The Long Discourses
The Long Discourses
The Digha Nikaya, or "Collection of Long Discourses" (Pali digha = "long") is the first division of the Sutta Pitaka, and consists of thirty-four suttas, grouped into three vaggas, or divisions:
- Silakkhandha-vagga — The Division Concerning Morality (13 suttas)
|1.||Brahmajāla Sutta — The Brahmā All-Embracing Net of Views|
While others may praise or criticize the Buddha, they tend to focus on trivial details. The Buddha presents an analysis of 62 kinds of wrong view, seeing through which one becomes detached from meaningless speculations.
|2.||Sāmaññaphala Sutta — The Fruits of the Ascetic Life|
The newly crowned King Ajātasattu is disturbed by the violent means by which he achieved the crown. He visits the Buddha to find peace of mind, and asks him about the benefits of spiritual practice. This is one of the greatest literary and spiritual texts of early Buddhism.
|3.||Ambaṭṭha Sutta — With Ambaṭṭha|
A young brahmin student attacks the Buddha’s family, but is put in his place.
|4.||Soṇadaṇḍa Sutta — With Soṇadaṇḍa|
A reputed brahmin visits the Buddha, despite the reservations of other brahmins. They discuss the true meaning of a brahmin, and the Buddha skillfully draws him around to his own point of view.
|5.||Kūṭadanta Sutta — With Kūṭadanta|
A brahmin wishes to undertake a great sacrifice, and asks for the Buddha’s advice. The Buddha tells a legend of the past, in which a king is persuaded to give up violent sacrifice, and instead to devote his resources to supporting the needy citizens of his realm. However, even such a beneficial and non-violent sacrifice pales in comparison to the spiritual sacrifice of giving up attachments.
|6.||Mahāli Sutta — With Mahāli|
The Buddha explains to a diverse group of lay people how the results of meditation depend on the manner of development.
|7.||Jāliya Sutta — With Jāliya|
This discourse is mostly quoted by the Buddha in the previous.
|8.||Mahāsīhanāda Sutta — The Longer Discourse on the Lion’s Roar|
The Buddha is challenged by a naked ascetic on the topic of spiritual austerities. He points out that it is quite possible to perform all kinds of austere practices without having any inner purity of mind.
|9.||Poṭṭhapāda Sutta — With Poṭṭhapāda|
The Buddha discusses with a wanderer the nature of perception and how it evolves through deeper states of meditation. None of these, however, should be identified with a self or soul.
|10.||Subha Sutta — With Subha|
Shortly after the Buddha’s death, Venerable Ānanda is invited to explain the core teachings.
|11.||Kevaṭṭa Sutta — With Kevaddha|
The Buddha refuses to perform miracles, explaining that this is not the right way to inspire faith. He goes on to tell the story of a monk whose misguided quest for answers led him as far as Brahmā.
|12.||Lohicca Sutta — With Lohicca|
A brahmin has fallen into the idea that there is no point in trying to offer spiritual help to others. The Buddha goes to see him, and persuades him of the genuine benefits of spiritual teaching.
|13.||Tevijja Sutta — The Three Knowledges|
A number of brahmins are discussing the true path to Brahmā. Contesting the claims to authority based on the Vedas, the Buddha insists that only personal experience can lead to the truth.
- Maha-vagga — The Large Division (10 suttas)
|14.||Mahāpadāna Sutta — The Great Discourse on the Harvest of Deeds|
The Buddha teaches about the six Buddhas of the past, and tells a lengthy account of one of those, Vipassī.
|15.||Mahānidāna Sutta — The Great Discourse on Causation|
Rejecting Venerable Ānanda’s claim to easily understand dependent origination, the Buddha presents a complex and demanding analysis, revealing hidden nuances and implications of this central teaching.
|16.||Mahāparinibbāna Sutta — The Great Discourse on the Buddha’s Extinguishment|
The longest of all discourses, this extended narrative tells of the events surrounding the Buddha’s death. Full of vivid and moving details, it is an ideal entry point into knowing the Buddha as a person, and understanding how the Buddhist community coped with his passing.
