Theravada works

- through Francois Leclercq

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The philosophy of the Buddha (with the full translation of ten texts from the Buddhist Canon)
Mohan Wijayaratna
(LIS, 1995, reissue 2000)

In this work, the author offers the reader a scholarly but accessible approach to most of the “philosophical” questions debated in the ancient Canon, independently of the developments given by the different schools of Indian Buddhism. This is the great advantage of this book. It is to the very sources of the teaching, as delivered by the Buddha (according to tradition), that he takes the reader through nine chapters built on the same scheme: an introduction presenting a "philosophical" question, the translation integral of a sutra exposing a teaching of the Buddha on this question, a complementary explanation developed, supported on quotations drawn from many other texts in order to “go around” the question. Are thus addressed successively - and logically - the position of the Buddha in the face of various opinions, the "personality" according to Buddhism, the "Thirst", the place of experience in the process of knowledge, the difficult question of the "me", of "self" and "non-self", the thorny question of "rebirth" and karma, etc.

The author: A Sinhalese scholar residing in France for many years, Môhan Wijayaratna first made a name for himself through several works on the Vinaya then the first translations into French of the Pali Canon, including the entirety of the first two collections (Digha -nikaya and Majjhima-nikaya), as well as several anthologies.

The teaching of the Buddha, according to the oldest texts
Walpola rahula
(“Points – Wisdom” collection, Le Seuil, 1961)

Essential reference for who wants to know the doctrinal exposition of Theravada, the “Buddhism of the Ancients”. After a chapter of general exposition, the body of the book is devoted to the in-depth study of the Four Noble Truths (the founding discourse of Buddhism), of the doctrine of “Non-self” and of “Meditation or mental culture”. In his last chapter (Buddhist morality and society), the author wishes to show how Buddhism can found an economic and political morality.

Author: Venerable Walpola Rahula, who died in 1998, was a Theravadin monk from Sri Lanka. A great scholar, he also studied the Chinese and Tibetan texts of the Mahayana and thus had a very complete vision of traditional teachings.

In the footsteps of Siddhartha
Thich Nhat Hanh
(Pocket, 1998)

Swasti was a young herdsman who left his family to follow Siddhartha Gautama. By telling us the story of his journey alongside the one who will become the Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh – using unpublished Pali, Sanskrit and Chinese sources – reveals to us the face of the sage in all his humanity. Combining the life and teachings of the “Awakened One” with the main sutras, he gives us a marvelous biography rich in spiritual resources.

The author: Vietnamese Buddhist Master, Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is a major figure in world spirituality. His actions for his people led Martin Luther King to support his candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. A political refugee in France since 1972, he founded Plum Village, a community where he leads seminars.

The Great Disciples of the Buddha (2 volumes)
Nyanaponika Thera & Hellmuth Hecker
(Clear Light, 2000)

From 1979 to 1989, the magazine "The Wheel", of the Buddhist Publication Society of Ceylon, offered portraits of the main great disciples of the Buddha. It is the compilation of these biographies, revised and enlarged, that the Claire Lumière editions offer in these two volumes. It is, to our knowledge, the only work intended for the general public which presents these great figures of ancient Buddhism, direct disciples of the Buddha, such as the literature of the Canon and the commentaries allows us to discover them. These stories give a living image of the original Sangha, the community of living disciples around the Buddha, of the living conditions and the personal journey of each of these extraordinary characters, who fuel the imagination of every Buddhist in Asia and offer so many models for practitioners.

The authors: Hellmuth Hecker is a German scholar recognized specialist in the pali canon. Nyanaponika Thera is one of the first Germans to adopt the bhikkhu precepts.

