Title- In The Buddha’s Words- An Anthology of Discourses From The Pali Canon By Bhikkhu Bodhi E-book


The works of the Buddha can feel vast, and it is sometimes difficult for even longtime students to know where to look, especially since the Buddha never explicitly defined the framework behind his teachings. Designed to provide just such a framework, In the Buddha’s Words is an anthology of the Buddha’s works that has been specifically compiled by a celebrated scholar and translator. For easy reference, the book is arrayed in ten thematic sections ranging from “The Human Condition” to “Mastering the Mind” to “The Planes of Realization.” Each section comes with introductions, notes, and essays to help beginners and experts alike draw greater meaning from the Buddha’s words. The book also features a general introduction by the author that fully lays out how and why he has arranged the Buddha’s teachings in this volume. This thoughtful compilation is a valuable resource for both teachers and those who want to read the Buddha on their own.

There are several good translations available of parts of the Pali Canon (Buddhist Scriptures) in English. A recent addition to this growing list of extracts of the Tipitaka (another name for the Pali Canon) is called “In the Buddha’s Words” and is the work of the well-known and well-respected American monk Bhikkhu Bodhi. The book typically contains the usual translations of the Buddha’s teachings on suffering (dukkha), enlightenment (bodhi), the Buddhist Path (magga) etc. What is distinctive about this latest compilation is that it contains a broad sweep of teachings of the Buddha, not only focusing on renunciation and the ultimate goal of enlightenment, but also featuring subjects such as gaining present life happiness and a decent rebirth.

The Venerable Bodhi divides the Blessed One’s dispensation into chapters, some of which are called The Human Condition (life without Dharma; living in delusion from life to life), The Bringer of Light (the coming and development of the Buddha), The Path to Liberation (the Buddhist Way to enlightenment), and Mastering the Mind (meditation and mindfulness). Other chapters include The Happiness Visible in this Present Life which regards the fulfillment of moral and social duties that result in a content life. Bhikkhu Bodhi emphasizes in this part of the book that as the Buddha said himself, he came “for the welfare of the multitude, for the happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans.” This chapter reveals the Buddha’s words on how laypeople can live in the world, showing the wise and compassionate ways that we can handle our various relationships in society towards parents, children, teachers, students, friends, and partners.

The book doesn’t ignore the pinnacle of the Buddha’s teachings, however, and the chapter entitled The Planes of Realization features many important sermons on the noble eightfold path (ariya-atthangika-magga) to awakening and the four types of noble person (ariya-puggala), who have entered the stream to enlightenment, and culminate in the arahant, an enlightened one. Shining the Light of Wisdom is a chapter focusing on the nature of both wisdom (panna) and nirvana, and includes many illuminating discourses on the five aggregates that make up experience and the somewhat complicated teaching of dependent origination (paticca- samuppada).

Bhikkhu Bodhi introduces each chapter with his own insightful comments, making clear how each part of the Buddha’s teachings fits into the scheme as a whole, organized as a progressive path from The Human Condition through to The Planes of Realization. He displays a depth of understanding of the Tipitaka that spans the aforementioned and previously well-covered subjects of renunciation and enlightenment as well as how to be happy in this current life, which has often been neglected by his predecessors.

The Buddha divided the progress of a Buddhist into three stages: pariyatti (study), patipatti (practice), and pativedha (‘penetration’ or realization). Reading too many books may well hold back practical progress and ‘penetration’ of the Buddhist truths, but one book that will complement both practice and realization is In the Buddha’s Words. This book gives us a clear and concise account of the teachings attributed to the Buddha, regarding the whole of his dispensation, and as such is a boon to both renunciant and layperson, whatever their level of practice. I strongly recommend it to anyone curious about the Buddha’s teachings.


I. The Human Condition


1. Old Age, Illness, and Death
(1) Aging and Death
(2) The Simile of the Mountain
(3) The Divine Messengers
2. The Tribulations of Unreflective Living
(1) The Dart of Painful Feeling
(2) The Vicissitudes of Life
(3) Anxiety Due to Change
3. A World in Turmoil
(1) The Origin of Conflict
(2) Why Do Beings Live in Hate?
(3) The Dark Chain of Causation
(4) The Roots of Violence and Oppression
4. Without Discoverable Beginning
(1) Grass and Sticks
(2) Balls of Clay
(3) The Mountain
(4) The River Ganges
(5) Dog on a Leash

II. The Bringer of Light


1. One Person
2. The Buddha’s Conception and Birth
3. The Quest for Enlightenment
(1) Seeking the Supreme State of Sublime Peace
(2) The Realization of the Three True Knowledges
(3) The Ancient City
4. The Decision to Teach
5. The First Discourse

III. Approaching the Dhamma


1. Not a Secret Doctrine
2. No Dogmas or Blind Belief
3. The Visible Origin and Passing Away of Suffering
4. Investigate the Teacher Himself
5. Steps toward the Realization of Truth

IV. The Happiness Visible in This Present Life


1. Upholding the Dhamma in Society
(1) The King of the Dhamma
(2) Worshipping the Six Directions
2. The Family
(1) Parents and Children
(a) Respect for Parents
(b) Repaying One’s Parents
(2) Husbands and Wives
(a) Different Kinds of Marriages
(b) How to Be United in Future Lives
(c) Seven Kinds of Wives
3. Present Welfare, Future Welfare
4. Right Livelihood
(1) Avoiding Wrong Livelihood
(2) The Proper Use of Wealth
(3) A Family Man’s Happiness
5. The Woman of the Home
6. The Community
(1) Six Roots of Dispute
(2) Six Principles of Cordiality
(3) Purification Is for All Four Castes
(4) Seven Principles of Social Stability
(5) The Wheel-Turning Monarch
(6) Bringing Tranquillity to the Land

