I have read a decent amount on modern meditative practices, but I am curious to read the way in which ancient monks described their techniques.

This is not suggesting that modern meditative practices differ from their originators, as I wouldn't know if they do.

I am simply curious about the ancient texts as one would be to read an ancient cookbook.

2 Answers 2


Please see the English translation of the Anapanasati Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 118 or MN 118) on the Buddhist mindfulness of breathing technique. The transliterated Pali version can be found here.

Please see the English translation of the Satipatthana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 10 or MN 10) on the four foundations of mindfulness technique. The transliterated Pali version can be found here.

These two texts come from the Sutta Pitaka, the volume of the Pali Canon that contains the Buddha's discourses (suttas). According to tradition, these discourses were delivered by the Buddha, during the Buddha's lifetime (c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE).

These texts, translated to English by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, are originally in the Pali language, which is a partially Sanskritized variant of Prakrit. The Buddha spoke either Magadhi Prakrit or another dialect of Prakrit. Prakrit is closely related to Sanskrit.

If you want to read a modern guide and explanation on the techniques mentioned in MN 118 and MN 10, please see Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu's book "How to Meditate". If you're actually interested to learn Buddhist meditation, this is a great place to start.

Another newer text that you may read is the Visuddhimagga or Path of Purification, a text written in the 5th century CE in Sri Lanka by the monk Buddhaghosa. You can find a PDF version here.

  • 1
    Precisely what I was looking for. Excellent answer. Appreciate it.
    – Sermo
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 16:34

This attitude is completely wrong; thinking something can crudely be manipulated for Nirvana. The Buddha taught one primary method for the Noble Path; which was letting go or "surrender":

There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind.

SN 48.10

The is no "cookbook". It is the very opposite. The Buddha taught to stop "cooking" ("sanhkara").

"Cooking" is shown below, which the Buddha taught to stop:

enter image description here

  • I am massively confused by this comment. I never suggested that I was searching for Nirvana. I am interested in the historical teachings of Buddhist meditation techniques. Unless you're suggesting that only Buddhists and those seeking Nirvana, and only those subscribing to your particular sect of Buddhism, are permitted to show interest in Buddhism, or ask questions on this site.
    – Sermo
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 6:09
  • Was your answer posted on the wrong question?
    – Sermo
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 6:11
  • Buddha taught the path to Nirvana. So what meditation are you interested in? What destination or purpose? Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 6:14
  • In this question, I am not at all interested in the destination at all. I am interested, as I stated, in the "techniques" of meditation. Meaning, mindfulness, breathing, sitting posture, etc.
    – Sermo
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 6:16
  • 1
    Um... This is very amusing/perplexing. I think the woman in the picture is fabricating her own karma which is represented by her making a pot.
    – user14148
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 7:05

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