The Long Discourses of the Buddha - Preface

A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya

The two main reasons for making this translation of some of the oldest Buddhist scriptures are: (1) The spread of Buddhism as a serious way of life in the Western world, and of even more widespread serious interest in it as a subject worthy of close study, and (2) the fact that English is now effectively the world language, the most widespread linguistic vehicle for all forms of communication. True, the Pali scriptures have already been translated in almost their entirety into English, mainly through the devoted efforts of the Pali Text Society, which has now entered into the second century of its activity. But existing translations are now dated stylistically as well as containing many errors and a modem version has therefore become necessary.

First, and foremost, the entire merit for this translation belongs to the Venerable Balangoda Ānandamaitreya Mahā Nāyaka Thera, Aggamahāpaṇḍita (though he has, of course, no need of such puñña) for having convinced me that I could, and therefore of course should, undertake this task. To me there remains merely the demerit of its many imperfections. Work­ ing on it has provided me with much joy, solace and illumination.

My particular thanks for help and encouragement are due, besides the illustrious and (in all senses) venerable gentleman just mentioned, to the Ven. Dr. H. Saddhātissa, a friend of many years' standing from whom I have learnt so much, the Ven. Nyāṇaponika who inspired an earlier, more modest venture in translation, the Ven. Dr. W. Rahula who guided my early, faltering steps in Pali, as well as the Ven. P. Vipassi and Messrs KR. Norman and L.S. Cousins, whose collective brains I have picked on knotty points. It is fitting also to pay tribute here to the Ven. Achaan Cha (Bodhinaṇa Thera) and his illustrious pupil Achaan Sumedho, whose efforts in establishing a flourishing branch of the Sangha in Britain have made such translation work all the more necessary; and others please note! much remains to be done in this field.

My principles of translation are briefly discussed in the Introduction. I am aware of a few trifling inconsistencies as well as a few repetitions in the notes. The former will, I think, cause no inconvenience: they were hard to avoid altogether in this, quite possibly the last, translation these scriptures will receive without benefit of electronic gadgetry. And as for the repetitions, these can perhaps be overlooked in connection with a text which is itself so repetitious.

My sincere thanks are due to Wisdom Publications for producing this book so splendidly, and to the Buddhist Society of Great Britain for a generous donation towards costs.
 

Maurice Walshe
St. Albans
Hertfordshire
England
January 1986

How to cite this document:
© Maurice Walshe, authors. The Long Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 1987, 1995, 2012)

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