Samyutta Nikaya

The Grouped Discourses

At a Botanical GardenThe Samyutta Nikaya, the third division of the Sutta Pitaka, contains 2,889 suttas grouped into five sections (vaggas). Each vagga is further divided into samyuttas, each of which in turn contains a group of suttas on related topics. The samyuttas are named according to the topics of the suttas they contain. For example, the Kosala Samyutta (in the Sagatha Vagga) contains suttas concerning King Pasenadi of Kosala; the Vedana Samyutta (in the Salayatana Vagga) contains suttas concerning feeling (vedana); and so on.

An excellent modern print translation of the complete Samyutta Nikaya is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000; originally published in two volumes, but now available in a single volume).

A fine anthology of selected suttas is Handful of Leaves (Vol. 2), by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (distributed by the Metta Forest Monastery).


Sagatha-vagga — The Section of Verses (contains samyuttas 1-11)

Nidana-vagga — The Section on Causation (12-21)

Khandha-vagga — The Section on the Aggregates (22-34)

Salayatana-vagga — The Section on the Six Sense Bases (35-44)

Maha-vagga — The Great Section (45-56)

Sagatha Vagga — The Section of Verses

  1. Devata-samyutta — Devas

SN 1.1: Ogha-tarana Sutta — Crossing over the Flood

The Buddha explains how he “crossed over the flood” of craving.

SN 1.3: Upaneyya.m Sutta — Doomed

SN 1.9: Maanakaamo Sutta — Vain Conceits

SN 1.10: Arañña Sutta — The Wilderness/A Face So Calm

Why do monks living in the forest wilderness look so happy?

SN 1.17: Dukkara.m (Kummo) Sutta — Difficult

SN 1.18: Hiri Sutta — Conscience

A lovely short teaching on the rarity and value of conscientiousness.

SN 1.20: Samiddhi Sutta — About Samiddhi/Samiddhi

A devata wonders: why waste time meditating in the hopes of some future reward, when one can enjoy sensual pleasures right here and now?

SN 1.25: Araha.m Sutta — The Arahant

SN 1.38: Sakalika Sutta — The Stone Sliver

After an attempt on his life, the Buddha shows by example how to handle pain.

SN 1.41: Aditta Sutta — (The House) On Fire

A deva visits the Buddha and recites a lovely verse on the urgency of giving.

SN 1.42: Kindada Sutta — A Giver of What

The Buddha explains to a deva the true value of various kinds of gifts.

SN 1.69: Iccha Sutta — Desire

A brief and elegant summary of the heart of the Buddha’s teaching.

SN 1.71: Ghatva Sutta — Having Killed

The Buddha describes one thing that deserves to be killed.

  1. Devaputta-samyutta — Sons of the Devas

SN 2.6: Kamada Sutta — Kamada’s Lament

The Buddha reassures a doubting deva that, though the journey to Awakening may indeed be long and hard, it really can be done.

SN 2.7: Pañcalacanda Sutta — Pañcalacanda the Deva’s Son

Finding an opening to Nibbana.

SN 2.8: Taayano Sutta — Taayana

SN 2.9: Candima Sutta — The Moon Deity’s Prayer for Protection

The Buddha intervenes on behalf of a deva caught in the grips of an evil demon. This sutta belongs to the group of paritta (protection) suttas that are chanted by monastics for devotional and ceremonial purposes.

SN 2.10: Suriya Sutta — The Sun Deity’s Prayer for Protection

The Buddha intervenes on behalf of a deva caught in the grips of an evil demon. This sutta belongs to the group of paritta (protection) suttas that are chanted by monastics for devotional and ceremonial purposes.

SN 2.19: Uttara Sutta — Uttara the Deva’s Son

Doing good and making merit: are these the best one can aim for in this short life?

SN 2.25: Jantu Sutta — Jantu

SN 2.26: Rohitassa Sutta — To Rohitassa

A well-traveled deva learns that we don’t have to go to the ends of the world to find an end to suffering; we need look no further than right here, in this very body.

  1. Kosala-samyutta — King Pasenadi of Kosala

SN 3.1: Dahara Sutta — Young

The Buddha reminds King Pasenadi that one’s age is no measure of one’s wisdom.

SN 3.4: Piya Sutta — Dear

If you truly care about your own and others’ welfare, then choose your actions with care.

SN 3.5: Atta-rakkhita Sutta — Self-protected

The Buddha’s defense policy.

SN 3.6: Appaka Sutta — Few

The Buddha reminds King Pasenadi of the pitfalls of wealth and luxury.

SN 3.7: Atthakarana Sutta — In Judgment

King Pasenadi discovers what motivates people to tell lies.

SN 3.8: Mallikaa Sutta — Mallikaa

SN 3.13: Donapaka Sutta/Do.napaaka Sutta — King Pasenadi Goes on a Diet/A Heavy Meal

How King Pasenadi learns to use mindfulness to control his overeating

SN 3.14: Sangama Sutta — A Battle (1)

SN 3.15: Sangama Sutta — A Battle (2)

Two stories about the battles fought between rival kings, poignantly demonstrating how in war there is security neither for the victor nor the vanquished.

SN 3.17: Appamada Sutta — Heedfulness

The Buddha reveals the one quality in the heart that offers real security.

SN 3.19: Aputtaka Sutta — Heirless (1)

The Buddha advises a rich householder on the proper use and enjoyment of wealth.

SN 3.20: Aputtaka Sutta — Heirless (2)

Give generously and without regret, or you may suffer the same sad consequences as this wealthy householder.

SN 3.23: Loka Sutta — (Qualities of) the World

Three common things in the world that inevitably lead to harm and suffering.

SN 3.24: Issattha Sutta — Archery Skills

Generosity yields good results. But to whom should we give to reap the very best results?

SN 3.25: Pabbatopama Sutta — Irresistible Force/The Simile of the Mountains

The Buddha offers a powerful simile to King Pasenadi to underscore the imminence of death and the urgency of Dhamma practice.

  1. Mara-samyutta — Mara

Stories of Mara’s attempts to outwit the Buddha.

SN 4.8: Nandana Sutta — Delight

Mara and the Buddha debate this question: Are possessions a source of joy or of grief?

SN 4.13: Sakalika Sutta — The Stone Sliver

The Buddha, recuperating from an assassination attempt, receives an unwelcome visit from Mara.

SN 4.19: Kassaka Sutta — The Farmer

Mara proclaims his dominion over the sensory world, but the Buddha explains that he (Buddha) dwells in the one place that Mara can never go.

SN 4.20: Rajja Sutta — Rulership

Mara, seeing that the Buddha has developed the four bases of power (iddhipada), tries to persuade him to give up the monastic life and become a powerful world ruler.

  1. Bhikkhuni-samyutta — Nuns

Stories of Mara’s attempts to lure the nuns away from their meditation spots in the forest by asking them provocative questions. Without exception, these wise women conquer Mara decisively.

SN 5.1: Alavika Sutta — Alavika/Sister Alavika

Mara: Why bother meditating? Why not just relax and enjoy life’s pleasures?

SN 5.2: Soma Sutta — Soma/Mara Meets His Match/Sister Soma

Can women achieve Awakening? Ven. Sister Soma handles this misguided question with ease.

SN 5.3: Gotami Sutta — Gotami/Sister Gotami

Mara: Why bother sitting in solitude in the forest?

