Important Suttas:

The path to liberation

  MN 39 Mahā Assapura Sutta | The Greater Discourse at Assapura

  The Buddha outlines the complete course of training by which one qualifies as a true contemplative.

  MN 107 Gaṇaka Moggallāna Sutta | To Gaṇaka Moggallāna

  The step-by-step training of a monk, along with the Buddha’s explanation for why not all his monks attain nibbāna.

Teachings in Brief

  SN 35:86 A Teaching In Brief | Saṁkhittadhammasutta

  Ānanda asks for a teaching to take on retreat. The Buddha teaches him that the senses are impermanent, etc.

  SN 35:95 Māluṅkyaputta Sutta | To Māluṅkyaputta

  An elderly monk asks the Buddha for a brief explanation of the Dhamma that he can put into practice. The Buddha gives him the same instruction that he gives to Bāhiya in Ud 1:10.

Understanding Suffering

  MN 18 Madhupiṇḍika Sutta | The Ball of Honey

  A brahman looking for a debate asks the Buddha a question. The Buddha’s answer stymies him, and when the Buddha later explains his answer to the monks before returning to his dwelling, they are mystified as well. At their request, Ven. Mahā Kaccāna explains the Buddha’s explanation by showing how conflict derives from the perceptions and categories of papañca: mental objectification.

  AN 10.62 Craving | Taṇhāsutta

  Even though craving has no discernible first point, it still has a cause.

  SN 12:63 Puttamaṁsa Sutta | A Son’s Flesh

  A meditation on inter-relatedness, showing with four striking similes the suffering inherent in everything the body and mind depend upon for nourishment.

  SN 12:64 Atthi Rāga Sutta | Where There is Passion

  With two striking similes, this sutta describes what happens when consciousness, through passion, lands and grows on any of its four nutriments, and what happens when it abandons that passion.

  SN 36.6 Sallattha Sutta | The Arrow

  Both ordinary and awakened people experience the three feelings. The difference is that when an ordinary person is stricken with feeling, they react, creating more suffering

  MN 135 Cūḷa Kamma-vibhaṅga Sutta | The Shorter Analysis of Action

  Why are people born unequal in terms of such things as status, wealth, health, and discernment? The Buddha explains the actions that lead to a good rebirth and a bad.


  MN 19 Dvedhāvitakka Sutta | Two Sorts of Thinking

  The Buddha describes how he found the path to awakening by dividing his thoughts into two sorts: those imbued with sensuality, ill will, or harmfulness on the one hand, and those imbued with renunciation, non-ill will, and harmlessness on the other.

  AN 9:41 Tapussa Sutta | To Tapussa (On Renunciation)

  How the Buddha, prior to his awakening, was able to overcome his reluctance to renounce sensuality and the pleasures of the lower concentration attainments

  MN 122 Mahā Suññata Sutta | The Greater Discourse on Emptiness

  The Buddha teaches on the importance of seclusion in order to enter fully into emptiness

  SN 1:1 Ogha-taraṇa Sutta | Crossing over the Flood

  The Saṁyutta Nikāya opens with a paradox: The Buddha crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.

Virtue and Sense Restrain

  AN 10.17 Nātha Sutta | Protectors

  Ten qualities by which you create a protector for yourself.

  AN 11.1 Kimattha Sutta | What is the Purpose?

  Beginning with skillful virtues, and ascending all the way through dispassion, the Buddha discusses the purpose and reward of different aspects of the practice, showing how the more basic parts of the practice have the higher ones as their reward.

  AN 11.2 Cetanā Sutta | An Act of Will

  How the more basic parts of the practice lead naturally to the higher ones.

Guarding the sense doors

  SN35.247 The Simile of Six Animals | Chappāṇakopamasutta

  The senses are like a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a jackal, and a monkey all tied up together, pulling this way and that. Mindfulness is like a post that keeps them grounded.

