A clear understanding of the Buddha’s discourses is an important element of the path to Awakening. Accordingly, Bhante Suddhāso has translated many of the most significant discourses from the Pāli Canon and published them here.
Discourse on the Root: MN1 Mūlapariyāya Sutta View: Original
This is a very subtle and profound discourse, that is not recommended for those who are relatively new to Sutta study. It approaches conscious experience as being the result of perceptual distortions in the minds of unenlightened beings, and how experience is radically different for awakened beings.
One of the most important discourses in the Pāli Canon. This sutta provides an overview of many different circumstances in which the underlying corruptions of the mind become apparent, and describes the appropriate ways of cleansing the mind in each case.
Heir of the Dhamma: MN3 Dhammadāyāda Sutta View: Original
A discourse about living in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, so that we may inherit his priceless legacy – the path to Awakening.
Fear and Terror: MN4 Bhayabherava Sutta View: Original
A discourse where the Buddha talks about his experiences with overcoming fear during the time he was practicing meditation before attaining Awakening.
Flawless: MN5 Anaṅgana Sutta View: Original
In this discourse the Buddha describes many different flaws that may be present in our habitual ways of thinking and acting; and, accordingly, how we can remove them in order to become flawless.
If One Wishes: MN6 Ākaṅkheyya Sutta View: Original
A discourse about how to attain anything from respect, wealth, and fame to psychic powers, mental purity, and complete enlightenment.
Cloth: MN7 Vattha Sutta View: Original
Beginning with a simile about the necessity of cleaning cloth before dyeing it, the Buddha lists fifteen mental impurities and speaks about the necessity of removing them from the mind prior to developing wholesome mindstates.
Humility: MN8 Sallekha Sutta View: Original
The Buddha explains what humility is, gives numerous examples of how to live a life shaped by a commitment to humility, and its relevance to the path of Awakening.
Right Perspective: MN9 Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta View: Original
This discourse begins with a question common among Buddhists: What is right perspective (sammādiṭṭhi)? Several different ways of understanding right perspective are provided, culminating with a description of dependent origination (paṭicca-samuppāda).
Great Discourse on the Establishment of Mindfulness: MN10/DN22 Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta View: Original
Widely considered to be one of the most important discourses in the entire Canon, this discourse provides a wide range of meditation techniques for developing both concentration and insight, as well as an overview of many of the central doctrinal components of Buddhism.
The Lesser Discourse on the Lion’s Roar: MN11 Cūḷasīhanāda Sutta View: Original
In this discourse the Buddha explains what makes Buddhism unique, by describing similarities and differences between what he teaches and what other spiritual leaders teach.
The Greater Discourse on the Lion’s Roar: MN12 Mahāsīhanāda Sutta View: Original
Here the Buddha extensively describes the various special qualities of a Sammāsambuddha (a completely self-enlightened being), and speaks in detail about the practices he did prior to discovering the Buddhist path.
The Greater Discourse on the Mass of Suffering: MN13 Mahādukkhakkhandha Sutta View: Original
The Buddha explains many of the drawbacks of sensuality.
The Lesser Discourse on the Mass of Suffering: MN14 Cūḷadukkhakkhandha Sutta View: Original
Another sutta on the drawbacks of sensuality, concluding with a refutation of some of the central points of Nigaṇṭha (Jain) philosophy.
Inference: MN15 Anumāna Sutta View: Original
An explanation of how to make oneself easy to teach, so that one’s spiritual companions can help one make progress on the path.
In this discourse the Buddha describes a total of ten kinds of harmful attitudes that prevent us from making progress on the path: five are labeled as varieties of “mental desolation” (cetokhila) and five as varieties of “mental imprisonment” (cetaso vinibandha).
The Wilderness Grove: MN17 Vanapattha Sutta View: Original
A straightforward guide for deciding whether to continue living where one is or move to another place.
The Lump of Honey: MN18 Madhupiṇḍika Sutta View: Original
Here we find a very deep and intellectually satisfying discourse about the nature of mental proliferation (papañca), delivered by Venerable Mahā-Kaccāna – one the Buddha’s foremost disciples in giving thorough explanations.
