in a moving series of devotional verses.


      Assalāyana Sutta — With Assalāyana

      A precocious brahmin student is encouraged against his wishes to challenge the Buddha on the question of caste. His reluctance turns out to be justified.


      Ghoṭamukha Sutta — With Ghoṭamukha

      A brahmin denies that there is such a thing as a principled renunciate life, but Venerable Udena persuades him otherwise.


      Caṅkī Sutta — With Caṅkī

      The reputed brahmin Caṅkī goes with a large group to visit the Buddha, despite the reservations of other brahmins. A precocious student challenges the Buddha, affirming the validity of the Vedic scriptures. The Buddha gives a detailed explanation of how true understanding gradually emerges through spiritual education.


      Esukārī Sutta — With Esukārī

      A brahmin claims that one deserves service and privilege depending on caste, but the Buddha counters that it is conduct, not caste, that show a person’s worth.


      Dhānañjāni Sutta — With Dhānañjāni

      A corrupt tax-collector is redeemed by his encounter with Venerable Sāriputta.


      Vāseṭṭha Sutta — With Vāseṭṭha

      Two brahmin students ask the Buddha about what makes a brahmin: birth or deeds? the Buddha points out that, while the species of animals are determined by birth, for humans what matters is how you chose to live. This discourse anticipates the modern view that there are no such things as clearly defined racial differences among humans.


      Subha Sutta — With Subha

      Working hard is not valuable in and of itself; what matters is the outcome. And just as in lay life, spiritual practice may or may not lead to fruitful results.


      Saṅgārava Sutta — With Saṅgārava

      Angered by the devotion of a brahmin lady, a brahmin visits the Buddha. He positions himself against traditionalists and rationalists, as someone whose teaching is based on direct experience.

  3. Uparipaṇṇāsapāḷi — The Final Fifty Discourses

    1. Devadahavagga — The Division at Devadaha




      Devadaha Sutta — At Devadaha

      The Buddha tackles a group of Jain ascetics, pressing them on their claim to be practicing to end all suffering by self-mortification. He points out a series of fallacies in their logic, and explains his own middle way.


      Pañcattaya Sutta — The Five and Three

      A middle length version of the more famous Brahmajala Sutta DN 1, this surveys a range of speculative views and dismisses them all.


      Kinti Sutta — Is This What You Think Of Me?

      The Buddha teaches the monks to not dispute about the fundamental teachings, but to always strive for harmony.


      Sāmagāma Sutta — At Sāmagāma

      Hearing of the death of the Jain leader Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta, the Buddha encourages the Saṅgha to swiftly resolve any disputes. He lays down a series of seven methods for resolving disputes. These form the foundation for the monastic code.


      Sunakkhatta Sutta — With Sunakkhatta

      Not all of those who claim to be awakened are genuine. The Buddha teaches how true spiritual progress depends on an irreversible letting go of the forces that lead to suffering.


      Āneñjasappāya Sutta — Conducive to the Imperturbable

      Beginning with profound meditation absorption, the Buddha goes on to deeper and deeper levels, showing how insight on this basis leads to the detaching of consciousness from any form of rebirth.


      Gaṇakamoggallāna Sutta — With Moggallāna the Accountant

      The Buddha compares the training of an accountant with the step by step spiritual path of his followers. But even with such a well explained path, the Buddha can only show the way, and it is up to us to walk it.


      Gopakamoggallāna Sutta — With Moggallāna the Guardian

      Amid rising military tensions after the Buddha’s death, Venerable Ānanda is questioned about how the Saṅgha planned to continue in their teacher’s absence. As the Buddha refused to appoint a successor, the teaching and practice that he laid down become the teacher, and the Saṅgha resolves issues by consensus.


      Mahāpuṇṇama Sutta — The Longer Discourse on the Full-Moon Night

      On a lovely full moon night, one of the mendicants presents the Buddha with a series of questions that go to the heart of the teaching. But when he hears of the doctrine of not-self, another mendicant is unable to grasp the meaning.


      Cūḷapuṇṇama Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on the Full-Moon Night

      A good person is able to understand a bad person, but not vice versa.