|17.||Mahāsudassana Sutta — King Mahāsudassana|
An elaborate story of a past life of the Buddha as a legendary king who renounced all to practice meditation.
|18.||Janavasabha Sutta — With Janavasabha|
Beginning with an account of the fates of disciples who had recently passed away, the scene shifts to a discussion of Dhamma held by the gods.
|19.||Mahāgovinda Sutta — The Great Steward|
A minor deity informs the Buddha of the conversations and business of the gods.
|20.||Mahāsamaya Sutta — The Great Congregation|
When deities from all realms gather in homage to the Buddha, he gives a series of verses describing them. These verses, which are commonly chanted in Theravadin countries, give one of the most detailed descriptions of the deities worshiped at the the time of the Buddha.
|21.||Sakkapañha Sutta — Sakka’s Questions|
After hearing a love song from a god of music, the Buddha engages in a deep discussion with Sakka on the conditioned origin of attachment and suffering.
|22.||Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta — The Longer Discourse on Mindfulness Meditation|
The Buddha details the seventh factor of the noble eightfold path, mindfulness meditation. This discourse is essentially identical to MN 10, with the addition of an extended section on the four noble truths derived from MN 141.
|23.||Kūṭadanta Sutta — With Kūṭadanta|
This is a long and entertaining debate between a monk and a skeptic, who went to elaborate and bizarre lengths to prove that there is no such thing as an afterlife. The discourse contains a colorful series of parables and examples.
- Patika-vagga — The Patika Division (11 suttas)
|24.||Pāthika Sutta — About Pāṭikaputta|
When Sunakkhatta threatens to disrobe, the Buddha is unimpressed. Rejecting showy displays of asceticism or wondrous powers, he demonstrates his pre-eminence.
|25.||Udumbarika Sutta — The Lion’s Roar at Udumbarikā’s Monastery|
This discourse gives a specially good example of dialog between religions The Buddha insists that he is not interested to make anyone give up their teacher or practices, but only to help people let go of suffering.
|26.||Cakkavatti Sutta — The Wheel-Turning Monarch|
In illustration of his dictum that one should rely on oneself, the Buddha gives a detailed account of the fall of a kingly lineage of the past, and the subsequent degeneration of society. This process, however, is not over, as the Buddha predicts that eventually society will fall into utter chaos. But far in the future, another Buddha, Metteyya, will arise in a time of peace and plenty.
|27.||Aggañña Sutta — The Origin of the World|
In contrast with the brahmin’s self-serving mythologies of the past, the Buddha presents an account of evolution that shows how human choices are an integral part of the ecological balance, and how excessive greed destroys the order of nature.
|28.||Sampasādanīya Sutta — Inspiring Confidence|
Shortly before he passes away, Venerable Sāriputta visits the Buddha and utters a moving eulogy of his great teacher.
|29.||Pāsādika Sutta — An Impressive Discourse|
Following the death of Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta, the leader of the Jains, the Buddha emphasizes the stability and maturity of his own community. He encourages the community to come together after his death and recite the teachings in harmony.
|30.||Lakkhaṇa Sutta — The Marks of a Great Man|
This presents the brahmanical prophecy of the Great Man, and explains the 32 marks in detail. This discourse contains some of the latest and most complex verse forms in the canon.
|31.||Siṅgāla Sutta — Advice to Sigālaka|
The Buddha encounters a young man who honors his dead parents by performing rituals. The Buddha recasts the meaningless rites in terms of virtuous conduct. This is the most detailed discourse on ethics for lay people.
|32.||Āṭānāṭiya Sutta — The Āṭānāṭiya Protection|
Mighty spirits hold a congregation, and warn the Buddha that, since not all spirits are friendly, the mendicants should learn verses of protection.
|33.||Saṅgīti Sutta — Reciting in Concert|
The Buddha encourages Venerable Sāriputta to teach the mendicants, and he offers an extended listing of Buddhist doctrines arranged in numerical sequence.
|34.||Dasuttara Sutta — Up to Ten|
This is similar to the previous, but with a different manner of exposition. These two discourses anticipate some of the methods of the Abhidhamma.