Following Buddha
Andrew Bareau
(Philippe Lebaud, 1985)

Here is a biography and a summary of the Buddha's teaching "in its own juice": that is to say as the disciples of the first centuries wished to transmit them to their successors. We are therefore far, here, from the "dry" approaches of modern historians, but well at the heart of Indian culture before the Christian era, rich in miracles and picturesque notations... In his introduction, Bareau quickly replaces the Buddha in its Indian context, but above all takes care to explain the nature of the sources it uses and the particular literary genres from which they come. The body of the book distributes the texts according to the great periods of the life of the Buddha: youth, Awakening and the beginning of his career as a preacher (book 1). Then, he proposes an anthology of teachings distributed as so many illustrations-developments of the Four Noble Truths, as well as some texts taken from the collection considered to be the oldest of the Pāli Canon, the Sutta-Nipata (book 2). It closes the whole with the stories of the end of the Buddha's life and the events that immediately followed his “complete disappearance” (book 3). When he deems it necessary, an introduction and a few notes make it possible to clarify the most delicate points... An ideal work for immersing oneself in the universe of Indian spirituality and original Buddhism.

The author: André Bareau (1921-1993) was one of the last great French “encyclopedic Buddhists”.

The most beautiful words of the Buddha – The verses of the Dhammapada
Translation by Jeanne Schut
(Sully, 2016)

Le Dhammapada is one of the oldest collections of the Buddha's teachings. It is particularly loved and recognized in all schools of Buddhism because of its light and poetic form. Jeanne Schut gives us here a new translation, simple and fluid, which respects the meaning of the text in its spirit and in its form by using, as much as possible, versification in echo to the original text. These words, sprung from the heart of the Buddha in response to specific circumstances, and which have crystallized over time into luminous verses of pure wisdom, thus come back to life and touch us deeply by showing us the Way of liberation. The intensity of the words is sublimated by the superb illustrations of Georges Crisci, which transport us to ancient India where the Buddha lived. Crossing the centuries, these colorful stanzas imbued with the perfume of the Teaching, which have been memorized by innumerable generations, continue to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

The translator: Specialized in the translation of writings by contemporary monks of the Theravada Buddhist tradition (the « vehicle of old« , the first historic Buddhist school, particularly present in Southeast Asia), Jeanne Schut has been practicing Buddhism in the Forest Tradition for almost thirty years. She has made many trips to Thailand to meditate in forest monasteries. Over the past ten years, she has also translated into French several books on the practice of Buddhism published by Sully, and has been the interpreter for English-speaking Buddhist monks who came to teach in France. She had the opportunity to present the work of the masters of meditation that she translates during several television programs.

Pali-French dictionary
Michel-Henri Dufour
(Three Monts Editions, 1999)

The Buddha's teachings have been recorded in several languages, such as Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese or Tibetan. However, these are the oldest pali versions. This dictionary makes it possible to better grasp the deep meaning of these fundamental texts. It has 3 entries and an index in French for researching doctrinal terms.

The author: Michel Henri (Adhitthâno) Dufour, specialist in ancient Buddhism and lexicographer, taught at the Secular School of Religions and at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. He is the author of a Pali-French Dictionary of Ancient Buddhism. Affiliated with the Theravada forest tradition (lineage of the Thai master Ajahn Chah), he is the founder of the Theravada Buddhist association Vivekarama.

beyond death
Mohan Wijayaratna
(LIS, 1998)

Does life end at death? Or does it go beyond that? Why survival after death? How ? In what conditions ? A future existence, in one way or another (following a resurrection, a reincarnation or a rebirth), is a fund common to all religions. Here is a book that explains in detail how ancient Buddhism sees this problem. Using the texts of the canonical corpus, the author discusses here subjects such as the doctrinal basis of the notion of rebirth, the attitude of the Buddha towards the question of the beyond, the influence of the thought of the dying on his future life, etc. This book also deals with another important theme essentially linked to rebirths: karmas and their results. Finally, the author presents the integral translation of ten canonical texts concerning death, karmas and rebirth. This work offers ample food for thought on the subject of life and death, thus constituting an indispensable document in the field of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

The author: Anthropologist and « buddhologist« , State Doctor of Letters, Môhan Wijayaratna is the author of several books in French and English. It has made available to French-speaking readers the full translation of many texts from the canonical corpus. Through his work, he contributes to giving a wider public access to a corpus which remains the spiritual nourishment of hundreds of millions of men. His latest book: The philosophy of the Buddha (1995) quickly became a reference work.

