John Crook came back from a trip to China. A master ‘Moonshine’ had asked him what we study and John had said ‘The Heart Sutra’. John told us that the master had commented that we should start off with the basic sutras. When I heard this story I realised that I hadn’t read the Theravada ‘Suttas’ from the Pali Canon so I set about it and started with the Middle Length Discourses. It seemed it would take forever as I was reading a few suttas after morning zazen each day. It turns out that there are many pages given over to introductions and notes so one day I turned the page and that was it! I’d finished.
Next off was the double set of books of the Connected Discourses, and so on. After finishing what I could get my hands on I wanted to refer to some of the suttas again but couldn’t find them. This lead to going through the whole thing again, much quicker, and making notes of the ones that interested me. These webpages here are from those notes.
In the Connected Discourses each entry starts with a title ‘SN 1.1.1 Pali name, English name’. The numbering system is based on Bhikku Bodhi’s translations. They come in two volumes each of which contains ‘books’. The first three books are in the first volume. The first number given is the book, the second the chapter, the third the verse. So, for example, the first one is ‘SN 1.1.1 Ogha-tarana Sutta: Crossing the Flood’ meaning Samyutta Nikaya book 1, chapter 1, verse 1’. It is more normal to see references without the initial book number. The above is rendered ‘SN 1.1’.
The terms ‘sutta’ and ‘sutra’ are used inter-changeably. ‘Sutta’ is the Pali spelling and ‘sutra’ the sanskrit.