PTSD and the Dhamma

I wondered if anyone could point me to a sutta which might be helpful for someone suffering from PTSD or CPTSD




I am not well acquainted with PTSD or CPTSD. Yet I have seen myself cowering in fear for no reason. The one sutta that gives me peace when thinking of that time of fear is MN86. With Aṅgulimāla

The words that hit home for me are these:

“I’ve stopped, Aṅgulimāla—now you stop.”



I’m not familiar with PTSD or CPTSD, either, though I have experienced mild anxiety and irrational fear in my life. I think it’s important for me to say that studying the Dhamma is not a replacement for help from a mental help professional. They can really help someone navigate cognitive biases and irrational thought by providing useful, personalized tips for how to get back to a stable mental state. This, in turn, will help them be more open to Dhamma lessons like dealing with pain, anxiety, etc., which, of course, the Dhamma does address.

That said, numerous teachers have talked about dealing with pain and painful memories, which tends to come up in meditation. I like Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s take on disruptive emotions in With Each and Every Breath, but there’s a lot out there.

As for suttas, MN 21 comes to mind, as well as MN 62, the Buddha’s advice to Rāhula:

Meditate like the earth. For when you meditate like the earth, pleasant and unpleasant contacts will not occupy your mind. Suppose they were to toss both clean and unclean things on the earth, like feces, urine, spit, pus, and blood. The earth isn’t horrified, repelled, and disgusted because of this. In the same way, meditate like the earth. For when you meditate like the earth, pleasant and unpleasant contacts will not occupy your mind.

Meditate on love. For when you meditate on love any ill will will be given up. Meditate on compassion. For when you meditate on compassion any cruelty will be given up. Meditate on rejoicing. For when you meditate on rejoicing any negativity will be given up. Meditate on equanimity. For when you meditate on equanimity any repulsion will be given up. Meditate on ugliness. For when you meditate on ugliness any lust will be given up. Meditate on impermanence. For when you meditate on impermanence any conceit ‘I am’ will be given up.

Generally, any sutta dealing with aversion and delusion will apply, and one will have to see what tends to work—especially ones geared toward dealing with unskillful emotions.


There are reasearch studies which show trauma focused CBT and EMDR work for PTSD. Medication can be helpful (Venlafaxine and others) as well.

The Bhaya-bherava Sutta SuttaCentral shows how we need to face the fear and detox it of toxic defilements so that we stop fearing those thoughts and memories.


Welcome, nice to have you here!

As a survivor of trauma myself I can only share what has helped me the most on my recovery path.

When I became a Buddhist I thought that the Buddha’s teachings and my Dhamma practice should be enough to heal myself. It did help for a while but soon enough I had to realize I simply didn’t have the knowledge what trauma does to the body and mind. For an introvert like me counselling was never going to be an option, so I was lucky to find some excellent books with the latest research on trauma and the explanations of many different ways how we can help ourselves to heal. The book I felt I was blessed to come across was “The body keeps the score” by Bessel van der Kolk, the book has so much valuable information written by someone who I feel is a really good professional and also a compassionate human being. Also, I found it very helpful to read the stories of other survivors of trauma. In some countries support groups are quite popular but in countries where that is not available we can always read the books.

As for the suttas, I believe we should read whatever inspires us. I think good energy and the inspiration to grow in kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others will go very nicely together with whatever else we do on our recovery path. :anjal:

Much metta,


I’d strongly encourage to seek for professional help in these cases.

In case it is a “simple” trauma caused by one single event in life (like an accident for example) it is not all too difficult to address, and symptoms can subside already after only a few sessions of therapy sometimes. EMDR, as mentioned by @Mat, can be one possible technique that’s very helpful in these cases. And there are other ones as well.

When the trauma is more complex and there are multiple events, especially when this goes back to very young age (like in the case of violence etc. in the family one grew up with) things are not as simple. It often takes much time (many years sometimes) and care and professional skill to deal with this, and lots and lots and lots—and lots—and even more lots—and more lots—and still more lots—of self-metta!

This is great, thank you for sharing, Rudite!

This is also a widely shared experience that exchanging with other people concerned can be of great help. Also, as you say, understanding what is going on in your body and mind is very important. What usually brings a great relief is understanding that what is happening in my body and mind is not a sign of myself turning mad, but it is a totally normal reaction to an “un-normal” event, or “un-normal” circumstances (even if not that rare, unfortunately).

This is surely one of the experts in the field, so I fully agree you were blessed to come across his book. But maybe not in all cases reading books will be enough.


So true! :heart_eyes:

I guess I have to clarify a little bit what I really meant by the help one could get from Bessel van der Kolk’s book. It is not just reading it, it is more like studying carefully what he has to say, understanding to the best of my ability and figuring out how that could or couldn’t apply to my situation. And that includes being mindful, listening to my heart and feeling what advice could work for me and what couldn’t. And only after that the real work starts. It is almost like reading the suttas, the Buddha shares his knowledge, gives us advice and we use it in our life as best as we can depending on where we are at on our spiritual journey.


@Vivek You might find this article helpful

When Buddhism Doesn’t Work.


Thank you for the article. It really helped me understand how meditation can unlock repressed experiences that overwhelm the meditator. The article was also an affirmation of the positive effects of therapy and medication, especially in that they need not be lifelong entanglements. The author was able to resume meditation later in life without medication.


IMO SN 54.9, the Buddha’s words after the assembly is lessened.


Its out of your question but maybe related - have you maybe heard about MDMA assisted therapy or MAPS organization?

1 Like