BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE 152 DISCOURSES

IN THE

MIDDLE LENGTH DISCOURSES

OF THE BUDDHA

 

 

Edited by Christopher Titmuss

 

Very Brief Introduction to 152 discourses of Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. The discourses fall into three sections.

 

Discourse (Sutta in Pali language) 1 - 50

 

1. The Buddha questions the variety of religious beliefs. He explains the basis of all phenomena including elements, sentient beings, angles, the seen, the heard, thought, oneness and diversity and reality. He said that that the uninstructed practitioner cannot see.

2. The Buddha pointed to what intoxicates our mind and points to seven specific practices to eradicate the problems of the mind.

3. The Buddha explained the importance of a life committed to awakening, and not to material things. An encouragement for solitude and deep meditation.

4. The Buddha said that if we live in the jungle with pure thoughts, words and deeds, then we won’t invite harm and danger to ourselves.

5. Sariputta refers to four kinds of individuals.

6. This discourse encourages development of ethics, meditative concentration and wisdom instead of desire for gain and fame. One should see the danger in the slightest faults, and develop restraint in use of the senses.

7. In the simile of the cloth, the Buddha said only the clean cloth can totally absorb dye so a clean mind can absorb the dharma.

8. Insight (vipassana) dissolved egotism and worldliness. Deep meditation leads to bliss and happiness. Wholesome volitions lead to wholesome results. If we are lost in the unwholesome, we cannot help others immersed in the same condition.

9. Exploration of right view. What is unwholesome is motivated by greed, negativity and delusion. Right view understands the Four Noble Truths while neither clinging to an eternity view for self nor annihilation view.

10. This much-loved discourse explores the significance of the application of mindfulness to body, feelings, states of mind and Dharma for overcoming grief and despair, for exploring the noble path and for realization of liberation.

11. The Buddha made the claim that the Four Noble Ones only exist in his teachings, and nowhere else.

12. The Buddha said that Sunnakhatta was not intellectually clear enough to comment on the Buddha’s virtues. He said of the destinations for those with unhealthy beliefs.

13. The Buddha refuted the view that the austere yogis taught the same path and dharma. The Buddha showed the danger in the pursuit of pleasure.

14. Why greed, hate and delusion cause suffering.

15. Mogallana speaks of 16 kinds of stubbornness

16. Given in Savatthi, the Buddha speaks of five mental thorns – doubt in triple gem, practice and ill will to other yogis and the five fetters that obscure liberation.

17. Madhupindika Sutta. A prince asked the Buddha what he taught. He replied his teachings were ungraspable- not in conflict with the world, not caught up in impressions, no doubts and no desire for existence.

18. This discourse explored psychological processes with emphasis on papanca – namely the proliferation of thought mixed in with projections, and projections upon projections.

19. Ways to overcome unwholesome thoughts such as seeing impermanence, metta and guidance from a teacher.

20. To be established in metta, so there is no loss of temper, even if a saw cuts off our limbs.

21. Alagaddupama Sutta. Buddha refutes view of his teaching includes pursuit of sensual pleasure. He gives the simile of the snake catcher and the raft.

24. Rathavinitia Sutta. Sariputta relates seven stages of purity.

 

25. Simile of the hunter. Compared to Mara.

 

26. The Buddha speaks of his search for Truth and knowing a noble pursuit rather than engaging in an ignoble pursuit.

 

27. In the simile of the elephant’s footprint, the Buddha said one should follow the elephant to see it to know its size, know just rely on the footprint. The discourse gives the detail of the training for the dedicated practitioner. He referred to small, middle and great development of ethics, a master of noble mindfulness and as a truth finder finds depths of meditation in the elephant’s footprint.

 

28. Sariputta says all other animal’s footprints are within the footprint of the elephant – so are all wholesome dharmas.

 

29. Given at Rajshri, the Buddha uses the simile of a great tree possessed of heartwood, sapwood, inner bark and outer bark, twigs and leaves In other words we can wander in the forest for the pith of the tree and mistake gain, fame, ethics or meditative concentration.

