The Buddha taught in an oral tradition; his teachings were not committed to writing until some centuries later. Today, the spoken word continues to be a primary teaching vehicle and many teachers make their talks available on the web.
The wealth of Dharma resources on the web is astounding, and is increasing all the time. To answer questions of where to find talks, we have compiled this list of major collections. The focus is on Insight Meditation/Vispassana and the Theravada Forest Tradition. There are also extensive resources for other Buddhist traditions such as Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.
In the Theravada Forest and Insight Meditation tradition, the dharma—the body of teachings expounded by the Buddha—is considered priceless and the teachings are offered for free. In this tradition, the teacher is dependent on the generosity of others, and the practice of that generosity is called dana. Most of the web sites offer a way to make a donation should you wish to do so.
Insight Meditation Collections
http://www.audiodharma.org is the audio library from the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA, where Gil Fronsdal is the primary teacher. All talks at the center, and there are several each week, are available. A podcast is available.
http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks has audio files from the Dharma Seed library. Since the early 1980’s, Dharma Seed has collected and distributed dharma talks by teachers transmitting the Vipassana or Insight practices of Theravada Buddhism. Formerly, the recordings were available only on tapes and CDs but are now freely available for download or streaming as digital audio files (in MP3 format). Talks are from as early as 1974 and new recordings are being added continuously from contemporary dharma teachers, both those well-known and those still known only to those who have attended their retreats. Many talks given at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA are in the Dharma Seed library. A podcast is available.
http://www.seattleinsight.org is the home page for Seattle Insight Meditation Society (SIMS), where Rodney Smith is the primary teacher. Talks are organized by teacher and topic. Recent talks are in mp3 files; older talks are in wma files. Click on Talks at the top of the page to see talks by Rodney Smith and by other teachers. The SIMS web site was re-organized in August 2009 and a podcast is now available.
http://www.imcw.org/audio/audioarchives.html has a large number of talks from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington D.C., where Tara Brach is the primary teacher. A podcast is available.
http://www.dharma.org/ims/mr_audio.html includes a few talks from Insight Meditation Society teachers (many more talks are on the dharmaseed web site).
Collections from the Thai Forest Monastery tradition
http://www.watmetta.org is the Metta Forest Monastery, a meditation monastery in the lineage of the Thai Forest Tradition. Founded in 1990 by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, it is currently headed by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajaan Geoff). The monastery is situated near Valley Center, California.
http://www.abhayagiri.org/index.php/main/media has talks from the Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley, CA. This monastery was established by followers of Ajaan Chah, a respected Buddhist master of the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. A podcast is available.
The Birken Forest Monastery in British Columbia has more than 3000 talks given by monastics from Theravada Buddhism in the Thai forest tradition, usually tracing their lineage back through Ajahn Chah. The id3 tags are well organized. I recommend starting with the FAQ page for an introduction to how the talks are organized.
http://www.dhammatalks.org.uk has dhamma talks given by various teachers of the Theravadin Forest Sangha tradition. This website is associated with www.forestsangha.org and these two sites serve as portal pages to the monastic communities of disciples of Venerable Ajahn Chah, particularly in the West. Chanting is also on the web site. A podcast may be available. Many of the talks are also available from the Birken Forest Monastery site.
http://www.satipanya.org.uk/audio.htm has talks by Bhante Bodhidhamma of the Satipanya Buddhist Retreat in the UK. This monastic sangha is informally affiliated to a group of meditation centers in Sri Lanka.
http://www.suttareadings.net is a library of free audio recordings of English translations of Pali suttas, selected and read aloud by respected Dhamma teachers within the Theravada Buddhist tradition.