Two Kinds of Thought: MN19 Dvedhāvitakka Sutta View: Original
Here the Buddha describes a practice he did prior to attaining enlightenment: dividing all his thoughts into two separate categories and evaluating the results that each category of thought had on his mind – a practice that is similarly of benefit to any unenlightened being who wishes to purify their mind. He then moves on to explain what he did subsequently to bring his practice to fulfillment.
Of particular interest to meditation practitioners, this discourse describes five techniques for dealing with unwanted, unwholesome thoughts when they intrude upon our mind.
The Simile of the Viper: MN22 Alagaddūpama Sutta View: Original
A discourse about the importance of holding the Dhamma carefully – just as one must handle a viper carefully. This sutta also contains the famous “Simile of the Raft,” as well as some very potent explanations of not-self (anattā).
The Greater Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint: MN28 Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta View: Original
A discourse by Venerable Sāriputta, explaining the Four Noble Truths in terms of the five components of body-mind, the four physical elements, and the six senses.
The Greater Discourse on the Simile of Heartwood: MN29 Mahāsāropama Sutta View: Original
Using the simile of a person trying to get the heartwood of a tree, the Buddha speaks about the risk of getting caught in the lesser benefits of spiritual life and therefore missing out on its true goal.
The Lesser Discourse to Saccaka: MN35 Cūḷasaccaka Sutta View: Original
In this amusing discourse, an argumentative philosopher named Saccaka comes to the Buddha and attempts to defeat the Buddha in debate – an attempt that fails spectacularly. Subsequently, the Buddha gives an extended explanation of anattā (the impersonal nature of all phenomena) that Saccaka finds quite convincing.
The Lesser Discourse on the Complete Elimination of Craving: MN37 Cūḷataṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta View: Original
A discourse centered around a brief and profound Dhamma teaching the Buddha gave to a celestial being (deva) – and Venerable Mahā-Moggallāna’s subsequent endeavor to encourage that being to pay more attention to what the Buddha said.
The Greater Discourse on the Complete Elimination of Craving: MN38 Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta View: Original
A long discourse on the nature of rebirth, consciousness, and direct personal knowledge, culminating with an extended description of the virtuous conduct of a renunciate practitioner.
The Great Discourse at Assapura: MN39 Mahā-Assapura Sutta View: Original
A detailed explanation of the path of a contemplative who seeks full enlightenment, from the initial stages all the way to completion.
The Discourse to the Residents of Sālā: MN41 Sāḷeyyaka Sutta View: Original
An explanation of why some people are reborn in heavenly worlds and some are reborn in hellish worlds, based on the list of the ten kinds of wholesome conduct.
The Greater Series of Questions: MN43 Mahāvedalla Sutta View: Original
One of the discourses delivered by Venerable Sāriputta, the Buddha’s wisest disciple. The format is one of a series of questions asked by another monk, Ven. Mahākoṭṭhita, covering a wide range of subjects, from the nature of consciousness to different varieties of concentration.
The Lesser Series of Questions: MN44 Cūḷavedalla Sutta View: Original
A discourse delivered by Venerable Dhammadinnā Bhikkhunī, a nun identified by the Buddha as the foremost Dhamma teacher among Buddhist nuns. In it, Venerable Dhammadinnā answers a variety of questions ranging from overcoming self-obsession to the nature of the three kinds of feelings (pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral).
The Greater Discourse on Commitments: MN46 Mahādhammasamādāna Sutta View: Original
In this discourse the Buddha speaks about four kinds of commitments, divided by whether they are pleasant now or not, and whether they bring good future results or not. He gives several examples and a simile of a beverage that may be either poisonous or medicinal.
The Discourse at Kosambi: MN48 Kosambiya Sutta View: Original
A famous incident during the Buddha’s time was “The Quarrel at Kosambi,” an ongoing dispute between two groups of monks. In this discourse, the Buddha explains to those monks six kinds of conduct that lead to communal harmony. He then moves on to explain seven characteristics of a stream-enterer – one who has attained the first irreversible stage of enlightenment.
