Majjhima Nikāya

The Middle-length Discourses

The Majjhima Nikāya, or “Middle-length Discourses” of the Buddha, is the second of the five nikāyas (collections) of the Sutta Pitaka.

This nikāya consists of 152 discourses by the Buddha and his chief disciples, which together constitute a comprehensive body of teaching concerning all aspects of the Buddha’s teachings.

Majjhima Nikāya

Majjhima Nikāya

An excellent modern translation of the complete Majjhima Nikāya is The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya, translated by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995). The Introduction to that book contains an extraordinary synopsis of the Buddha’s teachings in general, and of their expression in the Majjhima in particular. A fine anthology of selected suttas is Handful of Leaves (Vol. 1), by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (distributed by Metta Forest Monastery).

Some well known Suttas (a limited selection):

MN 1: Mulapariyaya Sutta — The Root Sequence {M i 1} [Thanissaro]. In this difficult but important sutta the Buddha reviews in depth one of the most fundamental principles of Buddhist thought and practice: namely, that there is no thing — not even Nibbana itself — that can rightly be regarded as the source from which all phenomena and experience emerge.

MN 2: Sabbasava Sutta — Discourse on All Āsavas/All the Fermentations {M i 6} [Burma Piṭaka Assn. | Thanissaro]. The Buddha teaches seven methods for eliminating from the mind the deeply rooted defilements (sensuality, becoming, views, and ignorance) that obstruct the realization of Awakening.

MN 8: Sallekha Sutta — The Discourse on Effacement {M i 40} [Nyanaponika]. The Buddha explains how unskillful qualities in the heart can be eradicated through meditation.

MN 9: Sammaditthi Sutta — The Discourse on Right View/Right View {M i 46} [Ñanamoli/Bodhi | Thanissaro]. How the four noble truths, dependent co-arising, and the knowledge that ends mental fermentation all build upon the basic dichotomy between skillful and unskillful action.

MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta — The Foundations of Mindfulness/The Discourse on the Arousing of Mindfulness/Frames of Reference {M i 55} [Nyanasatta | Soma | Thanissaro]. The Buddha’s comprehensive practical instructions on the development of mindfulness as the basis for insight. [The text of this sutta is identical to that of the Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22), but without its detailed exposition of the Four Noble Truths (sections 5a,b,c and d in part D of that version).]

MN 13: Maha-dukkhakkhandha Sutta — The Great Mass of Stress {M i 83} [Thanissaro]. In deliciously graphic terms, the Buddha describes the allures and drawbacks of sensuality, physical form, and feeling. What better incentive could there be to escape samsara once and for all?

MN 19: Dvedhavitakka Sutta — Two Sorts of Thinking {M i 114} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha recounts the events leading up to his Awakening, and describes his discovery that thoughts connected with sensuality, ill-will, and harmfulness do not lead one to Awakening, while those connected with their opposites (renunciation, non ill-will, and harmlessness) do.

MN 20: Vitakkasanthana Sutta — The Removal of Distracting Thoughts/The Relaxation of Thoughts {M i 118} [Soma | Thanissaro]. The Buddha offers five practical methods of responding wisely to unskillful thoughts (thoughts connected with desire, aversion, or delusion).

MN 21: Kakacupama Sutta — The Parable of the Saw/The Simile of the Saw {M i 122} [Buddharakkhita (excerpt) | Thanissaro (excerpt)]. The Buddha tells the story of a wise slave who deliberately tests her mistress’s patience. The Buddha invokes several memorable similes here to illustrate the correct way to develop patience.

MN 22: Alagaddupama Sutta — The Snake Simile/The Water-Snake Simile {M i 130} [Nyanaponika | Thanissaro]. Using two famous similes, the Buddha shows how the development of right view calls for the skillful application both of grasping and of letting-go. The sutta includes one of the Canon’s most important expositions on the topic of not-self.

MN 26: Ariyapariyesana Sutta — The Noble Search {M i 160} [Thanissaro]. Most of us spend a good part of our lives looking for happiness in all the wrong places. In this sutta the Buddha recounts the story of his own search and points out where a true and lasting happiness can be found.

MN 28: Maha-hatthipadopama Sutta — The Great Elephant Footprint Simile {M i 184} [Thanissaro]. An explanation of the four noble truths, focusing on the aggregate of physical form and showing (1) how all the aggregates are interrelated and (2) how all four noble truths, together with the principle of dependent co-arising, are related to the aggregates.

