Any Guides on how to correctly read the Suttas?

I found this quote shared on the Internet, and I felt that it was quite good already, but I would like to find out that is there any more sources and guides out there on how to correctly read the suttas? Many thanks in advance.


I’ve been on a personal project for over a year now to read the entire Sutta Pitaka and that is how I look at the supernatural elements, aside from rebirth.

I am undisturbed by those supernatural elements, not at all tempted to take them literally, and I try to learn from that what I can from them.

Just like if I was reading the ancient Greek plays or Aesop’s fables.

Believe it or not, it is possible to have reverence for such writings without taking them literally. Just mentioning it because when I have written this before it has offended other people. I really do respect and value those writings.


One of the characteristics of the Buddha is skilled teacher, but it’s often overlooked that this involves psychological strategies. Just like any other artistic writing the suttas must be constructed utilizing conditioned elements to communicate effectively. There is a hierarchy within the suttas of who can say what, for example the Buddha characteristically speaks from the ultimate viewpoint, whereas more junior characters such as the Buddha before awakening, Ananda, and some nuns often address issues at a mundane level and so present a more appropriate perspective for western lay practitioners.

For example the Buddha would never say that craving is a necessary component to follow the path, yet it is requisite knowledge at beginner level, which the Buddha rarely addresses:


"‘This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.’

—Anguttara Nikaya 4.159


You might enjoy this paper by Rupert Gethin on the subject: