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.
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. The verses are often referenced in other texts. The commentaries are sometimes essential to understand their meaning in context. Click the icon to download a PDF version.
Paritta Suttas — Protection Discourses
Some discourses commonly recited for protection of danger, disease, and other misfortunes. Includes links to audio and video files.
Abhiṇhapaccavekkhitabbaṭhāna Suttaṃ — Facts for Constant Recollection
Five facts that should be recollected constantly by a woman or a man, by a householder or by one gone-forth.
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 Hemavata 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.
Anuruddha Mahāvitakka Suttaṃ — Eight Thoughts of a Great Man
Eight essential characteristics of a wise man who could fully understand the Buddha’s teaching.
Bīja Suttaṃ — The Seed
Wrong-view and right-view are the source of all fruits.
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.
Caṅkī Suttaṃ — A Discourse to Caṅkī
An elderly Mahāsāla Brahmin approaches the Buddha with his followers, and a sixteen-year-old student of his engages in a dialogue with the Buddha.
Cūḷadukkhakkhandha Suttaṃ — The Lesser Discourse on the Mass of Suffering
An explanation of the satisfaction and misery of sensual pleasures.
Cūḷakammavibhaṅga Suttaṃ — The Lesser Discourse on the Analysis of Kamma
The exposition of the Buddha’s teaching on ownership of one’s kamma (volitional actions).
Dhammika Suttaṃ — Skilful Practice
This discourse from the Suttanipāta describes the correct practice for a disciple who is a monk or a householder. It covers the observance of the uposatha for householders during the Rains Retreat.
Duccaritavipāka Suttaṃ — The Results of Misconduct
The least results of eight unwholesome deeds if reborn again as a human being.
Ekanipāta — Book of Ones
Selected chapters from the first book of the gradual sayings or numerical discourses (Aṅguttaranikāya).
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.
Hatthaka Suttaṃ — Three Discourses to Hatthaka
One on his eight wonderful and marvellous qualities, the second on the four bases of sympathy, and the third to Hatthaka Devaputta after his rebirth in the Pure Abode of Avihā.
Issatta Sutta — The Archer
On giving gifts to gain great fruit, to King Pasenadi
Jīvaka Suttaṃ — A Discourse to Jīvaka
Two discourses given to the physician of King Bimbisāra (and later the physician of the Buddha and Saṅgha). The first is on the eating of meat; the second on the good practice for a lay disciple.
Kathāvatthu Suttaṃ — Topics for Discussion
How to decide if someone is fit to discuss with or unfit to discuss with.
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.
Khuddakapāṭha — The Short Passages
This is the first book of the Khuddakanikāya. It is a collection of verses and discourses that a newly ordained novice should be taught.
Kīṭāgiri Suttaṃ — At Kīṭāgiri
A discourse to the shameless group of monks who were followers of Assaji and Punabbasu. They were guilty of many kinds of misbehaviour such as growing flowers, making garlands, giving them as presents to women, eating at the wrong time, using perfumes, visiting shows, singing, and playing games. They were admonished as “Corrupters of families,” who liked their behaviour.
Lekha Suttaṃ — Writing
Three kinds of individuals: one like writing carved in stone, one like writing scratched on the ground, one like writing traced in water.
Loṇakapalla Suttaṃ — A Ladle of Salt
An important discourse on how the effects of kamma give different results for different individuals.
Mahācattārīsaka Suttaṃ — The Great Forty
An explanation of wrong-view, mundane right-view, and supramundane right-view.
Mahāsuññāta Suttaṃ — On Voidness
A brief extract from »» Mahasuññata Suttaṃ, with the Buddha’s advice to Ānanda for monks to cultivate seclusion, and to avoid socialising.
Mālukyaputta Suttaṃ — A Discourse to Mālukyaputta
An elderly monk comes to the Buddha and asks for brief meditation instructions. The Buddha teaches him the practice of bare awareness: “When you see, just know that you see it …”
Maṇicūḷaka Suttaṃ — To Maṇicūḷaka
On the acceptance of money by monks.
Nakhasikhā Suttaṃ — The Dust on a Fingernail
The Buddha shows by comparing the dust on the tip of a fingernail to the entire earth how few human beings regain human rebirth again after death, and how little suffering remains for one who has attain Stream-winning compared to one who has not.
Okkhā Suttaṃ — Pots of Food
Practising meditation on loving-kindness is more meritorious than giving alms.
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.
Potaliya Suttaṃ — A Discourse to Potaliya
A wanderer is annoyed when the Buddha refers to him as a householder, as he has abandoned a householder’s way of life. The Buddha explains how one cuts off all the affairs of a householder in the discipline of the noble ones.
Rathavinīta Suttaṃ — The Relay of Chariots
A discourse between the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Puṇṇa Mantāṇiputta on the seven stages of purification.
Sabbāsava Suttaṃ — A Discourse on All of the Outflows
A discourse on how to abandon all of the outflows (āsavā) using seven different methods.
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.
Sappurisa Suttaṃ — A Good Man
Two discourses from the Gradual Sayings.
Sattajaṭila Suttaṃ — The Seven Matted-hair Ascetics
King Pasenadi of Kosala pays respects to a group of ascetics who pass by while he is attending on the Buddha and asks if they are Arahants.
Siṅgāla Suttaṃ — The Lay Person’s Discipline
An important discourse on social responsibilities.
Tālapuṭa Suttaṃ — A Discourse to Tālapuṭa
An actor asks the Buddha about the destiny of actors after death.
Titthāyatanādi Suttaṃ — A Discourse on Heretical Views
The Buddha refutes the three wrong-views of fatalism, creationism, and nihilism, and declares his own teaching, which cannot be refuted.
Udakūpamā Suttaṃ — The Simile of Water
Seven kinds of individuals submerged in water.
Upakkilesa Suttaṃ — Defilements
Defiled by four defilements the sun and moon do not shine; defiled by four defilements, recluses do not shine.
Valāhaka Suttaṃ — Storm Clouds
Four individuals like four storm clouds.
Vaṇijjā Suttaṃ — Businesses
Two discourses: one on wrong-livelihood for Buddhists, and another on the reasons for failure and success in business.
Vāsijaṭa Suttaṃ — The Adze Handle
The Buddha gives similes of hatching eggs, wearing away the handle of an adze, and the rotting of a ship’s rigging to describe the progress of purification.
VesālI Suttaṃ — A Discourse at Vesālī
A large number of monks commit suicide, or murder one another, due to disgust with the human body. This is also the introductory story to the third offence of defeat for monks — killing a human being.
Yodhājīva Suttaṃ — The Warrior
See footnote 1 to the Tālapuṭa Sutta.
Yuganaddha Suttaṃ — In Tandem
Four possible ways to reach Arahantship