The Long Discourses (Dīgha Nikāya, abbreviated DN) is a collection of 34 discourses in the Pali canon (Tipiṭaka) of the Theravāda school. The word “long” refers to the length of the individual discourses, not the collection as a whole, which is in fact the smallest of the five Pali Nikāyas. It is one of the fundamental collections of early Buddhist teachings, depicting the Buddha in a lively range of settings. Compared to other collections it contains more extended narratives in diverse literary styles. Many discourses feature interreligious dialog with brahmins and other non-Buddhists. This collection parallels the Dīrghāgama (DA) of the Dharmaguptaka school, which is the first text in the Taishō edition of the Chinese canon. Several uncollected suttas in Chinese and Sanskrit also belong to this collection. Two-thirds of a Dīrghāgama from the Sarvāstivāda school has been found, but only small portions have been published.
The Chapter Containing the Section on Ethics (Sīlakkhandhavagga) is a chapter of 13 discourses. Each of these contains a long passage on the Gradual Training in ethics, meditation, and wisdom. The chapter is named after the first of these sections. The two other known versions of the Dīrghāgama (in Chinese and Sanskrit) also contain a similar chapter. Despite the monastic nature of the central teaching, most of these discourses are presented in dialog with lay people, with a strong emphasis on the relation between the Buddha’s teachings and other contemporary movements.
DN 1: The Prime Net Brahmajāla Sutta
While others may praise or criticize the Buddha, they tend to focus on trivial details. The Buddha presents an analysis of 62 kinds of wrong view, seeing through which one becomes detached from meaningless speculations.
DN 2: The Fruits of the Ascetic Life Sāmaññaphala Sutta
The newly crowned King Ajātasattu is disturbed by the violent means by which he achieved the crown. He visits the Buddha to find peace of mind, and asks him about the benefits of spiritual practice. This is one of the greatest literary and spiritual texts of early Buddhism.
DN 3: With Ambaṭṭha Ambaṭṭha Sutta
A young brahmin student attacks the Buddha’s family, but is put in his place.
DN 4: With Soṇadaṇḍa Soṇadaṇḍa Sutta
A reputed brahmin visits the Buddha, despite the reservations of other brahmins. They discuss the true meaning of a brahmin, and the Buddha skillfully draws him around to his own point of view.
DN 5: With Kūṭadanta Kūṭadanta Sutta
A brahmin wishes to undertake a great sacrifice, and asks for the Buddha’s advice. The Buddha tells a legend of the past, in which a king is persuaded to give up violent sacrifice, and instead to devote his resources to supporting the needy citizens of his realm. However, even such a beneficial and non-violent sacrifice pales in comparison to the spiritual sacrifice of giving up attachments.
DN 6: With Mahāli Mahāli Sutta