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The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya (The Teachings of the Buddha) Hardcover – November 9, 1995
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From Library Journal
This new translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, part of the Pali Canon touching on the nature of Nirvana and the Four Noble Truths, is considered by scholars to be the most reliable source for the original teachings of the historical Buddha.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A triumph." (The Middle Way)
"Everyone who reads The Middle Length Discourses must be struck by the richness of its contents." (Buddhist Studies Review)
"A book to be kept close at hand for a lifetime--like the teacher and beneficial friend it will surely become for those with a deep interest in the dhamma...a book for our generation that will, I think, long endure as a classic of scholarship and render the teachings of the historical Buddha accessible to any who have eyes to see and the interest to look." (Inquiring Mind)
"This new translation of the Majjhima Nikaya...is considered by scholars to be the most reliable source for the original teachings of the historical Buddha." (Library Journal)
"...remarkable both in its scope and in its contemporary rendering of the Buddha's words." (Tricycle)
"Most welcome..." (Mountain Record)
"It can be difficult for Westerners to penetrate the 'official' Buddhist canon, but one English-language translation stands above the rest: The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, published by Wisdom Publications." (Mark Schneider, religion reporter, Canadian Television News)
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The Majjhima Nikaya is my answer to "the book you would want to have if stranded on a desert island". Of all the Nikayas, this is the one to read (although lately I know that many people start with "In the Buddha's Words", which is Bhikkhu Bodhi's version of "The Buddha's Greatest Hits").
I admit that the canonical literature is not exactly a quick read (!). But I strongly suggest to anyone who is seriously interested in the Buddha's teachings that they take the time and effort and read it for themselves. It is the closest thing we have to the true words of the Buddha, and whatever its faults the canon has been quite carefully preserved for over 2400 years. I took a year to read the Majjhima Nikaya. I read a discourse or two a day. I savored it. And it was worth every moment.
There is some basic misunderstanding about the Pali canon. Many consider the Pali canon to be "Theravada Buddhism", as opposed to "Mahayana Buddhism" (like Zen and Tibetan Buddhism). In the first millennium in India, when India was nominally a Buddhist country, all of the schools of Buddhism studied the same texts. Where the schools diverged was not in their basic source material, but in how they interpreted them, and in what aspects of Buddhist practice they chose to emphasize. To be sure, we also have Chinese versions (the Agamas) and two partial Tibetan versions (the Tengyur and the Kangyur), but they all came from essentially the same original Sanskrit texts. So to characterize the Pali canon as Theravadan is not really accurate. Thus I think a reading of at least the Majjhima Nikaya is worthwhile for any Buddhist, if for no other reason than to see how their own tradition has diverged from the original teachings.
(To be sure, Theravadan Buddhism has evolved from the original teachings almost as much. And that is not in any way to disparage such developments. It is only, I think, useful to know what is original and what came later.)
Bhikkhu Bodhi (who is an American) humbly credits Bhikkhu Nanamoli as a co-author. Bhikkhu Nanamoli was Bhikkhu Bodhi's teacher in Sri Lanka. But I think at this point the work is largely that of Bhikkhu Bodhi's, and a remarkable work it is. He is, I think, clearly the master Pali to English translator of all time. He not only has a masterful grasp of both languages, he is also a master of the subtleties and nuances of the Buddha's teachings. This is the only way one can truly translate not only the literal meaning of the texts, but the substance as well. You will find his footnotes are required reading as you go through the discourses. It's the only way to really make sense of documents that have been preserved across time and vastly different cultures for so many centuries.
(Also note that Bhikkhu Bodhi has given several years of in-depth talks on the Majjhima Nikaya, all of which are available on the Internet.)
The Pali canon is, I believe, the greatest literary treasure in the world. It has been carefully preserved, century after century, by dedicated monastics. As a result we have access to this astonishing tradition. We are profoundly fortunate to be able, with a click of a mouse, to order such a volume from Amazon. When I am reading works like the Majjhima Nikaya, I am often struck by what a privilege it is to have access to such a great gift, and how many hundreds and thousands of people over the centuries were involved in making it available. It is very humbling.
about 2500years ago very vividly. I would like to recommend to you listening the author Bikku Bodhi's lectures
about this book on the web sites. ( http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic-study-of-the-majjhima-nikaya.html)
If you listen his lecture you can understand the content of the book more easily.
Actually his lecture is one of the best and the most kind one I ever had in my life about Buddha's teaching.
Through reading this book and listening of his lecture you can get the insight of the origin of your suffering
and how to deal with them succesfully.