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Sabba-Dhamma Mūla-Pariyāya

The Root of All Things

Paṭhavi — Earth
Āpo — Water
Tejo — Fire/light
Vāyo — Wind
Bhūta — Living Things
Devas — Stars
Pajāpati — The Creator of the Created
Brahma — The Supreme Deity
Ābhassara — Radiant Deities
Subhakiṇṇa — Luminous Deities
Vehapphala — Air-Fruit Deities
Abhibhu — Deities Above Being
Ākāsanañ-c'āyatana — The Realm of Space
Viññāṇañ-c'āyatana — The Realm of Consciousness
Ākiñcāññāyatana — The Realm where Nothing is to be Had
N'eva-saññā-nā-saññ'āyatanaṃ — The Realm where there is Neither Perception nor Non-Perception
Diṭṭha — Seeing with the Mind's Eye
Sutta — Hearing with the Mind's Ear
Muta — Sensing with Intuition
Viññāta — Intuitively Knowing
Ekatta — Unity
Nānata — Diversity
Sabba — The All
Nibbāna — The End of Pain, Rebirth, Old Age, Sickness, Suffering and Death, Grief and Lamentation, Pain and Misery, and Despair; Living Outside Time; Free from Kamma; Freedom from Sense Experience; Freedom of Mind, Heart, Consciousness, Experience.

—MN 1



What follows is a multi-year curriculum for Dhamma Study compiled from the What's New? pages of this website. It consists of reading materials, sutta discussions, essays, and inspiring quotations grouped as lessons circling through the Four Nikāyas multiple times. Ideally this presentation of the Dhamma would follow a study of the Gradual Course or at least a careful examination of The Method and at least one full reading of the whole of the Four Nikāyas. However as in essence what is found here is just a selection of suttas dealing with important topics, a beginning student of the Dhamma will not go wrong if they elect to begin here. The un-orthodox sequencing has as its primary intent the stimulus of insight.



First Year


Unit 1

[MN 112]: Chabbisodhana Sutta, The Sixth Cleansing, Olds translation. The questions to be asked when in doubt about some person's claim to be Arahant. I believe this is the first full translation of this sutta. The PTS and Bhks. Nanamoli and Bodi's translations have abbreviations and both re-use previous translations of the last section whereas it contains differences from the previously translated Pali. Sister Upalavana's translation is linked. She often mangles English, but her predisposition is to accurate translation independant of the other translators and consulting her choices is sometimes helpful.


Unit 2

[AN 9.7]: Sutavāparibbājaka Suttaṃ, The Wanderer Sutava, Olds translation. Manners in which a beggar who is arahant,
corruptions eliminated,
duty's doing done,
load laid down,
his own good gained,
yokes to living thoroughly broken,
highest answer-knowledge free,
cannot behave.


Unit 3

[AN 7.47]: Methuna Suttaṃ, Intercourse, Olds translation. The Brahma Carriage in detail. The complete, faultless, spotless, unblemished, fulfilled, clean clear through, carriage of the Brahma carriage.
See also, in this context, the BuddhaDust archive: Sex and the Lay Buddhist


Unit 4

[AN 9.37]: Ānanda Suttaṃ, Ānanda, Olds translation. Another in a growing collection of suttas which describes an impersonal consciousness. Not 'Bodhi Mind'! Not something that is always there and simply needs to be realized, not something which when attained is the same as that which was left behind, but a stable, happy, fear-free mind-made freedom-sustained serenity where eye is such that of the realm of shapes there is no resultant personal experience.


Unit 5

[AN 9.13]: MahāKoṭṭhita Suttaṃ, MahāKoṭṭhita, Olds translation. What's the point? If it isn't to change one's kamma, then what is the reason one becomes a Buddhist?


Unit 6

[AN 9.12]: Sa-upādisesa Suttaṃ, With Holding-on, Olds translation. The nine destinies of those who die while still holding on to existence in various ways that are nevertheless safe from hells, animal births, ghostly births, and states of heavy-duty suffering and who are certain to reach Nibbāna within a limited number of lives. Be warned! This is not an invitation to get lazy!