SN 5.4: Vijaya Sutta — Vijaya/Sister Vijaya

Mara: Why don’t we just put aside the meditation for awhile and go out dancing?

SN 5.5: Uppalavanna Sutta — Uppalavanna/Sister Uppalavanna

Mara: Why don’t you just give up the dangers of the forest and live somewhere safer?

SN 5.6: Cala Sutta — Cala/Sister Cala

Mara: What’s wrong with being reborn, anyway?

SN 5.7: Upacala Sutta — Upacala/Sister Upacala

Mara: Why not just settle for a happy rebirth among the devas?

SN 5.8: Sisupacala Sutta — Sisupacala/Sister Sisupacala

Sister Sisupacala shows Mara how following the path of Dhamma doesn’t mean buying into to a fixed philosophy.

SN 5.9: Sela Sutta — Sela/Sister Sela

Mara tries to trip up Ven. Sister Sela with metaphysical questions.

SN 5.10: Vajira Sutta — Vajira/Sister Vajira

Have you ever found yourself getting lured out of meditation by some fascinating, but utterly speculative, train of thought? Ven. Sister Vajira shows how to deal with this.

  1. Brahma-samyutta — Brahma deities

SN 6.1: Ayacana Sutta — The Request

Immediately after his Awakening, the Buddha receives a visit from Brahma Sahampati, who pleads with the Buddha to teach the Dhamma, for the sake of those “with little dust in their eyes.”

SN 6.2: Garava Sutta — Reverence

Shortly after his Awakening, the Buddha reviews the world around him, searching for another being whom he can now rightly call his teacher.

SN 6.13: Andhakavinda Sutta — Let the Wilderness Serve!

Brahma Sahampati offers up verses of praise for the Buddha, who sits meditating alone in the wilderness.

SN 6.15: Parinibbana Sutta — Total Unbinding

Four eyewitness accounts of the passing away of the Buddha.

  1. Brahmana-samyutta — Brahmans

SN 7.1: Dhanañjaanii Sutta — Dhanañjaani

SN 7.2: Akkosa Sutta/Akkoso Sutta — Insult/Abuse

What is your best response when someone is angry with you? Hint: if you offer some food to a guest, but the guest declines the offer, to whom does the food belong?

SN 7.6: Jata Sutta — The Tangle

The Buddha answers Jata Bharadvaja’s famous question, “Who can untangle this tangle [of craving]?”

SN 7.11: Kasi Bharadvaja Sutta — Discourse to Bharadvaja, the Farmer/To the Plowing Bharadvaja

The Buddha answers a farmer who asserts that monks do no useful work, and thus don’t deserve to eat.

SN 7.12: Udaya Sutta — Breaking the Cycle

In delightfully alliterative Pali verse, the Buddha tells how, without true wisdom, the cycle of death and re-becoming are doomed to drone on and on and on.

SN 7.14: Maha-sala Sutta — Very Rich

A touching glimpse into the sorrow that a father feels when his ungrateful children fail to honor him in his old age. Treat your parents well.

SN 7.17: Navakammika Sutta — The Builder

What useful work can one possibly accomplish by sitting in meditation under a tree in the forest?

SN 7.18: Katthaharaka Sutta — Buddha in the Forest/Firewood-gathering

How does the Buddha practice jhana in the forest? [TB]

SN 7.21: Sangaarava Sutta — Sangaarava

  1. Vangisa-samyutta — Ven. Vangisa

SN 8.4: Ananda Sutta — Ananda

Ven. Ananda offers advice to Ven. Vangisa on how to subdue lust.

  1. Vana-samyutta — The forest

SN 9.1: Viveka Sutta — Seclusion

A deva comes to the aid of a forest monk whose mind had been wandering during meditation.

SN 9.6: Anuruddha Sutta — Anuruddha

One of Ven. Anuruddha’s consorts from a previous life as a deva, visits him and invites him back.

SN 9.9: Vajjiputta Sutta — The Vajjian Princeling

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why bother meditate?”, listen to this devata’s advice.

SN 9.11: Ayoniso-manasikara Sutta — Inappropriate Attention

Food for thought for a monk being gnawed away by his thoughts.

SN 9.14: Gandhatthena Sutta — Stealing the Scent/The Thief of a Scent

Have you ever wished for a guardian angel to warn you before you do something foolish? Here’s one with an important lesson.

10. Yakkha-samyutta — Yakkha demons

SN 10.8: Sudatta Sutta — About Sudatta (Anathapindika)

Anathapindika, the wealthy benefactor who would later donate the famous Jeta’s Grove monastery to the Sangha, meets the Buddha for the first time.

SN 10.12: Alavaka Sutta — Discourse to Alavaka/To the Alavaka Yakkha

A yakkha challenges the Buddha with riddles and threatens to beat him up.

11. Sakka-samyutta — Sakka (the Deva king)

SN 11.3: Dhajagga Sutta — Banner Protection/The Top of the Standard

Are you ever overcome by fear? The Buddha offers an antidote.

SN 11.4: Vepacitti Sutta — Calm in the Face of Anger

Sakka, king of the devas, explains to a skeptic how forbearance is the best response to another’s anger.

SN 11.5: Subhasita-jaya Sutta — Victory Through What is Well Spoken

Marvelous account of a debating contest between two deities concerning the best way to respond to an angry person.

Nidana Vagga — The Section on Causation

12. Nidana-samyutta — Paticcasamuppada (dependent co-arising)

SN 12.2: Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta — Analysis of Dependent Co-arising

A summary of the causal chain of dependent co-arising.

SN 12.10: Mahaa Sakyamuni Gotamo Sutta — Gotama the Great Sage of the Sakya

SN 12.11: Ahara Sutta — Nutriment

The Buddha explains how the teachings on the four nutriments (ahara) fits in with dependent co-arising.

SN 12.12: Phagguna Sutta — To Phagguna

Questions that presuppose the existence of an abiding “self,” are fundamentally invalid. The Buddha shows how to re-frame these questions in a way that conduces to liberation.

SN 12.15: Kaccayanagotta Sutta/Kaccaayanagotto Sutta — To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View)/Kaccaayana

The Buddha explains to Ven. Kaccayana Gotta how dependent co-arising applies in the development of right view.

SN 12.16: Dhammakathiko Sutta — The Teacher of the Dhamma

SN 12.17: Acela Sutta — To the Clothless Ascetic/Naked Kassapa

A perplexed ascetic asks the Buddha: “Is dukkha created by the self? By other? By both? By neither?” The Buddha’s answers at first baffle, then inspire, Kassapa, who eventually gains Awakening.

SN 12.19: Bala-pandita Sutta — The Fool & the Wise Person

What is the difference between a fool and a wise person?

SN 12.20: Paccaya Sutta — Requisite Conditions

The Buddha explains that when dependent co-arising is clearly seen and understood, wrong views and confusion disappear.

SN 12.22: Dasabalaa (2) Sutta — Ten Powers

SN 12.23: Upanisa Sutta/Upanisaa Sutta — Discourse on Supporting Conditions/Prerequisites/Upanisaa

The Buddha explains how seeing deeply into dependent co-arising leads to Awakening. The causal chain here includes an additional set of factors not present in the “standard” chain of dependent co-arising.

SN 12.25: Bhumija Sutta — To Bhumija

What is the origin of pleasure and pain? Ven. Sariputta clears up some misconceptions.

SN 12.31: Bhutamidam Sutta — This Has Come Into Being

What characterizes the difference between a run-of-the-mill person, one who practices the Dhamma, and one who has fully realized the Dhamma?

SN 12.35: Avijjapaccaya Sutta — From Ignorance as a Requisite Condition

Is there someone or something that lies behind the processes described in dependent co-arising?

SN 12.38: Cetana Sutta/Cetanaa Sutta — Intention/Volition

The Buddha explains the causal link between mental fabrications and consciousness.

SN 12.44: Loka Sutta — The World

How the world arises and falls according to the law of dependent co-arising.

SN 12.46: Aññatra Sutta — A Certain Brahman

A brahman wonders: When I perform an action (kamma), am I the same person when I experience its results, or am I a different person? The Buddha helps to clear up this man’s confused thinking.

SN 12.48: Lokayatika Sutta — The Cosmologist

The Oneness of all being is sometimes taught as a basic Buddhist principle, but this discourse shows that the Buddha himself rejected the idea. It is simply one of the extremes that he avoided by teaching dependent co-arising.

SN 12.52: Upadana Sutta — Clinging

The Buddha uses a marvelous fire simile to describe the nature of clinging.

SN 12.60: Nidaana.m Sutta — Aananda’s Mistake

SN 12.61: Assutavā Sutta — The Spiritually-Unlearned (1)/Uninstructed (1)

With a striking simile, the Buddha points out the folly of believing this fickle mind to be “self.”

SN 12.63: Puttamansa 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. [TB]

SN 12.64: Atthi Raga Sutta — Where There is Passion

The Buddha describes four factors to which the mind habitually clings. Those who succeed in abandoning passion for these “nutriments” can realize the cessation of birth, aging, and death.

SN 12.65: Nagara Sutta — The City

The Buddha retells the story of how, on the eve of his Awakening, he re-discovered the long-forgotten laws of dependent co-arising and the Four Noble Truths.

SN 12.67: Nalakalapiyo Sutta — Sheaves of Reeds

In a discussion about dependent co-arising with Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Sariputta invokes a helpful simile to illustrate the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.

SN 12.68: Kosambi Sutta — At Kosambi (On Knowing Dependent Co-arising)

Four good friends share a frank discussion about their grasp of dependent co-arising. One uses a memorable simile to describe the difference between stream-entry and arahatship.

SN 12.70: Susima Sutta — About Susima

The Buddha explains to Susima that development of psychic powers is not a prerequisite for enlightenment.

13. Abhisamaya-samyutta — Realization

SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

SN 13.2: Pokkharani Sutta — The Pond

SN 13.8: Samudda Sutta — The Ocean

These three suttas offer vivid similes that give a sense of how much suffering one totally puts behind oneself upon attaining the stream to Nibbana. Good encouragement for putting some extra effort into the practice.

14. Dhatu-samyutta — Elements

SN 14.11: Sattadhatu Sutta — Seven Properties

An alternative way of looking at the stages of concentration practice

15. Anamatagga-samyutta — The unimaginable beginnings of samsara

SN 15.3: Assu Sutta — Tears

“Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time… or the water in the four great oceans?”

SN 15.9: Danda Sutta — The Stick

We bounce from one birth to the next, as a thrown stick bounces along the ground.

SN 15.11: Duggata Sutta — Fallen on Hard Times

When you encounter an unfortunate person, remember: you’ve been there, too.

SN 15.12: Sukhita Sutta — Happy

When you encounter a fortunate person, remember: you’ve been there, too.

SN 15.13: Timsa Sutta — Thirty

Which is greater, the blood you have shed in your long journey in samsara, or the water in the four great oceans?

SN 15.14-19: Mata Sutta — Mother

It’s hard to meet someone who has not been, at some time in the distant past, your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, or brother.

16. Kassapa-samyutta — Ven. Maha Kassapa

SN 16.1: Santu.t.tha.m Sutta — Contentment

SN 16.2: Anottaapi Sutta — Carelessness

SN 16.5: Jinna Sutta — Old

Ven. Maha Kassapa explains why he chooses to continue meditating in the forest wilderness even though he has long since attained arahantship.

SN 16.13: Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta/Saddhamma-pa.tiruupaka.m Sutta — A Counterfeit of the True Dhamma/False Dhamma

The Buddha issues a warning: a society that fails to show respect for these five things contributes to the eventual decline and disappearance of the Dhamma.

17. Labhasakkara-samyutta — Gains and tribute

SN 17.3: Kumma Sutta — The Turtle

To seek fame and status: like walking around with a harpoon stuck in your back.

SN 17.5: Pilahaka Sutta/Piḷhika Sutta — The Dung Beetle

To seek fame and status: like carrying around a ball of dung.

SN 17.8: Sigala Sutta — The Jackal

To seek fame and status is like being a mangy jackal.

18. Rahula-samyutta — Ven. Rahula

19. Lakkhana-samyutta — Ven. Lakkhana

20. Opamma-samyutta — Comparisons

SN 20.2: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

The Buddha offers a simile for the preciousness of this human birth.

SN 20.4: Okkha Sutta — Serving Dishes

SN 20.5: Satti Sutta — The Spear

Two suttas on the extraordinary power of metta (goodwill).

SN 20.6: Dhanuggaha Sutta — The Archer

How quickly life passes! Knowing this, how should we conduct our lives?

SN 20.7: Ani Sutta — The Peg

Be careful: there are many popular teachings nowadays that may sound good, but they’re not necessarily consistent with the Buddha’s teachings.

21. Bhikkhu-samyutta — Monks

SN 21.1: Kolita Sutta — Kolita

The real meaning of noble silence.

SN 21.2: Upatissa Sutta — About Upatissa (Sariputta)

Is there anything in the world whose loss would sadden an arahant?

SN 21.6: Lakuntaka Bhaddiya Sutta — About Bhaddiya the Dwarf

One’s inner wisdom and outward appearance are unrelated.

SN 21.8: Nando Sutta — Nanda

A primer for monks on what not to wear.

SN 21.10: Theranama Sutta — [A Monk] by the Name of Elder

The Buddha explains to a wandering monk the true meaning of solitude.

Khandha Vagga — The Section on the Aggregates

22. Khandha-samyutta — The clinging-aggregates

SN 22.1: Nakulapita Sutta — To Nakulapita

The Buddha explains to the aging householder Nakulapita how one need not be sick in mind even though one may be sick in body.

SN 22.2: Devadaha Sutta — At Devadaha

Ven. Sariputta explains the best way to introduce the Buddha’s teachings to inquisitive, intelligent people.

SN 22.3: Haliddakani Sutta — To Haliddakani

Ven. Maha Kaccana explains to a householder what it means to live as a monk, free of society, free of sensual passion, free of yearning, and free of quarreling.

SN 22.5: Samadhi Sutta — Concentration

How the development of concentration leads to discernment.

SN 22.7: Upaadaaparitassanaa Sutta — Grasping and Worry

The Buddha describes how ideas about the self lead to worry, and how to be free of such worry.

SN 22.22: Bhāra Sutta — The Burden

The Buddha describes the burdens we carry, and how to cast them off.

SN 22.23: Pariñña Sutta — Comprehension

True comprehension means the end of passion, aversion, and delusion.

