About Sutta Study Courses

//About Sutta Study Courses
About Sutta Study Courses 2017-02-16T09:34:43+00:00

Registration has closed for the 2017 Sutta Study Course.

Our 2018 Sutta Study Course will run from March – December 2018. Visit our Sutta Study 2018 Registration page to register. 

About Our Sutta Study Program

Insight Meditation South Bay (in partnership with Bodhi Retreats) offers a nine-month sutta study course each year with three optional meeting times and locations:

  • Monday evenings online
  • Friday mornings in Palo Alto, CA
  • Wednesday evenings in Menlo Park, CA

We are gradually reading and contemplating English translations of the Discourses of the Buddha. These ancient texts offer us a rich source of inspiration that directly informs the development of wisdom, meditation, and how we live our lives. Through discussion and reflection, we approach these powerful teachings as the spark for awakening. This is not a lecture course; everyone is expected to participate in the discussion. The aim of our sutta study courses is not so much to attain an intellectual or academic comprehension of the texts, but rather to allow the teachings to permeate our hearts, to recognize the contemporary implications of ancient Buddhist wisdom, and to realize the liberating potential of the path.

Newcomers are welcome to join at the start of each year’s course.

Current Topics

We are currently reading the Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya).

Upcoming Courses

We will read further selections from the Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya) as course material in 2017 and 2018.

Registration usually opens for in September for each course that begins in January. Course details, registration information, and dates will be posted on the Sutta Study Course Page for each year and course, and links can be found in the Calendar/Event Listings.

Previous Courses

In previous years we have read the following texts:

  • 2004 ­– The Inspired Utterances of the Buddha (Udana)
  • 2005 ­– Anthology of Suttas from the Numerical Discourses
  • 2006 ­– Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya) Part I of III.
  • 2007 ­– Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya) Part II of III.
  • 2008 ­– Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya) Part III of III.
  • 2009 ­– 2010 – Sutta Nipata
  • 2010 ­– 2011 ­– In the Buddha’s Words (An anthology of suttas edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi)
  • 2012 – The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya) Part I of III.
  • 2013 – The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya) Part II of III.
  • 2014 – The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya) Part III of III.
  • 2015 – The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya) Part I of IV.
  • 2016 – The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya) Part II of IV.
  • 2017 – The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya) Part III of IV.

Conversations with translators Bhikkhu Bodhi and John Kelly

Listen to a 2014 recorded interview of Bhikkhu Bodhi by Shaila Catherine and members of the online class about the Samyutta Nikaya, Connected Discourses of the Buddha.

Listen to a 2015 recorded interview of Pali translator John Kelly by Shaila Catherine and members of the online class about the Anguttara Nikaya, Numerical Discourses of the Buddha.


As my practice has developed over the years I have become increasingly interested in studying the Pali Canon, but it’s hard to do it by myself. Studying and discussing the texts with a group led by Shaila provides a depth of understanding that I don’t think I could reach on my own.

—Anne M., Nevada

Although she claims not to be an academic, Shaila brings a wealth of knowledge to every class. In sharing her own considerable insight, she encourages and inspires others to share and deepen their own.

—Shari G., California
Sometimes I feel the readings are "over my head" or "beyond my experience," but I always come away from our study, with thoughtful insights to guide me, and with a deeper more profound experience of the Dhamma. This knowledge and real experience has helped  
to develop and enrich my personal meditation practice as well as give me the confidence and tools to help guide my local sangha....more...
—Karen K., Nevada
I have been surprised by how much I look forward to the online sutta courses each month and how much I enjoy the program of study that Shaila has put together. Shaila's deep knowledge of the texts is backed by her extensive practice experience—this combination really opens up and clarifies
the teachings in the Suttas. Shaila challenges us to find practical examples in our own lives to exemplify the teachings that we are studying, and she is really able to use the group to draw out the deeper meanings of the texts. Shaila has imparted a method for studying Buddhist texts that will be a guide for me long after this course is over....more...
—Lindsey V., New York
Any serious student of the dharma would be hard-pressed to do better than reading the original words of the Buddha—the problem for me was actually sitting down and doing it. IMSB's online sutta study class provided a wonderful vehicle for overcoming this obstacle, and as a result, 
I have nearly completed an organized reading of the Samyutta Nikaya.  I probably would not have accomplished this otherwise, and it has been of great benefit to my practice....more...
—Bill M., Nevada

Studying with Shaila is a precious gift. She has something to offer everyone, from beginner to advanced practitioner. Her pragmatic teaching style ensures that I always walk away from her classes with not only a deeper understanding of the Dhamma, but also a clear understanding of how the Dhamma applies to my own spiritual practice.

—Kathleen N., Indiana

Shaila is an extremely competent teacher. She brings the suttas to life for her students to promote a personal understanding. It is wonderful!

—Linda and David W., Utah

For More Information

For information about course content or registration, contact suttastudy.

Registration has opened for the 2017 Sutta Study Course.
Visit our
 Sutta Study 2017 Registration page to register. 

Co-Sponsored by Bodhi-Retreats and Insight Meditation South Bay