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Syllabus for a Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikāya

Exploring the Word of the Buddha

Taught by Bhikkhu Bodhi

January 2003 — December 2007

PARTS I – IX

Syllabus for a Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikāya

This series of lectures explores the direct teachings of the Buddha himself as preserved in some of the oldest records of his discourses. The first part of the series, covering fifty-two of the discourses (Parts I to IX), constitutes a systematic study program in the teachings of Early Buddhism. The later part of the series (Part X) takes selected discourses from the book in sequence, explaining their meaning and practical relevance.

The talks cover all the major teachings of Early Buddhism, including:

  1. Life of the Buddha
  2. Fundamental Ethics
  3. Meditation and Mind-training
  4. Nature of True Wisdom

We suggest that all participants in the course acquire a copy of the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, Boston). Texts from the other collections will be copied and handed out.

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha,
a translation of the Majjhima Nikaya by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi. Available on Amazon.com.

The Majjhima Nikaya, or “Middle-length Discourses” of the Buddha, is the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Tipitaka. This nikaya consists of 152 discourses by the Buddha and his chief disciples, which together constitute a comprehensive body of teaching concerning all aspects of the Buddha Dharma. more readers’ reviews

Introduction

An introduction to the organization of the Pali Canon and to some of the background conditions in India from which the Suttas arose.

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Ven. Bhikkhu BodhiIntroduction

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  1. Introduction

I.  The Buddha’s Enlightenment

In this first part of the course, we will examine several suttas that help clarify the impetus behind the Buddha’s quest and the content of his enlightenment experience. The basic text is MN* 26, but we will make excursions to other texts that bring into finer focus aspects of his quest and enlightenment treated only concisely in MN 26:

  1. MN 26. Ariyapariyesanā Sutta: The Noble Search
  2. MN 4. Bhayabherava Sutta: Fear and Dread
  3. MN 36. Mahāsaccaka Sutta: The Greater Discourse to Saccaka, (paragraphs 12-44)
  4. Optional: MN 12. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Lion’s Roar, (paragraphs 44-63)

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Ven. Bhikkhu BodhiMN 26. Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search

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  1. MN 26. Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search
  2. MN 4. Bhayabherava Sutta: Fear & Terror (part 1)
  3. MN 4. Bhayabherava Sutta: Fear & Terror (part 2)
  4. MN 36. Mahasaccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka (part 1)
  5. MN 36. Mahasaccaka Sutta (part 2), MN 26. Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search

II. Approaching the Dhamma

  1. Making wise choices
  2. Test the Buddha himself
  3. Faith, practice, and attainment

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Ven. Bhikkhu BodhiAN 3.65. Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas

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  1. AN 3.65. Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas
  2. MN 60.The Incontrovertible Teachings (part 1)
  3. MN 60. The Incontrovertible Teachings (part 2)
  4. MN 47. The Inquirer
  5. MN 95. With Canki (part 1)
  6. MN 95. With Canki (part 2)

III.  The Ethical Life

  1. Four ways of life
  2. Karma and its results
  3. The path to a higher rebirth
  4. Right speech and patience

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2013 Bodhi Monastery)MN 46. Mahādhammasamādāna Sutta (part 1)

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  1. MN 46. Mahādhammasamādāna Sutta (part 1)
  2. MN 46. Mahādhammasamādāna Sutta (part 2)
  3. MN 57. Kukkuravatika Sutta
  4. MN 135. Cūḷakammavibhanga Sutta
  5. MN 41. Sāleyyaka Sutta
  6. MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta
  7. MN 21. Kakacūpama Sutta

IV. Deepening One’s Perspective on the World

  1. The faults of the worldly life
  2. The shortcomings in sensual pleasures
  3. The misery of saṃsāra
  4. Raṭṭhapāla and the call to renunciation

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2013 Bodhi Monastery)MN 13. Mahādukkhakkhanda Sutta

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  1. MN 13. Mahādukkhakkhanda Sutta
  2. MN 54. Potaliya Sutta
  3. MN 75. Māgandiya Sutta (part 1)
  4. MN 75. Māgandiya Sutta (part 2)
  5. SN 15. Anamatagga Saṁyutta Sutta
  6. MN 82. Raṭṭhapāla Sutta

V.  The Path to Liberation (General)

  1. The purpose of the spiritual life
  2. The gradual training
  3. What makes one a monk?
  4. The benefits of virtue
  5. Purifying the mind
  6. Eliminating the taints

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2013 Bodhi Monastery)MN 63. Mahāsāropama Sutta

