Study Guides

The Study Guides below are anthologies of readings that focus on a particular topic or theme, and are designed as aids for individual or group study. The texts are drawn from the Pali canon, teachings of the great Thai forest ajaans, and other sources. Unless otherwise indicated, they were prepared and introduced by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Another useful collection of study materials may be found in Piya Tan's collection of "Sutta Discovery" essays and translations.

Beyond Coping: The Buddha's Teachings on Aging, Illness, Death, and Separation, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; ??pages/1KB)
Body Contemplation: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2003; 47pp./142KB)
An overview of the Buddha's teachings on contemplation of the body, and its role in the development of mindfulness, jhana, and discernment.
The Five Aggregates: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2010; 43pp./129KB)
This anthology of short readings from the suttas explains how the teachings on the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) — form, feeling, perception, mental fabrications, and consciousness — function in the Buddhist path to liberation.
The Four Noble Truths: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 33pp./100KB)
An introduction to the Four Noble Truths, the basic framework on which all the Buddha's teachings are built.
Into the Stream: A Study Guide on the First Stage of Awakening, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2012; 79pp./167KB) [PDF icon]
The sutta readings in this guide are organized around the four factors that lead to the attainment of stream-entry and address questions of interest to all meditators, whether or not their practice aims all the way to Awakening. [Formerly two separate study guides: "The Way to Stream-entry" and "Stream-entry and After".]
Kamma: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2000; 48pp./144KB)
An overview of the Buddha's teachings on kamma (karma; intentional action).
Merit: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2005; 61pp./184KB)
Often misunderstood in the West as quaint and irrelevant to serious practice, the Buddha's teachings on puñña (merit) actually play an essential role in the development of a wise sense of self. This anthology explores the meaning of merit and how it functions to instill in the practitioner the qualities necessary to carry him or her to stream-entry and beyond.
Noble Conversation: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2003; 58pp./174KB)
An exploration of right speech, based on the Buddha's list of ten ideal topics for conversation.
Non-violence: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2001; 38pp./114KB)
Recognizing the Dhamma: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2004; 50pp./151KB)
In an age when the marketplace is teeming with spiritual books and teachings of every description, it is reassuring to know that the Buddha left behind clear guidelines by which we can judge the validity of a spiritual teaching. These eight principles, sometimes called the "Constitution of Buddhism," show us that any teaching must finally be judged by the results that come from putting it into practice.
The Ten Perfections: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2010; 49pp./170KB) [PDF icon]
The ten paramīs (perfections) are skillful qualities that develop — perhaps over many lifetimes — as one follows the Buddha's path of practice. This study guide includes readings both from the Pali canon and from the teachings of Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo.
A Meditator's Tools: A Study Guide on the Ten Recollections, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 77pp./231KB)
The ten anussati (recollections) are a set of practical tools for meditators to use when confronted with particular challenges or unskillful states of mind that may arise in the course of practice.