 

30. The goal of the spiritual life is not found in name and fame, ethics, concentration or wisdom in liberation.

 

31. The Buddha spoke highly of practitioners who have gone beyond worldly desires.

 

32. One knows the elements of earth, air, heat and water, the actions of the wise and the foolish, seeks contact with the wise in the Sangha to address the difficult issues and develops the eightfold path. One cannot progress without such a commitment.

 

33. This is a brief discourse by the Buddha on the destruction of craving--an important one to contemplate The Buddha tells Sakka that ‘nothing is worth clinging to’ – due to impermanence, due to change.

 

34. The Buddha gives a warming to those who follow spiritual teachers with mistaken views about the world. He says Mara (the voice of temptation, within or without) and death will suffer. Those who listen to wise teachings will enjoy the benefits.

 

35. Saccaka claims there is a true self or soul in the five aggregates. Buddha shows the emptiness of the view/He says the self does not have control over the mind/body and does not belong to a self.

 

36. The Buddha relates to Saccaka the importance of meditation and the reaching of the supreme goal. Saccaka is convinced.

 

37. One is liberated through extinguishing desires. The discourse conveys myths and legends like the Mahabharata.

 

38. Sati believes consciousness is eternal and unaffected by changes in identity of the self. Sati claimed that the same consciousness migrates. The Buddha refuted this and said it arises out of conditions and there is no consciousness without conditions.

 

39. To be a Brahmin, noble and saintly one develops purity of body, speech and mind, guards the senses, moderate in diet, mindful with clear comprehension, love solitude and dissolve the hindrances.

 

40. One comes a monk through working through problematic states of mind, not by wearing robes, chanting or having matted hair but by letting of clinging.

 

41. The Buddha gives a list of names of the gods. He says a spiritual life leads a beneficial destiny. And an unwholesome life leads to painful consequences.

 

42. The Buddha speaks to Brahmins who come to Savatthi on business about his teachings. He responds to questions on karma, rebirth. He says it depends on conduct of body, speech and mind.

 

43. Questions and answers on psychology. What is inquiry, consciousness, feelings, becoming, faculties, meditation etc. Buddha those who practice behaving like a dog end up like a dog.

 

44. Dhammadina, a nun, explains the arising of belief in personality depends on the self identifying with any of the five aggregates.

 

45. Teachings can start pleasant and end up painful. Start painful and end up painful. Start painful and end up pleasant. Start pleasant and end up pleasurable.

 

46. The Buddha speaks of four ways to undertake action and tells listeners to ‘attend closely.”

 

47. The Inquirer. One investigate states of mind of another, Their application of consciousness, presence of any fear and relationship to pleasure and pain, light and dark. Etc. So, trust is supported with direct knowing of another.

 

48. The Buddha deals with a dispute on ethics/precepts. One engages in acts of loving kindness towards others, acts of sharing things, stays polite and respectful and develops a perspective leading to the end of suffering.

 

49. The Buddha speaks with a god (high and revered consciousness) who believes in eternalism of the here and now so there is no rebirth. Mara challenges both Buddha and Baka.

 

50. Mogallana gets pains in his stomach. He starts to worry. He realises Mara is the worry. Mara leaves him. Mogallana says this worry has happened to him before.

 

Part Two. Discourses 51 - 100

 

51. The Buddha’s criticises intense practices. He criticises those who push hard on people such practices and those who push hard on themselves. He encourages those who experience happiness in their practice. Four kinds of people who engage in conflict.

 

52. The Buddha speaks of the benefits of aspects of practice towards enlightenment – deep mediation, the four divine abidings and the four formless realms.

 

53. The Buddha speaks of virtue, mindfulness of senses, eating and four deep meditations.

 

54. Refers to problematic states and the relationship of suffering to the pursuit of pleasure. Several metaphors employed.

 

55. Jivaka sutta. Buddha accepts meat for the ordained sangha provided the creature has not been killed for them.

 

56. The differences between the Buddha and the Jains. Jains claim that action has the most demerit. One who lives with non-harming, virtue, and generosity encourages others to do as well.

 

57. Four types of action (karma). Dark and Dark result. Bright with bright result. Dark and bright actions with mixed results. Actions neither dark nor bright with same result. Last one supports the end of karma.

