Access to Insight

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Access to Insight
Web address
Commercial? No
Type of site Informational resource on Buddhism
Launched 1993
Alexa rank positive decrease 132,033 (April 2014)[1]

Access to Insight is a popular Theravada Buddhist website providing access to a huge collection of translated texts from the Tipitaka, as well as contemporary materials published by the Buddhist Publication Society and many teachers from the Thai Forest Tradition.

Access to Insight began in 1993 as a bulletin board system run by John Bullitt with support from the Barre Insight Meditation Center. Originally, Access to Insight was one of several publishers of the results of the DharmaNet Dharma Book Transcription Project. As the internet grew in popularity compared to bulletin board services, ATI began to transition to a web-based format. In March 1995 the website became ATI's primary electronic presence; the BBS service was discontinued before the end of the year. In 1998, Access to Insight published a CD version of the website entitled A Handful of Leaves.

All of the materials available on the ATI website are provided for free distribution. They remain protected by copyright, but can be copied and distributed provided that the user does not modify the text or charge a fee.

ATI offers a wide-ranging selection of texts from the Tipitaka, with an emphasis on conveying the fundamental ideas of the Buddha's teaching, and teachings which have direct applicability to daily lay life. The majority of the canonical texts are drawn from the Sutta Pitaka, with a smaller selection of works dealing with the Vinaya Pitaka, and little or nothing from the Abhidhamma Pitaka and the commentaries. In addition to texts from the Pali Canon, ATI includes a large collection of published works from the Buddhist Publication Society, as well as a variety of teachings that were translated from Thai by the Western-born Thanissaro Bhikkhu, abbot of the Metta Forest Monastery near San Diego, California.

Currently, the materials available at Access to Insight include over 900 sutta texts and several hundred books and articles, with translations and books being contributed by a number of monks and lay scholars. Most texts are available as both HTML and plain text. You can download the whole site in a zip file.

In the spring of 2005, John Bullitt began The Dhamma Transcription Project, which formalizes transcription procedures that he had been following over the past few years. The basic aim of the project is to transcribe into digital form high-quality free Dhamma books that have been previously published, but which are out of print or otherwise hard to find, and to distribute those transcriptions freely via the Internet. Volunteers transcribe these works, chosen from a list posted on the web site.

In February 2006 a sister website was born. This website offers 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. The suttas in this library were hand-picked by the teachers themselves, which means that, although the collection may be small, it contains some of the most important suttas in the entire Pali Canon.

In October 2013 John Bullitt announced on the Access to Insight website several key measures in streamlining the project, with several changes that will be implemented during the last quarter of 2013.

After 20 years of generously serving the international Buddhist Community, John Bullitt finally declared on December 10th, 2013 his withdrawl from further contributions and encouraged his devoted visitors to make more out of his gift by the development of online tools for Dhamma studies ( "A Parting Note to ATI Techies"). He also inferred, as a side comment, an invitation to support the future maintenance of a commercial-free search engine solution as his longtime USD$1500/year financial support would run out soon.

Use in Buddhist community[edit]

Access to Insight is well known to students of Buddhism[2] around the world. For example, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, although he does not have Internet access, proclaims it as a valuable resource,[3] and Bhikku Bodhi's acclaimed translation of the Pali Canon also recommends it .[4] It has been cited in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics,[5] Multi-Ethnic Children's Literature[6] and Cross-Cultural Research.[7]

It is also cited in several standard textbooks used in teaching Buddhism.[8][9][10][11][12][13]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ Charles S. Prebish, Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America. University of California Press, 1999. p. 226.
  3. ^ Thanissaro Bhikkhu. "Thai forest monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu answers questions from Tricycle readers." Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
  4. ^ Bhikkhu Bodhi. In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon. Wisdom Publications, 2005. p. 495.
  5. ^ Avoiding Unintended Harm to the Environment and the Buddhist Ethic of Intention. Journal of Buddhist Ethics
  6. ^ Jarasa Kanok. "Translations and Transformations: Thai Texts for Children in the USA". Multi-Ethnic Children's Literature 27.2.
  7. ^ Michael Minkov. "Self-Enhancement and Self-Stability Predict School Achievement at the National Level." Cross-Cultural Research 42. May 2008. pp. 172 - 196.
  8. ^ Sonam Thakchoe. The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way. Wisdom Publications, 2007. p. xv.
  9. ^ John J. Holder, Early Buddhist Discourses. Hackett Publishing, 2006. p. 214.
  10. ^ Kevin Trainor. Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide. Oxford University Press US, 2004. p. 244.
  11. ^ Wendy Cadge. Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America. University of Chicago Press, 2004. p. 227.
  12. ^ Richard H. Seager. Buddhism in America. Columbia University Press, 2000. p. 264.
  13. ^ Christopher W. Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha. Routledge, 2003. p. 201.

External links[edit]