Basic Teachings of the Buddha


About this Book



In Basic Teachings of the Buddha, Glenn Wallis selects sixteen essential dialogues drawn from more than five thousand Pali-dialect suttas of the Buddhist canon. The result is a vibrant introductory guide to studying Buddhist thought, applying its principles to everyday life, and gaining a deeper understanding of Buddhist themes in modern literature.


Focusing on the most crucial topics for today's readers, Wallis presents writings that address modern psychological, religious, ethical, and philosophical concerns. This practical, inspiring, and engaging volume provides an overview of the history of Buddhism and an illuminating analysis of the core writings that personalizes the suttas for each reader.


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Amazon reviews

What the Critics Say


"In this masterful new commentary on the earliest Buddhist writings, Professor Wallis challenges us with sixteen propositions about human existence itself. Only in this way, he asserts, can modern readers appreciate the Buddha's analysis of the two trajectories facing human beings—toward pain or toward peace. Wallis offers fresh translations and a reader's guide to sixteen discourses that eloquently illustrate these choices and their implications for our time. All this is introduced by the author's learned reflection on the idiom, meaning, and historical evolution of the Dhamma, Buddha's deepest insights. Glenn Wallis brings wisdom and compassion to this work of scholarship. Everyone should read this book."  —Christopher Queen, Harvard University



"A valuable sourcebook with a good selection of the fundamental suttas enhanced by an eloquent introduction and comprehensive notes– altogether a very useful text."

 —Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard and Nine-Headed Dragon River



"The Modern West made the Buddha one of its own teachers when the first translations of Pali texts became available in the nineteenth century. This inclusion in The Modern Library of Glenn Wallis' new and accessible translations of a few of the Buddha's lectures to his original students, along with Wallis' elegant guides to how to read these texts, continues this important strand of our cultural history and gives twentieth-first century readers a fresh chance to learn from this teacher to the Modern West."

—Charles Hallisey, Harvard University



Basic Teachings of the Buddha is "serious" Buddhism, both in its conception and its execution...In his introductory essay—itself worth the $15-dollar price tag—Wallis touches on the cross-cultural dimensions and sectarian nuances of modern Buddhism...Employing a clever framework, Wallis presents translations of texts representing core teachings of the Buddha that are common to all sects and traditions, and then shows us the way to an in-depth reading of each. Refraining from interpretation, Wallis leaves the reader to "refine the material with the grit of daily life." The result of Wallis's careful efforts is a short primer that is a must-have for serious students of Buddhism.  Shambhala Sun

Quick Links


Winter 2018

My new book , A Critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real, can be pre-ordered at Bloomsbury Academic. More info here, too.


New seminars scheduled at Incite Seminars. First up is Akilesh Ayyar, "How to Find What isn't Lost," January 20th.


Fall 2017

"This is a rich disagreement!" Conversation with Tom Pepper at Speculative Non-Buddhism.


I moved the Incite Seminars page to Please have a look!


Summer 2017

Starting enrollment for two public courses: "Alienation and Its Antidotes: A Workshop with Anthony Paul Smith on the Thought of François Laruelle."


"Meditation: Self and Society" Monday mornings

September 25-October 16. 

Information on Incite Seminars. 


Tom Pepper at Speculative Non-Buddhism: "No Thought, No Problem."


Spring 2017

Starting enrollment for public course "Buddhism in the Age of Trump." Begins Tuesday, June 13. Information on Incite Seminars page. Make thinking great again!


New post at Speculative Non-Buddhism by Jonathan Earle: "Only Don’t Know! Reflections on a Thoughtless Life"


"Criticism Matters: A Response to Rick Repetti," my contribution to the new book Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context and Social Engagement (Basel: Springer Publishing, 2016) at Speculative Non-Buddhism.


Fall 2016

Ruin records He-Ho and Fiat Lux are being re-released with bonus tracks! Read about it at Earsplit. You can also pre-order directly from Southern Lord.


New essay by Tom Pepper, "Writing With Pencils and Eating Brownies: What Can Enlightened Brains Do?," at the SNB blog.


Spring 2016

I recently did two interviews with Matthew O'Connell at the Imperfect Buddha podcast.


A thoughtful discussion of the Speculative Non-Buddhism project at the Imperfect Buddha podcast. Link at SNB.


Summer 2016

* Several new posts at Lines of Flight.

* Cruel Theory | Sublime Practice is now available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Read an informed review at the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.


* New interview with my Ruin band mate Cordy Swope at Seymour Magazine.


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