It's a reminder that, when you click on that link, your browser will open a new window and display a page from another website. It's also a reminder that I have no control over what, exactly, you'll see when you go to that site.
Access to Insight is an Internet website dedicated to providing accurate, reliable, and useful information concerning the practice and study of Theravada Buddhism, as it has been handed down to us through both the written word of the Pali canon and the living example of the Sangha.
Access to Insight is not an organization and is not affiliated with any institution. It is simply one person's website. Although I have studied the Buddha's teachings for many years as a dedicated lay follower, I have no academic degrees in either the Pali language or Buddhist Studies. In these pages I have therefore relied on the translations and interpretations of other respected scholars, teachers, and practitioners who have far more experience and wisdom than do I.
The readings assembled here represent just a selection of the Buddha's teachings. These are the ones that, over the years, I've personally found to be helpful in deepening an understanding of Dhamma practice. This collection is not meant to be an exhaustive archive of Theravada Buddhist texts.
I've tried to avoid injecting my own views and opinions into these web pages. Some biases, however, inevitably intrude, owing to the editorial choices I've made and the short introductory essays and blurbs I've written here and there to give some context to the material being presented. I sincerely hope that my biases do not in any way obscure the real meaning of the texts themselves.
Everything available at Access to Insight is offered in full cooperation with the authors, translators, and publishers concerned, with the clear understanding that none of it is to be sold. Please help yourself to whatever you find useful. (For a detailed explanation of the copyright status of materials on the website, please read "Copyright and Related Issues.")
In early 1993, with the help of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, I set up in my basement a computer bulletin board service (BBS) to see if networked computers might be genuinely useful as a support for students and practitioners of Buddhism. Originally dubbed "BCBS OnLine," the BBS soon joined DharmaNet's international network of dialup Buddhist BBS's and adopted the name "Access to Insight." Shortly thereafter, Barry Kapke launched DharmaNet's Dharma Book Transcription Project, of which I served as librarian, and under whose auspices about a hundred high-quality books on Buddhism were transcribed to computer through the dedicated efforts of an international team of volunteer transcribers and proofreaders. These books were soon distributed via DharmaNet to scores of BBS's around the world. In 1994 I installed a dialup Internet e-mail connection that allowed anyone on the Internet to retrieve these books via an e-mail file server. This proved to be a popular service. By late 1994 the BBS — now independent of BCBS — spent far more of its time serving file requests from around the world via the Internet than in handling the requests of local callers. Internet users from far and wide were coming to depend on Access to Insight's now rickety and overworked '386 computer as their link to information — both the timely and the timeless — about Buddhism. In March 1995 this website was born; eight months later I closed down the BBS for good.
Today Access to Insight continues to grow: what began in 1993 as a modest collection of two or three suttas and a handful of articles has blossomed into a library of more than one thousand suttas and several hundred articles and books. With the release of the Handful of Leaves CD-ROM in 1998 and 1999, these texts are now reaching an even wider audience and being further redistributed around the world in print and electronic media.
To explore ATI's history in obsessive detail, see the archives of old news summaries.
Please understand that Access to Insight isn't an organization and there are no staff here — it's just me. I do not have time to answer — or even acknowledge — all the emails that I receive. If you have questions about the content of this website — or about the Dhamma in general — please consult a teacher or a knowledgeable friend. I'm just the librarian. I am always grateful, however, to receive reports of errors (broken links, typos, etc.).
P.O. Box 37
Milbridge, ME 04658
|or visit my website.|
A .com top-level domain isn't quite right since I'm not selling anything. .net isn't quite right either, since the website isn't part of a network. .org suggests a non-commercial entity, which this site certainly is. Maybe someday we'll have more top-level domains to choose from (.disorg or .notcom would be nice). Until that day comes, Access to Insight will muddle along, a squarish peg in a web of roundish holes.
One overarching principle has guided my choice of what to include in these pages, and what to leave out: a conviction that the teachings found in the Pali canon are just as relevant today as when they were first put into practice 2,600 years ago. Despite all the obvious material advances in the human world since the Buddha's time, the Four Noble Truths appear to be as vital today as ever: suffering and stress still pervade our lives; the cause still appears to be craving in all its insidious manifestations; and there is no reason to suspect that the Noble Eightfold Path is any less effective today at bringing an end to all that suffering and stress.
