Although the Buddhist teachings on human conduct and relationships are diverse and numerous – according to the suitability for different individuals, communities, and circumstances, and in order to generate wholesome results at various times and in various places – they all converge at the same principles and modes of instruction. All of these teachings encourage people to live and act in harmony with an interrelated natural system functioning according to natural laws. If we are able to follow the guidance of awakened individuals conforming to this natural truth, or if we gain insight into this truth and practise accordingly, we will reap the desired results.

As the basic theoretical Buddhist teachings, which when realized lead to genuine satisfaction, are based on a truth connected to an interrelated natural system, there are additional practical teachings encouraging people to understand this truth. When realization of this natural truth occurs, people can use their understanding to engage with things in order to bring about favourable results, without needing to rely on teachers or external instruction. This is an inherent part of the natural system itself.

These two layers of teaching – the theoretical and the practical – are thus linked and form an integrated body of truth, pertaining directly to a natural order. ’The One Who Knows’, i.e. the Buddha, simply encouraged people to give heed to this truth of nature, so that they would realize it for themselves.

By clearly realizing this natural truth, one is no longer dependent on the advice and counsel of others. Buddhism thus contains no form of coercion; it neither forces anyone to believe in the teachings, nor is it troubled if people reject the teachings. It follows the principle that all things proceed naturally according to an interrelated system of causes and conditions. Having realized and discovered this truth for himself, the Buddha out of kindness and compassion gave instruction and guidance to others.

This book Buddhadhamma is an attempt to describe the Buddha’s teachings – which he systematized and set down as standard principles – on both levels: the basic theoretical teachings on truth and the practical teachings on personal conduct and social engagement, which are directly based on the theoretical teachings.

For many years, Khun Yongyut Thanapura has devoted himself to propagating the Dhamma. Towards the end of 1985, through his own initiative, he and other faithful lay supporters founded the Buddhadhamma Foundation. Although this foundation has no direct affiliation to the book Buddhadhamma or to its author, the foundation’s name was most likely chosen as a result of their sense of spiritual connection to this book.

As far as I am aware, from 1992 to the present – for almost twenty-three years – Khun Yongyut Thanapura has endeavoured to bring about an English translation of Buddhadhamma. He sponsored this work unremittingly, until erelong, two translated books were published: Good, Evil and Beyond: Kamma in the Buddha’s Teaching (translated by Bruce Evans, January 1993) – a translation of chapter 5 of Buddhadhamma titled ’Kamma’; and Dependent Origination: The Buddhist Law of Conditionality (translated by Bruce Evans, 1994) – a translation of chapter 4 of Buddhadhamma titled ’Paṭiccasamuppāda’.

Khun Yongyut Thanapura, the president of the Buddhadhamma Foundation, was determined to bring about a complete English translation of Buddhadhamma, containing all the chapters. Although he met with much difficulty and obstruction, spending a lot of money and having to wait a long period of time, he was undaunted and did not give up. The result is that now, after many years, a complete translated English edition is ready for publication.

The complete English translation of Buddhadhamma is the work of Mr. Robin Moore, who has been working on this translation for many years. Before working with the Buddhadhamma Foundation, while he was still ordained as a monk named Suriyo Bhikkhu, through his own enthusiasm, he began to translate these texts and published The Three Signs: Anicca, Dukkha, and Anattā in the Buddha’s Teachings, a translation of chapter 3 of Buddhadhamma titled ’The Three Characteristics’. On that occasion, in 2006, Khun Sirichan Bhirombhakdi and her two daughters, Khun Chuabchan and Khun Pornbhirom Bhirombhakdi, sponsored this publication for free distribution.

After leaving the monkhood, Mr. Robin Moore continued the translations of Buddhadhamma under the patronage of Khun Sirichan Bhirombhakdi and her two daughters, who published the following books for free distribution: Nibbāna: the Supreme Peace (2009; a compilation of material drawn primarily from chapters 6, 7 and 10 of Buddhadhamma on Nibbāna); Dependent Origination (2011; a translation of chapter 4 of Buddhadhamma titled ’Paṭiccasamuppāda’); and Awakened Beings: True Disciples of the Buddha (2014; a compilation of material drawn primarily from chapters 6, 7 and 18 of Buddhadhamma on enlightened beings). On this occasion it is thus appropriate to express a deep gratitude to Khun Sirichan Bhirombhakdi and her two daughters for supporting this translation work and giving the gift of Dhamma by publishing and distributing the translated editions of Buddhadhamma. Their efforts have nourished and sustained this translation work until it was linked with the project sponsored by the Buddhadhamma Foundation, thus helping to bring about this complete translated edition.

Over more than a decade that Mr. Robin Moore has been working on this project of translating Buddhadhamma, I am aware that Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro – through his kindness towards the translator, his love of Dhamma, and his wish to benefit students of Buddhism – has offered his assistance, both in terms of his knowledge of Dhamma and his linguistic skills, to the translator all through to the end. Here, I wish to acknowledge this kind, able, and virtuous assistance by Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro.

I wish to congratulate Khun Yongyut Thanapura, both for his individual efforts and his work as director of the Buddhadhamma Foundation. He has shown enduring charitableness towards Buddha-Dhamma, and has maintained fortitude, constancy, and perseverance, braving hardship and difficulty until the goal of completing the translation of Buddhadhamma has been achieved. He has played an important part in sustaining Buddhist study and practice and has spread the blessings stemming from the Dhamma on a wide scale.

On a similar note, I wish to express gratitude to Mr. Robin Moore, the translator, whose genuine and faultless efforts have brought this translation of Buddhadhamma to completion. These efforts have deservedly generated and radiated goodness and wholesomeness.

The original Thai edition of Buddhadhamma was written as an offering and dedication to the true Dhamma. As I mentioned in the ’Brief on Copyright of Translated Material’ (Nov. 9, 2009): ’All of my books are intended as a gift of the Dhamma, to be printed for free distribution, for the benefit of the wider public. There are no copyright fees for these books. If someone appreciates these books and with pure intent wishes to translate and share them … this is a way to propagate the Dhamma and perform good deeds for a wider audience. People engaged in such translations must rely on their skill and proficiency, and expend much time and energy…. The copyright to these translated works can thus be considered as belonging to the translator.’ What the translator then wishes to do with these translated texts is his or her responsibility to take into further consideration.

I wish to thank everyone who has participated in helping to bring this translated book into tangible form. May these efforts help to foster goodness and wellbeing, enhance spiritual development, and generate wisdom for all human beings, and help to create a stable and true human civilization.

Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P. A. Payutto)
21 November 2015