Sutras: which books/books?

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Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Pete Mcr » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:05 pm

I'm new to Buddhism, have read some secondary texts and now interested in reading the original sutras. Can anyone recommend which versions/collections of sutras are most helpful to begin studying?

I'm considering getting this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Heart-Essential-Buddhist-Commentaries/dp/1937006115/ref=sr_1_28?ie=UTF8&qid=1360508159&sr=8-28 ...not sure if there are any better collections.

And is there a link summarising the content of each sutra (other than wikipedia)?
"Eventually we must give up trying to be something special." Chogyam Trungpa
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Jainarayan » Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:19 pm

I have the Heart Sūtra, Lotus Sūtra and Diamond Sūtra. I have not yet read them but I look forward to it. I understand that they are the basic Mahāyāna sūtras. Perhaps someone can correct me and add to this.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby floating_abu » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:01 pm

There is only one book worth reading: the Heart
- Ajahn Chah

Failing that, there are many good Suttas around. Go with your school, study a little, and practice a whole lot more.

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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:15 pm

Pete Mcr wrote:I'm new to Buddhism, have read some secondary texts and now interested in reading the original sutras. Can anyone recommend which versions/collections of sutras are most helpful to begin studying?

I'm considering getting this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Heart-Essential-Buddhist-Commentaries/dp/1937006115/ref=sr_1_28?ie=UTF8&qid=1360508159&sr=8-28 ...not sure if there are any better collections.

And is there a link summarising the content of each sutra (other than wikipedia)?


Buddhanets online e library:

http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/

for Pali Canon Access to Insight:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org

Certainly not exhaustive but there's plenty here. Seriously just Google what you want, lots of free Sutra and Sutta floating around, don't know anything about what translations are best.
The Buddhanet link has a Heart Sutra with commentary, don't know about how it's viewed, it's different from some translations but it seems pretty in depth commentary wise.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Will » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:06 pm

This is small anthology, weighted toward the Mahayana: http://www.bdkamerica.org/default.aspx?MPID=53

On the left side of the page is another button - 'Buddha Dharma' - this is a much larger (800 pp.) anthology.

This site has three paper books of Mahayana sutras thematically arranged: http://www.sutrasmantras.info/index.html

The site also has over 35 online sutras translated.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby lojong1 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:36 pm

Pete Mcr wrote:I'm new to Buddhism, have read some secondary texts and now interested in reading the original sutras.

How wonderfully unusual! You made my morning. I find the best Mahayana sutras are in the "hinayana," which others have already linked to.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Vajratantrika » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:50 am

Pete Mcr wrote:I'm new to Buddhism, have read some secondary texts and now interested in reading the original sutras. Can anyone recommend which versions/collections of sutras are most helpful to begin studying?


Hi Pete,

I've found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Majjhima Nikaya to be extremely beneficial for sutra study. It is part of the Pali Canon.
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of ignorance, attachment and aversion.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Pete Mcr » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:11 pm

Thanks for your responses. These ebook links are great, esp. being freely available. Printed off the Heart and Diamond Sutra, so will start with them before the Lotus. Ordered the Majjhima Nikaya from the library. Thanks all for saving me a few quid! :reading:
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Asoka1944 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:02 pm

Pete, advice is cheap, so here is mine: Don't overburden yourself with sutras. Pick one or two and study them, by which I mean, read them often, ponder them, read commentaries. It's the same with schools of Buddhism: We can get real confused trying to navigate through all of them. Perhaps look over one sutra from the Theravada and one from the Mahayana to see which resonates with you more. It's all well and good to say that all schools are ultimately the same or lead to the same place, but trying to walk all those paths at once could stretch your legs beyond repair.
with Metta,
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby PorkChop » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:29 pm

If you want simple life lessons to read through literally, go with any of the Pali Sutta Pitaka.
If you want deep philosophical treaties with lots of metaphor that will fundamentally change the way you view the world, go with the Mahayana Sutras (the ones you picked are good examples).
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby chickenman » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:23 pm


a great book. i like Thich alot, and highly recommend his "heart of the buddha's teaching'.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Pete Mcr » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:58 pm

