The Discourses of the Buddha from the Pali Canon

Good news, my friends. The last 3 ½ years, I’ve been recording my favorite Buddhist teachings from the Pali Canon, and I am able to share these with you today. May they be a blessing in your life, and in the lives of all those you love.

Here are the texts I’m reading.

Timestamps for the chapters are in the info box on youtube.

Here are the same recordings on bandcamp, with the tracks listed separately.

And here is the preface I have written:

For the last few years, I’ve had it in mind to pair a recording of Paritta – Protective Readings from the Pali Canon, with a number of my favorite Discourses of the Buddha. After completing the selection of Paritta readings, I looked again at the Suttas I’ve been gathering, and felt that I needed to add to these. I now have some sixty of the Buddha’s teachings I would like to share.

There are more than 10,000 suttas in the Pali Canon, which leaves every generation with the vital task of choosing which are the most important. How can this be done? Where to even begin? Although every teacher and tradition focusses on different teachings, there are some Discourses which are generally agreed on as important, and which are the most frequently taught. In this collection then, I’ve selected a combination of the suttas that are most frequently referred to, and those that are less well known that I’ve found most useful.

I remember one of my teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, saying that while writing his biography of the Buddha, Old Path, White Clouds, he wanted to show how all of the Buddhist teachings we are familiar with now across traditions can be found in the original, Pali sources.

Without saying so explicitly, he was addressing the split that developed centuries ago between the lineages that draw on these sources and their commentaries, from those that feature the Bodhisattva Vow, and the Path as set forth by later accomplished Buddhist teachers. All of these teachings, we should know, have their basis in the teachings of the Historical Buddha.

These are teachings that uplift and inspire, that affirm the possibility of liberation, and greatly empower the Mahayana View. They very clearly show us the best way we can care for ourselves and for one another.

The Dalai Lama has taught that this possibility of the cessation of suffering, the Third Noble Truth- is an immense help for compassion. Because compassion is a desire to remove suffering, once we see this possibility, then our concern becomes something realistic. We know it can be done. Now, how wonderful is that?

About these selections

As far as the versions of the texts presented here go, in some cases I’ve departed from the translations to the point that I now consider the sources just to be the basis for what I’ve included. I’ve made these changes for two reasons: for ease of speaking, and listening to on the recordings, and to make the meaning stand out more clearly. These are my interpretations. All errors then, of course, are my own, and I would humbly ask for patience and forgiveness for each of these.

For those who are interested, I have included my sources at the end of this document.

May all beings benefit.
May the knowledge of the Buddha’s Teachings increase,
more and more
May we each practice well, freeing ourselves completely
and may we then share the benefits of our practice with all our family,
and all the world!

Jason Espada
San Francisco,
March 31st, 2022