Theravada Text Archives »
Buddhist Publication Society
Look for other titles from the BPS
Search for a book by Title | Search for a book by Author
Here are some selections from the Buddhist Publication Society's series of Wheel booklets. These are substantial booklets covering a wide range of topics -- from the Abhidhamma to Buddhist reflections on today's vital problems. The series also includes accurate annotated translations of the Buddha's discourses from the Pali Canon.
The books listed below are all available for you to read online right now, by clicking on the title. The information in parentheses following the title includes: the publication date of the printed edition upon which the transcription is based, the size of the file in kBytes, and an estimated page count for the text when printed with a typical web browser (e.g., Netscape with a 12-point Palatino font). The actual number of printed pages you get may vary considerably from this figure.
- The Buddha's Words on Kamma, by Ñanamoli Thera (WH 248; 1993; 75k/25pp.)
Translations of four key suttas from the Majjhima Nikaya concerning volitional action (kamma).
- Buddhism & Social Action, by Ken Jones (WH 285; 1981; 103k/34pp.)
Must one "set one's own house in order" first before working to address the ills of society in a meaningful way? Can social activism be a genuine support for self-transformation? What would a truly "Buddhist" form of social action look like? This very readable essay explores these and other questions concerning the interrelationship between Buddhist practice and social action. An excellent starting point for reflection and discussion on these issues.
- Buddhism in Myanmar: A Short History, by Roger Bischoff (WH 399/401; 1995; 149k/49pp.)
This Wheel booklet offers a short history of Buddhism in Myanmar from its origins until the beginning of the colonial period in the late 19th century. The material has been sifted and organized from the point of view of a practising Buddhist. It is intended to show how Buddhism influenced the development of the Myanmar people until the Theravada Buddhist teachings became their second nature. [From the back cover]
- Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka, by A.G.S. Kariyawasam (WH 402-4; 1995; 150k/50pp.)
This booklet provides a concise survey of the cermonies and rituals that make up the popular Buddhism of Sri Lanka, the ancient stronghold of Theravada Buddhism. The author discusses such Buddhist rites as the Refuges and Precepts, devotional worship, the Bodhi-puja, and the pirit ceremony. He explains the major Buddhist holy days and their significance in Sri Lanka. In the last two chapters he explores the colorful tovil and bali rituals and the practice of deva-worship, two originally non-Buddhist practices that have been assimilated into popular Buddhism in Sri Lanka. [From the back cover]
- Buddhist Meditation and Depth Psychology, by Douglas M. Burns (WH 88; 1994; 137k/45pp.)
The Buddhist meditative path to liberation as viewed from the perspective of modern psychological theory.
- Buddhist Reflections on Death, by V.F. Gunaratna (WH 102; 1982; 77k/25pp.)
An introduction to the practice of the recollection of death (marananussati) in meditation.
- Buddhist Women at the Time of the Buddha, by Hellmuth Hecker (WH 292; 1982; 106k/35pp.)
A collection of biographical sketches, including stories of Khema of Great Wisdom; Kisagotami, the mother with the dead child; Nanda, the Buddha's half-sister; and Patacara, the preserver of the Vinaya.
- Contemplation of Feeling: The Discourse-grouping on the Feelings (Vedana-Samyutta), by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 303; 1983; 71k/24pp.)
An anthology of passages from the Samyutta Nikaya and other texts concerning the Buddha's teachings on vedana (feeling).
- Dana: The Practice of Giving edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi (WH 367/369; 1990; 114k/38pp.)
