A Path to Freedom
A Self-guided Tour of the Buddha's Teachings

These pages invite you to explore some of the Buddha's basic teachings as they are presented in the Pali canon. Each page in this section contains a selection of short passages from the suttas (discourses or sermons; see sutta in the Glossary) that introduce or illustrate different aspects of a single topic. If you encounter a particularly meaningful or interesting passage you can, in most cases, read the full text of the sutta from which it came by simply following the link at the end of that passage. Many of the passages are cross-referenced to other pages, allowing you to pursue a theme to whatever depth or breadth you desire.

This is by no means an exhaustive tutorial. A number of the topics introduced here are explored more thoroughly in the Study Guides. The General Index also has many references to additional readings on related topics.

Begin your tour by exploring the Threefold Refuge (The Triple Gem):

  1. The Buddha: A sketch of the Buddha's life, based on excerpts from the suttas.
  2. The Dhamma: An outline of the Buddha's teachings, organized according to his method of "gradual instruction" (anupubbi-katha). The Buddha frequently used this framework to guide his students from first principles through progressively more advanced teachings, all the way to the fulfillment of the Four Noble Truths and the realization of Nibbana.
  3. The Sangha: Descriptions of the Sangha — the community of persons who have gained at least some degree of Awakening (ariya-sangha) and the community of ordained monks and nuns (bhikkhu-sangha and bhikkhuni-sangha).

Further reading:

  • Buddhist Dictionary, by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1980). A classic handbook of important terms and concepts in Theravada Buddhism.
  • Path to Deliverance, by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1982). A systematic exposition of essential points of Dhamma based on passages from the suttas.
  • Refuge: An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
  • Study Guides: anthologies of short passages suitable for individual and group study.
  • The Wings to Awakening: An Anthology from the Pali canon, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Barre, Massachusetts: Dhammadana Publications, 1996).