The Tripitaka is a collection of holy writings organized into three collections or baskets to include the rules for monastics (The Vinaya), the actual teachings of the Buddhas (The Suttas or Sutras), and the commentaries or abhidharma. There are several of these collections still existing in the world today including the Theravada Canon recorded in Pali, the Chinese Canon, and the Tibetan Canon. “Sutta” is the Pali word for “Sutra” and is used with all the lesser vehicle texts. They are excellent for those just beginning the path and seeking a solid foundation in the Buddha’s teachings. Remember that the Buddha taught 84,000 dharmas for the 84,00 afflictions and that He taught so that sentient beings of varying capacities and backgrounds could understand the Dharma. Just as different medicine may be prescribed for different illnesses or at different stages in any given illness, the Buddha conveyed His great wisdom in many ways. Also remember that the vinaya and suttas/sutras were compiled thousands of years ago and even the commentaries are from another era. Their style may seem strange today, but their truth still rings clear. And also remember that they have come to us through many translations and as such may contain errors and omissions. See instructions on “Receiving Dharma” on how to read these holy texts and to recognize the correct Dharma.

Click below to go to the Xuanfa Institute website to find a table that compares the contents of the three major canons and lists some of the major teachings from the Tripitaka. Even more Suttas can be found at the Access to Insight website.

Comparison of the Three Major Canons Vinaya (Monastic Code)  Suttas Sutras Abhidharma