Dana -- the Pali word means giving, generosity, self-sacrifice: the quality of the heart that moves a person to give away his or her own possessions for the sake of others. Giving in Buddhism is not a mere moral virtue to be randomly engaged in or followed as an obligatory duty. It is, rather, an aspect of training, a means of practice, by which a spiritual aspirant learns to overcome selfishness and attachment and to express a compassionate concern for the welfare of others. In this Wheel booklet four practicing Buddhists of today (Susan Elbaum Jootla, Lily de Silva, M.O'C. Walshe, and Nina van Gorkom), and one classical Buddhist commentator (Acariya Dhammapala), set forth their understanding of giving and examine it in relation to the wider body of Dhamma practice. The writers demonstrate the great range of the Buddhist practice of giving and its vital connections with the quest for enlightenment and final liberation from suffering. [From the back cover]
- The Discourse Collection: Selected Texts from the Sutta Nipata, by John D. Ireland, tr. (WH 82; 1983; 71k/23pp.)
A fine sampler of short suttas from the Sutta Nipata, spanning a wide range of topics, including: good conduct and bad, the Buddha's battle with Mara, cultivation of right view, the simile of the boat, etc. Some are formal sermons, some take the form of question-and-answer sessions between the Buddha and several brahmans of the day, and some are simply short inspirational passages.
- The Discourse on Right View, by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli (tr.) and Bhikkhu Bodhi, (ed.). (WH 377; 1991; 148k/49pp.)
Translation of the Sammaditthi Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 9) and its Commentary. This discourse by Ven. Sariputta explains many aspects of kamma, the Four Noble Truths, and dependent arising.
- The Edicts of King Asoka, by Ven. S. Dhammika (WH 386; 1993; 63k/21pp.)
Translations of a number of the edicts carved in pillars and rocks by the great Buddhist Indian King Asoka during the 3rd century, BC. (See also That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time: Readings Selected by King Asoka, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, ed.).
- The Essential Practice: Dhamma Discourses of Venerable Webu Sayadaw (Part 1), by Webu Sayadaw; translated from the Burmese by Roger Bischoff (WH 375; 1991; 86k/28pp.)
The Essential Practice: Dhamma Discourses of Venerable Webu Sayadaw (Part 2), by Webu Sayadaw; translated from the Burmese by Roger Bischoff (WH 384; 1992; 86k/28pp.)
The Venerable Webu Sayadaw of Myanmar (Burma) was one of the greatest Theravada Buddhist meditation masters of recent times. An exemplar of the strict and simple meditative life, he constantly stresses to his disciples the need to tread the Buddha's path to its final goal right here and now, in this precious but fleeting human existence. The vehicle he chose for his own practice was Anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing, and he constantly called this the direct short cut to Nibbana. The discourses included in the present book were translated from talks he gave to groups of lay disciples in the Burmese countryside. Again and again, the master hammers home the point that the only worthy aim of human life is the attainment of Nibbana by practice of the Buddha's teaching. And again and again he tells us that this entire practice lies literally right in front of our noses. Translated from the Burmese original, these discourses give us not only access to the mind of a wise and compassionate teacher, but also a direct glimpse into living Buddhism as it is practiced in rural Southeast Asia. [From the back cover]
- The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma in Meditative Practice, by U Ba Khin, with an essay on U Ba Khin by Eric Lerner (WH 231; 1981; 30k/10pp.)
An outline of the vipassana meditation practice as taught by U Ba Khin, S.N. Goenka, etc.
- Everyman's Ethics, by Narada Thera (WH 14; 1985; 20k/16pp.)
Four discourses by the Buddha that are of particular value to laypeople: the Sigalovada, Mahamangala, Parabhava, and Vyagghapajja suttas.
- The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest, by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 26; 1993; 58k/19pp.)
An anthology of excerpts from the suttas and the Commentaries that address how to deal with the hindrances (sense desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and remorse, and doubt) when they arise in the mind.
- Forest Meditations: The Verses of the Arahant Talaputa, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (WH 243; 1983; 100k/33pp.)