Unit 7

[SN 5.54.11]: Icchānangala Suttaṃ, Icchanangala, Olds translation. Number 11 in the series on Respiration that was likely the source for the Satipatthana Sutta. Whatever, the description of this meditation practice in this series is very simple and clear. For the complete method start at #1. If you are confused by all the various practices out there that tell you to focus on the breathing this way and that way, 'thinking,' 'thinking,' 'thinking' this and that, then check this series out to see the original method in all it's simplicity ... though deeper than the deep blue see. Point of interest: Number 9 in the series tells the story of the first introduction of the method to the bhikkhus. Very dramatic.


Unit 8

[SN 5.54.13]: Ānanda Suttaṃ, Ānanda, Olds translation. Number 13 in the series on Minding the Breathing.

In this sutta Ānanda approaches The Buddha with what appears to have been a puzzle put to him or an inspiration that came to him. He asks about whether or not Dhamma taught one way might be the equivalent of Dhamma taught another way. The Buddha confirms and explains. This is a very important point that solves many of the issues troubling Buddhist students out there. It provides yet another tool for confirming whether or not a teaching or translation is consistent with the whole. If a teaching or translation renders another teaching or translation invalid, then there is a problem with one or the other or both. It explains how 'The One and Only Way' can be taught 84,000 different ways. It helps a person with a bias overcome that bias by presenting the approach in different ways. For the person with a bias, there is a paradox which must be resolved and resolving paradoxes is always mind-expanding. A very interesting sutta.

This translation is completely 'rolled out' which is not the case in any other translation, and in addition, I have rolled out the Pali which otherwise is very confusing.


Unit 9

Book Review: Zen Simply Sitting, Philippe Coupey. A small book which is a commentary on the Fukanazengi [Universal Guide on the Correct Practice of Zazen] by Master Dogen.


Unit 10

[AN 5.177]: Vaṇijjā Suttaṃ, Trades, Olds translation. Trades, modes of livlihood, manners of making a living that should not be undertaken by a Buddhist Lay Follower. Notice here the use of broad general or generic terms for the various occupations thus rendering the list less subject to time. 'Swords' is to imply weapons. It could have been 'knives', but knives are sometimes not used as weapons. Trade in living beings implies more than the slave trade and includes trade in animals raised for slaughter. Trade in 'limbs' or 'members' (parts) points to the role of the butcher. The instruction is not to engage in the selling of meat; there is no prohibition against the eating of meat. This is the tactic used in all such issues. This is the tactic used in the case of the trade in maddening drugs. At the time alcohol was the only problem drug but the term points to the real issue: any substance which causes a person to loose good judgment.

The poets say that Apollo tended the flocks of Admetus; so too each man is a God in disguise who plays the fool.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, found in "The Complete Short Stories of Marcel Proust" translated by Joachim Neugroschel
Pajapati's Problem — I lefa a ova


It is for those who wish to stop playing the fool
that 'beating the drum of Deathlessness' in a world gone blind
Gotama gave us this Dhamma.
Time to quit fooling around, my friends, Time Flies!


Unit 11

[SN 5.51.1]: To Beyond, Olds translation. And all the following suttas.
The first suttas of the Iddhipada Samyutta, suttas connected with the development of magic powers. Woodward, SN 5.51.2: "... by whomsoever these four bases of psychic power are neglected, by them also is neglected the Ariyan way that goes on to the utter destruction of Ill."


Unit 12

If This Be Madness


Unit 13

Suttas from the Iddhipada Samyutta of special interest:
[SN 5.51.10]: Shrine, Olds translation.
End of the first chapter of the Samyutta series on magic powers. A version of the story concerning the Buddha's renunciation of the possibility of extending his lifespan to the end of the world.
[SN 5.51.11]: Before, Olds translation.
A very important sutta for those interested in developing the four power-paths and the higher knowledges. There is in this translation also a completely different, and I believe much more instructive, translation given to the way to perceive past lives.
[SN 5.51.13]: Wishing, Olds translation.
In this sutta the relationship of the terms in the compound terms of the path are explained.
[SN 5.51.14]: Moggallāna, Olds translation.
Moggallāna shakes the Palace up a little with his big toe using a super-conjuration of super-conjurating.
[SN 5.51.15]: Brahmin Unnabha, Olds translation.
Unnabha asks Ānanda how it is possible to end desire with desire.


Unit 14

The Eye in the back of the Head
Translating the term pacchāpure-saññī describing how to develop this ability to see both what is in front and in back of one while simultaneously being able to understand and deal with it.


