Selected references on Buddhist practice

Here are some books about Buddhism and its practitioners. Also included are some books on spiritual masters who were not Buddhists with a capital B.

Chadwick, David. 1999.
Crooked cucumber. New York: Broadway Books.
A biography, by a senior student, of
Shunryu Suzuki, the author of the classic "Zen mind, beginner's mind."

Glassmann, Bernard and Rick Fields. 1996.
Instructions to the cook. A Zen master's lessons in living a life that matters. New York: Bell Tower.
A very "American" approach to Soto Zen. The folks at
Project H.O.M.E. here in Philadelphia do similar work.

Gunaratana, Henepola. 1991.
Mindfulness in plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
A lucid introduction to meditation, focusing on the practice of insight (Vipassana) meditation. The author is the founder of the Bhavana Society (a forest monastery and retreat center in the Theravada tradition, located in West Virginia).

Gunaratana, Henepola. 2001.
Eight mindful steps to happiness. Boston: Wisdom Publications
A sequel to the 1991 classic by the same author.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. 1975.
The miracle of mindfulness. Boston: Beacon Press.
A classic by the great Vietnamese Zen teacher and founder of
Plum Village. As a result of the Vietnam War, Thich Nhat Hanh's connections with U.S. Buddhism have been strong and deep, as is evident from the Plum Village site.

Huber, Cheri. 1995.
Trying to be human. Edited by Sara Jenkins. Lake Junaluska, NC: Present Perfect Books.
One of many, many helpful books by an American Zen original.

Khema, Ayya. 1987.
Being nobody, going nowhere. Meditations on the Buddhist path. Boston: Wisdom Publications.

Ladner, Lorne.
I haven't read this book myself, but it was described and recommended to me by a student as follows. Written by a student of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, this book introduces the ideas of compassion and loving-kindness, while making connections between Buddhist practice and tradition and ideas from psychology familiar to many people in the West. Great coverage of the topic of compassion towards one's self.

McDonald, Kathleen. 1984.
How to meditate. A practical guide. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
Focuses on meditation practice in the Tibetan tradition. Particularly helpful is the chapter on dealing with the afflictive emotions (anger, depression, and so on).

Osborne, Arthur. 1973.
Ramana Maharshi and the path of self-knowledge. New York: Weisner.
Ramana Maharshi was not a Buddhist with a capital B, but he was one of the great spiritual geniuses of the 20th century.

Peace Pilgrim.
Peace Pilgrim: Her life and work in her own words
This is the story of a homegrown American saint. Peace Pilgrim wasn't a Buddhist with a capital B (as far as I know), but she walked the walk. The text of the book used to be available online, but no longer is. However, you can get an excellent sense of Peace Pilgrim's message from her Steps towards inner peace.

Rahula, Walpola. 1974.
What the Buddha taught. New York: Grove Press. Revised and expanded edition with texts from Suttas and Dhammapada.
Focuses on the philosophical concepts underlying Buddhist meditation practice. The section on reincarnation is murky, but otherwise the book is very clear.

Rosenberg, Larry (with David Guy). 1998.
Breath by breath: the liberating practice of insight liberation. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
Focuses on the practice of insight (Vipassana) meditation, with particular reference to carrying the practice into daily life. Structured around one of the most famous of the Buddha's suttas, the Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Sutta.

Smith, David. 1999.
A record of awakening. Practice and insight on the Buddhist path. Birmingham: Windhorse.
Not always easy to understand (at least for one who isn't awakened herself), but a very interesting record of the enlightenment journey of a British gardener, now living in London, with spiritual roots in both Zen and Theravada.

Suzuki, Shunryu. 1970.
Zen mind, beginner's mind. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill.
A classic by the founder of the
San Francisco Zen Center, which has had enormous influence on the flowering of Zen, and Buddhism more generally, in the United States.

Williams, Mark, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
I haven't read this book myself, but it was described and recommended to me by a student as follows. Written by four clinicians who have found Buddhist ideas applicable to their practice, this book is targeted twoards people experiencing depression or anxiety. It includes a step-by-step, clearly written introduction to mindfulness techniques.

Last modified: 18 Nov 09