An anthology is a collection of ancient scriptures organized around a topic. This is a great way for people new to reading the suttas as well as more experienced readers to delve deeply into a single concept. We recommend all of the anthologies below. You may want to print out the simple chart of the Sutta Pitaka so you understand where the scriptures you read fit in to the canonical collections.
In the Buddha’s Words
In the Buddha’s Words, by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications. This is a comprehensive anthology of suttas, covering the whole range of the Buddha’s teachings. An excellent text for anyone regardless of experience level. This book will serve well as a foundation for your practice with the suttas as well as provide a lifetime of teachings. This is certainly a text to be read repeatedly. You can down load an e-book with all of the chapter introductions here. This book is available in print form as well as on the Kindle. (If you are going to get the electronic version, be sure to do it from the Wisdom website because you get a Kindle, epub, and pdf all for one price)
- Read a book review of this anthology.
Short topical anthologies by Ajahn Thanissaro
Free print copies are usually available from Metta Forest Monastery. All of his anthologies begin with basic concepts as a foundation for the main topic. Suitable for newcomers. They are anthologies in the sense that they contain suttas from throughout the canon, and sometimes only excerpts. Several of these books have counterparts in the Study Guide section of Access to Insight so you could check them out there before requesting them. They are now all available from the dhammatalks.org website in multiple formats.
- Merit, suttas that explain the three types of merit created through giving, being virtuous and cultivating the mind.
- Into the Stream, suttas that explain the first stage of enlightenment and the path.
- A Meditator’s Tools, suttas that explain the ten subjects for meditation. (Previously titled Recollections)
- Beyond Coping: A Study Guide on Old Age, Illness and Death.
- A Burden Off the Mind, suttas that explain the five aggregates.
- Mindful of the Body
- Recognizing the Dhamma, suttas based on the practice advice the Blessed One gave to his step mother, Mahā Pajāpatī.
- The Sublime Attitudes: A Study Guide on the Brahmaviharas
The Life of the Buddha, According to the Pali Canon, by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, Buddhist Publication Society and Pariyatti. Suttas and passages from the Vinaya placed in an approximately chronological order. The repetitions have mostly been removed. Ad excellent way to experience the Canon. There is a free PDF download available from Pariyatti, although it is not printable.
Buddha, My Refuge, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo, Buddhist Publication Society. Suttas that teach the qualities of the Buddha. Very useful if you would like to develop a Recollection of the Buddha meditation practice.
Have you used an anthology of suttas for daily practice? Share your experience in the comments below. Feel free to comment anonymously.