MN 29: Maha Saropama Sutta — The Longer Heartwood-simile Discourse {M i 192} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha compares the rewards of the practice to different parts of a large tree, with total release the most valuable part of the tree: the heartwood.

MN 36: Maha-Saccaka Sutta — The Longer Discourse to Saccaka {M i 237} [Thanissaro]. In response to an insinuating remark — that his ability not to be overcome by pleasure and pain is due simply to the fact that he never experienced any intense pleasures or pains — the Buddha recounts the pains he endured in his austerities, and the pleasures that attended the path to and his attainment of Awakening.

MN 41: Saleyyaka Sutta — The Brahmans of Sala/(Brahmans) of Sala {M i 285; MLS ii 379} [Ñanamoli | Thanissaro]. A discussion of ten types of skillful and unskillful conduct in body, speech, and mind, and of the future rewards open to those who follow the guidelines to skillful conduct.

MN 58: Abhaya Sutta — To Prince Abhaya {M i 392} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha explains the criteria for determining whether or not something is worth saying. This discourse is a beautiful example of the Buddha’s skill as teacher: not only does he talk about right speech, but he also demonstrates right speech in action.

MN 61: Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta — Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone {M i 414} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha admonishes his son, the novice Rahula, on the dangers of lying and stresses the importance of constant reflection on one’s motives. (This is one of the suttas selected by King Asoka (r. 270-232 BCE) to be studied and reflected upon frequently by all practicing Buddhists. See That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time: Readings Selected by King Asoka, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.)

MN 62: Maha-Rahulovada Sutta — The Greater Exhortation to Rahula {M i 420} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha delivers meditation instructions to his son, the novice Rahula.

MN 63: Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta — The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya {M i 426} [Thanissaro]. Ven. Malunkyaputta threatens to disrobe unless the Buddha answers all his speculative metaphysical questions. Using the famous simile of a man shot by a poison arrow, the Buddha reminds him that some questions are simply not worth asking.

MN 72: Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta — To Vacchagotta on Fire {M i 483} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha explains to a wanderer why he does not hold any speculative views. Using the simile of an extinguished fire he illustrates the destiny of the liberated being.

MN 82: Ratthapala Sutta — About Ratthapala {M ii 54} [Thanissaro]. A two-part story about the monk who, the Buddha said, was foremost among his disciples in ordaining on the power of pure conviction. In the first part of the story, Ratthapala deals with his parents’ opposition to his ordaining, and their attempts, after ordination, to lure him back to lay life. In the second part, he recalls the four observations about the world that inspired him, as a healthy and wealthy young man, to ordain in the first place.

MN 95: Canki Sutta — With Canki {M ii 164} [Ñanamoli (excerpt) | Thanissaro (excerpt)]. A pompous brahman teenager questions the Buddha about safeguarding, awakening to, and attaining the truth. In the course of his answer, the Buddha describes the criteria for choosing a reliable teacher and how best to learn from such a person.

MN 101: Devadaha Sutta — At Devadaha {M ii 214} [Thanissaro]. The Buddha refutes a Jain theory of kamma, which claims that one’s present experience is determined solely by one’s actions in past lives, and that the effects of past unskillful actions can be “burned away” through austerity practices. The Buddha here outlines one of his most important teachings on kamma: that it is both the results of past deeds and present actions that shape one’s experience of the present. It is precisely this interaction of present and past that opens up the very possibility of Awakening.

MN 113: Sappurisa Sutta — A Person of Integrity {M iii 37} [Thanissaro]. What is a person of integrity?

MN 118: Anapanasati Sutta — Mindfulness of Breathing {M iii 78} [Thanissaro]. One of the most important texts for beginning and veteran meditators alike, this sutta is the Buddha’s roadmap to the entire course of meditation practice, using the vehicle of breath meditation. The simple practice of mindfulness of breathing leads the practitioner gradually through 16 successive phases of development, culminating in full Awakening.

MN 131: Bhaddekaratta Sutta — The Discourse on the Ideal Lover of Solitude/An Auspicious Day {M iii 187} [Ñanananda | Thanissaro]. In this stirring discourse the Buddha underscores the vital urgency of keeping one’s attention firmly rooted in the present moment. After all, the past is gone, the future isn’t here; this present moment is all we have.

MN 135: Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta — The Shorter Exposition of Kamma/The Shorter Analysis of Action {M iii 202} [Ñanamoli | Thanissaro]. Why do some people live a long life, but others die young? Why are some people born poor, but others born rich? The Buddha explains how kamma accounts for a person’s fortune or misfortune.