Satipatthana, the heart of Buddhist meditation
Nyanaponika Thera
(Library of America and the Orient Adrien Maisonneuve – Jean Maisonneuve successor, 2003)

Le Satipathana sutta is a discourse by Gautama Buddha describing the establishment of mindfulness: "The four applications of the presence of mind are the only Path leading to the attainment of purification, to the mastery of pain and lamentation, to the cessation of sorrow and sorrow, to entry into the Path perfection and the realization of Nibbāna 1.”

The author: Born under the name of Siegmund Feniger, Nyanaponika or Nyanaponika Thera (1901-1994) was a monk (bhikkhu), translator and Buddhist writer of the Theravada tradition.

100 questions about Theravada Buddhism
Didier Treutenaere
(Soukha Editions 2017)

Religion for some, philosophy for others, Buddhism, whose origins date back to the 101th century BC, fascinates Westerners. Intended for a very wide audience, these XNUMX questions/answers on Buddhism will allow everyone to deepen their knowledge and understand its entire philosophical, spiritual and human dimension by following the Theravada tradition, which flourishes in Cambodia, Laos, in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. With one illustration per question/answer.

Author: Didier Treutenaere is a specialist in the Pali language, the Latin of Buddhism. He has lived in Southeast Asia for twenty years.

The Buddha
Veronique Crombe
(Desclee de Brouwer, 2000)

Attraction for meditation, popularity of personalities such as the Dalai Lama, creation of numerous monasteries: unquestionably, Buddhism seduces the West. However, do we really know him? And above all, what do we know of the Buddha, founder of this vast spiritual current more than 2 years old? More than a simple biography or a religious presentation, this book by Véronique Crombé apprehends the figure of the Buddha in the context that bears it. The so-called "Awakened One" offers his contemporaries, frightened by the prospect of dying, being reborn and dying again, a path to liberation. But the spiritual and human milieu in which he was born was not unrelated to the development of his doctrine and, at the same time, to his great intuitions. To understand it, one must also distinguish between facts and legends, and also perceive the richness of the art it generates. With great pedagogy, Véronique Crombé presents the foundations of Buddha's teaching, which, beyond the different spiritual families, remains the common good of all Buddhists.

The author: Lecturer at national museums since 1987, Véronique Crombé speaks in several Parisian museums, notably at the National Museum of Asian Arts-Guimet. She has collaborated on several works on religions, Buddhism and Buddhist art. A Buddhist in the Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka, she has traveled extensively in Asia. She also works as a translator and devotes part of her free time to painting. 

Buddha's sermons
Mohan Wijayaratna
(Dots, 2016)

After the Talks of the Buddha (2001), here is the second volume of the authentic teachings of the Buddha, translated and presented by Môhan Wijayaratna according to the Pali canon (vernacular language of the Buddha). In the XNUMXth century BC, its precepts were collected and transmitted orally, then recorded in writing a few centuries later. The Buddha's message was revolutionary and remains so to this day: it not only offers an ethics that transcends the Vedic sacrificial religion, but also a logic that is based on a detailed analysis of the workings of the human mind. The knowledge of this collection of the sermons of the Buddha is just as recommendable as the practice of meditation under the guidance of a master.

The author: Môhan Wijayaratna is the author of numerous books on various aspects of Buddhism, anthropologist, expert in Pali and Sanskrit, he is considered one of the great specialists of ancient and modern Buddhism.

The Talks of the Buddha
Mohan Wijayaratna
(Threshold, 2001)

The Buddha certainly presents himself as one of the greatest communicators in the history of humanity: for forty-five years, he addressed multitudes of people in the middle basin of the Ganges. The canonical records of his talks run to thousands of pages in Pali, from which the twenty-one texts of this anthology are taken. From these discussions with interlocutors of all origins, one can easily detect the initial doctrine of the Buddha and his fundamental teachings. Established as early as the XNUMXrd century BC, these texts provide an invaluable working tool for developing an exact theoretical knowledge of the Buddhist message, in its radicality and its modernity.

