What can the suttas help you with today?

In thinking about new user interfaces for sutta websites, one of the ideas was for users to be able to select a problem they are having and then be given sutta recommendations based on their immediate need.

So I thought I would seek the community’s ideas. I’d love to hear both ideas for problems/issues to be solved as well as what suttas you think would be a good match.

Here are some of my ideas. These are kind of just brainstorms. They don’t all fit neatly into a category.

  • I’d like to be inspired
  • I’d like to overcome jealousy
  • I’m too sleepy to meditate. What should I do?
  • I’d like to become more generous
  • I’m having problems with my family
  • I’d like to read a good story.
  • I’m overwhelmed with illness
  • It feels like I’m not making progress
  • I’m feeling alone in my spiritual practice
  • I’m dealing with a lot of uncertainty in my life.
  • My parent may die soon.
  • I’m feeling too lazy to practice.



I like the idea, I’d dig through those categories!
When it comes to searching for useful practice ideas I always like how the BSWA names its videos and so maybe a similar way to title sutta categories would work? Like short and sweet, and fun, title that tell you what it’s supposed to answer.

  • Inspiring Suttas

  • Contentment

  • Generosity

  • Illness

  • Loneliness

  • Laziness

  • Dealing with Family

  • Harrowing Tales of the Buddha (Okay maybe this is a longer title, but it’s fun)

  • Relax to the Max (This is one of Ajahn Brahm’s most popular videos and so it would be a good category to put in! Even if you can’t borrow his phrasing.)


Just more brainstorming …

A friend/loved one has died. Kisagotami would be good for adults, not sure about kids though.

Everyone is better than me / I’m not good enough. Suttas on the gradual path. Dhammapada 5 story of Culapanthaka

I’m feeling frightened. MN4

Everything is going really well. Suttas on impermanence

I just want to die. Suttas on rebirth and how death does not end suffering.

How can (or why should) I stop killing / lying / stealing / cheating? Sigolavada

How can I be a better child to my parents? Sigolavada


Perhaps ask questions with a tanha outlook. For example:

  • What’s the easiest way to stay awake while meditating?

Tanha questions directly address the underlying craving that is a vital condition for suffering. Non-tanha questions deal with the aversion that arises towards things that are not what we crave and are a bit more contorted or over-specific.


Can I ask you for a few more examples?


The single tanha question that dealt with all of the above might be:

  • How do I find love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity with others?

Feeling alone is aversion to seclusion. Yet practice of the brahmaviharas requires some seclusion to find the love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity within oneself to give to others.

Choosing powerful questions allows one to explore manifold answers. For example, another answer to the above is to abandon resentment:

AN5.162:2.1: “Reverends, a mendicant should use these five methods to completely get rid of resentment when it has arisen toward anyone.

Manifold answers are powerful because they lead to greater awareness beyond what is sought.

Another way to think about tanha questions is that when we go shopping, all those websites show us things we think we want. Even if we have a toothache, we gravitate towards pictures of smiling perfect teeth when looking for dentists.

People will shop endlessly seeking answers to tanha-based questions. But when one goes to WebMD with a mind of aversion to a particular illness, one rarely browses, one heads directly to the quick solution. Unfortunately, there is no anti-suffering pill. There is instead a call to a gentle exploration that leads to the relinquishment of identity view.

I’m not proposing that we abandon aversion questions. I just see endless opportunity with a slight focus on the tanha side.


Remember, this is for kids, and so conceptual requirements need to be kept at a prettty basic level so that younger kids can use it. I think the level you are giving would work for teens, but maybe not for someone 7 years of age.


I often refer people to the Index pages, where they can find key terms and explore a variety of concepts through a number of suttas.

It’s just a matter of re-presenting this already existing information in a new format, maybe?