The Discourse to the Man from Aṭṭhaka City: MN52 Aṭṭhakanāgara Sutta View: Original
A brief discourse delivered by Venerable Ānanda, the Buddha’s attendant, laying out eleven methods of attaining enlightenment by developing concentration and the recognition of impermanence.
The Greater Discourse of Advice to Rāhula: MN62 Mahārāhulovāda Sutta View: Original
The Buddha gives advice to Ven. Rāhula about how to practice the perception of not-self, how to contemplate the physical elements of the body, and how to practice mindfulness of breathing.
The Discourse at Madhura: MN84 Madhura Sutta View: Original
Venerable Mahā-Kaccāna uses a series of real-life examples to teach a king that all people are inherently equal, regardless of birth or social class.
On this occasion, the Buddha was approached by a man grieving for his dead son. The Buddha took the opportunity to explain how attachment to the people and things that we love leads to misery and anguish.
The Cloak: MN88 Bāhitika Sutta View: Original
Venerable Ānanda gives King Pasenadi a clear, direct explanation of what actions are blameworthy and what actions are blameless.
The Discourse to Caṅki: MN95 Caṅki Sutta View: Original
What does it mean to “protect the truth”? In this discourse the Buddha gives a detailed explanation of how we can speak in a way that protects the truth, and how we can act in a way that leads to attainment of truth.
The Greater Discourse of the Full Moon Night: MN109 Mahāpuṇṇama Sutta View: Original
This discourse is a series of questions posed to the Buddha about the five aggregates (body, feeling, recognition, thought, and consciousness), culminating in an explanation of not-self.
Progression: MN111 Anupada Sutta View: Original
For those who are interested in jhāna (deep concentration), in this discourse the Buddha describes the mental constituents of each stage of jhāna in more detail than can be found anywhere else in the Suttas.
Rebirth Based on Thought: MN120 Saṅkhārūpapatti Sutta View: Original
A discourse in which the Buddha speaks about the ability to select one’s future rebirth through mental determination, dependent upon the prior development of sufficient wholesome qualities.
Lesser Analysis of Action: MN 135 Cūḷakammavibhaṅga Sutta View: Original
In this discourse, the Buddha describes what actions lead to positive results – longevity, health, beauty, wealth, influence, etc. – and what actions lead to the opposite results.
Analysis of the Six Sense-Domains: MN 137 Saḷāyatanavibhaṅga Sutta View: Original
An analysis of the six senses, including an explanation of the difference between how a layperson and a renunciate relate to their experiences, and a description of some of the ways the Buddha trains his disciples.
Analysis of Non-Conflict: MN 139 Araṇavibhaṅga Sutta View: Original
The Buddha describes the path of non-conflict in several different ways, focusing particularly on how we can speak and communicate with others in ways that minimize unnecessary conflict.
Analysis of Elements: MN 140 Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta View: Original
The Buddha delivers an extremely profound discourse to a contemplative named Venerable Pukkusāti, about how to contemplate the six elements (earth, water, fire, air, space, and consciousness) in a way that leads directly to enlightenment.
Analysis of Truth: MN 141 Saccavibhaṅga Sutta View: Original
This discourse gives a detailed description of the Four Noble Truths, which is the heart of the Buddha’s teachings. It also provides an overview of the Noble Eightfold Path. A detailed explanation of this sutta can be found on Suddhāso’s YouTube page: Analysis of Truth
The Exhortation to Anāthapiṇḍika: MN 143 Anāthapiṇḍikovāda Sutta View: Original
One of Venerable Sāriputta’s discourses, this was given to the famous lay disciple Anāthapiṇḍika on his deathbed. In it, Venerable Sāriputta gives a long list of various things that are not to be clung to.
Great Discourse on the Six Sense Bases: MN 149 Mahāsaḷāyatanika Sutta View: Original
A discourse on how we can relate to the six senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and thought) in a way that leads to freedom from suffering.
