Dharma Study Group

The Princeton Insight Meditation Dharma Study Group meets on Sundays from 3:00 to 5:00pm via Zoom. Email us at info@princetoninsightmeditation.org for meeting details.

This page will always have links to the texts for the upcoming sessions, along with other materials and announcements for the course.

If you have questions about the group, please email us at study@PrincetonInsightMeditation.org

Here is the link to this week’s course materials.

Current course: The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path

Princeton Insight Meditation is pleased to announce the next study program in our Sunday Dharma Study Group sessions: an in-depth look at suttas dealing with the core teachings of the Buddha: The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path. This will be an ongoing series of sutta studies starting on October 29th, 2023.

Those familiar with the Buddhist tradition will be aware that The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path are considered fundamental to the study and practice of Buddhism. They are common to all Buddhist schools.

In Mahahatthipadopama Sutta (The Greater Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint, MN 28),  it is said that just as the footprints of any living being can be placed within an elephant’s footprint, and so the elephant’s footprint is declared the chief of them, so too all wholesome states can be included in the Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha’s very first discourse (Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma, SN 56.11) describes the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. In this sutta, it becomes clear that The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path are intertwined. The Fourth Noble Truth is the Noble Eightfold Path and the first factor in the Noble Eightfold Path is Right View, which is principally an understanding of the Four Noble Truths. This is the reason we undertake the study of these two together 

There are two key aspects to this ongoing study. One is that we directly study selected suttas from the Nikayas of the Pali canon; in other words, we learn about the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path directly from the Buddha himself, or in some cases from his closest disciples. The other is the emphasis on practice. Our goal is not just learning the eight factors of the path but to walk the path in our lived experience.

We expect that the entire course of study will take more than a year as we study multiple suttas selected from the Nikayas of the Pali canon. While those with a serious commitment are welcome to join us for the entire journey, you can also join for those suttas that are of specific interest to you.

The suttas have been selected based largely on the suttas listed by Bhikku Bodhi in his books, “In the Buddha’s Words” and “Reading the Buddha’s Discourses in Pali” and on those in Andrew Olendzki’s Integrated Dharma Program.

Each session will include reading translations of the discourses; exploring the texts in detail; doing practical meditations and exercises; and group discussions. All necessary course materials will be provided. As always, the Sunday Dharma Study Group is open to all. Newcomers are welcome to join us at any time, although the start of a new sutta is an especially good time to start.

Coming up

We are currently having an in-depth discussion of the Mahacattarisaka Sutta (The Great Forty, MN 117). Coming up next will be the Sammaditti Sutta (Right View, MN 9).