A Primer in Chinese Buddhist Writings

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.

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 definitions from the glossary. (The latest version of Volume 1 is the PDF version; I need to update the following):


NEWER:  Jeff Jongeward has built a Pleco dictionary for volumes 1, 2 and 3.

NEWESTAudio recordings for Volume 1 are now available.

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 Quizlet.com (search for “Primer in Chinese Buddhist Writings”) which allows the user to learn vocabulary with digital flashcards. (Thanks to Bhikkhu Dhamma-dāsa aka Norman Joseph Smith, for his help with this).

Ch. C. has kindly made available for download audio recordings of the text.

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



Esoteric TextsTranslations



Related Research


— John Kieschnick
john.kieschnick [at] stanford.edu (john[dot]kieschnick[at]stanford[dot]edu)