The emphasis here is on practice. For the most part I've selected books, articles, and sutta translations that I've personally found helpful to develop a better understanding of the Buddha's teachings, rather than texts that tend to fuel intellectual debates on abstract philosophical concepts. Beyond these basic principles, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.
If you are looking for authors or teachers who are not represented on Access to Insight, a simple Google search may be fruitful.
This website aims to be selective rather than comprehensive. My goal has never been to publish translations of every single one of the Tipitaka's 10,000-plus suttas. What you see here is a selection of suttas that meet three criteria: (1) they are, in my opinion, good translations; (2) I have personally found them useful; and (3) their copyright holders have provided them for free distribution.
There are many other fine translations of important suttas available in print today, and I encourage you to support their continued publication by purchasing copies. Someday, perhaps, these publishers will make those translations available freely to all. Until then, however, we must learn to make do with what we have. Happily, what we already have is pretty darn wonderful.
The same criteria apply to my selection of books, articles, and other materials on the site.
Years ago I decided to limit Access to Insight's content exclusively to the English language, simply because I am fluent only in English. I prefer not to put anything on the website that I can't understand myself.
If you're looking for Theravada texts in other languages, please see "Off-site resources: Non-English Tipitaka translations".
My role in assembling Access to Insight has primarily been that of facilitator and librarian, helping to bring together under one virtual roof the fruits of the hard work of many people: authors, translators, publishers, transcribers, and proofreaders. The unstinting generosity and commitment to the Dhamma demonstrated by these many contributors continues to amaze and inspire me. If you have found anything of value at Access to Insight please join me in thanking those who have made this website possible:
Thank you all.
The sutta translations were made by many esteemed translators, including: Venerables Bhikkhu Bodhi, Acharya Buddharakkhita, Bhikkhu Khantipalo, Ñanamoli Thera, Ñanavara Thera, Narada Thera, Nyanaponika Thera, Soma Thera, Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Phra Ajaan Geoff), and Sister Vajira; I.B. Horner, John D. Ireland, K.R. Norman, and F.L. Woodward. For a complete list of translators, see "Contributing Sutta Translators".
Here are a few ways you can help:
I offer everything on this website as a free gift, with absolutely no strings attached. I neither solicit nor expect donations of any kind. If, however, you feel moved to make a donation to support this work, you are welcome to do so. You may write a check in US dollars payable to me and mail it to me. Please note that I cannot accept checks payable to "Access to Insight" and you may not legally claim your gift as a tax-deductible charitable contribution.
All donations are applied towards the operating expenses of the website, by far the biggest of which is the advertisement-free Google Custom Search Engine (for which I pay $750 once or twice a year, depending on how many searches ATI's users perform). In years when annual donations exceed my expenses, at year's end I pass along the surplus to non-profit charitable causes. I make no money from this website.
Alternatively, you may simply make a donation to the charity of your choice. In the Buddha's words, "Give wherever the mind feels confidence" [SN 3.24].
The graphic (left) that appears on the home page is a stylized rendition of a copper amulet (below, left) that was made and consecrated in Thailand in 2005. The amulet depicts an image of the Buddha meditating under the arch of a protective deity, or naga, in a design popularized by Somdet Toh (1788-1872). The reverse (below, right) contains the Pali text (in Thai script) of the Jinapañjara Gatha ("The Victor's Cage"), a traditional protective chant that describes a person surrounded on all sides by a field of extraordinary purity and goodness: the Triple Gem, all the past Buddhas, all the Buddha's elder arahant disciples, and — as if that weren't enough — all the suttas. In a dangerous and frightening world it is hard to imagine a safer place in which to dwell.
But, of course, it is the purity and goodness of the mind that offers the only true protection. By seeking out the company of a kalyanamitta (spiritual friend) and by training oneself to infuse the mind only with what is good and noble, progress on the path of Dhamma is assured. The Victor's Cage — and the amulet on which it appears — thus serves as metaphor and reminder of the admirable qualities of mind that the practicing Buddhist strives to develop. As with the ten recollections, reflecting on the Victor's Cage offers encouragement when the chips are down: I am not alone in this endeavor; I can do this. In times of anxiety and stress, when the mind is most susceptible to wandering off into unskillful states, a recollection like this is sometimes all that's needed to restore the mind to balance and to steer it onwards down the path. And sometimes the familiar feel of a well-worn amulet between one's fingers is enough to do the trick.