    2. Anupadavagga — The Division of One by One




      Anupada Sutta — One by One

      The Buddha describes in technical detail the process of insight of Venerable Sāriputta. Many ideas and terms in this text anticipate the Abhidhamma.


      Chabbisodhana Sutta — The Sixfold Purification

      If someone claims to be awakened, their claim should be interrogated with a detailed series of detailed questions. Only if they can answer them clearly should the claim be accepted.


      Sappurisa Sutta — A Good Person

      The Buddha explains that a truly good person does not disparage others or feel superior because of their attainment.


      Sevitabbāsevitabba Sutta — What Should and Should Not Be Cultivated

      The Buddha sets up a framework on things to be cultivated or avoided, and Venerable Sāriputta volunteers to elaborate.


      Bahudhātuka Sutta — Many Elements

      Beginning by praising a wise person, the Buddha goes on to explain that one becomes wise by inquiring into the elements, sense fields, dependent origination, and what is possible and impossible.


      Isigili Sutta — At Isigili

      Reflecting on the changes that even geographical features undergo, the Buddha then recounts the names of sages of the past who have lived in Mount Isigili near Rājagaha.


      Mahācattārīsaka Sutta — The Great Forty

      A discourse on the prerequisites of right samādhi that emphasizes the interrelationship and mutual support of all the factors of the eightfold path.


      Ānāpānasati Sutta — Mindfulness of Breathing

      Surrounded by many well-practiced mendicants, the Buddha teaches mindfulness of breathing in detail, showing how they relate to the four kinds of mindfulness meditation.


      Kāyagatāsati Sutta — Mindfulness of the Body

      This focuses on the first aspect of mindfulness meditation, the observation of the body. This set of practices, simple as they seem, have far-reaching benefits.


      Saṅkhārupapatti Sutta — Rebirth by Choice

      The Buddha explains how one can make a wish to be reborn in different realms.

    3. Suññatavagga — The Division on Voidness




      Cūḷasuññata Sutta — The Shorter Discourse on Emptiness

      The Buddha describes his own practice of the meditation on emptiness.


      Mahāsuññata Sutta — The Longer Discourse on Emptiness

      A group of mendicants have taken to socializing too much, so the Buddha teaches on the importance of seclusion in order to enter fully into emptiness.


      Acchariya-abbhūta Sutta — Incredible and Amazing

      Venerable Ānanda is invited by the Buddha to speak on the Buddha’s amazing qualities, and proceeds to list a series of apparently miraculous events accompanying his birth. The Buddha caps it off by explaining what he thinks is really amazing about himself.


      Bakkula Sutta — With Bakkula

      Venerable Bakkula, regarded as the healthiest of the mendicants, explains to an old friend his strict and austere practice. The unusual form of this discourse suggests it was added to the canon some time after the Buddha’s death.


      Dantabhūmi Sutta — The Level of the Tamed

      A young monk is unable to persuade a prince of the blessings of peace of mind. The Buddha offers similes based on training an elephant that would have been successful, as this was a field the prince was familiar with.


      Bhūmija Sutta — With Bhūmija

      Success in the spiritual life does not depend on any vows you may or may not make, but on whether you practice well.


      Anuruddha Sutta — With Anuruddha

      A lay person becomes confused when encouraged to develop the “limitless” and “expansive” liberations, and asks Venerable Anuruddha to explain whether they are the same or different.


      Upakkilesa Sutta — Corruptions

      A second discourse set at the quarrel of Kosambi, this depicts the Buddha, having failed to achieve reconciliation between the disputing mendicants, leaving the monastery. He spends time in the wilderness before encountering an inspiring community of practicing monks. There he discusses in detail obstacles to meditation that he encountered before awakening.


      Bālapaṇḍita Sutta — The Foolish and the Astute

      A fool suffers both in this life and the next, while the astute benefits in both respects.


      Devadūta Sutta — Messengers of the Gods

      Expanding on the previous, this discourse contains the most detailed descriptions of the horrors of Hell.

    4. Vibhaṅgavagga — The Division of Expositions




      Bhaddekaratta Sutta — One Fine Night

      This discourse opens with a short but powerful set of verses extolling the benefits of insight into the here and now, followed by an explanation.


      Ānandabhaddekaratta Sutta — Ānanda andOne Fine Night

      The same discourse as MN 131, but spoken by Venerable Ānanda.