Unit 15

On the Advantages of Not Skipping Over Repetitions


Unit 16

[SN 5.51.22]: The Glop of Iron, Olds translation.
Continuing the Samyutta Nikaya Iddhipada Samyutta, the collection of suttas on developing Magic Powers. In this sutta we get the method for the Magic Power known today as 'shape-shifting'. Vikubbanā-iddhi, 'the power of transformation'. In this example it is the power to visit the brahma world in this body. This sutta is also interesting from the point of view of the fact that it is one of the few instances where Gotama is asked directly about his mastery of magic powers and specifically about one which is always at the top of the list of doubts by skeptics: the ability to do magic deeds in this body — the only state considered 'real' by the skeptic.
[SN 5.51.23]: Beggar, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.24]: Pure and Simple, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.25]: Fruits, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.26]: Fruits 2, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.27]: Ānanda, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.28]: Ānanda 2, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.29]: A Congregation of Beggars, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.30]: A Congregation of Beggars 2, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.31]: Moggallāna, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.32]: Tathāgata, Olds translation.
This ends the third sub-chapter of eight, or the first thirty-two of eighty-six suttas of the Iddhipada Samyutta. All but the first and last of the remaining suttas are completely abbreviated in all translations and in the Pali and consist of similes or benefits of cultivating the Iddhipadas as described to this point. The first and last suttas spell out only the formula for attaching the simile or benefit and only give indicative phrases and elipsis for placement of the details of the Iddhipadas. These suttas consist of a standard ('stock') set used at the end of many collections of suttas relating to a topic under development which are, however, themselves subject to a rotating variation. One can imagine if these series were spelled out here and in all the other places they occur an image in the mind's eye something like what one might experience in the actual view of a vast desert of sand-dunes stretching out to the horizon as compared to the way the same desert might be thought of without the view or indicated image in mind. In the actual view the beauty of the scope is seen and felt where in the thoughts alone all the biases one has with regard to deserts interfere with the awe inspiring direct perception. Or the sea. Or the vastness of outer space. Or a jungle. Or life.

Things talk to us. What this says to me here is that I as well as the other translators and even the editors of the Pali have not yet surpassed this limitation in vision, but here have come to a stop, short of the full scope of possibility. Let me not stop here, boss! If we're going to play 'translator', let's play it for all it's worth!

OK, I did two sets:

[SN 5.51.33-44]: Gaṅga Repetition, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.45-54]: Appamada, Olds translation.

The whole of each set is on one page so you can just scroll through to have a look-see. PS: Like a girl I once new whose every new lover was some kind of a first, I claim to be the first one since they were wrtten down 2300 years ago to have read this group of suttas in Pali, the first one ever to have read them all in English, and the first to do a complete translation. Ta da! Who's on second?


Unit 17

Make it Make sense
On translating similes in parallel with what they are supposed to illustrate.


Unit 18

[SN 5.51.55-66]: Deeds Requiring Balance Chapter, Olds translation.
Continuing the Iddhipada Samyutta series. These 12 suttas are also among those in this series making their first appearance either in the Pali or in translation.


Unit 19

[SN 5.51.67-76]: Probings Chapter, Olds translation.
[SN 5.51.77-86]: Floods Chapter, Olds translation.
Continuing and finishing the translation of the Iddhipada Samyutta series. These 20 suttas also are among those in this series making their first appearance either in the Pali or in translation and this also means that this is the first time the Complete Iddhipada Samyutta has appeared either in Pali or in Translation.
To view the entire Samyutta Series in order see SN 5.51 Iddhipada Samyutta Index


Unit 20

[AN 10.15]: Appamada, Olds translation.
Almost identical to SN 5.51.45-54. This is one of the most frequently appearing terms in the Pali. It is curious to me that this term which bears so much weight — in one place it is said that by understanding this one term one could attain Arahantship — it is the term used in the last piece of advice Gotama gave to the bhikkhus at the time of his death — should simply mean: 'no-carelessness', or Woodward's: 'seriousness', or Bhk. Thanissaro's: 'headfulness', or Bhk. Bodhi's: 'dilligence', or my 'caution'. I suggest the term is a 'manta' [Skt. 'mantra'], a door to another understanding of the Pali language and the origins of all languages. ... but! Be Careful! That way mada lies!


