This site offers an extensive collection of English translations of suttas from the Pāli Canon, as well as a multitude of free downloads of Dhamma from the Kammaṭṭhāna (or Thai Forest) Tradition of Buddhism. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu of Metta Forest Monastery is the speaker, author or translator unless otherwise noted.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Phra Ajaan Geoff)
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff) is an American Buddhist monk of the Kammatthana (Thai Forest) Tradition. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1971 with a degree in European Intellectual History, he traveled to Thailand, where he studied meditation under Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, himself a student of the late Ajaan Lee. He ordained in 1976 and lived at Wat Dhammasathit, where he remained following his teacher's death in 1986. In 1991 he traveled to the hills of San Diego County, USA, where he helped Ajaan Suwat Suvaco establish Metta Forest Monastery (Wat Mettavanaram). He was made abbot of the Monastery in 1993.
Kammatthana: Literally, “basis of work” or “place of work.” The term is most often used specifically to identify the Thai Forest Tradition, i.e., the forest tradition lineage founded by Phra Ajaans Mun and Sao. For an introduction to the history of the Kammatthana Tradition, see the essay “The Customs of the Noble Ones,” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatto (1870-1949)
Ajaan Mun was born in 1870 in Baan Kham Bong, a farming village in Ubon Ratchathani province, northeastern Thailand. Ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1893, he spent the remainder of his life wandering through Thailand, Burma, and Laos, dwelling for the most part in the forest, engaged in the practice of meditation. He attracted an enormous following of students and, together with his teacher, Phra Ajaan Sao Kantasilo Mahathera (1861-1941), established the Kammatthana Tradition that subsequently spread throughout Thailand and to several countries abroad. He passed away in 1949 at Wat Suddhavasa, Sakon Nakhorn province.
Phra Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo (1907-1961)
Ajaan Lee was one of the foremost teachers in the Thai forest ascetic tradition of meditation founded at the turn of the century by his teacher, Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatto. His life was short but eventful. Known for his skill as a teacher and his mastery of supranatural powers, he was the first to bring the ascetic tradition out of the forests of the Mekhong basin and into the mainstream of Thai society in central Thailand.
Phra Ajaan Fuang Jotiko (1915-1986)
Ajaan Fuang was one of Ajaan Lee’s most devoted students, spending some 24 rains retreats in the company of his renowned teacher. After Ajaan Lee’s death, Ajaan Fuang continued on at Wat Asokaram, Ajaan Lee’s bustling monastery near Bangkok. A true forest monk at heart, Ajaan Fuang left Wat Asokaram in 1965 in search of greater solitude more conducive to meditation, and ultimately ended up at Wat Dhammasathit in Rayong province, where he lived as abbot until his death in 1986.
Phra Ajaan Suwat Suvaco (1919-2002)
Born on August 29, 1919, Ajaan Suwat ordained at the age of 20 and became a student of Ajaan Funn Acaro two or three years later. He also studied briefly with Ajaan Mun. Following Ajaan Funn’s death in 1977, Ajaan Suwat stayed on at the monastery to supervise his teacher’s royal funeral and the construction of a monument and museum in Ajaan Funn’s honor. In the 1980’s Ajaan Suwat came to the United States, where he established four monasteries: one near Seattle, Washington; two near Los Angeles; and one in the hills of San Diego County (Metta Forest Monastery). He returned to Thailand in 1996, and died in Buriram on April 5, 2002 after a long illness.
The best introductions to the Dhamma are The Buddha’s Teachings, a short introduction to the basic concepts and values underlying Buddhist practice; Noble Strategy, a collection of essays about Buddhism by Thanissaro Bhikkhu; Awareness Itself, a collection of short teachings by Ajaan Fuang, Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s teacher; and Refuge, a compilation of essays and scriptures from the Pali Canon addressing basic elements of the Buddhist Path.
The best starting point for learning breath meditation is the new book, With Each & Every Breath. The other fundamental guide to breath meditation is Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee.
The Dhammapada, the Udana, and the Itivuttaka are all excellent gateways to the Pali Canon.
The Wings to Awakening
Not for beginners, but the essential guide to practicing the Buddhist Path, following the Buddha’s own summary of his teachings, is The Wings to Awakening.
The Basics collection is a graduated series of 10-15 minute Dhamma talks addressing many areas of the practice. Any of the Dhamma talks can be played initially during meditation to provide guidance and ideas for experimentation. Alternatively, the Guided Meditations collection provides a few variations of a longer guided meditation providing more structure.
I’m having trouble downloading files.
Some people have downloading problems with the large .zip archives. Internet connections are often interrupted, and the download managers in web browsers are bad at resuming downloads. The download either fails, or it “completes” but is corrupted. If you're internet connection is bad, it’s recommended to use a download accelerator. These do a much better job at resuming interrupted downloads and leaving you with uncorrupted files. Some of these download accelerators are available as extensions to your web browser. Others are stand alone applications. An excellent free one that works on Windows, Android, and Linux is Uget.
