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Monday, 28 September 2015 23:10

Numerical Discourses of the Buddha

Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - coverThe Numerical Discourses of the Buddha
- A Complete Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya
— by Bhikkhu Bodhi

This much-anticipated volume contains a full translation from the Pali of the Anguttara Nikaya  - the fourth collection of the canonical discourses of the Buddha.

The primary focus of the Anguttara Nikaya  is practice, which it treats from a wide-angle perspective, advancing from basic ethical observances, through the pillars of mind training, to the highest meditative attainments.

The Anguttara  is also distinguished among the Nikayas by its interest in types of persons, which it describes in detail and with memorable similes.

Like the River Ganges flowing down from the Himalayas, the entire Buddhist tradition flows down to us from the teachings and deeds of the historical Buddha, who lived and taught in India during the fifth century B.C.E. To ensure that his legacy would survive the ravages of time, his direct disciples compiled records of the Buddha’s teachings soon after his passing. In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, which prevails in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, these records are regarded as the definitive "word of the Buddha". Preserved in Pali, an ancient Indian language closely related to the language that the Buddha spoke, this full compilation of texts is known as the Pali Canon.

ShakyamuniAt the heart of the Buddha’s teaching were the suttas (Sanskrit: sutras), his discourses and dialogues. If we want to find out what the Buddha himself actually said, these are the most ancient sources available to us. The suttas were compiled into collections called "Nikayas", of which there are four, each organized according to a different principle. The Digha Nikaya  consists of longer discourses; the Majjhima Nikaya  of middle-length discourses; the Samyutta Nikaya  of thematically connected discourses; and the Anguttara Nikaya  of numerically patterned discourses.

The present volume, which continues Wisdom’s famous Teachings of the Buddha  series, contains a full translation of the Anguttara Nikaya.  The Anguttara arranges the Buddha's discourses in accordance with a numerical scheme intended to promote retention and easy comprehension. In an age when writing was still in its infancy, this proved to be the most effective way to ensure that the disciples could grasp and replicate the structure of a teaching.

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha  has been praised by scholars and practitioners alike for its beautifully presented, highest quality, annotated translations of the words of the Buddha.

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