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  1. MN 63. Mahāsāropama Sutta
  2. MN 29. Mahāsāropama Sutta (part 1)
  3. MN 29. Mahāsāropama Sutta (part 2), MN 27. (part 1)
  4. MN 27. Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta (part 2)
  5. MN 27. Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta (part 3)
  6. MN 27. Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta (part 4)
  7. MN 27. Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta (part 5)
  8. MN 27. Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta (part 6)
  9. MN 39. Mahā-Assapura Sutta
  10. MN 27. Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta (part 8)
  11. MN 40. Cūḷa-Assapura Sutta
  12. MN 6. Ākankheyya Sutta (part 1)
  13. MN 6. Ākankheyya Sutta (part 2)
  14. MN 19. Dvedhāvitakka
  15. MN 20. Vitakkasaṇṭhāna
  16. MN 7. Vatthūpama Sutta (part 1)
  17. MN 7. Vatthūpama Sutta (part 2)
  18. MN 8. Sallekha Sutta (part 1)
  19. MN 8. Sallekha Sutta (part 2)
  20. MN 8. Sallekha Sutta (part 3)
  21. MN 2. Sabbāsava Sutta (part 1)
  22. MN 2. Sabbāsava Sutta (part 2)
  23. MN 2. Sabbāsava Sutta (part 3)
  24. MN 2. Sabbāsava Sutta (part 4)

VI. The Practice in Detail

  1. The Noble Eightfold Path
  2. The way of mindfulness
  3. Mindfulness of breathing
  4. The aids to enlightenment, etc.

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2014 Bodhi Monastery)MN 117. Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (part 1)

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  1. MN 117. Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (part 1)
  2. MN 117. Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (part 2)
  3. MN 117. Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (part 3)
  4. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 1)
  5. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 2)
  6. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 3)
  7. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 4)
  8. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 5)
  9. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 6)
  10. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 7)
  11. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 8)
  12. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 9)
  13. MN10. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta(part 10)
  14. MN 118. Ānāpānasati Sutta (part 1)
  15. MN 118. Ānāpānasati Sutta (part 2)
  16. MN 118. Ānāpānasati Sutta (part 3)
  17. MN 118. Ānāpānasati Sutta (part 4)
  18. MN 77. Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (part 1)
  19. MN 77. Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (part 2)
  20. MN 77. Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (part 3)
  21. MN 77. Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (part 4)
  22. MN 77. Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (part 5)
  23. MN 77. Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta (part 6)

VII.  The Cultivation of Wisdom

  1. Right view
  2. Penetrative insight
  3. Final realization
  4. A typology of persons
  5. A typology of noble disciples

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2005 Bodhi Monastery)MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 1)

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  1. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 1)
  2. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 2)
  3. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 3)
  4. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 4)
  5. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 5)
  6. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 6)
  7. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 7)
  8. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 8)
  9. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 9)
  10. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 10)
  11. MN 9. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (part 11)
  12. MN 11. Cūḷasīhanāda Sutta (part 1)
  13. MN 11. Cūḷasīhanāda Sutta (part 2)
  14. MN 22. Alaggūpama Sutta (part 1)
  15. MN 22. Alaggūpama Sutta (part 2)
  16. MN 22. Alaggūpama Sutta (part 3)
  17. MN 22. Alaggūpama Sutta (part 4)
  18. MN 22. Alaggūpama Sutta (part 5)
  19. MN 38. Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta (part 1)
  20. MN 38. Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta (part 2)
  21. MN 38. Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta (part 3)
  22. MN 38. Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta (part 4)
  23. MN 38. Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta (part 5)
  24. MN 148. Chachakka Sutta (part 1)
  25. MN 148. Chachakka Sutta (part 2)
  26. MN 148. Chachakka Sutta (part 3)
  27. MN 146. Nandakovāda Sutta (part 1)
  28. MN 146. Nandakovāda Sutta (part 2)
  29. MN 149. Mahāsaḷāyatanika Sutta
  30. MN 28. Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta (part 1)
  31. MN 28. Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta (part 2)
  32. MN 28. Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta (part 3)
  33. MN 64. Mahāmalunkya Sutta (part 1)
  34. MN 64. Mahāmalunkya Sutta (part 2)
  35. MN 52. Aṭṭhakanāgara Sutta
  36. MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta (part 1)
  37. MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta (part 2)
  38. MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta (part 3)
  39. MN 1. Mūlapariyāya Sutta (part 1)
  40. MN 1. Mūlapariyāya Sutta (part 2)
  41. MN 1. Mūlapariyāya Sutta (part 3)
  42. MN 70. Kīṭāgiri Sutta (part 1)
  43. MN 70. Kīṭāgiri Sutta (part 2)

VIII.  The Tathāgata

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2007 Bodhi Monastery)MN 12. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (part 1)

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  1. MN 12. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (part 1)
  2. MN 12. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (part 2)
  3. MN 12. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (part 3)
  4. MN 12. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (part 4)

IX. Life in the Sangha

  1. Monks living in harmony
  2. The ideal monk
  3. A recalcitrant monk
  4. Guidelines for future harmony
  5. After the Buddha’s parinibbāna

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Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2007 Bodhi Monastery)MN 31. Cūḷagosinga Sutta

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  1. MN 31. Cūḷagosinga Sutta
  2. MN 32. Mahagosinga Sutta
  3. MN 65. Bhaddāli Sutta
  4. MN 104. Sāmagāma Sutta

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