- What is this website?
- How can I contact you?
- What's the relationship between SuttaReadings and Access to Insight?
- Why don't you have such-and-such a sutta?
- Why don't you have any readings by so-and-so?
- May I send you a recording to put on the website?
- Why isn't the reader reading the text exactly as it is printed in the book?
- Where can I find more audio Dhamma recordings?
- How do I download the sound files so I can play them later?
- May I copy these sound files and redistribute them?
- What is the RSS newsfeed () and how do I use it?
- I sometimes hear little clicks, pops, or dropouts while listening with my web browser. What's wrong?
- I have a question about Buddhism. Can you help me?
- I'd like to get in touch with one of the readers. How do I do that?
- How did you prepare the sound files?
SuttaReadings.net is a library of free audio recordings of English translations of Pali suttas, selected and read aloud by respected Dhamma teachers within the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
SuttaReadings.net is one person's website, and is not affiliated with any organization or institution.
My goal here is not to build a comprehensive archive of sutta readings. Instead, I hope to assemble a modest collection of outstanding suttas that teachers — our wise Dhamma elders, our learned kalyanamittas — have singled out from among thousands of others as being most worthy of attention and most expeditious in instilling Right View and in guiding the listener further along the Path. To that end, I have begun inviting teachers to choose a few suttas that they believe to be especially significant and useful, and to read them aloud for others to hear.
As this collection slowly grows over time, I hope it will become representative of the broad spectrum of voices — both literal and figurative — within Theravada Buddhism: male and female; old and young; monastic and lay; Western and Asian; well-known and reclusive. Our voices may differ, but in the words of the suttas we find a common tongue.
The Dhamma has always been essentially an oral tradition. Since the Buddha's day, generations of teachers have passed down the teachings to their students by way of the spoken word and through their living example. Although written sutta translations are invaluable in the careful study of Dhamma, rich new layers of meaning often emerge when hearing those same suttas read aloud. I am often astounded at how immediately and deeply the meaning of a sutta — even one I've read many times before — can penetrate my stubborn heart when I finally make the time to listen to it.
I invite you to download these readings, settle down in a quiet place with your laptop or iPod, close your eyes, rest your attention lightly on your breath, and open your ears. Imagine yourself in a peaceful forest setting on a warm day, sitting under the cooling shade of a tree, as the Buddha himself takes a breath and begins to speak...
You can reach me (John Bullitt), via e-mail at john [AT] accesstoinsight [DOT] org or via postal mail at:
P.O. Box 37
Milbridge, ME 04658
Or you can visit » my website.
Although I manage both websites, they are two separate projects. » Access to Insight is devoted to the printed word; SuttaReadings to the spoken.
At the moment, I am collecting recordings by invitation only. This is both to keep the focus of the project clear and to keep it to a manageable scale.
It is up to the readers (the teachers) to decide which suttas should be included here. That's what makes this project unique.
If you'd like to explore more suttas, you'll find plenty more to choose from at »Access to Insight.
It's much easier to maintain a high standard of quality when a project like this is allowed to grow slowly. So please be patient.
If you are a senior English-speaking Dhamma teacher and you haven't heard from me yet, please be patient: you may be hearing from me soon. :)
On the The Readers page, you'll find website URLs and other publicly available information that can help you locate the reader. I do not give out e-mail addresses or other private contact information.
Occasionally a reader omits small portions of the text that, in his or her opinion, would distract from the key teaching of the sutta or interfere with the flow of the text to the modern listener's ears. This is the teachers' prerogative. Similarly, readers may sometimes replace the translation of a word with an alternative one that they believe better captures the intended meaning of the sutta. Remember that translation is an art, not a science — especially when the texts concern ineffable aspects of the human heart.
There are many websites that offer downloadable audio Dhamma. For a partial list of such sites, see »Access to Insight's "Audio recordings and streams" page.
Absolutely, yes — provided you give them away free of charge. Any commercial use of these recordings is strictly a no-no.
RSS ("Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication") is a simple yet powerful technology widely used by news organizations (e.g., the » BBC and » The New York Times) to keep their online readers up-to-date. The same technology can also alert you when new recordings appear on SuttaReadings, without you actually having to keep checking the website.
Here's how to do it:
- 1. Get an RSS newsreader
- A newsreader is a small, easy-to-use program that runs on your computer, in the background, while you go about your business. Its job is to quietly keep track of RSS websites that you like and to alert you when they post announcements to RSS subscribers like you. In SuttaReadings's case, you will be alerted whenever I add a new recording to the website. Once alerted, you can get the full story either by following a link from the newsreader itself or by visiting SuttaReadings.
Which newsreader should you get? I can't tell you. There are dozens of them. Some are free, some are shareware. I can't possibly evaluate them all and make intelligent recommendations. Of the various newsreaders I've tried for the Macintosh (OS X), two stand out as particularly easy to use: NetNewsWire Lite (free) and » NewsFire (alas, no longer free). Also, the » Firefox web browser supports "live bookmarks" that allow you to subscribe to RSS sites with a single click. For help finding a newsreader, try this » Google search.
- 2. Subscribe
- Follow your newsreader's instructions on subscribing. This is very simple. Depending on which reader you have, you may either have to (a) visit the SuttaReadings home page and click a button on your newsreader; (b) visit the home page and click the RSS icon (); (c) type in the SuttaReadings URL (http://www.suttareadings.net) by hand; or (d) some other equally simple procedure. Either way, it's easy.
- 3. Sit back and relax
- Your newsreader will let you know when anything new appears on SuttaReadings.
When you click on a link to a sound file (indicated by ), your browser will probably start playing it immediately, using its mp3 plugin (for example, QuickTime). If you'd prefer to save the sound file for later use, simply right-click (Windows) or control-click (Macintosh) on the link and follow your browser's prompts to save the file to your hard disk. Once the mp3 file has finished downloading to your hard disk, you can use your favorite mp3 software to play the file. Not sure how to do that? Just double-click on the mp3 file and your computer should launch the appropriate sound player program.
Fortunately, there's nothing wrong with the sound files. It's a common problem that occurs when you play an mp3 file in a web browser before the file has finished loading into the browser. If you find it annoying, you can either wait for the file to load completely or download the sound file to your hard disk and play it using some other mp3 player program (such as iTunes).
Note to techies: If you have any suggestions for how the recordings or mp3 files could be improved, please let me know!
- In those readings that I personally recorded1 I used a »Sennheiser MKH 418S P48 mid-side stereo shotgun mic pointed at the reader's mouth, about 6" away, and about 30° off-axis. I used a »Marantz PMD670 solid state digital recorder, saving the audio as uncompressed (44.1kHz/16 bit) .wav files. (This all may be overkill for mp3 speech files, but I prefer to start with the cleanest signal possible.) Files that are sent to me are typically recorded direct to mp3, using a home PC or MD recorder, using whatever mic is available.
- I edit the audio (mono) using »ProTools LE 7.0 on a Macintosh. After editing out the glitches, I generally apply a high-pass rumble filter (60Hz @ 6dB/octave) and a low-pass filter (~ 6kHz @ 6dB/octave) to soften the high end for cheapo computer speakers. Some recording environments, of course, demand more creative EQ (e.g., the carpet cleaner upstairs in MN 131). I apply a little (a little!) compression before normalizing.
- MP3 conversion
- 22.05kHz@48kHz bitrate (constant) seems to give a reasonable tradeoff between file size and sound quality. I hope Sennheiser will forgive me.