The sutras are an important part of Buddhist practice. They connect Buddhists with the ancient teachings and remind them of the core disciplines of the masters that came long before.
So, what can you learn from the Buddhist sutras?
Quite a lot, actually. Even though these Buddhist texts are now thousands of years old, their messages are as crucial today as they were when they were first recorded.
What Is A Buddhist Sutra?
Before we take a closer look at the Buddhist sutras themselves, it might be helpful to learn more about what sutras actually are.
A sutra is a short passage that contains a powerful teaching. Think of them as sacred messages from ancient gurus, sages, and teachers of the age.
Deborah King, Author of Mindvalley’s Be A Modern Master Program explains: “Sutras are powerful words and phrases that raise your consciousness between spiritual planes. The sutra practice is so compelling and forceful. You have no idea where it could take you.”
In Sanskrit, the word sutra literally means thread. Ancient teachers used the threads of the sutras to weave together tapestries of great lessons and ideas.
Sutras can be found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Today, we’ll be looking at five major Buddhist sutras.
Where do the Buddhist Sutras come from?
If sutras are the recorded words of ancient teachers, who recorded them? And who were the teachers?
In Buddhism, many of the important sutras practiced today come from the Buddha himself and the holy teachers, or bodhisattvas, of Buddhism.
Monks first preserved the teachings by passing them down by word of mouth before recorded them in the following years.
What Are The Four Sutras?
There are 196 sutras divided into 4 groups. The groups are as follows:
- Samadhi Pada (51 sutras) – These sutras represent the state of reliable, objective, and direct perception. They teach us how to dive into the depths of our minds and reach Kaivalya, or detachment.
- Sadhana Pada (55 sutras) – Sadhana in Sanskrit means “discipline” or “devotion”. It’s related to 2 forms of yoga- Kriyā yoga and Ashtanga yoga.
- Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras) – Vibhuti means “manifestation” and it teaches us that some states of mind can only be acquired by practicing yoga.
- Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras) – These sutras refer to the final stage of liberation that one can acquire through yoga.
What are the 3 main beliefs of Buddhism?
The 3 main beliefs of Buddhism or universal truths of Buddhism are:
- Nothing is lost in the universe.
- Everything Changes.
- The Law of Cause and Effect.
What is the main book of Buddhism?
Like every religion, Buddhism also has its fair share of sacred books. In this case, there are three books Buddhists hold in high regard.
These books are the Mahayana Sutras, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the Tripitaka.
What does the Buddhist symbol mean?
The dharma wheel, or dharmachakra, is one of the eight symbols of Buddhism.
A dharma wheel has three basic parts: the hub, the rim, and the spokes. Many have tried to explain the meaning of dharmachakra, but here are some explanations that have stood the test of time:
- The circle – Represents the perfection of Buddha’s teachings.
- The rim – Represents mediation, concentration and mindfulness that keep us in one piece.
- The hub – Represents moral discipline.
Now, the number of spokes on the dharma wheel mean different things depending on the number of spokes present:
- 4 spokes – This is extremely rare, but when it occurs, it represents the four noble truths.
- 8 spokes – This is the most common representation and it symbolizes The Noble Eightfold Path.
- 12 spokes – Represent the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination.
- 24 spokes – Or Ashoka Chakra, represent Twelve Links of Dependent Origination plus the reversing of the Twelves Links and liberation from samsara.
- 31 spokes – The 31 realms of existence from ancient Buddhist cosmology.
5 Buddhist Sutras For Deeper Mindfulness
Each sutra carries a profound wisdom. They often take the form of conversations between a teacher and a student. It’s this conversational simplicity that makes the Buddhist sutras so easy to approach.
Buddhist practitioners sing, chant and use sutras in meditation. You don’t have to practice Buddhism to benefit from these ancient teachings as the wisdom of the Buddha is accessible to all.
Here are five Buddhist sutras to increase your mindfulness and encourage inner stillness:
“So you should view this fleeting world –
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.” —The Diamond Sutra
“When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true and essential nature of things.” —The Lankavatara Sutra
“Thought is like a water-wheel or a machine: it goes on rolling the wheel of transmigration, carrying varieties of bodies and forms… causing the wooden figures to move as a magician moves them.” —The Lankavatara Sutra
“Form does not differ from emptiness;
emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form.
So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness.” —The Heart Sutra
“All dharmas (teachings) are marked with emptiness; they do not appear or disappear, are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease.” —The Heart Sutra
Which of these Buddhist sutras is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.