What is an RSS feed?
An RSS feed is a simple list of new content to this site that your browser or feed reader will automatically check for updates. Then that list will be accessible from, ususally, your browser toolbar as a dropdown menu. Since the RSS feed is just a small text (xml) file, it doesn’t use as much bandwidth to check for new content as would visiting the site periodically to check for new content. Each item link in the feed’s list will open the location on dhammatalks.org where you can download the referenced content.
How do I subscribe to the RSS feed?
If you use Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers just left-click on the “subscribe” link and everything should be straightforward. Google Chrome doesn’t have an RSS feed reader, but you can get an add-on, such as Feedly, from the app store. This feed is RSS 2.0 but also ought to work with “atom” readers.
Are there any accessibility options for the vision impaired?
Many of these books can be downloaded in DAISY 3.0 and Braille Ready Format (BRF) formats directly from bookshare.org without any requirement of membership.
Which ebook format do I need?
The epub format works for most e-readers, such as Android, iPhone, iPad, Nook, Sony, Adobe Digital Editions, desktop and laptop computers, among others. But not Kindles! Kindles use either the azw3 or mobi format.
What’s the difference between the azw3 and mobi formats?
The azw3 and mobi are Amazon’s proprietary formats for Kindles. The azw3 is a big improvement over the mobi, and Kindles can finally benefit from the intended formatting and fonts. Amazon, however, does not (yet?) support the azw3 in the Kindle Personal Documents Service, so reportedly manual (usb) uploading to the Kindle device is still necessary. The mobi format will continue to be made available until Amazon fully supports the azw3.
What are the disadvantages of the pdf format?
The pdf format is the old standard and should be supported by all devices. The primary disadvantage of pdfs relative to epub, azw3 and mobi, however, is you cannot enlarge the font size without the text overflowing off the edge of the screen. That can make it quite challenging to read on small devices. Additionally, with the large ebooks, ones with 1,000 or 2,000 pages, your device might freeze or struggle to scroll through the pdf. Because of the way they’re constructed, that won’t happen with the other ebook formats.
I want to read the ebooks on my desktop or laptop computer. Which format should I get?
Epub. The epubs have the intended fonts and formatting because of the capabilities of the epub format itself and because the ebooks from this website were created originally as epubs. The mobis, on the other hand, are just push-button conversions from the epubs using the Calibre application. While the mobis are fully functional, no additional effort is put into correcting their formatting for the Kindle. It’s a credit to Calibre that they come out looking as well as they do. The original formatting and fonts are available on a Kindle by using the azw3 format, which is almost identical to the original epub version.
Is there any free software so I can read ebooks on my computer?
There are a number free reader apps. Purely for reading epubs, Adobe Digital Editions has a slick interface. Calibre is a more comprehensive option which allows for converting to other formats. There are also a Sony Reader app and a Nook-for-PC app. These might be of interest if you also have one of those devices for purposes of syncing. Kindle-for-PC reads mobis but is not recommended.
How can I get paperback versions of these books?
Please see the book request list for instructions. Please do not contact the website administrator via email to request books. Such requests will be disregarded.
I’m having trouble downloading mobi files.
Case 1: Instead of downloading the mobi file, the Safari browser tries to open it as web page. Answer: I was able to download the files on Safari by clicking on them while holding down the "option" button. Using Firefox instead of Safari also takes care of the problem. Based on a little research I did, it seems like the mobi as HTML problem on Safari is nothing new.
Case 2: The mobi downloads as a .txt file using a Samsung Galaxy tablet running Android 4.2.2. Answer: I noticed the url contained the mobi extension, but when I download it, it gets changed to a .txt extension. Manually renaming the file from filename.txt to filename.mobi fixes the problem, and it opens up in Kindle just fine.
How do I stream (listen to) the mp3 audio files?
The little orange “play” button will open your browser’s media player on the page. The little orange “close” button will stop playback.
How do I download the mp3 audio files?
If you click on the name of the talk or chant, the link will automatically tell your browser to download the file. If it still insists on streaming the talk, such as in Firefox, right-click the link to get a menu where you can choose download. Also, double check that your browser’s privacy extensions or settings are not interfering.
What happened to the full year zip archives?
Because hard drive space is expensive on a hosted web server, it was costly to store those large archives for the downloading convenience of a small number of users. It shouldn’t be too difficult to build a local collection by downloading the full month zip archives. In any case, there are advantages, since there is a much smaller chance of ending up with a corrupt file downloading ten 150 MB archives than a single 1.5 GB one.
What do “med-fi” “low-fi” “NR”, “oly”, & “sony” mean in some talk titles?
Please note that mp3 files with an “NR” or “(oly)” notation indicate recordings of somewhat lower audio quality -- “NR” for applied “Noise-Reduction” and “(oly)” for “Olympus,” an inferior recording device at the Monastery. Any of these could also be labelled “low-fi.” “(Sony)” is similar to “(oly),” but the audio quality is more acceptable. More recently the Sony device has been labelled “med-fi.”