The Suttas, or 'well-spoken' utterances, collected in the Pali Nikāyas are among the oldest works of Buddhist literature. Dating from perhaps the fourth or third century BCE, they present the teachings of the Buddha as remembered and passed down by the first generations of his disciples and in them we come as close to the words of the Buddha as we can get. Within the Nikāyas we find the Buddha addressing Buddhist monks and laity, kings, ordinary householders, members of different religious groups, and gods; we find the story of the Buddha’s own quest for knowledge, advice on ethical conduct, philosophical discourse, instruction in meditation, tales of the distant past; we find short sayings as well as extended narratives. The selection of sayings of the Buddha contained in the present volume covers the full variety of texts found in the Nikāyas.
Rupert Gethin is Reader in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, where he is also co-director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies. His publications include books and articles on the early theory of Buddhist meditation and on aspects of Buddhist systematic thought (abhidhamma), as well as an introductory textbook, The Foundations of Buddhism (Oxford, 1998). Since 2003 he has been President of the Pali Text Society.
— From the cover
As more and more westerners study and practice Buddhism, reliable modern translations of the Buddha's teachings are increasingly in demand. One of the main sources for knowledge of the Buddhadharma is the four Pali Nikayas or 'collections' of his sayings. Written in Pali - an ancient Indian language closely related to Sanskrit - the Nikayas are among the oldest Buddhist texts and consist of more than one and a half million words.
This new translation offers a selection of the Buddha's most important sayings, reflecting the full variety of material contained in the Nikayas: the central themes of the Buddha's teaching (his biography, philosophical discourse, instruction on morality, meditation, and the spiritual life) and the range of literary style (myth, dialogue, narrative, short sayings, verse). This edition is the most critically up-to-date and is the only anthology of material exclusively from the Pali Nikayas. For anyone seeking a more direct encounter with the Buddha's words and teaching, this new translation will prove to be essential reading, rewarding scholars and practitioners alike.