The practice of wakefulness

  MN 20 Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta | The Relaxation of Thoughts

  The Buddha offers five practical approaches for freeing the mind from distracting thoughts connected with desire, aversion, or delusion.

  AN 6.25 Topics for Recollection| Anussatiṭṭhānasutta

  The six recollections are a way to escape from greed.

  AN 6.29 With Udāyī | Udāyīsutta

  When the Buddha asks about the topics for recollection, a monk reveals his ignorance. Ānanda then gives an unusual list of five recollections, which the Buddha supplements with a sixth.

  SN 54:8 Dīpa Sutta | The Lamp

  The benefits to be gained by following the Buddha’s sixteen-step program for breath meditation.

  AN 6:19 Maraṇassati Sutta | Mindfulness of Death

  What does it mean to be acute in developing mindfulness of death for the sake of ending the effluents?

Right Mindfulness

  MN 10 Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta | The Establishing of Mindfulness Discourse

  This sutta sets out the full formula for the practice of establishing mindfulness, and then gives an extensive account of one phrase in the formula: what it means to remain focused on any of the four frames of reference—body, feelings, mind, and mental qualities—in and of itself.

  MN 118 Ānāpānasati Sutta | Mindfulness of Breathing

  A sixteen-step program for using mindfulness of breathing as a path leading all the way to full awakening.

  MN 119 Kāyagatā-sati Sutta | Mindfulness Immersed in the Body

  The rewards of developing a full awareness of the body as both a mindfulness practice and a concentration practice. This sutta includes graphic analogies to illustrate the four jhānas.

  DN 22 Mahā Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta | The Great Establishing of Mindfulness Discourse

  This sutta sets out the full formula for the practice of establishing mindfulness, and then gives an extensive account of one phrase in the formula: what it means to remain focused on any of the four frames of reference—body, feelings, mind, and mental qualities—in and of itself.

  SN 9:11 Ayoniso-manasikāra Sutta | Inappropriate Attention

  A deva counsels a monk who spends his meditation engaged in wrong resolves.

  AN 10:60 Girimānanda Sutta | To Girimānanda

  The Buddha has Ven. Ānanda instruct Ven. Girimānanda—who is ill—on ten perceptions that heal body and mind. Interestingly, mindfulness of breathing is listed as one of the perceptions.

  SN47:410 The Nuns’ Quarters | Bhikkhunupassayasutta

  When Ānanda visits the nuns’s quarters they tell him that their meditation is prospering to higher and higher levels. Ānanda reports the good news to the Buddha, who speaks of two ways of developing the four kinds of mindfulness meditation: directed and undirected.

  SN 47:20 The Beauty Queen

  The parable of the man with the bowl of oil on his head, illustrating the care and attention that should be given to practicing mindfulness of the body.

The hindrances


  MN 111 Anupada Sutta | One After Another

  A description of how insight can be developed either while in, or immediately after withdrawing from, the different jhānas or formless attainments.

  AN 4:41 Samādhi Sutta | Concentration

  Four purposes to which right concentration can be applied: a pleasant abiding here-&-now, mindfulness and alertness, psychic powers, and the ending of the effluents.

  AN 5.144 At tikaṇḍakī | Tikaṇḍakīsutta

  Five meditations that train a mendicant to shift their perception at will

  AN 5:28 Samādhaṅga Sutta | The Factors of Concentration

  Five-factored concentration and the six higher knowledges that it can lead to.

  AN 9:36 Jhāna Sutta | Mental Absorption

  How awakening is attained by mastering any of the first seven of the nine concentration attainments and then reflecting on that attainment, analyzing it in terms of the five aggregates.

  AN 9:35 Gāvī Sutta | The Cow

  Using the simile of the foolish, inexperienced cow, the Buddha shows why it is wise to establish oneself well in a concentration attainment before trying to move on to the next one. When these attainments are well mastered in this way, they lead to the six higher knowledges whenever there is an opening.

  MN 43 Mahā Vedalla Sutta | The Greater Set of Questions & Answers

  Ven. Sāriputta answers questions on topics of discernment, the first jhāna, and the higher meditative attainments.