SN 22.36: Bhikkhu Sutta — The Monk

How we define ourselves in terms of the aggregates, and how we don’t have to do so.

SN 22.39: Anudhamma Sutta — In Accordance with the Dhamma (1)

Towards the end of his life, the Buddha stated that the proper way to pay homage to him was to “practice the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma.” This sutta explains what that means, in terms of cultivating disenchantment (nibbida). [TB]

SN 22.40: Anudhamma Sutta — In Accordance with the Dhamma (2)

Towards the end of his life, the Buddha stated that the proper way to pay homage to him was to “practice the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma.” This sutta explains what that means, in terms of focusing on inconstancy (anicca). [TB]

SN 22.41: Anudhamma Sutta — In Accordance with the Dhamma (3)

Towards the end of his life, the Buddha stated that the proper way to pay homage to him was to “practice the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma.” This sutta explains what that means, in terms of focusing on stress/suffering (dukkha). [TB]

SN 22.42: Anudhamma Sutta — In Accordance with the Dhamma (4)

Towards the end of his life, the Buddha stated that the proper way to pay homage to him was to “practice the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma.” This sutta explains what that means, in terms of focusing on not-self (anatta). [TB]

SN 22.43: Attadiipaa Sutta — An Island to Oneself

Presaging the famous words he would utter in his final days, the Buddha elaborates on his advice to “be an island unto yourself.”

SN 22.47: Samanupassana Sutta/Samanupassanaa Sutta — Assumptions/Ways of Regarding

The Buddha speaks on the assumptions that underlie self-view.

SN 22.48: Khandha Sutta — Aggregates

The Buddha gives a summary of the teaching on the five aggregates.

SN 22.49: Sutta —

How can you tell when you’re seeing things as they really are?

SN 22.53: Upaya Sutta — Attached

When passion for each of the five aggregates is completely abandoned, Awakening ensues.

SN 22.54: Bija Sutta — Means of Propagation

This sutta is nearly identical to the preceding one (SN 22.53), and illustrates the same point with a striking image.

SN 22.55: Udana Sutta — Exclamation

What does it take to break free of the five lower fetters?

SN 22.56: Parivatta Sutta — The (Fourfold) Round

Awakening results from direct knowledge of the “fourfold round” with respect to the aggregates (i.e., knowledge of the aggregate, its origination, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation).

SN 22.57: Sattatthana Sutta — Seven Bases

The Buddha explains how one becomes an arahant through mastery of the seven-fold skill of analyzing the five aggregates.

SN 22.58: Buddha Sutta — Awakened

Some schools of Buddhism teach that there is a qualitative difference between the liberation of a Buddha and that of an arahant disciple — namely, that a Buddha awakens to one level of truth, whereas an arahant awakens to another. This sutta shows that the Buddha saw the distinction in different terms. [TB]

SN 22.59: Anatta-lakkhana Sutta/Pañcavaggi Sutta — The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic/Five Brethren

The Buddha’s second discourse, in which he discusses the principle of anatta (not-self) with the group of five ascetics. By means of a question-and-answer dialogue with his audience, the Buddha demonstrates that there can be no abiding self in any of the five aggregates that we tend to identify as “self.” The sutta illustrates the Buddha’s skillfulness as teacher: at the end of the discourse, all five monks attain full Awakening.

SN 22.60: Mahali Sutta — To Mahali

The Buddha points out that attachment to things comes from paying more attention to the pleasure they give than to the stress and pain (dukkha) they cause. By turning your attention to the dukkha, however, you can gain release.

SN 22.63: Upaadiyamaano Sutta — Clinging

Cling to anything at all, and you are in bondage to Mara.

SN 22.79: Khajjaniya Sutta — Chewed Up

How to gain release from identification with the five aggregates.

SN 22.80: Pindolya Sutta/Pi.n.dolya.m Sutta — Almsgoers/Going Begging

A monk who is half-hearted in his meditation misses out on the rewards of both lay life and monastic life.

SN 22.81: Parileyyaka Sutta — At Parileyyaka

Despite having heard many teachings from the Buddha, a monk still wonders how to bring his meditation practice to a speedy conclusion. The Buddha explains that the goal can be reached by a deep understanding of the five aggregates.

SN 22.83: Ananda Sutta — Ananda

Ven. Ananda recalls the teachings that led him to stream-entry.

SN 22.84: Tissa Sutta/Tisso Sutta — Tissa/Tissa the Waverer

Ven. Tissa, mired in laziness, receives a wake-up call from the Buddha.

SN 22.85: Yamaka Sutta — To Yamaka

Ven. Yamaka claims that when an arahant dies, he/she is utterly annihilated. Ven. Sariputta pulls him out of this wrong view, and in so doing leads him to Awakening.

SN 22.86: Anuradha Sutta/Anuraadho Sutta — To Anuradha/Anuraadha is Caught Out

Ven. Anuradha learns that if you can’t even locate the Tathagata in space when he’s sitting right in front of you, how can you ever hope to answer questions about his fate after death?

SN 22.87: Vakkali Sutta — Vakkali

The Buddha gives an ailing Ven. Vakkali a timeless teaching: “He who sees Dhamma, sees me.”

SN 22.89: Khemaka Sutta/Khemo Sutta — About Khemaka/Khemaka

Although dis-identification with the five aggregates is necessary for becoming a noble disciple, full Awakening calls for even more.

SN 22.90: Channa Sutta — To Channa

Ven. Channa, formerly the bodhisattha’s horseman, receives a teaching on dis-identification with the five aggregates.

SN 22.93: Nadi Sutta — The River

The Buddha explains that a person who incorrectly takes the five aggregates to be “self” is like a person swept away by a swift river, who grasps in vain at the passing trees and branches.

SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

The Buddha invokes a series of vivid similes to illustrate the voidness of the five aggregates.

SN 22.97: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

Not even the slightest trace of the aggregates is exempt from stress and suffering.

SN 22.99: Gaddula Sutta — The Leash (1)

SN 22.100: Gaddula Sutta — The Leash (2)

Those who don’t penetrate the not-self nature of the five aggregates are doomed to go round and round in circles, like a dog tied to a post.

SN 22.101: Nava Sutta — The Ship

The Buddha explains that Awakening comes about not by wishful thinking, but only through deliberate effort.

SN 22.109: Sotaapanno Sutta — The Sotaapanna (‘Stream-winner’)

What is a Stream-winner?

SN 22.110: Araha.m Sutta — The Arahant

What is an Arahant?

SN 22.121: Upadana Sutta — Clinging

What are the phenomena to which we cling? Answer: each one of the five aggregates.

SN 22.122: Silavant Sutta — Virtuous

Ven. Sariputta explains how every meditator, from beginner to arahant, should contemplate the five aggregates (khandha).

23. Radha-samyutta — Ven. Radha

SN 23.2: Satta Sutta — A Being

The Buddha invokes a dramatic simile to explain how to dismantle attachment to the five aggregates.

24. Ditthi-samyutta — Views

25. Okkanta-samyutta — Entering

In this samyutta the Buddha explains the kinds of conviction and understanding that are required for the attainment of stream-entry. These short suttas share an identical structure, with each one focusing on a different aspect of experience (including the six senses, the six elements (dhatu), and the five aggregates). See also the Study Guides on stream-entry.