The Discourse to Kāmada: SN 2.6 Kāmada Sutta View: Original
A short discourse to a deva named Kamada, who comes to the Buddha and laments about how difficult Buddhist practice is. The Buddha replies with a few concise, inspiring verses about the attitude and conduct of dedicated practitioners.
Somā: SN 5.2 Somā Sutta View: Original Parallel (KN) Parallel (SA)
The Bhikkhunī Somā is approached by Māra, who claims that women cannot attain awakening. She replies with a series of verses in which she proclaims that one’s physical sex has no relevance whatsoever when practicing the Dhamma. [Note: There are two parallel versions of this sutta, one in the Saṁyukta-Āgama and one in the Therīgāthā.]
The Discourse to Moḷiyaphagguna: SN 12.12 Moḷiyaphagguna Sutta View: Original
If there is no self, then who is it that is aware? In this discourse, the Buddha answers a series of questions along these lines, by repeatedly pointing back to causality and conditionality as the basis for the illusion of self.
Existence and Non-Existence: SN 12.15 Kaccānagotta Sutta View: Original
One of the places in the Pāli canon where the Buddha directly speaks about duality – in particular, about transcending the dualistic views of existence and non-existence.
The Simile of the Lump of Foam: SN 22.95 Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta View: Original
A profound discourse about the emptiness of all phenomena, centering around five hard-hitting similes demonstrating the insubstantiality of the five components of body-mind.
The Virtuous One: SN 22.122 Sīlavanta Sutta View: Original
A short sutta about eleven ways to properly view every component of one’s body and mind if one wishes to attain any stage of enlightenment.
The Thorn: SN 36.6 Salla Sutta View: Original
A brief explanation of the difference between how an ordinary person relates to pain, and how an advanced Buddhist practitioner relates to pain.
To Sīvaka: SN 36.21 Sīvaka Sutta View: Original
The Buddha rejects the idea of pre-determinism, and speaks about some of the reasons why we experience pleasure and pain.
The Discourse to Ariṭṭha: SN 54.6 Ariṭṭha Sutta View: Original
A brief discourse giving an overview of the Buddha’s 16-step meditation instructions for practicing mindfulness of breathing, from the initial stages of concentration up to the development of liberating insight.
Elders: AN 2.39 Vuddhabhūmi Sutta View: Original
A short discourse on how to classify someone as “senior” or “junior.”
Three Paths to Awakening: AN 3.21 Samiddha Sutta View: Original
A discourse on the comparative worth of three kinds of practitioners, who each emphasizes one of three different aspects of the path to Awakening – faith, samādhi, or wisdom.
Sickness: AN 3.22 Gilāna Sutta View: Original
Just as there are three kinds of sick people, there are three kinds of people who can be taught the Dhamma. Here the Buddha explains all of these kinds of people, and the proper way to treat each one.
Liberating Samādhi: AN 3.32 Ānanda Sutta View: Original
A short discourse where Venerable Ānanda asks if there is any kind of samādhi which eliminates self-centeredness, and leads to full enlightenment. The Buddha replies that there is, and explains how to access it.
Motivations: AN 3.40 Ādhipateyya Sutta View: Original
Here the Buddha explains three ways of motivating ourselves to practice well, and concludes with an inspirational poem on the topic.
Standpoints of Other Religions: AN 3.62 Titthāyatana Sutta View: Original
The Buddha points out the flaws in three non-Buddhist teachings, and explains the four noble truths by way of dependent origination.
The Discourse to the People of Kālāma: AN 3.66 Kālāma Sutta View: Annotated
This important discourse explores the subject of faith and belief. The Buddha identifies ten unreliable bases for belief, then demonstrates how we can use our own experiences to arrive at assurance in regards to spiritual practice.
Conversation: AN 3.68 Kathāvatthu Sutta View: Original
A discourse explaining how to decide whether or not a person is worth speaking with.