      Mahākaccānabhaddekaratta Sutta — Mahākaccāna and One Fine Night

      The verses from MN 131 are explained in a different way by Venerable Mahakaccāna.


      Lomasakaṅgiyabhaddekaratta Sutta — Lomasakaṅgiya and One Fine Night

      A monk who does not know the verses from MN 131 is encouraged by a deity to learn them.


      Cūḷakammavibhaṅga Sutta — The Shorter Analysis of Deeds

      The Buddha explains to a brahmin how your deeds in past lives affect you in this life.


      Mahākammavibhaṅga Sutta — The Longer Analysis of Deeds

      Confronted with an overly simplistic version of his own teachings, the Buddha emphasizes the often overlooked nuances and qualifications in how karma plays out.


      Saḷāyatanavibhaṅga Sutta — The Analysis of the Six Sense Fields

      A detailed analysis of the six senses and the relation to emotional and cognitive processes.


      Uddesavibhaṅga Sutta — The Analysis of a Recitation Passage

      The Buddha gives a brief and enigmatic statement on the ways consciousness may become attached. Venerable Mahākaccāna is invited by the mendicants to draw out the implications.


      Araṇavibhaṅga Sutta — The Analysis of Non-Conflict

      Achieving peace is no simple matter. The Buddha explains how to avoid conflict through contentment, right speech, understanding pleasure, and not insisting on local conventions.


      Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta — The Analysis of the Elements

      While staying overnight in a potter’s workshop, the Buddha has a chance encounter with a monk who does not recognize him. They have a long and profound discussion based on the four elements. This is one of the most insightful and moving discourses in the canon.


      Saccavibhaṅga Sutta — The Analysis of the Truths

      Expanding on the Buddha’s first sermon, Venerable Sāriputta gives a detailed explanation of the four noble truths.


      Dakkhiṇāvibhaṅga Sutta — The Analysis of Religious Donations

      When his step-mother Mahāpajāpatī wishes to offer him a robe for his personal use, the Buddha encourages her to offer it to the entire Saṅgha instead. He goes on to explain that the best kind of offering to the Saṅgha is one given to the dual community of monks and nuns, headed by the Buddha.

    5. Saḷāyatanavagga — The Division of the Sixfold Base




      Anāthapiṇḍikovāda Sutta — Advice to Anāthapiṇḍika

      As the great lay disciple Anāthapiṇḍika lies dying, Venerable Sāriputta visits him and gives a powerful teaching on non-attachment.


      Channovāda Sutta — Advice to Channa

      The monk Channa is suffering a painful terminal illness and wishes to take his own life.


      Puṇṇovāda Sutta — Advice to Puṇṇa

      On the eve of his departure to a distant country, full of wild and unpredictable people, Venerable Puṇṇa is asked by the Buddha how he would respond if attacked there.


      Nandaka Sutta — Advice to Nandakovāda

      When asked to teach the nuns, Venerable Nandaka proceeds by inviting them to engage with his discourse and ask if there is anything that needs further explanation.


      Cūḷarāhulovāda Sutta — The Shorter Advice to Rāhula

      The Buddha takes Rāhula with him to a secluded spot in order to lead him on to liberation.


      Chachakka Sutta — Six By Six

      The Buddha takes Rāhula with him to a secluded spot in order to lead him on to liberation.


      Mahāsaḷāyatanika Sutta — The Great Discourse on the Six Sense Fields

      Explains how insight into the six senses is integrated with the eightfold path and leads to liberation.


      Nagaravindeyya Sutta — With the People of Nagaravinda

      In discussion with a group of householders, the Buddha helps them to distinguish those spiritual practitioners who are truly worthy of respect.


      Piṇḍapātapārisuddhi Sutta — The Purification of Alms

      The Buddha notices Venerable Sāriputta’s glowing complexion, which is the result of his deep meditation. He then presents a series of reflections by which a mendicant can be sure that they are worthy of their alms-food.


      Indriyabhāvanā Sutta — The Development of the Faculties

      A brahmin teacher advocates that purification of the senses consists in simply avoiding seeing and hearing things. The Buddha explains that it is not about avoiding sense experience, but understanding it and learning to not be affected by sense experience.