Free Books & Periodicals:

Discovered in what is now northern Pakistan, the text above is written in gandhari and is a fragment of what may be the oldest written Buddhist teachings discovered to date.

When I first became interested in Insight Meditation ( vipassana bhavana )  I was a graduate student living off of  little more then $500 a month. I found it hard to find affordable educational materials on Buddhism that were written for a modern, intelligent, and non-academic audience.

I found a friend in the Internet.  I found many good reading materials for free and of an educational quality superior to what I could have gotten from a book store.   The links below will guide you to these places on and off of this site.

By agreement with the publishers, all materials that can be obtained from this page may be redistributed.  However these materials may not be sold,  nor may the contents of these materials be altered. 


Quick Introductions:

What Is Buddhism? 7 pgs
What Is Theravada Buddhsim? 5 pgs
Introduction To Insight Meditation ( meditation techniques ) 10 pgs
Physiological Effects Of Meditation
Buddhism: A Method Of Mind Training ( The Four Noble Truths ) 6 pgs
How To Make Your Own Meditation Cushion



Essays On  Improving Meditation: 


One Tool Among Many: The Place Of Vipassana In Buddhist Practice 5 pgs
Kasina & Jhana ( excerpt from "Wings To Awakening" ) 10 pgs
The Benefits Of Walking Meditation 6 pgs


Dhammapada ( Sayings Of The Buddha ):

The Dhammapada trans.   by    T. Byrom
The Dhammapada    trans.   by    Thanissaro Bhikkhu 
The Dhammpada     trans .  by    Buddharakkhita


Pivotal Suttas :

Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta -    The  Buddha's first "sermon" - essential  Buddhist teachings
The Kalama Sutta   -    Advice on how to choose a spiritual path
Sigalovada Sutta  -     Advice on lay life given by the Buddha
The Peg -     The Buddha explains how his teachings will be corrupted
Unconjecturable -      The precise working out of the results of  Kamma cannot be known
Moliyasivaka  -      Kamma is not the sole cause behind  all conditions


Theravada Buddhist Writings By Women

 Free On Line Books:

Mindfulness In Plain English by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana
Probably the best introductory Insight Meditation ( Vipassana ) book written for English speakers. An exceptionally clear, step-by-step, nondenominational guide with everyday examples that everyone can easily relate to. Read it in HTML or PDF. Hard copies of the book can be obtained from Wisdom Publications.

The Eight Fold Path by Venerable Bhikku Bodhi
The fourth noble truth of the Buddha's "The Four Noble Truths" is that suffering can end by following "The Noble Eight Fold Path". This booklet is an excellent introduction as to why Buddhist meditate, basic Buddhist teachings, and the Buddha's "Noble Eightfold Path". Approx. 61 pages.  If  you  read this book you will gain much by also reading this short excerpt from "The Wings To Awakening" concerning the use of kasinas to achive jhana ( deep states of concentration ).

The Word of the Buddha by Venerable Nyanatiloka
In this superb little work compiled & edited by Venerable Nyanatiloka Mahåtherayou  you can read the basic Buddhist teachings in the Buddha's own words,  as taken from the suttas in the Pali Canon.  The sutta quotations are compiled into one smooth flowing  logical order to enable the reader to easily read the most important Buddhist teachings recorded in the Pali Canon.   My special thanks goes towards David Cortesi for producing the HTML and PDF versions of this book, as well as Venerable Bhikku Bodhi of The Buddhist Publication Society for granting permission for electronic distribution . Read The PDF version*

The Wings To Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikku
Toward the end of his life the historical Buddha created "The Seven Sets", a means of preserving his most important teachings across time and culture. The "Seven Sets" are lists that describe personal qualities, that if fully developed will lead the meditator to rediscover the Buddha's teachings. This book is an anthology of freshly translated suttas that describe the "The Seven Sets". This is an excellent introduction to what is truly important in the Pali Canon. Anyone concerned with what the historical Buddha's teachings actually are, should read this book.


Recommended Readings From Bhavana Society:



The Heart of Buddhism, Guy Claxton, Harper Collins, London, 1992. Written by an Oxford educated psychologist, it is an easy to read, but serious discussion of the basic teachings. An excellent analysis and explanation of the three major forms of Buddhism: Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan. The best first book for Westerners to read. 

Introducing Buddhism,  Chris Pauling (ISBN 0 904766 63 2).  "It's short (73pp) but very
clear and un-fluffy.  Starts with Buddhist ethics, and does not shirk the question "so what's 'enlightenment' anyway?".  Nearest thing I've found to "Buddhism 101" --  review by David Cortesi.

Mindfulness in Plain English, Venerable Henepola Gunaratana, Wisdom Publications, Boston and London, 1993.   A step-by-step guide to insight meditation that is practical and direct. You will refer to this book again and again in your first two or three years of meditation. The author, a native of Sri Lanka, has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from American University and has been an ordained monk since 1947. 

Experience of Insight by Joseph Goldstein, Shambhala Publications: 
A modern classic of practical instructions for Buddhist meditation 

A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine, Doubleday: 
A meditation and self-awareness guide for beginners 


The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, Nyanaponika Mahathera, Rider and Co., London, 1962. Eric Fromm said that the work of this scholarly German born Theravada monk might become one of the most important contributions to the spiritual renewal of the West. Written in a simple and direct style, with deep humanity and extraordinary knowledge. Includes important texts and explanations of the basic techniques. 

What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rahula, Grove Weidenfeld, New York, 1974.A lucid and faithful account of the Buddha's teachings which includes a number of the basic texts. Written by aTheravada monk who taught at the Sorbonne in Paris. 

Breath by Breath by Larry Rosenberg, Shambhala Publications: 
Mindfulness of Breathing explained in an easy, conversational style 

Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg, Shambhala Publications: 
A central meditation subject crucial to the balanced development of the path 

Landscapes of Wonder by Bhikkhu Nyanasobano, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1998: 
A beautifully written collection of essays on seeing the Dhamma in the world around us.


The Four Foundations of Mindfulness by Ven. U Silananda, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1990. This is the basic text of and commentary on the meditative techniques which the Buddha described as the only way to peace and happiness. Written by a Theravada monk with 40 years of meditative experience. Explains in detail all the instructions of the Buddha on how to achieve mindfulness. 

The Way to Peace and Happiness, compiled by Venerable Yogavacara Rahula. Provides translations of the key doctrines of the Buddha with his own insightful comments. Available from the Bhavana Society. 

The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya Translated by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, London, 1987. The major talks given by the Buddha, covering his basic message. Essential reading when you are ready.

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya Translated by Bhikkhu Nyanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications, Boston/London, 1995.  The Suttas are the primary resource to refer to.  This collection contains 152 Suttas and an invaluable introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi. 



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