SN 25.1: Cakkhu Sutta — The Eye

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of the six senses can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.2: Rupa Sutta — Forms

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of sense objects can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.3: Viññana Sutta — Consciousness

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of sense consciousness can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.4: Phassa Sutta — Contact.

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of contact can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.5: Vedana Sutta — Feeling

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of feeling can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.6: Sañña Sutta — Perception

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of perception can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.7: Cetana Sutta — Intention

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of intentions can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.8: Tanha Sutta — Craving

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of craving can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.9: Dhatu Sutta — Properties

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of the six elements (earth, liquid, fire, wind, space, and consciousness) can lead to stream-entry.

SN 25.10: Khandha Sutta — Aggregates.

How conviction in, and understanding of, inconstancy of the five aggregates can lead to stream-entry.

26. Uppada-samyutta — Arising

27. Kilesa-samyutta — Defilements

SN 27.1-10: Upakkilesa Samyutta — Defilements

These ten suttas explain why it is worth abandoning desire that is associated with: (1) the six sense bases; (2) their objects; (3) consciousness; (4) contact; (5) feeling; (6) perception; (7) intentions; (8) craving; (9) the six elements (earth, liquid, fire, wind, space, and consciousness); and (10) the five aggregates.

28. Sariputta-samyutta — Ven. Sariputta

29. Naga-samyutta — Nagas

30. Supanna-samyutta — Garudas

31. Gandhabbakaya-samyutta — Gandhabba devas

32. Valahaka-samyutta — Rain-cloud devas

33. Vacchagotta-samyutta — Ven. Vacchagotta

34. Jhana-samyutta — Concentration

Salayatana Vagga — The Section on the Six Sense Bases

35. Salayatana-samyutta — The six senses

SN 35.23: Sabba Sutta — The All

What is the “All”?

SN 35.24: Pahanaya Sutta — To Be Abandoned

What, exactly, is it that we must let go of?

SN 35.28: Adittapariyaya Sutta — The Fire Sermon

Several months after his Awakening, the Buddha delivers this sermon to an audience of 1,000 fire-worshipping ascetics. The Buddha uses the metaphor of fire to illustrate the nature of clinging. Upon hearing the sermon, the entire audience attains full Awakening.

SN 35.63: Migajala Sutta/Migajaalena Sutta — To Migajala/Migajaala

Why is true solitude so hard to find? The Buddha explains why, no matter where you go, your most annoying companions always tag along.

SN 35.69: Upasena Sutta — Upasena

Ven. Upasena, mortally wounded by a venomous snake, remains perfectly composed as he utters his dying words to Ven. Sariputta.

SN 35.74: Gilana Sutta — Ill (1)

An ailing monk attains stream-entry when the Buddha engages him in a dialogue about not-self.

SN 35.75: Gilana Sutta — Ill (2)

An ailing monk attains arahatship when the Buddha engages him in a dialogue about not-self.

SN 35.80: Avijja Sutta — Ignorance

What one thing must be abandoned in order to overcome ignorance?

SN 35.82: Loka Sutta — The World

The Buddha explains how all things in the world share one inevitable and unfortunate characteristic. Do you want to remain bound to a world like this?

SN 35.85: Suñña Sutta — Empty

The Buddha explains to Ven. Ananda in what way the world is devoid of anything that can rightly be called “self.”

SN 35.88: Punna Sutta — To Punna

What would you do with your mind while you’re being beaten and stabbed? Consider the Buddha’s advice to Punna.

SN 35.93: Dvaya Sutta — A Pair

On the arising of sense-consciousness.

SN 35.95: Malunkyaputta Sutta/Maalunkyaputta Sutta — To Malunkyaputta/Maalunkyaputta

An aging Ven. Malunkyaputta receives from the Buddha a short teaching regarding dispassion towards the senses (“In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen…”), and soon thereafter becomes an arahant.

SN 35.97: Pamadaviharin Sutta — Dwelling in Heedlessness

The benefits of living with heedfulness (appamada).

SN 35.99: Samadhi Sutta — Concentration

The Buddha recommends concentration practice as a way to develop discernment.

SN 35.101: Na Tumhaka Sutta — Not Yours

Do you usually think of “grass” or “leaves” as being “you”? Of course not. In the same way, the sense of “self” cannot be found anywhere within the realm of the senses.

SN 35.115: Marapasa Sutta — Mara’s Power

The Buddha explains that once one is completely freed from chasing after sense pleasures, one is then finally safe from Mara.

SN 35.120: Sariputto Sutta — Sariputta

Ven. Sariputta’s advice on how to guard the sense-doors, be moderate in eating, and remain steadfast in heedfulness.

SN 35.127: Bharadvaja Sutta/Bhaaradvaajo Sutta — About Bharadvaja/Bhaaradvaaja Instructs a King

Ven. Pindola Bharadvaja explains to a king how to maintain one’s resolve towards celibacy.

SN 35.132: Lohicco Sutta — Lohicca

Ven. Mahakaccana’s advice on guarding the sense doors.

SN 35.133: Verahaccaani Sutta — Verahaccaani

For one withholding respect for the Dhamma, Ven. Udayi withholds a Dhamma teaching.

SN 35.135: Khana Sutta — The Opportunity

This human realm — neither too pleasurable nor too painful — is the best place to practice Dhamma.

SN 35.145: Kamma Sutta/Kamma.m Sutta — Action/Kamma

The Buddha explains how the results of “old” kamma (the actions we performed in the past) and “new” kamma (the ones we perform now) are both experienced in the present.

SN 35.152: Atthinukhopariyaayo Sutta — Is There a Criterion?

The Buddha offers a method for ascertaining whether one has attained enlightenment.

SN 35.153: Indriya Sutta — Faculties

A monk asks the Buddha: “What does it mean to be ‘consummate in faculties'”?

SN 35.187: Samuddo (1) Sutta — The Ocean (1)

What does it mean to cross over the ocean of the six senses?

SN 35.189: Balisika Sutta — The Fisherman

How to avoid getting caught, like a fish, on Mara’s hooks.

SN 35.191: Kotthita Sutta/Ko.t.thiko Sutta — To Kotthita/Ko.t.thika

Ven. Sariputta explains to Ven. Maha Kotthita that our problem lies neither in the senses themselves nor in the objects to which the senses cling. Suffering comes from the passion that arises in dependence on both.

SN 35.193: Udayin Sutta — With Udayin

Since none of the five aggregates can arise on their own, independent of their objects, how can we identify any one of them as “self”?

SN 35.197: Asivisa Sutta — Vipers

The Buddha uses some vivid imagery to illustrate the life-and-death urgency of Dhamma practice.

SN 35.199: Kumma Sutta — The Tortoise

If we guard the senses wisely, as a tortoise guards against attack by withdrawing into the safety of its shell, we are safely out of Mara’s reach.

SN 35.200: Daruka-khandha Sutta — The Log

A lowly cowherd overhears the Buddha speak of the many hazards that lurk in the stream to Nibbana. He takes it to heart and soon succeeds in reaching the goal.

SN 35.202: Avassuta Sutta — Soggy

How to guard your concentration against Mara’s onslaughts.

SN 35.203: Dukkhadhammaa Sutta — Things Productive of Suffering

One practiced in sense restraint dispels evil states just as water drops evaporate from a hot iron pot.