These eloquent verses, from the Theragatha, chronicle the many "conversations" that Venerable Talaputa, a former actor and contemporary of the Buddha, had with his own mind during the course of his practice. As these verses reveal, while he was still a layperson Talaputa yearned deeply for a life more in harmony with Dhamma; following his ordination his stern admonishments of his unruly mind ultimately led him to his ultimate goal: final liberation. The translator's easy conversational commentary sheds light on these verses from several different angles, and paints Talaputa as an exemplar of the ancient forest meditation tradition that still lives today.
- The Foundations of Mindfulness, by Nyanasatta Thera (WH 19; 1993; 59k/19pp.)
A translation of the Satipatthana sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 10), with an Introduction and Notes. [Read another translation of this sutta].
- The Four Sublime States, by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 6; 1993; 37k/12pp.)
A series of short but illuminating reflections on the development of the four brahmavihara ("sublime states" or "divine abidings": love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity) and the role they play in meditative practice.
- Gemstones of the Good Dhamma (Saddhamma-maniratana): An Anthology of Verses from the Pali Scriptures, compiled and translated by Ven. S. Dhammika (WH 342; 1987; 77k/25pp.)
A fine collection of short verses from the suttas, arranged according to subject matter. Students whose only familiarity with Buddhist verse comes from reading the ever-popular Dhammapada will find in this collection some inspiring and rewarding new material, drawn from all corners of the Sutta Pitaka.
- Going for Refuge/Taking the Precepts, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (WH 282; 1981; 150k/50pp.)
An excellent introduction to the purpose, meaning, and fruits of taking refuge in the Triple Gem and of observing the precepts.
- Going Forth: A Call to Buddhist Monkhood, by Sumana Samanera (WH 27; 1983; 103k/34pp.)
A compelling essay in which a remarkable novice monk reflects on the reasons for adopting the homeless life. The author was among the first Westerners to seek Theravada ordination. He was ordained in 1906 in Sri Lanka under the tutelage of Ven. Nyanatiloka Thera, and died in 1910.
- Inspiration from Enlightened Nuns, by Susan Elbaum Jootla (WH 349; 1988; 84k/29pp.)
An invitation and introductiion to the Therigatha (Verses of the Elder Nuns), which many students and practitioners regard as among the most deeply inspiring stories in the entire Pali Canon.
- Investigation for Insight, by Susan Elbaum Jootla (WH 301; 1983; 113k/37pp.)
An exploration of the teachings of dhammavicaya (investigation-of-dhammas), a key factor to be developed in the cultivation of insight.
- The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation, by Mahathera Henepola Gunaratana (WH 351; 1988; 159k/53pp.)
This booklet, a condensed version of Bhante Gunaratana's treatise, "The Path of Serenity & Insight" (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1985), outlines the role of jhana (meditative absorption) in Theravada Buddhist meditation. The author's perspective here is based largely on the later commentaries to the Pali Canon -- principally Buddhaghosa's magnum opus, Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification) -- and therefore uses examples from the relatively rare practice of kasina meditation. Still, many of the insights offered by the book will be of value to those practicing satipatthana vipassana and breath meditation.
- Kalama Sutta: The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry, translated from the Pali by Soma Thera (WH 8; 1981; 20k/6pp.)
In this famous and important discourse the Buddha sets forth a standard by which a seeker can evaluate any spiritual path. With preface and supplementary texts. (For an illuminating commentary on this sutta, see Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay, "A Look at the Kalama Sutta.")
- Lay Buddhist Practice, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (WH 206; 1982; a multi-part HTML book)
A helpful practical manual for lay Buddhists covering devotional practice (bowing, setting up a shrine room, etc.), uposatha day observances, lay precepts, and basic meditation techniques.
- (The Life of) Maha-Moggallana, by Hellmuth Hecker (WH 263; 1979; 89k/29pp.)
A biography of the Buddha's second chief disciple, whom the Buddha praised for his supranormal knowledge and psychic powers.
- The Life of Sariputta, by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 90/92; 1987; 170k/56pp.)