 

58. Prince Abhaya, son of King Bimbisara, and his lover, on truth which is unpleasant or painful.

The Prince’s son sits on his lap. The Buddha said if a small stone got stuck in the boy’s mouth, the father would pull it out even if it meant blood. An example of a painful truth. Speak what is true and useful

 

59. The pleasure from the sense is gross and not the highest pleasure. The pleasure from meditative absorptions, infinite consciousness and infinite no-thingness is much greater.

 

60. King Pasenadi asked why only a few people who acquire wealth and pleasure don’t become intoxicated and don’t mistreat others. The majority who acquire wealth and pleasure become intoxicated and mistreat others. The Buddha said the greed run like deer into a trap.

 

61. The Buddha teaches his son to develop reflection/inquiry into activities of body, speech and mind.

 

62. Rahula asked his father to teach mindfulness of breathing and wanted to know what he would get out of it. The Buddha spoke to him of the emptiness of I and my. He also spoke on mindfulness, and the benefits of meditating on the elements and application of love, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.

 

63. A monk wanted to know about the origins of the world, the end of the world and what happens to the realised ones when they die. The Buddha said that such views do not lead to the cessation of suffering.

 

64. Buddha addresses false views of individuality, doubts, identification with virtue/ceremonies, pursuit of pleasure and negativity. The Buddha said having seen mental states, one turns one’s attention to the deathless.

 

65. Bhaddali said he could not eat once a day because he would think and worry about food. The Buddha speaks of the benefits of following through with the training discipline.

 

66. People decline to give things up because they think it is not important. The insignificant things bring together the capacity.

 

67. Four kids of terror, temper, greed pursuit of pleasure and women.

 

68. The Buddha says not to waste time but to reach somewhere else before one dies. On develops trust, learning wisdom and enjoys the benefits for a long time.

 

69. Monk who dwell with other monks should respect the Sangha such as seating arrangements. He should live with moderation in food, senses and not visit village too early.

 

70. The Buddha explains there are seven kinds of noble ones in the world.

 

71. The Buddha said he did not know everything but did have three kinds of knowledge - the past, divine seeing and liberation.

 

72. The Buddha explains reasons for refuting speculative views. He emphasises putting the fire out in the mind.

 

73. Story of Vacchagotta, wanderer, and his development to liberation.

 

74. Teachings on liberations though mindfulness of feelings.

 

75. On the dangers of pleasure, the benefits of letting go and the meaning of Nirvana.

 

76. Ananda speaks of the four ways that ignore the spiritual life and four fruits of the spiritual life

 

77. The Buddha refuted the view it was because of virtue that people revered him, even those who left him, but the depth and breadth of his teachings.

 

78. On attainment to the supreme enlightenment.

 

79. The Buddha questions the dharma of a yogi using the simile of a beautiful woman. One with a pure eye can see deep into the past.

 

80. On spiritual claims and the influence of pleasure.

 

81. The Buddha tells of the story of the chief lay supporter of the Buddha Kassapa.

 

82. Ratthapala said money and marriage had no interest for him compared to the Dharma.

 

83. King Makkadeva. How a lineage of Kings broke down to due to negligence.

 

84. Kaccana examines the Brahmin’s claim of their superiority.

 

85. Prince Bodhi. The Buddha said that pleasure does not come through pain and refers to his enlightenment.

 

86. The transformation experience of Angulimala, the terrorist.

 

87. Sorrow and grief arises from those who are held dear.

 

88. Ananda answers King Pasenadi questions on the Buddha’s behaviour.

 

89. King Pasenadi gives 10 reasons for his veneration for the Buddha.

 

90. The same King asks on omniscience, caste and gods.

 

91. An elderly Brahmin meets with the Buddha.

 

92. Brahmin Sela also asks questions and he and his students follow the Buddha

 

93. Brahmin tries to persuade the Buddha that Brahmins are the highest caste.

 

94. A Brahmin and monk discuss renunciation/letting go.

 

95. Teachings on the preservation of truth, the discovery of truth and final arrival at truth.

 

96. The Buddha refutes caste, brahmins and should develop metta instead.

 

97. Sariputta speaks to Brahmin who neglects practice because of his responsibilities.

 