SN 35.204: Kimsuka Sutta/Ki.msukaa Sutta — The Riddle Tree/The ‘What’s It’ Tree (Ki.msuka)

The Buddha explains how tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana) function together as a “swift pair of messengers” to guide the meditator onwards to Nibbana.

SN 35.205: Vina Sutta/Vii.naa Sutta — The Lute

The heart of insight (vipassana): When you take apart a lute in search of its music, what do you find? When you take apart the five aggregates in search of “self,” what do you find?

SN 35.206: Chappana Sutta/ Sutta — The Six Animals

The Buddha explains how training the mind is like keeping six unruly animals tied together on a leash.

SN 35.207: Yavakalapi Sutta — The Sheaf of Barley

This sutta, though disjointed, offers some fine similes to illustrate the mind’s tendency to create suffering for itself.

36. Vedana-samyutta — Feeling

SN 36.1: Samadhi Sutta — Concentration

How an understanding of feeling leads to Nibbana.

SN 36.2: Sukha Sutta — Happiness

How an understanding of feeling leads to the ending of passion.

SN 36.3: Pahana Sutta — Giving Up

True freedom is found by abandoning the mind’s underlying habitual tendencies (anusaya).

SN 36.4: Patala Sutta — The Bottomless Pit/The Bottomless Chasm

The Buddha teaches that by meeting intense physical pain with mindfulness, we can spare ourselves from falling into a bottomless pit of anguish and suffering.

SN 36.5: Datthabba Sutta — To Be Known

Behind even the happiest and most pleasant of feelings lurks a persistent pain that can, through practice, be overcome.

SN 36.6: Sallatha Sutta — The Dart/The Arrow

When shot by the arrow of physical pain, an unwise person makes matters worse by piling mental anguish on top of it, just as if he had been shot by two arrows. A wise person feels the sting of one arrow alone.

SN 36.7: Gelañña Sutta — At the Sick Room (1)/The Sick Ward (1)

The Buddha visits a sick ward, and offers advice to the monks on how to approach death with mindfulness.

SN 36.8: Gelañña Sutta — At the Sick Room (2)

(This sutta is nearly identical to the preceding one, except here the feeling of pleasure, etc., is said to be dependent on contact rather than on the body.)

SN 36.9: Anicca Sutta — Impermanent

The impermanence of feeling.

SN 36.10: Phassamulaka Sutta — Rooted in Sense-impression

How sense-impression gives rise to feeling.

SN 36.11: Rahogata Sutta — Secluded/Alone

The Buddha explains how the practice of jhāna leads to progressive stages of cessation and stillness. Only when the defilements are finally extinguished, however, is true peace and stillness achieved.

SN 36.12: Akasa Sutta — In the Sky (1)

Feelings rise and fall, like winds blowing across the skies.

SN 36.13: Akasa Sutta — In the Sky (2)

[This sutta repeats the prose section of the preceding sutta, without the verse.]

SN 36.14: Agara Sutta — The Guest House

Feelings come and go, like house-guests.

SN 36.15: Santaka Sutta — To Ananda (1)

The Buddha explains to Ven. Ananda the origin of, danger in, and escape from feeling.

SN 36.16: Santaka Sutta — To Ananda

[The Buddha puts to Ven. Ananda the same questions as in the preceding sutta, and answers them in the same way.]

SN 36.17-18: Atthaka Sutta — Eightfold (1 & 2)

[In these two suttas the same questions and answers found in SN 36.15 are repeated in the case of “many monks.”]

SN 36.19: Pañcakanga Sutta — Carpenter Fivetools/With Pañcakanga

The Buddha describes the many kinds of happiness that can be experienced through sustained practice. Which kind of happiness do you seek?

SN 36.20: Bhikkhu Sutta — Monks

[This discourse, addressed to some bhikkhus, repeats the main part of the preceding sutta, without its introductory section.]

SN 36.21: Sivaka Sutta — To Sivaka

The Buddha explains that present experience cannot be described solely in terms of the results of past actions (kamma).

SN 36.22: Atthasatapariyaya Sutta/Atthasata Sutta — One Hundred Eight Feelings/The One-hundred-and-eight Exposition

A summary and enumeration of the different ways that the Buddha has analyzed feeling (hint: 3x6x6=108).

SN 36.23: Bhikkhu Sutta — To a Certain Bhikkhu

A discussion of the ways that feeling must be understood in order to gain freedom from attachment to feeling. Includes an interesting reference to craving as an unskillful “path of practice.”

SN 36.30: Suddhikavedana Sutta — Purified of Feeling

One of the shortest suttas in the Tipitaka. In its entirety it reads: “Bhikkhus, there are these three feelings. What three? Pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling, and neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.”

SN 36.31: Niramisa Sutta — Unworldly/Not of the Flesh

The Buddha describes the various grades of potential happiness and freedom, ranging from the worldly to the transcendent.

37. Matugama-samyutta — Destinies of women

SN 37.4: Vaddha Sutta — Growth

This brief sutta, which encourages education for women, may account for the fact that in the pre-modern world Theravada Buddhist countries had the highest rates of female literacy. [TB]

38. Jambhukhadaka-samyutta — Jambhukhadaka the wanderer

SN 38.14: Dukkha Sutta — Stress

Ven. Sariputta describes three kinds of stress (dukkha) and how they should be comprehended.

39. Samandaka-samyutta — Samandaka the wanderer

40. Moggallana-samyutta — Ven. Moggallana

SN 40.9: Animitto Sutta — The Signless

Ven. Moggallana describes the concentration attainment beyond the eighth jhana.

41. Citta-samyutta — Citta the householder

SN 41.3: Isidatta Sutta — About Isidatta

On the origin of self-view. In this touching story, Ven. Isidatta, a wise young forest monk, declines his elders’ invitation to become a Dhamma teacher, and instead quietly slips off into the forest and disappears.

SN 41.4: Mahaka Sutta — About Mahaka

How one monk misused his psychic powers.

SN 41.5: Pathama Kamabhu — About Kamabhu (1)

Citta the householder explains to a monk the meaning of a metaphorical verse previously uttered by the Buddha.

SN 41.6: Kamabhu Sutta — With Kamabhu (2)

Ven. Kamabhu answers a layperson’s detailed questions concerning cessation-attainment (nirodha-samapatti), a state of profound — and potentially liberating — concentration whose prerequisite is full mastery of the jhanas.

SN 41.7: Godatta Sutta — To Godatta

A layperson points out the similarities and differences between several states of concentration.

SN 41.10: Gilana Sutta/Gilaana-dassana.m Sutta — Sick/Seeing the Sick (Citta)

While on his deathbed, Citta delivers an inspiring teaching on generosity to his friends, his family, and a gathering of devas.

42. Gamani-samyutta — Village headmen

SN 42.2: Talaputa Sutta — To Talaputa the Actor

Comedians and actors take heed: making others laugh may not always be a particularly commendable occupation, as Talaputa learns.

SN 42.3: Yodhajiva Sutta — To Yodhajiva (The Warrior)

The Buddha cautions a soldier against expecting a favorable rebirth because of his battlefield heroics.

SN 42.6: Paccha-bhumika Sutta — [Brahmans] of the Western Land

The Buddha explains how the principles of kamma and rebirth are as inviolable as the law of gravity. Choose your actions with care, lest you sink like a stone!