My hope is that this website may serve its visitors in much the same way.
"Most Thai amulet collectors view the arch as a bell. Somdej Toh was abbot of Wat Rakang, i.e., Bell Temple, and the bell has given its name to the arch. The arch is invariably referred to as a "rakang" in any amulet of this iconography.
"The naga-over-the-Buddha amulets (ie Phra Nakprok) typically feature a 7-headed Mucalinda and are not known to be stylised into an abstract arch.
"I suspect the amulet is issued by one of 3 temples closely associated with Somdet Toh, ie Wat Rakang, Wat Inn and Wat Bangkhunpom, where he made many of these amulets. The Jinapanjara Katha began to be featured on these amulets some 4 years ago, because Somdet Toh was supposed to have used that katha to consecrate all of his amulets. A more likely reason is that the minting technology finally caught up and permitted the katha to be squeezed onto the small surface area."
— from an email received on 28 August 2008.
The Offline Edition is a snapshot of the online Access to Insight website at a particular day and time that you may download onto your computer for offline browsing. The CD-ROM edition contains all that, plus PDF files and perhaps a few other goodies. The differences between the live, offline, and CD-ROM versions of Access to Insight are summarized here:
|Live website||Offline Edition||CD-ROM
(ISO 9660 image)
|Basic website (html files)|
(Internet connection required)
|"What's new" and old news|
|"Surprise me" links|
|Attractive, compact, and tangible package that makes a nice gift to hand to a friend|
ATI's RSS feed is a handy way to keep track of what's new at Access to Insight, without actually visiting the "What's New" section of the home page.
There are several ways to use the feed:
If these directions don't work for you, and you suspect that ATI's RSS feed might be broken, before contacting me please double-check that you are able to access a feed from another website. A good feed to test is the one at New York Times.
Yes. You may copy and redistribute any texts from this website, provided that you abide by these two basic principles:
The files on this website are made available to you thanks to the generosity of dozens of authors, translators, publishers, and transcribers, all of whom contributed their efforts with the explicit understanding that the fruits of their labors would be given away free of charge, as an expression of dana. You may download these files to your computer, print them out, read them, share them with your friends, copy them to your own website, translate them into other languages, and redistribute them electronically — provided that you do not charge any money for them. They are not in the public domain. You may reformat the files as you please (see below), but you may not change their content without first obtaining permission from the author, translator, or publisher.
Please ask me if you have any additional questions about the copyright status of anything offered here.
No. Access to Insight's texts do not conform with two key principles of most "open source" software licenses:
Yes, provided that you make them available free of charge. I also ask that you please post a simple notice somewhere on your website acknowledging that the materials came from here. Although I don't require it, as a service to your visitors you might also consider including a link to www.accesstoinsight.org, so that your visitors can easily get hold of the most up-to-date editions of these texts (I steadily receive corrections and revisions from translators, authors, and publishers). Finally, please make it clear to your visitors what material on your site comes from here and what comes from other sources.
Yes. As long as you don't alter the underlying content, you may reformat pages to your heart's content. You may convert most files to Microsoft Word, PDF, or any other proprietary format. You may publish excerpts, provided that you indicate that they are excerpts. You may alter the "look" of the pages to match the style of your own website.
N.B. A few files have been encrypted and password-protected by their publisher, to restrict such reformatting. Please do not circumvent these security measures. If you are interested in converting password-protected files, please ask the author or publisher for permission.
No. The amount you charge is irrelevant: if you charge one penny or one thousand dollars, you're still selling. It doesn't matter if you're hoping to make a profit or not. What you do with the money you receive is irrelevant. These teachings are to be given away, not sold.
Requiring someone to pay for reproduction costs or for shipping costs (packaging, postage, etc.) is equivalent to selling. If you were sending a birthday gift to a beloved family member, would you enclose a bill for the wrapping paper, ribbon, and postage? Of course not. A gift is a gift.
Please be very careful here. As long as you make it crystal clear that anyone may receive a copy free for the asking — regardless of whether he or she makes a donation — then that's fine. You should put no pressure — subtle or otherwise — on anyone to pay. These teachings are to be given away, not sold.