A biography of the "Marshal of the Dhamma," the Buddha's chief disciple, whom the Buddha praised for his deep wisdom, humility, patience, and forbearance.
- The Lion's Roar: Two Discourses of Buddha, by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, tr.; Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. (WH 390; 1993; 88k/29pp.)
The Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar (MN 11) deals with the delicate question of whether different spiritual paths all lead to the same ultimate goal. If not, the question arises of defining the critical line that distinguishes them, and it is this question that the Buddha attempts to answer in this sutta. The Great Discourse on the Lion's Roar (MN 12) is a text of awesome scope and power in which the Buddha discloses the greatness and loftiness of his own spiritual endowments. Spoken as a rebuttal to the charges of a renegade disciple, the sutta has had such a powerful impact that in ancient times it was also known as "The Hair-Raising Discourse." [From the back cover]
- Maha Kaccana: Master of Doctrinal Exposition, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (WH 405-6; 1995; 95k/31pp.)
The Venerable Maha Kaccana was one of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, appointed by the Awakened One as the monk most skilled in explaining in detail the meaning of his own brief utterances. Often the other monks turned to Maha Kaccana for help in clarifying the meaning of the Buddha's condensed statements, and thus we find in the Pali Canon a sheaf of suttas, all of great importance, spoken by this eminent disciple. [This book] offers a short biographical sketch of the Venerable Maha Kaccana, followed by a more detailed survey of the discourses ascribed to him in the Pali Canon. These texts, always methodically refined and analytically precise, help to bring to light the far-ranging implications and profund relevance of the liberating teachings of the Buddha. [From the back cover]
- Maha Kassapa: Father of the Sangha, by Hellmuth Hecker (WH 345; 1987; 67k/22pp.)
Biography of the Buddha's disciple best known for his meditative powers.
- Matrceta's Hymn to the Buddha: An English rendering of the Satapañcasatka, by Ven. S. Dhammika (WH 360; 1989; 45k/15pp.)
Translation from Sanskrit of a beautiful 1st century Indian devotional poem on the virtues of the Buddha.
- Metta: The Philosophy and Practice of Universal Love, by Acharya Buddharakkhita (WH 365; 1989; 66k/22pp.)
A practical introduction to metta (loving-kindness) meditation, including a translation of the Karaniya Metta Sutta and a discussion of the fruits and power of metta practice.
- Nourishing the Roots: Essays on Buddhist Ethics, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (WH 259; 1990; 78k/26pp.)
Four essays concerning the role of Buddhist ethics, not as a guide to interpersonal relations and social action, but as an integral part of the quest for purification and liberation.
- One Foot in the World: Buddhist Approaches to Present-day Problems, by Lily de Silva (WH 337; 1986; 106k/35pp.)
Eight essays: "A Layman's Happiness," "The Mechanics of Bondage and Suffering," "Understanding and Managing Stress," "The Buddhist Attitude to Gain and Honor," "Livelihood and Development," "Facing Death Without Fear," "The Human Body," and "Sensualistic Social Trends and Buddhism in Modern Times."
- The Position of Women in Buddhism, by Dr. (Mrs.) L.S. Dewaraja (WH 280; 1981; 39k/13pp.)
An exploration of the contribution that the Buddhist teachings have had in improving the social standing of women in largely male-dominated Asian culture.
- The Power of Mindfulness, by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 121; 1986; 107k/35pp.)
An excellent overview of the powers of "bare attention" in mindfulness practice, organized in terms of four of its aspects: its capacity to "name" experience with dispassion; its non-coercive attitude toward experience; its capacity to slow down the mind so that the mind can see itself more clearly; and its capacity to see things directly, as they are.
- Practical Advice for Meditators, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (WH 116; 1986; 64k/21pp.)
Introductory text to meditation practice at home, in daily life, and on retreat. Also discusses the cultivation of the divine abidings (brahma-vihara) and the perfections (parami), as well as some of the possible pitfalls of meditation practice.