SN 42.7: Desanaa Sutta — Teaching

SN 42.8: Sankha Sutta — The Conch Trumpet

The Buddha clarifies a crucial point about kamma: although you can never undo a past misdeed, there are ways you can mitigate its inevitable harmful results.

SN 42.9: Kula Sutta — Families

A questioner challenges the Buddha: “If you’re so supportive of familial harmony, then how can you justify accepting alms from poor families in times of famine?”

SN 42.10: Maniculaka Sutta — To Maniculaka

A questioner asks the Buddha: “Are monks allowed to use money?”

SN 42.11: Gandhabhaka (Bhadraka) Sutta — To Gandhabhaka (Bhadraka)

Why do we experience suffering and stress? Using simple analogies, the Buddha offers a clear and penetrating answer.

43. Asankhata-samyutta — The unfashioned (Nibbana)

44. Avyakata-samyutta — Undeclared

See Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s Introduction to this samyutta.

SN 44.1: Khema Sutta — With Khema

Ven. Sister Khema explains to King Pasenadi why questions about the fate of the Tathagata after death are unanswerable.

SN 44.2: Anuradha Sutta — To Anuradha

Ven. Anuradha learns that if one can’t even locate the Tathagata in the present life, how can one ever hope to answer questions about his fate after death?

SN 44.3: Sariputta-Kotthita Sutta — Sariputta and Kotthita (1)

The Buddha takes no position on questions about the fate of the Tathagata after death because each question is bound up in the five khandhas.

SN 44.4: Sariputta-Kotthita Sutta — Sariputta and Kotthita (2)

Questions regarding the fate of the Tathagata do not arise in those who see the aggregates as they actually are.

SN 44.5: Sariputta-Kotthita Sutta — Sariputta and Kotthita (3)

Questions regarding the fate of the Tathagata do not arise in those who have abandoned passion for the aggregates.

SN 44.6: Sariputta-Kotthita Sutta — Sariputta and Kotthita (4)

Questions regarding the fate of the Tathagata do not arise in those who no longer take delight in the aggregates, in clinging, in becoming, or in craving.

SN 44.7: Moggallana Sutta — With Moggallana

The Buddha takes no position on the ten speculative views because he does not identify any of the six senses as “self.”

SN 44.8: Vacchagotta Sutta — With Vacchagotta

The Buddha takes no position on the ten speculative views because he does not identify any of the five aggregates as “self.”

SN 44.9: Kutuhalasala Sutta — With Vacchagotta

The Buddha uses the image of a fire to explain what carries a being over into its next rebirth.

SN 44.10: Ananda Sutta — To Ananda

Why the Buddha did not take a position on the question of whether or not there is a self.

SN 44.11: Sabhiya Sutta — With Sabhiya

The fate of the Tathagata after death cannot be described because the causes for any worldly description of his fate would have totally ceased.

Maha Vagga — The Great Section

45. Magga-samyutta — The Noble Eightfold Path

SN 45.1: Avijja Sutta — Ignorance

The Buddha explains that ignorance is the cause of wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, etc., whereas clear knowing gives rise to right view and all the factors of the eightfold path.

SN 45.2: Upaddha Sutta — Half (of the Holy Life)

In this famous sutta the Buddha corrects Ven. Ananda, pointing out that having “admirable” friends, companions, and comrades is not half but the whole of the holy life. (For more about this special kind of friendship, see the page on kalyanamittata.)

SN 45.8: Magga-vibhanga Sutta — An Analysis of the Path

A summary of the Noble Eightfold Path.

SN 45.159: Agantuka Sutta — For All Comers

The states that are to be comprehended, abandoned, experienced, and cultivated through the practice of the Eightfold Path.

SN 45.165: Dukkhata Sutta — Suffering

The three kinds of suffering.

SN 45.171: Ogha Sutta — Floods (1)

Many discourses speak of “crossing over the flood.” This discourse lists the floods that should be crossed over, and how it should be done. [TB]

46. Bojjhanga-samyutta — The Seven Factors for Awakening

[See “The Seven Factors for Awakening” in The Wings to Awakening.]

SN 46.1: Himavanta Sutta — The Himalayas

A summary of the seven Factors for Awakening.

SN 46.14: Gilana Sutta — Ill

The Buddha instructs a very ill Ven. Maha Kassapa on the seven Factors for Awakening.

SN 46.16: Gilana Sutta — Ill

The Buddha, who is very ill, asks Ven. Maha Cunda to recite for him the seven Factors of Awakening.

SN 46.51: Ahara Sutta — Food

The Buddha describes how we can either “feed” or “starve” the wholesome and unwholesome tendencies in the mind according to how we apply our attention.

SN 46.53: Aggi Sutta — Fire

The right and wrong ways to respond to sluggishness or restlessness.

SN 46.54: Metta Sutta/Mettam Sutta — Good Will/The Brahma-viharas

How to develop the four brahma-viharas.

SN 46.55: Sangaravo Sutta — Sangarava

Why do some sacred texts seem clear, while others are muddled?

47. Satipatthana-samyutta — The Four Frames of Reference (Foundations of Mindfulness)

[See “The Four Frames of Reference” in The Wings to Awakening.]

SN 47.6: Sakunagghi Sutta — The Hawk

The Buddha uses a lovely parable — that of a hawk catching a quail far outside the quail’s familiar hunting ground — to reveal the need for keeping the mind in its proper territory: the four frames of reference.

SN 47.7: Makkata Sutta — The Foolish Monkey/The Monkey

Keep your mind in its proper territory — the four frames of reference — lest you lose it altogether, like this pitiful monkey stuck in a tar trap.

SN 47.8: Suda Sutta — The Cook

How is meditation like cooking? The Buddha explains.

SN 47.10: Bhikkhunupassaya Sutta/Bhikkhunivasako Sutta — Directed and Undirected Meditation/Mindfulness

How to respond skillfully to distracted states of mind that interfere with concentration.

SN 47.13: Cunda Sutta — About Cunda

Ven. Ananda grieves over Ven. Sariputta’s death, and the Buddha consoles him with Dhamma: make the Dhamma your island, your true refuge!

SN 47.14: Cunda Sutta — At Ukkacela

The Buddha’s reaction to the death of Ven. Sariputta.

SN 47.19: Sedaka Sutta — The Bamboo Acrobat/At Sedaka

Is meditation a selfish endeavor? Using a famous simile of two acrobats, the Buddha resolves this question decisively.

SN 47.20: Sedaka Sutta — At Sedaka

How solid is your concentration? Try this test, proposed by the Buddha: Can you keep a glass of oil balanced on your head while your favorite movie star is singing and dancing right in front of you?

SN 47.35: Sata Sutta — Mindful

What does it mean to be mindful? What does it mean to be alert?

SN 47.37: Chanda Sutta — Desire

How mindfulness leads to freedom from desire — and beyond.

SN 47.38: Pariñña Sutta — Comprehension

Comprehension of these four things leads to Awakening.

SN 47.40: Satipatthana-vibhanga Sutta — Analysis of the Frames of Reference

A summary of the four Frames of Reference, and how they are to be developed.

SN 47.41: Amata Sutta — Deathless

Don’t let the Deathless be lost to you!

SN 47.42: Samudaya Sutta — Origination

The origination and subsiding of the foundations of mindfulness.

SN 47.46: Paa.timokkha Sutta — Obligation

Success in meditation depends upon laying skillful foundations.