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This book offers a complete translation of the Majjhima Nikāya, or Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, one of the major collections of texts in the Pali Canon, the authorized scriptures of Theravāda Buddhism. This collection—among the oldest records of the historical Buddha’s original teachings—consists of 152 suttas or discourses of middle length, distinguished as such from the longer and shorter suttas of the other collections. The Majjhima Nikāya might be concisely described as the Buddhist scripture that combines the richest variety of contextual settings with the deepest and most comprehensive assortment of teachings. These teachings, which range from basic ethics to instructions in meditation and liberating insight, unfold in a fascinating procession of scenarios that show the Buddha in living dialogue with people from many different strata of ancient Indian society: with kings and princes, priests and ascetics, simple villagers and erudite philosophers. Replete with drama, reasoned argument, and illuminating parable and simile, these discourses exhibit the Buddha in the full glory of his resplendent wisdom, majestic sublimity, and compassionate humanity.

The translation is based on an original draft translation left by the English scholar-monk Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, which has been edited and revised by the American monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, who provides a long introduction and helpful explanatory notes. Combining lucidity of expression with accuracy, this translation enables the Buddha to speak across twenty-five centuries in language that addresses the most pressing concerns of the contemporary reader seeking clarification of the timeless issues of truth, value, and the proper conduct of life.

– Source :

– Courtesy of .. and

Abhayarājakumāra Sutta : To Prince Abhaya MN 58

A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya
Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
Bhikkhu Bodhi

” .. “Even so, Prince,
[1, no] whatever speech the Tathāgata knows to be not fact, not true, not connected with the goal, and that is not liked by others, disagreeable to them, that speech the Tathāgata does not utter.

[2, no] And whatever speech a Tathāgata knows to be fact, true, but not connected with the goal, and not liked by others, disagreeable
to them, neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.

[3, yes] And whatever speech the Tathāgata knows to be fact, true, connected with the goal, but not liked by others, disagreeable to them, the Tathagata is aware of the right time for explaining that speech.

[4, no] Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be not fact, not true, not connected with the goal, but that is liked by others, agreeable to them, that speech the Tathagata does not utter.

[5, no] And whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, but not connected with the goal, yet liked by others, agreeable to them, neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.

[6, yes] And whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, connected with the goal, and liked by others, agreeable to them, the Tathagata is aware of the right time for explaining that speech.

What is the reason for this? It is, Prince, that the Tathagata has compassion for creatures.” ..”

Dhamma Sharing (Audio)
by Bhante Gunaratana
on Abhayarājakumāra Sutta MN 58

Part 1 :
Part 2 :

Thanissaro Bhikkhu
on Abhayarājakumāra Sutta MN 58

‘Translator’s Introduction

In this discourse, the Buddha shows the factors that go into deciding what is and is not worth saying. The main factors are three: whether or not a statement is true, whether or not it is beneficial, and whether or not it is pleasing to others. The Buddha himself would state only those things that are true and beneficial, and would have a sense of time for when pleasing and unpleasing things should be said. Notice that the possibility that a statement might be untrue yet beneficial is not even entertained.

This discourse also shows, in action, the Buddha’s teaching on the four categories of questions and how they should be answered (see AN 4.42). The prince asks him two questions, and in both cases he responds first with a counter-question, before going on to give an analytical answer to the first question and a categorical answer to the second. Each counter-question serves a double function: to give the prince a familiar reference point for understanding the answer about to come, and also to give him a chance to speak of his own intelligence and good motives. This provides him with the opportunity to save face after being stymied in his desire to best the Buddha in argument. The Commentary notes that the prince had placed his infant son on his lap as a cheap debater’s trick: if the Buddha had put him in an uncomfortable spot in the debate, the prince would have pinched his son, causing him to cry and thus effectively bringing the debate to a halt. The Buddha, however, uses the infant’s presence to remove any sense of a debate and also to make an effective point. Taking Nigantha Nataputta’s image of a dangerous object stuck in the throat, he applies it to the infant, and then goes on to make the point that, unlike the Niganthas — who were content to leave someone with a potentially lethal object in the throat — the Buddha’s desire is to remove such objects, out of sympathy and compassion. In this way, he brings the prince over to his side, converting a potential opponent into a disciple.

Thus this discourse is not only about right speech, but also shows right speech in action.’

– Thanissaro Bhikkhu
– Source :

– Posted by CFFong