SuttaCentral

Study Group Suggestions

Hello everyone.

I am interested in starting a group to study/discuss the suttas on campus. I’d like to know from you if you have any suggestions and ideas. I very much appreciate your input.

Metta!

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Working through In the Buddha’s Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi would be a great place to start. It’s not too expensive for everyone to get their own copy. And there are on-line versions for free.

Will people already have a background in Buddhism?

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A sutta study group I used to participate in as a layman had the following format which worked well for us: we’d meet once per week, do 45 min or an hour of meditation, then take an hour to read a sutta from the MN together, stopping every sentence or two to discuss. It was quite helpful to have a knowledgeable monastic facilitating the conversation, asking pointed questions for us about the meaning or how to apply it in our own life. We’d always end class with some Pāli chanting in English translation, usually picking a chant relevant to the themes discussed.

Of course, this format may not work for your situation, just providing an example.

Best of luck with your group! I hope it succeeds!!

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Thank you Bh Khemarato. I think I’d start with a shorter meditation period since the group may have people with no background in Buddhism.

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Hi Snowbird.

Thank you for the suggestion. In the Buddha’s Words is a very good source indeed. My first intention was to keep the group open to anyone irrespective of their background in Buddhism. I thought about starting with one introductory text and then going to the suttas themselves.

Personally, I’d consider skipping the meditation all together. It’s just one more barrier to participation. If it’s a study group, then it should be a study group. Obviously meditation is a good thing, but you can’t expect people to know what to do for meditation, especially if they are new to Buddhism.

That is a very good point, Snowbird. Maybe I should do it as an introduction at first…

I’ve been running a Zoom group, starting in April during lockdown, of sutta study with local friends based on In the Buddhas Words, and using Bhikkhu Bodhi’s talks as a guide for pacing.


There are also some talks here by Bhikkhu Sujato:

It looks like we’ll get to the end of Chapter 7 by the end of the year (we do two sessions per month), and can do the last three chapters next year.