A Small Group of Worlds: AN 3.81 Cūḷanikā Sutta View: Original
In this short sutta the Buddha points out both the sheer scope of reality and the extent of a Buddha’s influence.
Washing Away Dirt: AN 3.102 Paṁsudhovaka Sutta View: Original
The Buddha uses the simile of a person washing and refining gold to describe how practitioners can purify their minds, and attain anything from psychic powers to full enlightenment.
Miraculous: AN 3.126 Gotamakacetiya Sutta View: Original
A short discourse giving three reasons why the Dhamma is worth learning, and why the Buddha is worth paying attention to.
Arising: AN 3.137 Uppāda Sutta View: Original
A very brief discourse about the invariability of the Three Universal Characteristics.
The World: AN 4.23 Loka Sutta View: Original
In this discourse, the Buddha gives four different definitions for the word “Tathāgata” (one of the standard epithets for a Buddha), explaining why the word is a suitable title for a fully awakened being.
Noble Traditions: AN 4.28 Ariyavaṁsa Sutta View: Original
The Buddha speaks about four “Noble Traditions” of a spiritual practitioner.
The Whip: AN 4.113 Patoda Sutta View: Original
Here the Buddha speaks about four kinds of horses, and analogizes that to the degree of diligence displayed by a Buddhist practitioner.
Complication: AN 4.173 Mahākoṭṭhita Sutta View: Original
Venerable Sāriputta explains what’s left once the six senses cease.
The Great Criteria: AN 4.180 Mahāpadesa Sutta View: Original
A very important discourse in which the Buddha gives a set of criteria for determining whether or not a statement is actually a genuine Buddhist teaching.
Circumstances of Liberation: AN 5.26 Vimuttāyatana Sutta View: Original
The Buddha describes five different circumstances under which one can attain liberation, including an explanation of how experiencing the meaning of the Dhamma naturally leads to samādhi.
Five Aspects: AN 5.28 Pañcaṅgika Sutta View: Original
A description of five aspects of Samādhi, including metaphors describing the subjective experience of each of the four stages of Jhāna.
Wealth: AN 5.47 Dhana Sutta View: Original
There are five kinds of true wealth – none of which have anything to do with money or possessions. In this discourse the Buddha describes each of the five: faith, morality, information, generosity, and wisdom.
Future Dangers: AN 5.78 Anāgatabhaya Sutta View: Original
In this discourse, the Buddha offers five ways to contemplate potential future dangers, so that one can motivate oneself to practice diligently in the present.
Removing Resentment: AN 5.162 Āghātapaṭivinaya Sutta View: Original
An explanation of how to overcome one’s negativity towards five kinds of difficult people, by focusing on their good qualities and not their bad ones.
Significant Dreams: AN 5.196 Mahāsupina Sutta View: Original
The Buddha had five prophetic dreams prior to attaining enlightenment. In this discourse he describes each of the five dreams and what they signified.
The Discourse at Tikaṇḍakī: AN 5.144 Tikaṇḍakī Sutta View: Original
A short discourse outlining four ways to develop equanimity.
Criticizing: AN 5.167 Codanā Sutta View: Original
An explanation of how to admonish a person properly, in accordance with Dhamma; as well as how to rectify a situation in which a person who has been admonished improperly.
Things to Frequently Contemplate: AN 5.57 Abhiṇha-paccavekkhitabba-ṭhāna Sutta View: Original
A list of five contemplations that all sincere Buddhists should bring to mind every day, regardless of whether or not they are monastics.
Mindfulness of Death: AN 6.20 Maraṇassati Sutta View: Original
The Buddha explains one way of practicing mindfulness of death, and speaks about the importance of doing so regularly.
Six Aspects of Giving: AN 6.37 Chaḷaṅgadāna Sutta View: Original
An explanation of six aspects that make for a perfect donation – three aspects of the giver and three aspects of the receiver.
Measuring: AN 6.44 Migasāla Sutta View: Original
The Buddha addresses a layperson’s confusion about karma and rebirth, and advises against making superficial judgments of other people’s spiritual development.
