The Pali Canon contains the Buddha’s original teachings

The Buddha’s direct teachings are compiled in the “sutra basket,” or the Sutta Pitaka in Pali.  The sutra basket contains discourses and sermons directly attributable to the Buddha.  The Sutta Pitaka, along with the Vinaya Pitaka (monastic rules), and Abdhidhamma Pitaka (philosophical elaboration), forms the “Three Baskets” of teachings, referred to as the Pali Canon.  The present-day Theravada tradition prizes the three collections as the foundation of theory and practice.

The sutra basket contains five sections, or Nikayas.  It is in these texts that the foundational teachings of the Buddha, like the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Thirty-Seven Limbs of Enlightenment are contained:
  • Digha Nikaya (Long Discourses)
  • Anguttara Nikaya (Numerical Discourses)
  • Samyutta Nikaya (Connected Discourses)
  • Majjhima Nikaya (Middle-Length Discourses)
  • Khuddaka Nikaya (Minor Discourses)
The philosophical elaboration basket contains seven texts:
  • Dhammasangani (Summary)
  • Vibhanga (Classification)
  • Dhatukatha (Elements)
  • Puggalapannatti (Personhood)
  • Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy)
  • Yamaka (Pairs)
  • Patthana (Causes)
The monastic rules basket contains three sections:
  • Sutta-vibhanga (Exposition of Rules)
  • Khandaka (Subjects)
  • Parivara (Appendix)