The author: Anthropologist and "Buddhologist", State Doctor of Letters, Môhan Wijayaratna is the author of several books in French and English. For many years, he worked under the direction of Professor André Barreau (1921-1993) of the College de France. Today, he is recognized by academic circles, as well as by Buddhist communities in the West, as one of the great specialists of ancient and modern Buddhism.

Digha Nikaya (3 volumes)
Mohan Wijayaratna
(LIS, 2007-2008)

Le Digha Nikaya (Digha = long, nikaya = collection), or collection of the long speeches (of the Buddha), is a collection of thirty-four suttas forming part of the Sutta Pitaka (Basket of lessons).

The author: Anthropologist and "Buddhologist", State Doctor of Letters, Môhan Wijayaratna is the author of several books in French and English. For many years, he worked under the direction of Professor André Barreau (1921-1993) of the College de France. Today, he is recognized by academic circles, as well as by Buddhist communities in the West, as one of the great specialists of ancient and modern Buddhism.

Majjhima-nikaya (5 volumes)
Mohan Wijayaratna
(LIS, 2009-2011)

Le Majjhima-nikaya which contains 152 suttas (skt. sutras) is the second work of the Sutta Pitaka pale. Just like in the Digha Nikaya, in the Majjhima-nikaya the Buddha's interlocutors are princes, kings, businessmen, learned Brahmins, itinerant renunciants and even ordinary people who want to talk with him on profound matters. This is the first time that a full translation of the Majjhima-nikaya is presented to French-speaking readers. The whole of this translation contains five volumes.

The author: Anthropologist and "Buddhologist", State Doctor of Letters, Môhan Wijayaratna is the author of several books in French and English. For many years, he worked under the direction of Professor André Barreau (1921-1993) of the College de France. Today, he is recognized by academic circles, as well as by Buddhist communities in the West, as one of the great specialists of ancient and modern Buddhism.

The Buddhist Monk – Monastic Life According to Theravada Texts
Mohan Wijayaratna
(Éditions du Cerf, 1983 / LIS reissue, 2016)

The monastic tradition which goes back to the Buddha is, today as twenty-five centuries ago, the heart of Buddhism. The Theravada describes the great moments in the life of the monk, his rites and his customs as well as the spirituality which guides him.

The author: Anthropologist and "Buddhologist", State Doctor of Letters, Môhan Wijayaratna is the author of several books in French and English. For many years, he worked under the direction of Professor André Barreau (1921-1993) of the College de France. Today, he is recognized by academic circles, as well as by Buddhist communities in the West, as one of the great specialists of ancient and modern Buddhism.

Don't leave you. The body at the heart of meditation
Martin Aylward
(The Arenas, 2019)

“The whole universe appears and disappears right here, in this body”. This sentence of the Buddha is the starting point of the path proposed by Martin Aylward to guide us, through our life, by the embodied presence. The possibility of a totally free human existence is hindered by goals, addiction to stimulation, comfort… “We don't control what happens to us or how we react to it”. Accepting this truth is a great relief. In meditation, there is nothing to accomplish. In an ashram in India, a saddhu, Babaji, taught the author that presence does not depend on a particular experience, but simply on the quality of attention, moment after moment.

We are invited, here, to understand our thirst for satisfaction rather than constantly wanting to satisfy our instincts. We constantly judge our social image or that of our body, according to cultural and family conditioning. Yet there is nothing to obtain, nothing to eliminate. We must welcome and explore our being. To contemplate bodily life, Theravada Buddhism uses six methods: breathing, posture, activity, by becoming aware of the different functions of the parts of the body, by relating them to the elements and, finally, by contemplating our life. in light of our future death.

To explore inward and then outward, until you identify with the entire cosmos, is the full expression of love. Four Pali words qualify the putting into practice of our body of love. Martin Aylward translates them in his own words: put, the love that cares; karuna, love that responds, compassion; mudita, the love that rejoices, the fundamental benevolence; upekha, equanimity, or the heart as wide as the world. Everything we call 'me' and 'world' takes place here, in our physical, affective, perceptual, mental-emotional and conscious experience. “Your body is the universe,” concludes the author.

(Mr. Stricot)

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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