Unit 21

[Jataka 465]: Bhadda-Sāla-Jātaka
A long, convoluted story which contains a detailed description of the story of Gotama's effort to save the Sakkya clan from slaughter by King Viḍūḍabha, son of King Pasanadi. The story is sometimes used to justify Buddhists taking up political action. Reading the story itself shows that the only lesson to be taken from this event is exercise of compassion for all sides and abstention from futile action. This came up in a curious coinsidence in the old BuddhaDust site where I posted an essay on not taking revenge on September 10, 2001. On reflection it occurred to me that it was also curious that the person to whom I was responding had posted an essay advocating taking revenge and using violence in self-defense just at this time and seemingly out of the blue ... a person not heard from since.


Unit 22

[AN 10.69] Topics of Talk, Olds, translation.
Note that included in the topics of talk called 'animal talk' which should be avoided is talk about existence and non-exisetence of things. This includes 'self' — the discussion of whether or not there is a self, the statement that 'There is no self', are not proper subjects for discussion. The topic suitable for discussion is that there is 'no thing there that is the self'. The former is an opinion, the latter is something that can be observed.


Unit 23

Jataka Story 476
The Bodhisattva, born as a goose of great speed catches the arrows of four strong bowmen each aiming towards one of the four directions before they even touch the ground. The king asks the goose: "Well, friend, is there any speed swifter than yours?" "There is, my friend. Swifter than my swiftest a hundredfold, a thousandfold, nay a hundred thousandfold, is the decay of the elements of life in living beings: so they crumble away, so they are destroyed."
See also: [SN 2.20.6] The Bowman.


Unit 24

Jataka Story 489: Suruci Jataka
A longish story extolling the virtues of Vishaka. Contains an interesting description of two feats of magic power and describes the performance of an 'Act of Truth': making a wish asking that it be granted if it is true or that one be punished if it is false.
Jataka Story 547: Vessantara Jataka.
A greatly beloved and much written-about story. I find it excruciatingly boring drivel and embarasing for it's values as well.
The Jataka stories, or at least some of them, are held to be of very early origin. I see the collection as a mixed bag. In some cases stories emerge from stories that can be found in the suttas and I don't find even some very fantastic things that appear in them to be too hard to take. This story appears to me to be some poet gone mad with the sound of his own voice and the sway of his emotions and there is what looks to me like a confusion concerning just exactly who it is that is telling this story.
Still, if you are going to call yourself educated in the Buddhist literature, this is a story you need to have read at least once.


Unit 25

Jataka Story 519: Sambula-Jātaka. Where the Act of Truth is used as an oath to demonstrate that one has told the truth by the mechanism: 'If I have spoken the truth, let such and such thing happen.'
Jataka Story 522: Sarabhaṅga-Jātaka. A story with a lot of wise advice.

No royal force, however vast its might,
Can win so great advantage in a fight
As the good man by patience may secure:
Strong patience is of fiercest feuds the cure.

It contains 'The Questions of Sakka' which is something that comes up here and there.

Jataka Story 536: Kuṇāla-Jātaka.
A pretty fair picture of womankind, I'd say.


Unit 26

Jataka Stories
The entire collection of The Pali Text Society translation of the Jataka Stories edited by Professor E.B. Cowell. This collection is in the Public Domain. The collection here has been re-formatted and proofed correcting a few errors ... mostly problems with footnotes. The stories here are each on separate html files which will facilitate different organizations of collections of these stories for text-readers. Not all these stories are sutable or of interest to all audiences.
The primary value of this collection is the vast volume of 'lore' that it contains. Fascinating descriptions of magic powers and potions, customs and rituals and the manner in which tasks of ordinary life at the time were conducted.
Another value, not to be under-estimated, is the inspiration these stories can give to both adults and children. There is here a treasure trove of stories that will instill values such as courage, perseverance, resourcefulness, honesty, generosity, wisdom, learning, self-sacrifice, performance of duty for those in rule and for all to their parents, and many other high values.
It should be remembered, however, that these stories, even where they are very likely genuinely uttered by Gotama, represent the values held by Gotama prior to his having become a Buddha. Most of the stories represent high values acceptable both in the world and for the Buddhist renunciate, but there are exceptions and it should be remembered that what is being suggested by these stories pertains to worldly existence. Doctrines held by characters in these stories should not be used to support arguments concerning what is taught in the Dhamma except where they are in accordance with the Suttas.