Asoka1944 wrote:Pete, advice is cheap, so here is mine: Don't overburden yourself with sutras. Pick one or two and study them, by which I mean, read them often, ponder them, read commentaries. It's the same with schools of Buddhism: We can get real confused trying to navigate through all of them. Perhaps look over one sutra from the Theravada and one from the Mahayana to see which resonates with you more. It's all well and good to say that all schools are ultimately the same or lead to the same place, but trying to walk all those paths at once could stretch your legs beyond repair.
with Metta,
Michael
(Buddharūci)


Thanks Michael, this confusion has been a bit of a constant recently, and it would be easy to overwhelm myself with a pile of sutras and other books. I found the Satipathana a breath of fresh air, and just working through Sangharakshita's commentary. I've scanned the Diamond and Heart sutras, which had commentaries included in the print-outs. Reading the Diamond just before bed was strange, as my head felt all over the place from the contradictions. I felt some sense on one level but utterly confused on another! I felt wide awake for a couple of hours after that.

I also bought this Lotus from a local Buddhist centre today, at the risk of major ligament damage! I will work through each one slowly for sure, but there's some real excitement around about all this at the moment, like Ive swallowed a load of blue Smarties. Will pick a focal point over the week to get ground once again.

PorkChop wrote:If you want simple life lessons to read through literally, go with any of the Pali Sutta Pitaka.
If you want deep philosophical treaties with lots of metaphor that will fundamentally change the way you view the world, go with the Mahayana Sutras (the ones you picked are good examples).


Both? Most of my books are manuals, mostly for work but also self-help/health/lucid dreaming/languages etc so this is probably my default...Asked what books Ive enjoyed learning most from and come back to again and again, it'd be the dense confusing poetic ones that made no sense at first!

chickenman wrote: highly recommend his "heart of the buddha's teaching'.


Yes! the first book on Buddhism I read! I found it an absorbing read and has helped led me here for more.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:13 am

Pete Mcr wrote:
PorkChop wrote:If you want simple life lessons to read through literally, go with any of the Pali Sutta Pitaka.
If you want deep philosophical treaties with lots of metaphor that will fundamentally change the way you view the world, go with the Mahayana Sutras (the ones you picked are good examples).

Both? Most of my books are manuals, mostly for work but also self-help/health/lucid dreaming/languages etc so this is probably my default...Asked what books Ive enjoyed learning most from and come back to again and again, it'd be the dense confusing poetic ones that made no sense at first!


There are deep parts to the Pali Suttas, certainly if there were no Pali Suttas (or their respective source tradition), then would've been no Mahayana Sutras.
But Mahayana Sutras are the kind that are really good about taking on all kinds of new meanings with repeated readings.
Mahayana Sutras really need to be meditated on.
Going to steal an idea from Queequeg here: similar to how Star Wars uses all kinds of far out sci fi imagery as a vehicle for timeless truths, the same goes for Mahayana Sutras.
Just wanted to throw that out there in case you wanted to know the relative value of either tradition; there are many who diss the Mahayana because they get caught up on the imagery and miss the message.
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby Pete Mcr » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:44 am

PorkChop wrote:There are deep parts to the Pali Suttas, certainly if there were no Pali Suttas (or their respective source tradition), then would've been no Mahayana Sutras.
But Mahayana Sutras are the kind that are really good about taking on all kinds of new meanings with repeated readings.
Mahayana Sutras really need to be meditated on.
Going to steal an idea from Queequeg here: similar to how Star Wars uses all kinds of far out sci fi imagery as a vehicle for timeless truths, the same goes for Mahayana Sutras.
Just wanted to throw that out there in case you wanted to know the relative value of either tradition; there are many who diss the Mahayana because they get caught up on the imagery and miss the message.


Cool. THanks Pork, will pay heed to the Star Wars-like multi layers and give them time.
"Eventually we must give up trying to be something special." Chogyam Trungpa
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Re: Sutras: which books/books?

Postby uan » Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:45 am

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