choir and orchestra
We connect to our traditions primarily through the stories told in works of art: film, novels, and music. Traditions are lost when those stories go untold. As a practicing Buddhist since 2005, I have longed to bring the teachings of early Buddhism to life in my music. While there are biblically-inspired operas, oratorios, and cantatas like Messiah, Samson and Delilah, Moses und Aron, and others, we don’t hear the equally compelling stories of Sappadāsa, Ambapāli, or Bhaddā.
The words of The Path are from the Pāli canon, the most ancient extant Buddhist texts. These texts includes stories, poems, philosophy, practice instructions, and homey wisdom of the Buddha and the first generations of Buddhists. I am deeply aware of the risks of misrepresentation and cultural appropriation, and I do not take this project lightly. I have taken great care to honor generations of Buddhists from all over the world that venerate these scriptures by working steadily and respectfully to understand the meaning and the intention of the words I have set. I read the Dhamma daily and try to live my life by these teachings. The Buddha himself taught that the Dhamma should be shared with people of all cultures and could be recited and taught in the local language. The Path is a deeply personal exploration of my own understanding of Buddhist thought and belief, but I also seek to show that so many of the questions we have, struggles we face, and sources of inspiration we rely on were as powerful and relevant 2500 years ago as they are today.
The need for a new translation arose from my desire to make an English translation that was more easily accessible to a non-Buddhist audience and to make a rendering that is better sung than read or chanted. While this translation aims more for poetry than word-by-word rendering, I have nevertheless always striven for accuracy. I have also minimized technical and unusual vocabulary.
I would very much like to acknowledge the debt I have to previous translators of the text used in this work, especially Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Sujato. A very big thanks to Anton Armstrong, Mark Stover, and Steve Amundson for their incredible efforts in bringing this piece to life. Finally, I would like to thank my teacher Bhante Sathi for his help with this project and all of his good works. Their help was invaluable. However, all errors are entirely my own.