48. Indriya-samyutta — The Five Mental Faculties

[See “The Five Faculties” in The Wings to Awakening.]

SN 48.10: Indriya-vibhanga Sutta — Analysis of the Mental Faculties

A summary of the five mental faculties: conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment.

SN 48.38: Vibhanga Sutta — An Analysis

On the Buddha’s five-fold classification of feelings.

SN 48.39: Katthopama Sutta — The Fire-stick

On the Buddha’s five-fold classification of feelings.

SN 48.41: Jara Sutta — Old Age

The Buddha, now a wrinkled old man, issues a stirring rebuke against old age.

SN 48.42: Unnabho Brahmano Sutta — The Brahman Unnabha

SN 48.44: Pubbakotthaka Sutta — Eastern Gatehouse

The Buddha and Ven. Sariputta discuss conviction, and whether it is present in those who have seen the Deathless. They concur that until one experiences the Deathless for oneself, one can only take its existence on faith.

SN 48.53: Sekha Sutta — The Learner

How can one tell if one is a “learner” (sekha; one who has attained at least stream-entry, but not yet arahantship) or an arahant?

SN 48.54: Pade Sutta — In the Foot

SN 48.56: Patitthita Sutta — Established

Heedfulness: the cornerstone upon which all other skillful qualities are based.

49. Sammappadhana-samyutta — The Four Right Exertions

[See “The Four Right Exertions” in The Wings to Awakening.]

50. Bala-samyutta — The Five Strengths

[See “The Five Strengths” in The Wings to Awakening.]

51. Iddhipada-samyutta — The Four Bases of Power

[See “The Four Bases of Power” in The Wings to Awakening.]

SN 51.15: Brahmana Sutta — To Unnabha the Brahman

Ven. Ananda explains to Unnabha that the path of Dhamma is one with a definite goal — the abandoning of desire — which can only be attained by developing a strong desire to end desire.

SN 51.20: Iddhipada-vibhanga Sutta — Analysis of the Bases of Power

The Buddha explains how the four bases of power are to be developed.

52. Anuruddha-samyutta — Ven. Anuruddha

SN 52.10: Gilana Sutta — Illness

Ven. Anuruddha explains to the other monks how he keeps the pain of his physical illness from invading the mind.

53. Jhana-samyutta — Jhana (mental absorption)

54. Anapana-samyutta — Mindfulness of breathing

SN 54.6: Arittha Sutta — To Arittha

The Buddha explains that success in meditation calls for more than simply being mindful; there are specific skills that must be developed.

SN 54.8: Dipa Sutta — The Lamp

No matter how far along you are in your meditation practice, the basic principle is the same: you should develop and sustain mindfulness of breathing.

SN 54.9: Vesali Sutta — At Vesali

How the practice of concentration through mindfulness of breathing clarifies the underlying purpose of other meditation practices.

SN 54.13: Ananda Sutta — To Ananda

The Buddha explains to Ven. Ananda how the sustained practice of mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) leads, by stages, to full Awakening.

55. Sotapatti-samyutta — Stream-entry

SN 55.1: Raja Sutta — The Emperor

Which is better: being a world leader, or gaining the four factors of stream-entry?

SN 55.21: Mahanama Sutta — To Mahanama (1)

SN 55.22: Mahanama Sutta — To Mahanama (2)

Sometimes it is said that the last moment of consciousness is all-important in determining one’s rebirth, but these suttas show that well-developed virtues in the mind can override even a muddled mind-state at death.

SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink)

SN 55.30: Licchavi Sutta — To the Licchavi

The Buddha instructs the layman Nandaka on the four factors of stream-entry.

SN 55.31: Abhisanda Sutta — Bonanzas (1)

SN 55.32: Abhisanda Sutta — Bonanzas (2)

SN 55.33: Abhisanda Sutta — Bonanzas (3)

The Buddha describes three variations on the four factors of stream-entry.

SN 55.40: Nandiya Sutta — To Nandiya

On what it means to live with heedfulness (appamada).

SN 55.54: Gilana Sutta — Ill

A short instruction manual on how to give comfort to a gravely ill lay follower.

56. Sacca-samyutta — The Four Noble Truths

SN 56.9: Viggahika Sutta — Wordy Warfare

Some kinds of speech are counterproductive.

SN 56.11: Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta — The Discourse on the Setting in Motion of the Wheel (of Vision) of the Basic Pattern: the Four True Realities for the Spiritually Ennobled Ones/Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth/Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth/Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

This is the Buddha’s first discourse, delivered shortly after his Awakening to the group of five monks with whom he had practiced the austerities in the forest for many years. The sutta contains the essential teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Upon hearing this discourse, the monk Kondañña attains the first stage of Awakening, thus giving birth to the ariya sangha (Noble Sangha).

SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Four things whose fundamental reality makes them worthy of deep contemplation.

SN 56.22: Vijja Sutta — Knowledge

SN 56.31: Simsapa Sutta — The Simsapa Leaves

The Buddha compares the knowledge he gained in his Awakening to all the leaves in the forest, and his teachings to a mere handful of leaves. He then explains why he didn’t reveal the remainder.

SN 56.35: Sattisata Sutta — One Hundred Spears

Life may be fraught with pain, but the breakthrough to Awakening is utterly painless.

SN 56.36: Pana Sutta — Animals

The path leading out of samsara springs from contemplation of the Four Noble Truths.

SN 56.42: Papata Sutta — The Drop-off

The Buddha reminds an anxious monk who stands with him at the edge of a high cliff that some dangers are far more worrisome than this precipice.

SN 56.44: Kuta Sutta — Gabled

Practicing Dhamma is like building a house: you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You just can’t do it the other way round.

SN 56.45: Vala Sutta — The Horsehair

It’s easy to admire the skill required to master a sport or a feat of manual dexterity. But even more difficult is the skill required to master the Four Noble Truths.

SN 56.46: Andhakara Sutta — Darkness

A monk ponders the darkness of deep space and asks the Buddha: “Is there any darkness more frightening than this?” The Buddha asserts that yes, there most certainly is.

SN 56.48: Chiggala Sutta — The Hole

The Buddha’s famous simile of the blind sea-turtle, illustrating the precious rarity of this human birth.

SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

A fortunate rebirth is rare. Therefore: practice!

Source: “Samyutta Nikaya: The Grouped Discourses”, edited by Access to Insight. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 21 December 2013, . [This format has been produced by Alexander Peck.]

It is highly recommended to go to the website given above for the missing embedded links in the first six pages of this document – and also for other embedded links.

On the website, the suttas are numbered by samyutta (chapter) and sutta, with the suttas numbered sequentially from the start of each samyutta, using as a guide the Rhys Davis & Woodward PTS English translations of the Samyutta Nikaya (The Book of the Kindred Sayings). The braces {} that follow each sutta and samyutta title contain the corresponding volume and starting page number, first in the Pali Text Society (PTS) romanized Pali edition of the Samyutta Nikaya, then in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s Connected Discourses of the Buddha (“CDB”). The translator appears in the square brackets [].

See also the handy table for converting between traditional (DPR, CSCD) and modern (ATI, CDB) samyutta numbering systems.

©2005 Access to Insight.

The text of this page (“Samyutta Nikaya: The Grouped Discourses”, by Access to Insight) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of the license, visit Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Last revised for Access to Insight on 21 December 2013.