In The Middle: AN 6.61 Majjhe Sutta View: Original
Several monks give their own interpretations of this short Dhamma poem spoken by the Buddha: “A sage who has known both ends, and who does not stick in the middle – I call that one a great person, who has here transcended the seamstress.”
Failure: AN 7.30 Vipatti Sutta View: Original
A discourse which describes seven ‘failures’ of a Buddhist layperson – and, conversely, seven accomplishments.
Undeclared: AN 7.54 Abyākata Sutta View: Original
The Buddha explains why an advanced practitioner is not troubled by the lack of explanation for what happens to an enlightened being after death.
Nothing Remaining: AN 7.56 Tissabrahmā Sutta View: Original
A deva explains how they can tell which humans are fully enlightened and which still have more work to do – but they leave out one example, which the Buddha provides.
Dozing: AN 7.61 Pacalāyamāna Sutta View: Original
The Buddha gives several practical ways of overcoming drowsiness during meditation, as well as advice on how to live in such a way that drowsiness doesn’t arise in the first place.
Like a Citadel: AN 7.67 Nagaropama Sutta View: Original
The Buddha explains how to fortify a citadel so that it is hard to conquer – then explains how we can fortify our own mind so that it is able to attain awakening.
Knower of the Dhamma: AN 7.68 Dhammaññū Sutta View: Original
The Buddha speaks about seven kinds of knowledge that a monk needs to have in order to be truly respectable.
Respectfulness: AN 7.70 Sakkacca Sutta View: Original
This discourse lays out a seven-step causal sequence which demonstrates respectfulness as a critical component for successful Buddhist practice.
Worldly Conditions: AN 8.6 Lokadhamma Sutta View: Original
The Buddha lists the eight “worldly conditions” (gain, loss, fame, obscurity, praise, blame, pleasure, pain) and explains the difference between how they affect an ordinary person and how they affect an advanced Buddhist practitioner.
The Discourse to Meghiya: AN 9.3 Meghiya Sutta View: Original
Here a monk goes to meditate alone and finds his mind overwhelmed with harmful, unwholesome conditions. He asks the Buddha for advice, and the Buddha tells him nine things he can do to improve his meditation – with a particular emphasis on the importance of having good spiritual friends (kalyāṇa-mittā).
The Discourse to Bāhiya: KN 3.10 Bāhiya Sutta View: Original
A short discourse in which the Buddha delivers a very concise explanation of a direct path to sudden awakening, attained by recognizing the impersonal nature of sensory experiences.
Verses of the Senior Bhikkhunī Somā: KN 9.36 Somā Therīgāthā View: Original Parallel (SN) Parallel (SA)
The Bhikkhunī Somā is approached by Māra, who claims that women cannot attain awakening. She replies by stating that one’s physical sex has no relevance whatsoever when practicing the Dhamma, and reveals that she has already attained enlightenment. [Note: There are two parallel versions of this sutta, one in the Saṁyutta-Nikāya and one in the Saṁyukta-Āgama.]
The Discourse to Vāseṭṭha: Sutta-Nipāta 3.9 Vāseṭṭha Sutta View: Original
In this discourse, the Buddha utterly refutes racism, sexism, classism, and other such forms of prejudice; he clearly establishes that the worth of a person is entirely dependent on the choices they make during their lives.
Jewels: Sutta-Nipāta 2.1 Ratana Sutta View: Original
A poetic discourse speaking about the praiseworthy qualities of Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha. It is commonly chanted as a blessing-chant for warding off illness and for bringing an end to plagues.
Somā: SA 2-215 Somā Sūtra View: Original Parallel (SN) Parallel (KN)
The Bhikkhunī Somā is approached by Māra, who claims that she cannot attain awakening, implying that this is because she is female. She replies with a series of verses in which she proclaims that one’s physical sex has no relevance whatsoever when practicing the Dhamma, and reveals that she has already attained enlightenment. [Note: There are two parallel versions of this sutta, one in the Saṁyutta-Nikāya and one in the Therīgāthā.]