Ben wrote:Yes, there is probably no better primer than Bhikkhu Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words".
You can also read the Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Majjhima Nikaya along-side mp3 files of lectures he gives on the suttas in that collection.
Google "Bodhi Monastery" and search through the menu to get to the relevant lecture series. You will also find that the archived sutta study group threads a great aid and will include alternative translations to Ven Bodhi's excellent work.
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:In an ongoing series of lectures I began giving at Bodhi Monastery
in New Jersey in January 2003, I devised a scheme of my own to organize
the contents of the Majjhima Nik›ya. This scheme unfolds the
Buddha’s message progressively, from the simple to the difficult, from
the elementary to the profound. Upon reflection, I saw that this scheme
could be applied not only to the Majjhima Nik›ya, but to the four
Nik›yas as a whole. The present book organizes suttas selected from all
four Nik›yas within this thematic and progressive framework.
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Once one understands the scheme in this book, one should come away with
a clear idea of the architecture of the teaching. Then, with a little
reflection, one should be able to determine the place any sutta occupies
in the edifice of the Dhamma, whether or not it has been included
in this anthology.
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