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No more than five sutras

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran
edited June 2020 in Buddhism Today

The other day I came across an online Buddhist who declared “I just adhere to a handful of sutras, just four or five, which I have memorised. That is enough to guide my practice.” Having thought about it a little, it seems eminently possible, and there is something appealing and clean about it.

So I thought i would ask, if you were going to practice in this way, which sutras would you choose?

I might start with...

The Satipatthana Sutra — four foundations of mindfulness — longish and full of good stuff
The Kalama Sutra — guidance on spiritual teachers — I find this really grounding
The Dhammapada — original material on many topics — inspirational



  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited June 2020

    I think MN 61 and MN 118 would me on my list. I'd also include SN 45.8, MN 22, and SN 56.11 (although DN 22 is another possibility).

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran

    The Dalai Lama once gave some advice on a couple simple things that should be the focus of what is taught to westerners. The four foundations of mindfulness was among them, I wish I could remember what else.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    As a student of Zen meditation, I currently use a perusal of at least one of these writings each day to help guide my tendencies of wayward travel back towards the middle way.

    Nāgārjuna's Heart sutra,

    Sekito Kisen’s Sandokai,

    Tozan Ryokai's The most excellent mirror Samadi,

    Roshi Jiyu kennett's Zazen Rules,

    Dilgo Khyentse's The everyday practice of Dzogchen.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    One more often than not comes to mind...

    Form is Emptiness....Emptiness is Form

  • Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer

    Buddhism in two words:
    Let go.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Rob_V said:
    Buddhism in two words:
    Let go.

    I'll take your two words and raise you one:


  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @Rob_V said:
    Buddhism in two words:
    Let go.

    Well I think that’s allright for a monastic, but for a westerner it is somewhat more tricky. Letting go of everything means you go rather floppy.

  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran

    I am guided by Lamrim, one of the uncommon qualities of Lamrim is that it encompasses all Buddha's teachings so nothing you learn is ever wasted, suppose a person goes shopping and has a huge cart full, you can hold certain things but in order to keep these things efficently and for current and future use you need a dedicate storage facility to stop these items from being wasted. This is what Lamrim does for Buddhadharma.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited July 2020

    1) Buddhāvataṁsakasūtra
    (The Sutra of the Buddha's Flower Garland)
    2) Vajracchedikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra
    (The Sutra of the Diamond-Cutter)
    3) Vairocanabhāṣitacittabhūmisūtra
    (The Sutra of Vairocana's Speech on the Mind-Ground)
    4) Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra
    (The Sutra of the Lotus [in threefold form])
    5) Avalokiteśvaraguṇakaraṇḍavyūhasūtra
    (The Sutra of the Display of the Vessel of Merits of Avalokiteśvara)

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