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The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya
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The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,204 ratings  ·  34 reviews
This book offers a complete translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, or Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, one of the major collections of texts in the Pali Canon, the authorized scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. This collection--among the oldest records of the historical Buddha's original teachings--consists of 152 suttas or discourses of middle length, distinguished as s ...more
Hardcover, 1424 pages
Published November 9th 1995 by Wisdom Publications
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Jef Sneider
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is not a book to read like a novel. It is more like the bible. It took me 20 years to get through it. The man who gave it to me has since died and the world has moved on but the truths discovered by the Buddha live on. Those truths are repeated in various forms and parables and stories over and over. It is amazing how quickly the variables multiply as the Buddha enumerate states of being, ways of perceiving the world, emotions, senses, reactions, types of beings and stages of development: " ...more
Craig Shoemake
NOTE: the following review applies to the 1995 edition. Two editions since have come out, the most recent in 2005. Some comments here likely do not apply to the most recent edition. If you purchase the book, try to ensure you are getting the most recent version.


For my review of this translation I decided to take a different tack. Since I am not a Pali scholar I am not qualified to critique Bhikkhu Bodhi's (or Ven. Ñanamoli's) translation, so I thought I would turn to someone who is-nam
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
A guidebook on how to live life. I did not realize that there were highly readable and understandable primary founding documents for Buddhism.

There is a lot of redundancy, superfluous fluff and tedium within and between chapters. At the same time when one gets past the structure and considers the substance of what is said, this is by far the best primary religious foundational document I’ve ever read.

Buddhism definitely does have mystical beliefs as laid out in these stories. Rebirth, Gods, He
Mar 30, 2022 added it
I am not sure how one can review the Majjhima Nikaya, a 1400+ page Buddhist scripture. While I am glad at having finished this (failing the Buddhist virtue of detaching oneself from the delight of personal achievement here), I think, in hindsight, that it would be better to research and choose the most important ~20-30 discourses from these instead of reading the entire 152. I am now researching for such important discourses in the rest of the sutta-pitaka. If you do choose to read the entire bo ...more
Pontus Alexander
I see no point in finishing all of the suttas right now. I have read 110 out of 152. Reading directly from the Pāli Canon is somewhat essential, in my opinion, if you want a clear understanding of Theravada Buddhism, yet I can not recommend anyone who does not practice the Buddha's teachings to read the Majjhima Nikaya. You are pretty much required to study the Pāli Canon to be able to understand all of it.

And since I do not practice Buddhism, except agree with a some of its core teachings, I'm
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Middle Length Discourses in this translation aren't quite as accessible as the Long Discourses (Digha Nikaya) translated by Maurice Walshe, but they are certainly accessible enough. I found myself turning to the notes more often for explanations of phrases that sounded a little awkward, but had no trouble finding my way through the text. (Finding my way through the practice is another thing.) Indispensable for the study of early Buddhism. ...more
Mar 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I feel like a fool, for not reading this any sooner.

As someone who has practiced the teaching of the Buddha for the last 6-7 years, I didn't pick up any of his discourses until the end of last year. Instead, I read works and commentaries like the Visuddhimagga and other books about the dhamma by prominent monks and dhamma enthusiasts. The dhamma of the Buddha that begins and culminates in Nibanna is an exact recipe. Add or take away one ingredient and the results won't be what you wanted. The
Robin S
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When You walk into a bookstore, there are many, many books on Buddhism. However, surprisingly, you rarely get anything which was spoken directly by the Buddha. These are 'Middle or Medium length Discourses' of words purportedly spoken by the Buddha. Most are pretty accessible. The translation is good and includes more than ample explanatory notes that the interested reader can use to further elucidate points of the text that are not initially clear. I don't know why one does not have access much ...more
Nov 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is biblically beautiful, supraserene, insightfully mindful, always, and full of such wise, noble silences, that it just might make your heart hear the Dhamma, live the Dhamma, and bring sweet and unsweet Dhamma dreams.. The scholarship is exquisite, plain, accordant––from its linguistics to its references and direction, it's an utter sincerely-believed ought-to-read, really and truuuly. I feel fortunate to have read what I read in it, and recommend it wholeheartedly.

