Studying the Sutta Pitaka

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Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby dhamma_newb » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:55 pm

What is the best way for a beginner to begin studying the Sutta Pitaka? I am including a daily reading of the Dhammapada as a part of my practice but I want to know if there are specific nikayas that I should purchase and study that would be helpful for a beginner. Is there a suggested order of study of the nikayas for beginners?

Much Metta,
Don
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby santa100 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:36 pm

Bhikkhu Bodhi's audio lecture series, the Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikaya is a great one:

http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby Stephen K » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:41 pm

I would recommend Bhikkhu Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon" as a start.

http://www.amazon.com/Buddhas-Words-Ant ... 0861714911
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:20 pm

You can read the first chapter of In the Buddha's Words from a PDF on the Wisdom Publications site:
http://wisdompubs.org/Pages/display.las ... n=&image=1

And there are also lectures from Bhikkhu Bodhi based on those texts:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2392

:anjali:
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby BKh » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:09 pm

I'm going to do a shameless plug for some pages on readingfaithfully.org

dhamma_newb wrote:What is the best way for a beginner to begin studying the Sutta Pitaka?

Slowly, persistently, patiently, and perpetually. Be in it for the long haul.
http://readingfaithfully.org/2011/09/25 ... -practice/

dhamma_newb wrote:I am including a daily reading of the Dhammapada as a part of my practice but I want to know if there are specific nikayas that I should purchase and study that would be helpful for a beginner.

In terms of Nikayas, you are doing well starting with the Dhammapada as a daily practice. Several other books in the Khuddaka Nikaya work well this way, especially the Itivuttaka and the Udana. Many people begin by reading the Majjhima Nikaya. It covers a broad range of topics and many suttas contain a story element as well. Sometimes people recommend the Samyutta Nikaya to begin with since has many shorter suttas grouped by topic. Personally I recommend the MN since it is well suited to a sutta a day practice.
http://readingfaithfully.org/canonical- ... -practice/
http://readingfaithfully.org/majjhima-n ... -practice/

This page also includes a bibliography to help you build a complete sutta collection. Some titles are marked with a * to indicate they are good to start with.
http://readingfaithfully.org/buildingasuttalibrary/

As others have indicated, anthologies are a great place to begin and In the Buddha's Words is an excellent choice. Depending on your available time, you could start reading through that at the same time you moved through the MN. Or you could use it as a back-up text on days with less time for reading.

And for sure, plan on re-reading the same book at least a second time before moving to something new. You will understand much more the second time (and the third, and the fourth...) and the familiarity of having just read it will make it even more enjoyable.
http://readingfaithfully.org/when-you-c ... of-suttas/
http://www.readingfaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:00 pm

Greetings Don,

You've got some good answers here and (unsurprisingly) your questions are not unique, so you'll find other comments throughout the forum too.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby dhamma_newb » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:01 pm

Thank you everyone for the helping me out. When I recently purchased a bunch of books on Buddhism I kinda went overboard and just started buying whatever I heard was a good book without doing much research if they were appropriate for beginners and now I have books like "A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma" by Bhikkhu Bodhi Image. I should've purchased all of the Sutta Pitaka first before attempting to understand the Abhidhamma.

I have a copy of "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi on my Kindle so I'm glad that it was recommended by Stefan and Mike and BKh. Thanks for the links on Bhikkhu Bodhi's lectures Mike and santa100! I'm sure they will be a great help in my studies.

Thanks BKh for your detailed advice. Btw I really like your site and will use it as a reference when studying the Sutta Pitaka.

Hi retro :hello:

:reading:
Don
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:33 am

I think it's best to start with the anthology that Stefan mentioned, because if you start directly with the Nikayas you'll probably be frustrated with the amount of things you have to read.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:18 am

I am supprised no-one has mentioned Access to insight
a website with a good chunk of the suttas there and a good resourse for other material
also you can look at specific topics and related texts both sutta ond other.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:36 am

Yes, Access to Insight is a great resource: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

However, it's easy to get lost in there, and personally I prefer books. I found that reading In the Buddha's Words was extremely valuable in giving me a coherent overview of a wide variety of suttas, so I'd recommend either working through that or through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the Majjhima Nikaya (along with the Nanamoli-Bodhi translation).

