Will there be an official SC beginner's reading guide?

Seeing as the four Nikaya translations are done, I have been thinking about how to help beginners and newcomers access the content. The introduction is useful but it doesn’t give enough aid in actually diving into the material. Most people new to the suttas might still feel like standing on the edge of a great ocean not knowing where to start. Now, there are guides in the forum section related to reading guides, but its not obvious to a first timer to the site that they can access these in that section of the forum or which one they should start with.

Is there plans to create some sort of introductory readers guide that will be accessible from the front page? With major topics and so on? I was thinking something along the model of Access to insights guide “Befriending the suttas” and Bhikkhu Bodhis in the Buddha’s words that could be linked to the front page of sutta central.

Also if this were to be a project for the future I would be willing to help out.

Also, what do you guys think would be the best way to organize a guide like this? By using the graduated path model like used in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s text, beginning with the “existential condition” or by using the four noble truths and the eightfold path like other later Buddhist works like the Abhidharmakosha use?

Also another alternative is the Visuddhimagga which uses the Relay Chariots discourse as a model for presenting the Dhamma.


I have a fondness for Bhikkhu Bodhi’s approach, partly because the first systematic sutta study that I did was reading “In the Buddha’s Words”.

I think that it is important for an introduction to present the breadth of the teachings, not just the advanced teachings (which is what the 4NT is).

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Thanks so much for the support, and you have touched upon a crucial issue. I have said many times that this is the hard problem in sutta study, or, more generally, in learning what the Buddha taught. It is not something that can be done all at once, nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution.

So there are two ways we can approach this: either start with what we have, or imagine something entirely new. The latter is the more exciting idea, but I will leave it for now. What can we do to make things better?

Well, the old site gave essentially no assistance to a beginner. For the new site we have done a few things, but the most directly relevant is the Start page. This is prominently featured on the home page:

It gives some basic advice and links to a few courses and other resources. I am not all that familiar with this area, so I may well have missed some things.

Anyway, let’s begin there. Is there any way we can improve this?

One thing I would like to do is to develop more specialized introductions, which focus on specific themes or perspectives. It might be “mindfulness” or “women in Buddhism” or “ethics for the lay life” or whatever. Then develop a set of readings to cover that.


Bhante, thanks for pointing out that page!
Currently the “In the Buddha’s Words” forum post doesn’t work, but I presume the links will be back in time.
And some of the links could do with being to extracts, since it can be hard to locate, for example: “Worshipping the Six Directions (from DN 31)” without the explicit section number:

I’ve been working on a similar approach to Bhikhu Bodhi’s collection on Social and Communal Harmony, but I’m waiting for the sectioning to be finalised.

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Yes, this case was interesting:

It does seem a pity she picked up the MN and attempted to read just read straight through - a more graduated approach such as “In the Buddha’s Words” or “Buddhist Life/Buddhist Path” would be a much better starting point for most. Or Bhikkhu Bodhi’s excellent series of talks that groups the MN suttas according to the graduated approach.

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Oh cool, I hadn’t noticed that, nice!

One thing I would like to do is to develop more specialized introductions, which focus on specific themes or perspectives. It might be “mindfulness” or “women in Buddhism” or “ethics for the lay life” or whatever. Then develop a set of readings to cover that.

Yes, that thematic approach seems like the most useful one. Did you have any model or structure in mind? Bhikkhu Bodhi’s seems to be the most comprehensive, beginning with the truth of dukkha and covering happiness for laypeople as well as transcendental teachings and of course, meditation, which is always high on the list for Westerners coming to Buddhism for the first time.


Someone a while back made an outline of the suttas covered in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s book “In The Buddhas Words” and hyperlinked them to suttas on suttacentral.net:


It didn’t have all of the suttas at the time, and post migration it looks like the links do not work.

Several months back I made a working copy of this outline and used translations from other sites to fill in the blanks. It still works. You can find it here:



Also, it seems like at the moment there’s no Spanish version for the front page material. Do you need a translator for that or is someone working on it?

Yeah, the links were auto-generated and have broken. We will fix this, in fact I proposed a new approach to this for our team yesterday. The new approach would make it possible to do the same auto-linking with information on the sutta, but we can do it universally, not just on D&D. So anyone can just throw a snippet into their site code and their users will get their references auto-linked. So that will be awesome!

We do not have someone working on it. Would you like to do it? :pray:


Sure! I’ve done a few translations of wikipedia pages even though my spanish is mostly quotidian, microsoft word and online tools have picked up my slack. I’ve been told they are decent enough by people who have a better secondary education in the spanish language than I. So I’ll give it a shot.

edit: What format do you need this in? Where do I send it/upload it?

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Great! Have a look at Pootle, our translation app, here:


“Site localization” contains the material on the site apart from the suttas. It is not 100% complete yet, but most things are there. It includes everything, not just the essays, but all the UI elements, popups, menus, the whole lot.

What we will do is create for you a project in Spanish, and there you can translate each string. We will export it directly from Pootle to the site. We do not use any word processing files or other software: everything is done in the browser through Pootle.

In a few days I’ll be in Singapore, where I should have some time and a halfway decent internet connection. Maybe we can have a hangout or skype then and discuss it further?

Ideally, I’d like to have two or three volunteers working in each language, to share the load and to proofread each other’s work. Should we look out for another Spanish speaker?

Perfect, even better. Never heard of that!

Yes, that would be ideal, my Spanish isn’t perfect, even though I’m a native speaker, I never completed any tertiary or secondary education in it, and I’m relying a lot on online tools for spell check etc. Which is fine, but if there was someone who has more formal Spanish education, that would be ideal I wager.

But I can always get my relative to proofread, my sister wouldn’t mind and she has a university education in a Spanish language university.

Okay, well if your sister wants to help, great.

I’m a bit pressed for time right now, so how about we get together next week and discuss it further.

Sounds good, just message me or email me.

Does this mean Pootke is ready for Portuguese translations as well? Don’t forget us! @Marco and I are still waiting for your greenlight.

Please do not worry, I haven’t forgotten. The site localization was handled a little differently than the suttas, so it has not been ready yet.

But! I just receieved a message from Blake this morning that we are ready to go with the Portuguese and other translations. :fireworks:

Which nikaya will you begin with?

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Let me get in touch with @Marco