The Pali Canon

The suttas in the Pali Canon contain fundamental teachings embraced by all Buddhists.An excellent compilation of these texts, with commentary, is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s In The Buddha’s Words. Many of them are also available online. Here are a few examples of important (and short) suttas:

Adittapariyaya Sutta (The fire sermon) This short sutta exhorts us to achieve liberation from the fires of our senses and thinking.

Anapanasati Sutta (On the awareness of breath) This sutta describes techniques of meditation and stages of awakening.

Dhammacakkappattana Sutta (The first turning of the wheel of the dharma) By tradition the first teaching of the Buddha, this sutta sets forth basic notions such as the four noble truths, the eightfold path, impermanence, and dependent origination.

Satipatthana Sutta (On the foundations of mindfulness) This sutta describes the techniques used in traditional mindfulness (vipassana) meditation.