User Friendly Suttas: Which Ones to Choose?

So, I am moving ahead with the semi-weekly MeetUp meetings of the Buddhist Society of Madison. One thing that is interesting about Madison, Wisconsin is that it is a small city in the Midwest, but it has a flourishing Buddhist presence. I thought I’d roll into town and be almost the only game in town (as I was in my last community), but Madison has a very solid and diverse meditation and Buddhist presence, from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Dr. Richie Davidson’s Tergar sangha, to Shambhala with it’s own lovely brick building in a prestige neighborhood.

So, how to create a relevant “brand” (tongue in cheek) among so many competitiors? Does Madison really need another coffee shoppe, or another meditation center?

So, the approach for the Buddhist Society, as you might imagine, is to focus on the vibe and the approach that the Forest Tradition via Bodhinyana et al takes…I took this approach with the last group I started, and nearly everyone was thrilled to meet for the first time (via youtube, Roku and monitor) the Dhamma talks and guided meditations of Ajahns Brahm, Sujato, Brahmali, Hasapanna, and others that have taught at BSWA.

What isn’t currently being done in Madison is EBT Sutta study. So, thanks to Sutta Central and all of the great teachers and kalyana mitta here, I have at least a deep and pure well from which to draw inspiration and information. So, here’s the question: which Sutta to introduce for the first MeetUp? I’ll post the Sutta on the website (SC link, of course) and trust that some of the meditators that come for the guided meditation will read it in advance and stay to discuss the Sutta of choice for that meeting.

Kalama Sutta? Khaggavisana Sutta? Karaniya Metta Sutta? Something that doesn’t begin with the letter “K” ?

If anyone has time, I’d love to hear some input. Which of the Suttas would you recommend for this lay group, with many participants being introduced to the EBTs for the first time? Thanks in advance!


I would like to suggest Nandakovada Sutta MN.146. The three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non self are beautifully brought out in this Sutta with equally beautiful similes. It also introduces the seven awakening factors. If people, as you describe have already got a sense of what the Buddha taught due to heavy Buddhist presence in the area, this Sutta, I hope will take them to the next level.

I wish you success in this noble effort.
With Metta


Emphasize the daily grind; bhavana isn’t seated escapism.


We were just discussing this over breakfast. We realised our list was mostly suttas taught to non Buddhists.

Kalama sutta
Sigala ovada sutta
Gnakamogalana dutta

Also maybe look at the suttas, and order they are arranged, from Ajahn Brahmali’s Happy Sutta retreats.


I would go with Kalama sutta- it a good foundation to discuss the Buddhist standard for accepting views, what to do with so many teachers going through this one town, morality, the three poisons, not needing to accept on blind faith elements like rebirth etc.

with metta