Frequently asked Questions


What is this website? [go up] 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. is one person's website, and is not affiliated with any organization or institution.

In creating this website, my goal was not to build a comprehensive archive of sutta readings, but rather to assemble a modest collection of outstanding suttas that teachers have singled out from among thousands of others as being most worthy of attention. To that end, I invited a number of teachers to choose a few suttas that they believed to be especially significant and useful, and to read them aloud for others to hear.

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 this 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...

How can I contact you? [go up]

See the companion website, Access to Insight, for contact information.

Why is the biographical information about the teachers out of date? [go up]

The information was accurate as of late 2006. Because the site is no longer maintained or updated, all the information remains "as-is" from that time.

May I send you a recording to put on this website? [go up]

This project is closed. I am no longer adding recordings to the site.

Why don't you have such-and-such a sutta? [go up]

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.

I'd like to get in touch with one of the readers. How do I do that? [go up]

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.

Why isn't the reader reading the text exactly as it is printed in the book? [go up]

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.

May I copy these sound files and redistribute them? [go up]

Absolutely, yes — provided you give them away free of charge. Any commercial use of these recordings is strictly a no-no.

How do I download the sound files so I can play them later? [go up]

When you click on a link to a sound file (indicated by [Loudspeaker icon]), 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.

I sometimes hear little clicks, pops, or dropouts while listening with my web browser. What's wrong? [go up]

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).

How did you prepare the sound files? [go up]

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 applied 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, demanded more creative EQ (e.g., the carpet cleaner upstairs in MN 131). I applied a touch of 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.


1. Recordings on the The Suttas page that say "recorded by jtb" are by me.