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A Primer in Chinese Buddhist Writings

NEW: Alex Amies has prepared a web-based version for volumes 1 and 2. Unlike the version below, which is a simple PDF for download, this version allows you to hover over characters to see their definition from the glossary.


These are materials I have compiled for students and scholars to learn to read Buddhist texts in Chinese. This is very much a work in progress; suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Introductory Texts

The first volume does not assume any knowledge of Chinese, but may be of use to even advanced readers of classical Chinese unfamiliar with Buddhist texts. The second volume builds on the first, continuing to focus on texts originating in India. The third volume introduces texts composed in China.

Volume 1: Foundations
English Translation Key for Volume 1

Volume 2: The Indian Tradition
English Translation Key for Volume 2

Volume 3: Buddhist Texts Composed in China
English Translation Key for Volume 3

Note: The vocabulary for Volume 1 can be found in (search for “Primer in Chinese Buddhist Writings”) which allows the user to learn vocabulary with digital flashcards. (Thanks to Bhikkhu Dhamma-dāsa for his help with this).

For Volume 3, flashcards are available through “Anki.” To use these, you can  download the Anki program to your device here ( Once you have done that, download the file for the  Volume 3 vocabulary here. (Thanks to Simon Wiles for setting this up).


Mahāyāna: Texts, Annotations, Translations

Esoteric Texts, Translations



— John Kieschnick