Anyways, thanks fo
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I mean what can you say B.Bodhi has dedicated his life so that we may read this wisdom in our native languages. Many many and numerous bows.

Read, is a bit of a misnomer. Studied many suttas in-depth, using for thesis work. Bhikkhu Analayo's work on comparative MN studies is an excellent companion, adds depth and context.
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I give it five stars not merely out of respect, but because this is where Gautama Buddha gets into the real substance of the matter. It isn’t about goddesses, gods, no gods, etc; it’s about ending the suffering now. As Joseph Campbell said “eternity has nothing to do with time.” It’s the bare experience of the now, “and if you don’t get get it here, you won’t get it anywhere.”

Literally anyone, anywhere, can find wisdom here.
Aaron Schuschu
Was kind of expecting more plot to it.

For as much as Christians over- emphasize Buddhist austerity and call it fundamentally emotionally dishonest (despite its sense of social responsibility), both religions are the same- they both come from older religions and they both overthink the meaning of life.
Jul 21, 2022 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
I need a little translating of the translation. Sometimes the terms are obscure and jargon-y to me. Those who have an affiliation seem to understand better, so it makes me think there is indeed a bit of jargon here. And because it is so culturally different, also, it can be harder to follow than I expected. Still worth the trying.
Michael Brenyo
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although repetitive at times, an excellent book. Very happy to have translations of the original Pali text considering how much Buddhism has changed over the years. I also appreciate the trimming down of the longer or extremely repetitive portions.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although repetitive at times, an excellent book. Very happy to have translations of the original Pali text considering how much Buddhism has changed over the years. I also appreciate the trimming down of the longer or extremely repetitive portions.
Jan 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Stunning clarity of translation. The repetition in the sutras can make them difficult to navigate, but Bhikku Bodhi has done all the work of skillfully noting, then skipping those redundancies. This is a masterful effort. Bravo! Bravo!
Joseph Gaston
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any serious student of Buddhism
Aug 20, 2020 added it
How do you write a review of a religious text? The footnotes are useful, I appreciate the amount of information about the translations and the lengthy introductory material.
Imani Gayle
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A deeply impact-filled collection of ancient wisdom still applicable to this day.
May 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
just the introduction to this tome is a masterpiece, not to mention the content, which is the word of the Lord Buddha himself. a must read for a sincere followers of the path
Jan 20, 2022 rated it it was amazing
A year in the reading and now to return to certain passages for daily inspiration and instructions.
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(In Spanish below)

What can I say about this wonderful book? A collection of 152 middle-length discourses by the Buddha and one of the core texts in the Pali Canon (and thus being the core not only of Theravada Buddhism, but also of all Mahayana schools), in which many topics are discussed, but most of them being about the development of mental quiescence and insight in order to attain arahantship, liberation from the cycle of rebirth and all suffering. The Buddha dialogues with a fascinating arr
Notes toward an eventual review.

#77 Mahāsakuludāyisutta struck me as particularly interesting in that the "Eight Bases for Transcendence" along with the descriptions of the practices for the four dhyanas and insight meditation, as presented here, appear to provide a possible scriptural basis for some of the later tantric practices which some claim were never taught by the historical Buddha. It also may be notable that the wanderer to whom the discourse is addressed, identified initially as Saku
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was very insightful. Might be helpful to know a bit about the foundations of the Buddha's teachings, a good outline may be found at:, then read the Introduction in the book. Not all stories may apply or mean anything at first, but keep referring back to the foundations and see how they are "woven" in the stories. ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
An excellent resource
John Franz
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
swiss army-knife of Buddhism.
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a must-have if one is seriously interested in the teachings of the Buddha, and it's not too big a volume for beginners. ...more
Thushara Vithanage
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
probably the best translation out there for Majjhima Nikaya of Sutta Pitaka :)
Steve Kemp
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolute must have !!
Sol A.
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The greatest spiritual teachings collected into a single volume. Truly profound and timeless. A must read for all genuine seekers.
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Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944, he obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College (1966) and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School (1972).

Drawn to Buddhism in his early 20s, after completing his university studies he traveled to Sri Lanka, where he received novice ordination in 1972 and full ordination in 1973, bot

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