- The Practice of Loving-kindness (metta), by Ñanamoli Thera (WH 7; 1987; 44k/14pp.)
An anthology of readings from the Pali suttas on the subject of loving-kindness (metta).
- The Removal of Distracting Thoughts, by Soma Thera (WH 21; 1981; 46k/15pp.)
Translation of the Vitakkasanthana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 20) and its Commentary (the Papañcasudani).
- Satipatthana Vipassana: Insight Through Mindfulness, by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw (WH 370; 1990; 85k/28pp.)
An introduction of the basic principles involved in the practice of insight meditation, as taught in the Burmese Mahasi school of meditation, developed by the author.
- The Simile of the Cloth and the Discourse on Effacement, by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 61; 1988; 92k/30pp.)
Translations of two important suttas (Majjhima Nikaya 7 and 9) on the purification of mind, with introductions and extensive notes.
- A Simple Guide to Life, by Robert Bogoda (WH 397; 1994; 84k/28pp.)
In clear and simple terms, this booklet offers thoughtful advice to help the lay Buddhist lead a householder's life in line with the Buddha's teachings.
- Taming the Mind: Discourses of the Buddha, by the editors of the BPS (WH 51; 1983; 52k/17pp.)
An anthology of passages from the Pali Canon that reveal how the essence of Buddhist practice consists of learning how to tame skillfully the unruly tendencies of the mind and heart.
- Teacher of the Devas, by Susan Elbaum Jootla (WH 414; 1997; 115k/38pp.)
This lively book explores the important role played by the devas (divine beings) in the Pali suttas, with particular emphasis on the Buddha's role as their teacher.
- Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha, by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli (WH 17; 1981; 53k/17pp.)
Translations of three essential suttas from the Pali Canon: the first sermon (Dhammacakkappavattana sutta), the Discourse on Not-self (Anattalakkhana sutta), and the Fire Sermon (Adittapariyaya sutta). With Introduction and extensive notes.
- Transcendental Dependent Arising: A Translation and Exposition of the Upanisa Sutta, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (WH 277; 1980; 116k/38pp.)
The seldom-studied Upanisa Sutta contains an important alternative presentation of the principle of dependent arising, offering a "roadmap" of the entire path of practice as it progresses towards final liberation.
- Vedanta & Buddhism: A Comparative Study, by Helmuth von Glasenapp (WH 2; 1978; 25k/8pp.)
This fascinating essay explores the relationship between Vedanta and Buddhism, two great monuments of philosophical thought which grew side-by-side in the same spiritual soil of ancient India. Though these two philosophies share some obvious similarities, they part ways in their fundamentally divergent notions of "self" (atta) and of the ultimate goal of spiritual practice.
- Violence and Disruption in Society: A Study of the Early Buddhist Texts, by Elizabeth J. Harris (WH 392; 1994; 121k/40pp.)
This essay explores the roots of violence in human society, and reveals how the Buddhist teachings of non-violence are just as applicable today as they were in the Buddha's day.
- The Way of Wisdom, by Edward Conze (WH 65; 1993; 94k/31pp.)
An introduction to the five spiritual faculties (indriya) -- faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom -- with an anthology of related classical texts translated from Pali and Sanskrit.
- The Wheel of Birth and Death, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo. (WH 147; 1970; 79k/26pp.)
A vivid and detailed commentary and interpretation of early Buddhist paintings that depict the Wheel of Samsara (death and rebirth).
- With Robes and Bowl, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (WH 83; 1986; 132k/44pp.)
A compelling introduction to the way of life for a meditating forest monk in Thailand.
- The Worn-Out Skin, by Nyanaponika Thera (WH 241; 1989; 102k/34pp.)
Reflections on the Uraga Sutta, an ancient Buddhist poem that compares one who abandons unskillful qualities of mind to a snake that sheds its skin.
Revised: 10 November 1999