I’m back; with some sad news for sutta-lovers

I’ve been away on retreat for the past couple of weeks. I’m just catching up on things and will find some time for blogging in the next little while, I hope.

Meanwhile, I just noticed what is a sad day for the web: John Bullitt has announced he will retire from Access to Insight. He has built this site, mostly on his own so I understand, for 20 years, and it has always been the default home for Sutta translations on the web. Now he’s retiring and the site will not be developed further. It will remain solely as a static record, but no additions will be made.

I still remember the first day I saw the internet. It was at my sister’s office, here.

She showed me this thing called the “internet”. I asked if we could find any Buddhist suttas, and we immediately came across Access to Insight, and found some suttas there. I was blown away to think that the Buddha’s words could be found anywhere, by anyone!

I don’t know how many people have visited the site, or had the same experience. But it must be millions by now. It shows what an amazing thing can be done by the vision and energy of someone who truly loves the Dhamma. Congratulations to John for his remarkable achievement.

13 thoughts on “I’m back; with some sad news for sutta-lovers

  1. Here here! Sad news indeed! I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent on that website and continue to refer to it on a regular basis. One thing I find amazing is how many translations Thanissoro Bhikkhu has done. We often praise Bhikkhu Bodhi for his work in this area (quite rightly) but I think I have read more translations by Ven Thanissaro than Bhikkhu Bodhi, simply because the Suttas are so readily accessible on this website. Hopefully someone may take over the administration??

  2. A sad day indeed – the site is truly an awesome resource and I am so grateful for the many hours I have spent there enjoying the teachings and learning something new with every visit.

  3. Shows up the advantages of the organisation over the individual. The organisation can outlive the enthusiasms of the individual and carry on with projects that have value.

    • There are always single people and single intentions, nothings else. That is why you should do, and not just encourage or invest into building para-khandhas.
      Many, many single people do outstanding work and if we fall into the modern try of idea creations of synthetic unpersonalized systems, giving death things value, such single individuals will no more appear.
      Such as Sutta central is now somehow the out come of Sujato, and others I do not know so much (it would be good to know them better, their work, their efforts), before it was not and sutta central it self is nothing at. Such is which Accesstoinsight… It might be that different people handle the same field in the jungle, or inherit it. How ever, if not worked, if not done in a good way, fields disappear and it is really difficult to get some land free to start planting the seeds so that it can nourish and give fruits.
      A difficult thing to learn understand and teach. Such are tradition unseen, unloved in the today’s dark times of hunters and collectors.
      How could a hunter or collector ever develop gratitude in direction of the giver? He will not, if he/she is good he develops worshiping and blessing of trees and stones or any kind of Brahma.

      It was up to John Bullitts intention an effort that ATI came to this dimension and you got the share, it was up to single intentions of many people transcript texts, it was up to single intentions that talks and teachings have been given, it was up to single intentions that this teachings have been delivered so many years it was up to the generosity of the Buddha at least. So neither nourish on the ideas that there is no need for gratitude not nourish on the idea that things happen by them selves. Receive what ever gives you a reason to let go and give what ever you can. Consciously, it happens soon and fast that the former field becomes again forest and common ground.

      Bitte schön und Dankeschön.

      Another day, another possibility. We don’t know what tomorrow might be. Don’t fall into the ways of the sectarians.

      What if you sister would never had made this share. Stay away from people of no integrity and gratitude there are many in this realm, honoring things (food).


    • Hi Dheerayupa. I know of at least one offer that was extended to John but no interest was indicated by John of his wish to pass on the administration to another. I feel that perhaps he is satisfied with the size of the sure as it is and is content that the site grow no further in size. If this is true the this seems to be ok, however, I am not sure if he has anyone who can take on just the basic maintenance of the site when he is no longer able to, although as the basic maintenance is fairly easy I don’t see that there would not be at least a few people who would be pleased to do this as it is not an onerous task.

    • The nature of the internet is such that I’m sure the content will be taken, remixed, and reused for a long time to come.

      It seems to me that AtI is a record of a a simpler time; a time when we, as Buddhists in the global community, could see the teachings of the Suttas and the Thai Forest tradition as unproblematically the same, with only a few minor divergences in wording and manner. This synthesis of canonical texts and the practice tradition of north-east Thailand, however, largely exists in the minds of western interpreters. The north-east forest monks, by and large, and in so far as one can generalize about such a diverse community, don’t know what the suttas say, and are not particularly interested.

      It seems to me that as Buddhism evolves globally, we will become more differentiated, more specialized, and it is better to present information in a more focussed way, which makes less assumptions. In a way this is a shame, as we will find that we lose something of the benefits of cross-fertilization and challenge of ideas. Yet it is the price we have to pay for growing up, and learning what the Dhamma means for ourselves. I hope that it is still possible to find useful and meaningful places of synthesis; but these will be hard-won and limited in scope. The days when we could blithely assume that there is a unified movement called the “Forest tradition” made up of monks who were die-hard ascetics wholly bent on recapturing the original essence of the Buddha’s liberation are gone forever.

  4. Ohh this administrating people/”Bhikkhus?”… Do you thing that deleting helps against hiri or was it even not hire but simply aversion (a very subtle cause for aversion is actually hiri, watch it). If there is an aversion against hiri (I know that part of Buddhas teaching is not so popular), that is actually good, but if there is just aversion when hiri arises, that is not good, really not good. Dangerous. One could even do a heavy misdeed such as killing parents and other of those primary people.

    Simple, but difficult as long as stream is not reached, so beware.

    Actually that hiri “stuff” is very important (even if not popular): Governing Principles

    Training does only make sense it it is really done, that means. Correct and once again. If there is no will to train, that it is difficult and one could waste a lot of merits.

    I will not even touch the topic gratitude, that is next on level or maybe goes a little hand in hand.

  5. Sad news indeed. The first few times when I tried to find Buddha words and the website I found was access to insight. I wonder does it require monetary fee for upkeep of the site (yearly fee for domain name) etc? I will find it most worthy to contribute my share.

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