If the excerpt falls within the scope of "Fair Use" (see Wikipedia), then you are free to use the excerpt and no further permission is required. If the excerpt is more substantial, then you must first obtain permission from the author of that text. Please contact the author directly for permission.
If you're writing a paper for a school or university, you should check with your instructor to see what citation standards you are expected to follow.
To cite individual pages from the website, you might consider the citation format that's shown in the colophon at the bottom of every page.
To cite the entire website, you might use something like this:
"Access to Insight" (http://www.accesstoinsight.org), John Bullitt, ed., DATE.
where DATE is the revision date that appears at the bottom of the home page.
When citing articles from a CD-ROM edition of the website, you can use this common form:
Disc title: Version, Date. "Article title," author or translator. Publisher.Some examples:
Access to Insight: CD-ROM version 7.10, October 2007. "Refuge: An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha," Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight.
Access to Insight: CD-ROM version 7.10, October 2007. "Vatthupama Sutta (MN 7)," Nyanaponika Thera, trans. Buddhist Publication Society/Access to Insight.
Many of the books, articles, and translations appearing on this website are also available in print form from various publishers. Here is a partial list of sources for some of these printed books:
|Bodhi, Bhikkhu||A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma||Buddhist Publication Society [Sri Lanka]|
|Boowa, Maha||(various)||Wat Pah Baan Taad Monastery [Thailand]|
|Dune, Ajaan||Gifts He Left Behind||Metta Forest Monastery [USA]|
|Lee, Ajaan||(various)||Metta Forest Monastery [USA]|
|Mahasi Sayadaw||The Progress of Insight||Buddhist Publication Society [Sri Lanka]|
|Narada Thera||Buddhism in a Nutshell|
|Piyadassi Thera||The Book of Protection|
|Soma Thera||The Way of Mindfulness|
|Suwat, Ajaan||A Fistful of Sand||Metta Forest Monastery [USA]|
|Thanissaro Bhikkhu||Handful of Leaves||Sati Center for Buddhist Studies [USA]|
|Dhammapada: A Translation||Metta Forest Monastery [USA]|
|The Mind Like Fire Unbound|
|An Unentangled Knowing|
|Wings to Awakening|
|(various)||The Wheel and Bodhi Leaves Publications||Buddhist Publication Society [Sri Lanka]|
Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the resources to fulfil the many requests for books that I receive from all over the world. There are, however, several publishers of free Dhamma books that would be happy to send you some books free of charge.
There are many online discussion groups that cover Buddhist topics — too many to list here. You'll have to do the research on your own: Google is just a click away.
If you're looking for a Pali discussion group, try here.
There is no Pali script. Pali is a spoken language with no alphabet of its own. Pali texts can be written phonetically using just about any alphabet: Devanagari, Thai, Burmese, Roman, Cyrillic, Klingon, etc. Writing Pali in non-Indic languages, however, often requires the addition of special accents or diacritics to signify certain sounds not represented in the standard alphabet. So, if you are looking for a hand-written version of the word mettā for a tattoo or a painting, it's very easy: you can write it out yourself, in any alphabet you like.
The Pali texts were first written down several centuries after the Buddha's death, at the Fourth Buddhist Council. To see what those early — and beautiful! — written transcriptions look like, visit the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation website. To find a particular word or passage within those ancient manuscripts, you'll have to find a scholar who specializes in them.
Please consider posting your query on an online Pali language forum. There are probably students and scholars there who would be happy to help.
If you're thinking of purchasing your own printed copy of the Tipitaka, be forewarned: the Pali canon is huge; owning a complete set is a serious commitment. The Pali Text Society's edition of the Tipitaka (English translation) fills over 12,000 pages in approximately fifty hardbound volumes, taking up about five linear feet of shelf space, and costing about US$2,000. Moreover, a few of the more obscure books in the Tipitaka are simply unavailable in English translation, so if you really must read the entire Tipitaka, you'll just have to learn Pali. The PTS has for over a century been the leading publisher of the Tipitaka, both in romanized Pali and in English translation, but many of their translations are now badly out of date. Much better translations of several portions of the Canon are now available from other publishers. Here are my recommendations for printed translations that add up to a useful — if incomplete — version of the Tipitaka: