As we develop a daily habit of reading the suttas it is important that we always remember the reason we are reading the suttas: To develop our faith in the enlightenment of the Supreme Buddha and to put an end to the round of samsara. If we lose track of this purpose, we may not be successful. Below you will find passages that can help us remember the proper attitude to have while reading and listening to the Dhamma. They have been taken either directly from the suttas or modified to turn them into declarations.
You can read them below and download a version that you can use as a part of your daily reading.
Downloads of the reading reflections
(NOTE: When printing the mini-booklet below, choose the option to print actual size, no scaling. There should not be a border line running around the page. Be sure to look at the folding instructions here or watch the video here)
The Blessed One Is the Teacher, I Am a Disciple: Reflections for Sutta Reading Practice
Before your sutta reading
Recite one or more of the following passages aloud or silently before your daily sutta reading practice. In doing so make the sincere wish to read the Dhamma with complete attention, to reflect on it wisely, and to put the teachings into practice.
Then imagine that you are sitting at the feet of the Blessed One. Read your text as if you were actually listening to him preach.
After your sutta reading
Make a very brief summary of what you read and insert it for X.
- Because of not knowing X I have been reborn again and again in this long round of saṁsāra, creating suffering for myself and countless other beings.
- May my understanding of X grow. May I always keep this teaching of X in mind and live accordingly, using it to help me realize the Blessed One’s Four Noble Truths in this very life.
- May all beings have the opportunity to learn about X and realize the Four Noble Truths in this very life.
Translations are from The Word of the Buddha series by Wisdom Publications. Links with a * take you to Bhikkhu Sujato’s translaton.
“Bhikkhus, for a faithful disciple who is intent on fathoming the Teacher’s Dispensation, it is proper that he conduct himself thus: ‘The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple; the Blessed One knows, I do not know.’ For a faithful disciple who is intent on fathoming the Teacher’s Dispensation, the Teacher’s Dispensation is nourishing and refreshing.”
“Bhikkhus, there are these five things that lead to the continuation, non-decline, and non-disappearance of the good Dhamma. What five? (1) Here, the bhikkhus respectfully listen to the Dhamma; (2) they respectfully learn the Dhamma; (3) they respectfully retain the Dhamma in mind; (4) they respectfully examine the meaning of the teachings they have retained in mind; (5) they respectfully understand the meaning and the Dhamma and then practice in accordance with the Dhamma.
May I gain inspiration in the meaning! May I gain inspiration in the Dhamma! May I gain gladness connected with the Dhamma!
I have this rare chance to get to see the Tathāgata. I have this rare chance to read the Dhamma and Discipline expounded by the Tathāgata. May I retain it in mind! May I examine the meaning of what I have retained in mind! May I understand the meaning and practice in accordance with the Dhamma!
May I not read this Dhamma as a denigrator, obsessed with denigration! May I read this Dhamma as one without any intention of criticizing it, not as one who seeks faults! May I not be ill disposed to the teacher and intent on attacking him! May I be wise, intelligent and astute! May I not imagine that I have understood what I have not understood. Possessing these five qualities, may I be capable of entering into the fixed course [consisting in] rightness in wholesome qualities!
May I hear what I have not heard before! May what I have heard before be clarified! May I emerge from perplexity! May my views be made straight! May my mind become placid! May I have these five rewards of listening to the Dhamma!
While I am reading this Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata, may I heed it! May I give my attention to it! May I engage it with all my mind! May I hear the Dhamma with eager ears!