V. The Way to a Fortunate Rebirth


1. The Law of Kamma
(1) Four Kinds of Kamma
(2) Why Beings Fare as They Do after Death
(3) Kamma and Its Fruits

2. Merit. The Key to Good Fortune
(1) Meritorious Deeds
(2) Three Bases of Merit
(3) The Best Kinds of Confidence
3. Giving
(1) If People Knew the Result of Giving
(2) Reasons for Giving
(3) The Gift of Food
(4) A Superior Person’s Gifts
(5) Mutual Support
(6) Rebirth on Account of Giving
4. Moral Discipline
(1) The Five Precepts
(2) The Uposatha Observance
5. Meditation
(1) The Development of Loving-Kindness
(2) The Four Divine Abodes
(3) Insight Surpasses All

VI. Deepening One’s Perspective on the World


1. Four Wonderful Things
2. Gratification, Danger, and Escape
(1) Before My Enlightenment
(2) I Set Out Seeking
(3) If There Were No Gratification
3. Properly Appraising Objects of Attachment
4. The Pitfalls in Sensual Pleasures
(1) Cutting Off All Affairs
(2) The Fever of Sensual Pleasures
5. Life Is Short and Fleeting
6. Four Summaries of the Dhamma
7. The Danger in Views
(1) A Miscellany on Wrong View
(2) The Blind Men and the Elephant
(3) Held by Two Kinds of Views
8. From the Divine Realms to the Infernal
9. The Perils of Saṃsāra
(1) The Stream of Tears
(2) The Stream of Blood

VII. The Path to Liberation


1. Why Does One Enter the Path?
(1) The Arrow of Birth, Aging, and Death
(2) The Heartwood of the Spiritual Life
(3) The Fading Away of Lust
2. Analysis of the Eightfold Path
3. Good Friendship
4. The Graduated Training
5. The Higher Stages of Training with Similes

VIII. Mastering the Mind


1. The Mind Is the Key
2. Developing a Pair of Skills
(1) Serenity and Insight
(2) Four Ways to Arahantship
(3) Four Kinds of Persons
3. The Hindrances to Mental Development
4. The Refinement of the Mind
5. The Removal of Distracting Thoughts
6. The Mind of Loving-Kindness
7. The Six Recollections
8. The Four Establishments of Mindfulness
9. Mindfulness of Breathing
10. The Achievement of Mastery

IX. Shining the Light of Wisdom


1. Images of Wisdom
(1) Wisdom as a Light
(2) Wisdom as a Knife
2. The Conditions for Wisdom
3. A Discourse on Right View
4. The Domain of Wisdom
(1) By Way of the Five Aggregates
(a) Phases of the Aggregates
(b) A Catechism on the Aggregates
(c) The Characteristic of Nonself
(d) Impermanent, Suffering, Nonself
(e) A Lump of Foam
(2) By Way of the Six Sense Bases
(a) Full Understanding
(b) Burning
(c) Suitable for Attaining Nibbāna
(d) Empty Is the World
(e) Conscious Too Is Nonself
(3) By Way of the Elements
(a) The Eighteen Elements
(b) The Four Elements
(c) The Six Elements
(4) By Way of Dependent Origination
(a) What Is Dependent Origination?
(b) The Stableness of the Dhamma
(c) Forty-Four Cases of Knowledge
(d) A Teaching by the Middle
(e) The Continuance of Consciousness
(f) The Origin and Passing of the World
(5) By Way of the Four Noble Truths
(a) The Truths of All Buddhas
(b) These Four Truths Are Actual
(c) A Handful of Leaves
(d) Because of Not Understanding
(e) The Precipice
(f) Making the Breakthrough
(g) The Destruction of the Taints
5. The Goal of Wisdom
(1) What is Nibbāna?
(2) Thirty-Three Synonyms for Nibbāna
(3) There Is That Base
(4) The Unborn
(5) The Two Nibbāna Elements
(6) The Fire and the Ocean

X. The Planes of Realization


1. The Field of Merit for the World
(1) Eight Persons Worthy of Gifts
(2) Differentiation by Faculties
(3) In the Dhamma Well Expounded
(4) The Completeness of the Teaching
(5) Seven Kinds of Noble Persons
2. Stream-Entry
(1) The Four Factors Leading to Stream-Entry
[Related: Admirable Friendship; Hearing the Dhamma; Careful Attention; Practice in accorance with the Dhamma]
(2) Entering the Fixed Course of Rightness
(3) The Breakthrough to the Dhamma
(4) The Four Factors of a Stream-Enterer
(5) Better than Sovereignty over the Earth
3. Nonreturning
(1) Abandoning the Five Lower Fetters
(2) Four Kinds of Persons
(3) Six Things that Partake of True Knowledge
(4) Five Kinds of Nonreturners
4. The Arahant
(1) Removing the Residual Conceit “I Am”
(2) The Trainee and the Arahant
(3) A Monk Whose Crossbar Has Been Lifted
(4) Nine Things an Arahant Cannot Do
(5) A Mind Unshaken
(6) The Ten Powers of an Arahant Monk
(7) The Sage at Peace
(8) Happy Indeed Are the Arahants

5. The Tathāgata
(1) The Buddha and the Arahant
(2) For the Welfare of Many
(3) Sāriputta’s Lofty Utterance
(4) The Powers and Grounds of Self-Confidence
(5) The Manifestation of Great Light
(6) The Man Desiring Our Good
(7) The Lion
(8) Why Is He Called the Tathāgata?


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