A 16 Year Cycle of Readings for the Way of the Scholar Sage

Developed by Dharmajim Wilson

This Cycle of Readings is a course I developed for contemplatively reading the Buddhist Discourses. It arose from my own considerations on how to study the Discourses while living the life of a busy layperson, a non-monastic who doesn't have hours a day to spend on such study.

I observed that people who are interested in finance will spend some time every day reading the financial section of the paper. People who like sports will spend some time reading the sports page of the paper. I determined that such reading lasted about 20 to 40 minutes on a daily basis.

Applying this pattern, if someone has a deep interest in the Dharma, and they spend 20 to 40 minutes every day reading the Discourses (the Sutras and Suttas), how long would it take to read them, and what would be a good course of study. I figured it would work out to about 100 to 300 pages per month, leaning towards the 100 per month. Using this as a basis I developed the 16 year course of study.

16 years may seem like a long time; but it's not a matter of finishing or graduating. The person interested in sports doesn't put a time limit on their engagement with the sports page. Similarly for those interested in finance. The process is that over time, as one studies, one becomes more familiar with the Discourses, their message, their implications, etc.

By reading about sports every day someone can become knowledgeable about that subject. By reading about finance every day one can become knowledgeable about finance. Similarly, by contemplatively reading the Buddhist Discourses the world of the Dharma becomes familiar, one's understanding deepens.

I refer to this as "The Way of the Scholar Sage." It is not just reading to accumulate information. The reading itself becomes a form of meditation and practice; in this way it differs from the analogies to finance and sports I gave above.

16 Year Cycle of Readings

2000/01 -- Gradual / Numerical Sayings

2001/02 -- Kindred Sayings / Connected Discourses

2002/03 -- Minor Collections

2003/04 -- Middle Length Discourses: Online texts or Amazon.com

2004/05 -- Long Discourses: Online texts or Amazon.com

2005/06 -- Vinaya: Online texts or Amazon.com

2006/07 -- Jataka: Amazon.com

2007/08 -- Perfection of Wisdom Sutras

2008/09 -- Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra

2009/10 -- Lotus Sutra: Online texts or Amazon.com

2010/11 -- Flower Garland / Avatamsaka: Amazon.com

2011/12 --
  • Three Pure Land Sutras
  • Healing Buddha Sutras
  • Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra
  • Brahma's Net Sutra
  • Filial Piety & Ullambana Sutras
  • Rice Seedling Sutra
  • Vimalakirti Sutra
  • Shrimaladevi Sutra

    2012/13 --
  • Complete Enlightenment Sutra
  • Shurangama Sutra
  • Tathagatagarbha Sutra
  • Samadhiraja Sutra
  • Shurangamasamadhi Sutra
  • Pratyutpanasamadhi Sutra
  • Lankavatara
  • Samdhinirmochana

    2013/14 -- Ratnakuta / Heap of Jewels Collection

    2014/15 --
  • Mahavairochana sutra
  • Adamantine Pinnacle Sutra
  • Susiddhikara Sutra
  • Chanting the Names of Manjushri

    2015/16 --
  • Lalitavistara Sutra
  • Fortunate Eon Sutra
  • Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra: Online texts
  • This Year's Reading Schedule from The Long Discourses of the Buddha

    June 2004 to June 2005

    June-July -- Sutta 1, pages 67-90

    July-August -- Suttas 2 & 3, pages 91-124

    August-September -- Suttas 4-8, pages 125-157

    September-October -- Suttas 9-12, pages 159-185

    October-November -- Suttas 13-15 pages 187-230

    November-December -- Sutta 16, pages 231-277

    December-January -- Suttas 17-20, pages 279-320

    January-February -- Suttas 21-23, pages 321-368

    February-March -- Suttas 24-26, pages 371-405

    March-April -- Suttas 27-29, pages 407-439

    April-May -- Suttas 30-32, pages 441-478

    May-June -- Suttas 33 & 34, pages 479-521

    Page numbers refer to the Maurice Walshe translation published by Wisdom Books. There are other English translations. The Sutta numbers will be the same, but the page numbers will differ. Many of these Suttas are available online at www.accesstoinsight.org.

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