Five Aggregates

  SN 12:62 Assutavā Sutta | Uninstructed (2)

  This sutta builds on the previous one, showing how to develop dispassion for the mind through a contemplation of feeling.

  SN 22:48 Khandha Sutta | Aggregates

  The difference between aggregates and clinging-aggregates.

  SN 22:95 Pheṇa Sutta | Foam

  Five vivid similes for the insubstantial nature of the aggregates.


  MN 26 Ariyapariyesana Sutta | The Noble Search

  After distinguishing the noble search—for what is deathless—from the ignoble search—for what is subject to death—the Buddha relates the way he sought and found the deathless.

  MN 44 Cūḷa Vedalla Sutta | The Shorter Set of Questions & Answers

  Dhammadinnā the nun answers questions posed by her former husband, Visākha. Topics include: self-identification, the noble eightfold path, fabrication, feeling, and the cessation of feeling and perception.

  MN 64 Mahā Māluṅkyovāda Sutta | The Longer Exhortation to Māluṅkya

  How to cut through the five lower fetters.

  SN 35:24 Pahāna Sutta | For Abandoning

  What is the “All” that is to be abandoned?

  SN 47.9 Severe Illness

  Ānanda wonders who will guide the Saṅgha when the Buddha dies, but the Buddha says they should be their own refuge, grounded on the four kinds of mindfulness meditation.

  Ud 1:10 Bāhiya Sutta | Bāhiya

  The ascetic Bāhiya becomes an arahant after receiving a brief teaching about adding nothing to sensory experience.


  MN 121 Cūḷa Suññata Sutta | The Shorter Discourse on Emptiness

  The Buddha instructs Ven. Ānanda in the various levels of what it means to dwell in emptiness, and how to go from one level to the next, culminating in full release.


  SN 35:117 Kāmaguṇa Sutta | Strings of Sensuality

  That dimension is to be experienced where the internal sense media cease and the perception of the external sense media fades away.

Four Noble Truths

  MN 28 Mahā Hatthipadopama Sutta | The Great Elephant Footprint Simile

  After stating that all the Dhamma is contained in the four noble truths, Ven. Sāriputta appears to embark on a discussion of all four truths. His discussion, though, focuses on only one part of the first noble truth—the form clinging-aggregate—but in the course of the discussion he is able to show how all the other truths relate to that one part.

  MN 141 Sacca-vibhaṅga Sutta | An Analysis of the Truths

  Ven. Sāriputta gives a detailed explanation of the four noble truths.

Right View

  MN 117 Mahā Cattārīsaka Sutta | The Great Forty

  A discussion of many aspects of the noble eightfold path: how the first seven factors are requisites for noble right concentration; how all the factors depend on right view, right mindfulness, and right effort; how right mindfulness is concerned, not with radical acceptance, but with abandoning the factors of the wrong path and developing the factors of the right; and how the path of the stream-enterer relates to the path of the arahant.

  AN 10:93 Diṭṭhi Sutta | Views

  Anāthapiṇḍika explains to a group of sectarians why right view is a special form of view: Holding to other views, one is holding to stress, but using right view enables you to see the escape even from right view.

  SN 12:15 Kaccānagotta Sutta | To Kaccāna Gotta

  The Buddha describes the highest level of right view, in which the mind abandons thoughts of existence and non-existence, and sees all arising and passing away as stress (dukkha).


  MN2 Sabbāsava Sutta | All the Effluents

  The Buddha lists seven approaches for eliminating the āsavas, or effluents: deep-seated defilements that “flow out” of the mind and prevent liberation.


Dependent co-arising

  SN 12:2 Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga Sutta | An Analysis of Dependent Co-arising

  The factors of dependent co-arising defined.

  SN 12:51 Parivīmaṁsa Sutta | Investigating

  How to investigate dependent co-arising so as to lead to the ending of suffering and stress.