:anjali:
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:42 am

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, Access to Insight is a great resource: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

However, it's easy to get lost in there, and personally I prefer books. I found that reading In the Buddha's Words was extremely valuable in giving me a coherent overview of a wide variety of suttas, so I'd recommend either working through that or through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the Majjhima Nikaya (along with the Nanamoli-Bodhi translation).

:anjali:
Mike

I am right with you there sister!
Yeah we are both men but it sounds better in my head to say sister :juggling:

I am resisting the e-book things, but do see an advantage...
but there is nothing like a good book to read!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby dhamma_newb » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:18 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:I think it's best to start with the anthology that Stefan mentioned, because if you start directly with the Nikayas you'll probably be frustrated with the amount of things you have to read.


I got a little overwhelmed trying to decide how to continue with my studies so it's good to know that I already own the book I need to continue.

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, Access to Insight is a great resource: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

However, it's easy to get lost in there, and personally I prefer books. I found that reading In the Buddha's Words was extremely valuable in giving me a coherent overview of a wide variety of suttas, so I'd recommend either working through that or through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the Majjhima Nikaya (along with the Nanamoli-Bodhi translation).

:anjali:
Mike


Yes I agree about acesstoinsight.org being a great resource and also how easy it is to get lost in there. I do prefer books as well.

Cittasanto wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Yes, Access to Insight is a great resource: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

However, it's easy to get lost in there, and personally I prefer books. I found that reading In the Buddha's Words was extremely valuable in giving me a coherent overview of a wide variety of suttas, so I'd recommend either working through that or through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the Majjhima Nikaya (along with the Nanamoli-Bodhi translation).

:anjali:
Mike

I am right with you there sister!
Yeah we are both men but it sounds better in my head to say sister :juggling:

I am resisting the e-book things, but do see an advantage...
but there is nothing like a good book to read!


I'm a total bookworm (which makes me feel right at home here) and I always end up running out of room in my apartment for books so I try to purchase ebooks as much as possible but I agree there is nothing like the feel of a "real" book in your hands.

:anjali: Thank you everyone.
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby BKh » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:34 am

Although the OP didn't mention it, now that the topic of e-books has been raised, here are some thoughts about using an e-book reader for sutta practice, especially for a beginner...

http://readingfaithfully.org/2011/10/24 ... -nook-etc/

Personally, after having used a Kindle extensively over the last year I would not recommend a beginner use a Kindle for reading the MN and probably not the DN or SN either. It's nearly impossible to get to the missing parts when the text is elided. And if you have to scan back to figure out what is going on it is very difficult. But for a text like the Dhammapada or an anthology it would probably be ok. And although the digital version has some advantages for study, such as searching, the paper version is just so much easier to navigate. (No indexes in the Kindle Wisdom editions) So the paper copies will always be necessary for study.

In fact, the poor navigation in an e-book is actually an advantage in some ways because you don't get distracted like you would on Access to Insight.

One exception for recommending the e-book versions of the Nikayas for beginners would be if English is not your first language. The dictionary look up is extremely helpful.

But for someone who is already familiar with the texts, actually reading on an e-ink reader is great. If you are just reading one sutta after another there is no problem.
http://www.readingfaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby dhamma_newb » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:01 am

Awesome BKh, your advice will save me some money because I probably would have ended up buying the ebook versions first and then the paperback versions too. Thanks!
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:42 am

Nice website Bkh!
Gregory Krahmer has published a book along the same lines called Dharma Contemplations, although it is a group practice it certainly can be done solo as it is based upon the Lecio Divina practise in Christianity.

I have a copy but I don't know if it is widely distributed as yet as the copt I have was a free distribution book published as a gift for people, and I only got a copy because of a mutual friend who knows I like that practice myself.

but here is a doc I done which was for others who want to do lecio, and I like pali so found some close words for it :) :juggling:
Sarabhāṇaka.pdf
(39.49 KiB) Downloaded 63 times
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Studying the Sutta Pitaka

Postby Ferox » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:33 am

I will also give a big recommendation to access to insight.. I have a few books on the Suttas but I use ATI more then any books. It's a wonderful online resource with enough Suttas on there to last many many years of regular study :)
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
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