Pali Canon

The Buddha lived and taught in an oral culture, his teachings determined by the spiritual needs of those he was addressing. The Pali Canon, originating in the first one hundred years after the Buddha’s death, is one of the earliest written records of his teachings and is the only complete early version that has survived more or less intact. It therefore represents the closest we can come to the historical Buddha’s actual words.

Although the Pali Canon has been handed down mainly by the Theravadin school of Buddhism (though other versions exist in other Asian traditions), its texts represent teachings from the time before the Buddhist community divided into different schools, and are thus a source of the common heritage of the entire Buddhist tradition. They cover a wide range of topics, addressing both monastic and lay concerns, and clarify many fundamental Buddhist doctrines including compassion, ethical conduct, the path of spiritual development and transformation, and liberation of the mind.

For Everyday Zen, these texts are foundational, and we return to them again and again, but always with the flexible Zen spirit of Suzuki roshi’s “beginner’s mind.”

Study Guide

Please note: we are currently the process of editing and properly categorizing our teachings library. The teachings will become available here in the study guide as soon as they’re ready, please check back soon.

1. The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya

By Maurice Walshe | 1995 | Wisdom Publications | ISBN 0861711033

This translation of the Digha Nikaya (Long Discourses) contains the important Parinibbana sutta, the story of the Buddha’s last days.

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2. The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha

By Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bhikkhu Nanamoli | 1995 | Wisdom Publications | ISBN 086171072X

Now the standard version.



3. In the Buddha’s Words

By Bhikkhu Bodhi | 2005 | Wisdom Publications | ISBN 0861714911

A wonderful anthology compiled by an American scholar monk living in Asia.




4. First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening

By Susan Murcott | 2006 | Parallax Press | ISBN 188837554X

A very important book. Translation and discussion of the poems of the Therigata, written by the first women to be ordained as Buddhist monastics during the time of the Buddha.




5. The Dhammapada | A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations

By Gil Fronsdal | 2006 | Shambhala | ISBN 1590303806

The best among the many English translations of this inspiring poetic text.




6. Sutras from the Old Way | Selections from the Pali Canon

By Zoketsu Norman Fischer | Dec 31, 1969

A PDF of the booklet containing Fifteen Sutras from the Old Way, which accompanies Zoketsu’s talks on the Pali Canon.
Norman speaks on Equanitmity (Upeksha) the fourth and final of the Four Immeasurables. Norman refers to the book "The Four Immeasurables: Cultivating a Boundless Heart by Alan Wallace. Equanimity (Upekkhā)
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Thirteenth of Series of talks on the Pali Canon based on the book "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi Buddha's Words (Talk 13 of 13) By Zoketsu Norman Fischer
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Referencing Ayya Khema's book "Being Nobody, Going Nowhere," this talk overviews the Five Hindrances. The Five Hindrances are emotional coverings. The mind and heart are naturally peaceful and open, but
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First of Series of talks on the Pali Canon based on the book "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi.  This book is an anthology drawing primarily of the first
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