98. The Buddha resolves conflict on what makes a true Brahmin.

 

99. The Buddha shows a young Brahmin how to find God.

 

Part Three. Discourses 101 – 152

 

100. Brahmin asks the Buddha for his basis for teaching.

 

101. The Buddha refutes the view that what we experience now has been caused by our past actions.

 

102. Speculative views about the past, the future and Nirvana

 

103. How to resolve conflicts in the sangha.

 

104. The causes for disputes and what is necessary for harmony

 

105 How one overestimates accomplishments in the Dharma

 

106. The gradual path through meditation to Nirvana.

 

107 Discourse to Ganaka Mogallana. The gradual path.

 

108. A monk explains the necessary discipline and unity after the death of the Buddha.

 

109. Questions on the five aggregates, clinging, personality view and non-self.

 

110. On the true (authentic, living with integrity) person and the false.

111. The Buddha speaks of the insights of Sariputta

 

112. How to respond to questions on final liberation from one who says he or she knows.

 

113. The character of a true person and non-true.

 

114. What to cultivate and what not cultivate in the development for liberation.

 

115. The Buddha says the wise person understands the elements, dependent arising, the conditioned and the unconditioned.

 

116. Reference to the silent Buddhas of the past.

 

117. The Buddha said one should ask questions of those who claim liberation. Inter-relationship of the Eighfold Path.

 

118. Explanation of the 16 steps of mindfulness of breathing leading to liberation and connection to enlightenment.

 

119. The practice of mindfulness of the body and the benefits.

 

120. Practices which lead to a better rebirth (a heavenly consciousness)

 

121. Teachings on Emptiness

 

122. Greater Teachings on Emptiness and the value of solitude

 

123. Ananda on the happy events before the birth of the Buddha.

 

124. Bakkula recalls his decades of practice and then report of his remarkable death.

 

125. Ways to tame the mind like taming the elephant.

 

126. Similes on the fruits of the noble eightfold path.

 

127. Anuruddha explains the difference between immeasurable liberation of mind and exalted liberation.

 

128. The Buddha said Prince Jayasena cannot know depth of dharma due to desire and life of luxury.

 

129. A fool has as much chance of liberation as a blind turtle putting its head through a yoke in a stormy ocean.

 

130. The sufferings of hell due to harmful behaviour.

 

131. Verses on Not clinging to past or future and seeing what arises.

 

132. As previous sutta. Liberation shows as not being ‘bound up’ anywhere with anything.

 

133. On non-clinging to the past, future and dependently arising present. This is a single excellent night.

 

134. Further commentary on verse of non-clinging as in 131.

 

135. Action (including kamma) explains the differences between people.

 

136. Extended examination of kamma (action) and danger of dogma and generalisations.

 

137. Exploration of inner-outer life through the senses.

 

138. Kaccana speaks about training of consciousness and overcoming agitation.

 

139. What leads to conflict and what leads to non-conflict. On the happiness and unhappiness of the householder and the yogi.

 

140. The Buddha meets with Pukhusati, a recluse. A sage is not overcome with conceiving.

 

141. Sariputta explains in detail the Four Noble Truths

 

142. 14 kinds of ways of giving, of generosity, for the sangha and the benefits of giving.

 

143. Final talk by Sariputta to Anathapindika, foremost lay supporter, on his deathbed.

 

144. Channa, a monk commits suicide, and the Buddha said there is no fault.

 

145. There is no wavering for one who lives independently. Punna goes to live among violent people.

 

146.Nanda talks on impermanence.

 

147. Buddha’s talk to his son that led to his liberation on impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-self.

 

148. An explanation of sense experience and the conditions for its arising to understand non-self.

 

149. Wrong views about experiences lead to suffering and right view leads to liberation.

 

150. The Buddha teaches on reflection to lead the spiritual life, which makes a person worthy of respect.

 

151. The Buddha tells Sariputta that a ‘great person’ abides in Emptiness. A person reflects on the condition of their inner life and sees if knowledge and liberation are present.

 

152. The Buddha speaks of the development of the senses rather than rejection or withdrawal.

 

 

From: Middle Length Discourses

translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Nanamoli

1420 pages

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