Unit 27

Vinaya Texts, Volume I
The first volume of this work formatted into individual html files in the style of this site.
The first volume is primarily of interest because it contains the Patimokkha, and I have linked that section to the Pali and to Bhk. Thanissaro's translation.
This volume also contains the Mahavagga Parts I-IV.
SBE: Vinaya Texts, Part I: The Patimokkha, Translated from the Pāli by T. W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg.


Unit 28

DN 15:The Great Downbinding Spell, Olds trans.
This is a revised translation. I hope this one does what I think it will do which is to make this very important sutta clear. It is certainly better than my previous attempt which I have long felt was very poorly done.


Unit 29

The Psalms of the Early Buddhists: The Sisters. This work and it's sister volume the Verses of the Brothers, is highly recommended especially to those of you pretending to be feminists. Here is a bunch of women who are real men!

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

That man with net might catch the breeze,
Or single-handed bale out seas,
Clap with one hand, who once should dare
His thoughts let range on woman fair.

Jataka 536

Who sees the story here hears the sound of one hand claping.

The good man
works to enrich
the house
where he enjoys
his food

Jat. 546 [this translated by Olds]


A Little Mystery. I don't want to be thought of as joining the sutta fault-finder's, but the other night the simile in this sutta came up in conversation and on reflection it just doesn't seem to work: See SN 2.15.1: Thatch and Twigs. See the footnote on my translation for the issue.


Unit 30

Kuddhaka Nikaya: Index of the Udāna
A complete listing of all the suttas in the Udana.

The Udana is an anthology of suttas found in the four main Nikayas with the common theme of ending with an inspired utterance. There is the appearance of having attempted to create a well-rounded picture of the Dhamma. There also seems to be some subtle editing of the original suttas. On this site the Kuddaka Nikaya is not considered as on a level for reliability with the: Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Anguttara Nikaya, and Samyutta Nikaya.

Is it possible that the yokes to rebirth can be broken in a person,
and yet that person be unaware of that? ...
that that person not yet be an Arahant? ...
In other words:
If having broken the yokes to rebirth equals Arahantship,
Can a person be unaware of being an Arahant?
Question raised by Bhk. Thanissaro's note to UD 1.5.
This strange deviation between the various versions of the Pali looks very much like the work of editors with bias either way the question asked here is answered.


Unit 31

Careless Reading and Empirical Evidence


Unit 32

Original Sources: Examining the Definition and Constructive Use of Original Sources in the Study of Buddhism.


Unit 33

Thursday, December 06, 2012 8:28 AM
Wonderland Grasping the Dragon by the wrong end. How wrong view ends in rebirth in Hell.


Unit 34

DN 6: Mahāli Suttaɱ An extremely long sutta with massive repetition which has inspired no one to date to translate it in full. Here it is translated in full. Fully linked section by section to the Rhys Davids translation and the Pali. The Rhys Davids translation has been expanded to include the sections included by reference, but does not include sections he himself elected to omit. The Pali is fully expanded with all repetitions and referenced inclusions and is formatted for clarity. The sutta might have some interest for those curious about the practice of magic powers.


Unit 35

Index to the Milindapañha, The Questions of King Milinda. This is only an Index. Given are page numbers for the chapter heads for the Pali, the PTS Horner translation, and the SBE, Rhys Davids translation. This is not a work that can be recommended here. It begins with a pack of lies, the entire thing was almost certainly made up, it contains numerous statements that are not confirmed by the suttas or which put words in Gotama's mouth that are not confirmed by the suttas, or which directly contradict the suttas, and it places the Abhidhamma above the suttas. It is part of the Theravada school's cannon and it should be read by anyone wishing to call himself educated in the literature but it is a bad source of information on how to progress along the way and should be approached with a high degree of caution. APPAMADA!


Unit 36

To obtain Pali Text Society books at a discount [20%], become a member.

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Membership page link: http://www.palitext.com/subpages/mem.htm
Pali Text Society, home page.


"You can try to pull the truth closer to your view
and I can try to pull it closer to mine,
but the truth is stubborn:
it just stays where it is."
From a Rastafarian priest
in an unnamed documentary quoted by Doug Fine in
Too High to Fail


Unit 37

Is Nibbāna Conditioned? Discussion of Vinnana Anidassana.
Discussing the ramifications of the mistranslation of 'sankhara' as 'conditioned' on the understanding of the consciousness of the Arahant.

Next: Year 2

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