The Vinaya (Pali and Sanskrit, literally meaning “leading out”, “education”, “discipline”) is the regulatory framework for the sangha or monastic community of Buddhism based on the canonical texts called the Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Gautama Buddha can be divided into two broad categories: Dharma “doctrine” and Vinaya “discipline”.

Extant vinaya texts include those of the Theravada (the only one in Pali), the Kāśyapīya, the Mahāsāṃghika, the Mahīśāsaka, theDharmaguptaka, the Sarvāstivāda and the Mūlasarvāstivāda.[1]

Pali Literature

Beyond the Tipitaka
A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali Literature
© 2002
A quick glance through the pages of the Pali Text Society’s publications catalog should be enough to convince anyone that there is much more to classical Pali literature than the Tipitaka alone. Intermingled with the familiar Nikayas, Vinaya texts, and Abhidhamma are scores of titles with long, scarcely-pronounceable Pali names. Although many western students of Buddhism may be unacquainted with these works (indeed, most have never been translated into English), these books have for centuries played a crucial role in the development of Buddhist thought and practice across Asia and, ultimately, the West. In fact, in some countries they are as deeply treasured as the suttas themselves. But what are these ancient books, and what relevance do they have to the western student of Buddhism in the 21st century? Although complete answers to these questions lie well beyond the range of my abilities, I hope that this short document will provide enough of a road map to help orient the interested student as he or she sets out to explore this vast corpus of important Buddhist literature.


Mettā (Pali) or maitrī (Sanskrit) is benevolence,[1][2] friendliness,[2][3][4][4][5] amity,[3] friendship,[4] good will,[4] kindness,[3][6] close mental union (on same mental wavelength),[4] and active interest in others.[3] It is the first of the four sublime states (Brahmavihāras) and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism. Mettā is love without the suffering that arises from attachment (known as upādāna).

The cultivation of benevolence (mettā bhāvanā) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, this practice begins with the meditator cultivating benevolence towards themselves,[7] then one’s loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this practice is associated with tonglen(cf.), whereby one breathes out (“sends”) happiness and breathes in (“receives”) suffering.[8] Tibetan Buddhists also practice contemplation of the Brahmavihāras, also called the four immeasurables, which is sometimes called ‘compassion meditation’.[9]

Almost everything there is to know about compassion in a multimedia eBook!

What is the difference between empathy and compassion? Is it possible to train compassion? Can it be measured? How useful is compassion training in schools, clinical settings, and end-of-life care? Can the brain be transformed through mental training?

The free eBook: Compassion. Bridging Practice and Science by Tania Singer andMatthias Bolz describes existing secular compassion training programs and empirical research as well as the experiences of practitioners. The state-of-the-art layout of the eBook includes video clips and a selection of original sound collages by Nathalie Singer, and artistic images by Olafur Eliasson.

In addition, the film Raising Compassion by Tania Singer and Olafur Eliasson brings together workshop participants in a remarkable exchange between science, art, and contemplative practice.