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DHARMA AUDIOBOOKS is a new audiobook label with a clear brief: to present Buddhist recordings of all kinds – biographies, histories, talks, suttas and sutras from all traditions, commentaries and classic literature by Western Buddhists – in informed and professional productions. The recordings draw on all the main traditions – Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese – as well as the rapidly increasing Western Buddhist tradition and feature some of the leading teachers and writers.

The titles include popular introductions such as Buddhism Plain and Simple and What The Buddha Taught and classic talks such as The Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha to recordings from the Pali Canon, biographies such as Cave In The Snow and The Life of Milarepa. All titles can be downloaded from Audible.

SHŌBŌGENZŌ – THE IMPORTANT SŌTŌ ZEN CLASSIC – RECEIVES ITS WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING ON DHARMA AUDIOBOOKS

Dharma Audiobooks continues with its intention to record the principal Buddhist texts from across the world with the release of Shōbōgenzō, the seminal Sōtō Zen Japanese collection of teachings by the founder of the tradition, Eihei Dōgen. Having spent a considerable time recently on the Pāli Canon, including the Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikāya) and the Connected Discourses Samyutta Nikāya), it should not be so surprising that, 1500 years and more onwards, the Shōbōgenzō feels remarkably different!

Though remaining central Dharma in so many ways, it displays the wonderful versatility of the Buddha’s teachings in the way it has adapted to later times and a very different cultural environment from ancient India!

The Shōbōgenzō, subtitled ‘The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching’, is a collection of 96 Discourses delivered by Dōgen (1200-1253) to his disciples over an extended period of 22 year. They were recorded by his amanuensis, the Second Japanese Sōtō Zen Ancestor, Kōun Ejō. The Discourses cover a wide range of topics including ethics and meditation practice.

Perhaps unexpectedly, considering the apparent formality of Japanese style, the Discourses carry a strong flavour of the conversational and the personal, as the teachings are presented with colourful Chinese and Zen phrases and stories, as well as with medieval Chinese and Japanese colloquialisms.

This recording of the Shōbōgenzō features the fine translation by the Rev. Nearman of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives of the Sōtō Zen tradition, who, based at Shasta Abbey in Northern California, was responsible for a number of key Japanese Zen texts. Rev. Nearman provides not only useful, concise introductions to each of the Discourses, but also copious footnotes clarifying the text, which have been incorporated into the main narrative. This classic Zen text receives an engaged reading from the Los Angeles-based reader Brian Nishii, whose presentation is deepened by his fluency in Japanese and Mandarin. An accompanying PDF is included with the download from Audible, providing a comprehensive glossary of Buddhist terms used in this Dharma Audiobooks recording.

  • In April, Taradasa and I spent eight (very enjoyable) days in our homely studio in Cambridge recording The Long Discourses (Digha Nikāya). We used the new translation by Bhikkhu Sujato who aims to present the Nikāyas in very accessible language…a form suitable for the 21st century, keeping in mind a wide, and not necessarily academic audience. It is being edited as I write this, and should be available on Audible by the end of May, early June.

Nicolas Soames

Nicolas Soames co-founded and ran the award-winning spoken word label Naxos AudioBooks. Over a period of 20 years he built a list of 800 recordings of classics of world literature – from Homer and Dante to Austen, Dickens, James Joyce and Proust.

Dharma Audiobooks was started in 2015, recording Buddhist texts from all traditions and all ages, both ancient and modern. In 2016 he launched Ukemi Audiobooks with the purpose of recording neglected classics mainly from Western traditions – both fiction and non-fiction, ranging from Greek and Latin texts to philosophy (Nietzsche and Schopenhauer), psychology and psychoanalysis (Freud and Jung); and 20th century classics, including Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks and the early novels of Samuel Beckett.