Buddhism, Zen Buddhism

Fuyu’s Buddhist Reading List

Hey there! If you’re interested in delving deeper into the world of Zen or Buddhism, I’ve got a list of some of my all-time favorite books that I’ve personally read and enjoyed.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to recommend any books that I haven’t read myself.

Even if you’re a total beginner or an experienced practitioner, these books offer something unique and valuable for everyone, depending on where you are on your own journey. Some of these books have been with me for more than thirty years, and I always gain new insights every time I revisit them.

So take a look and find something that speaks to you. And hey, I’ve even included a few of my favorite non-Buddhist books in there too! Happy reading and enjoy the journey!

PS: Books with a are my top favourites!


Zen Buddhism

The Ring of the Way
By Taisen Deshimaru

The Ring of the Way is a book by Taisen Deshimaru that offers a guide to Zen practice and teachings. Deshimaru provides insights on various topics such as meditation, mindfulness, the role of the teacher, and the importance of living in the present moment. He emphasizes the need to cultivate a spirit of awareness and detachment in order to attain true enlightenment. The book is an accessible introduction to Zen Buddhism and offers practical advice for those seeking to incorporate Zen practice into their daily lives.

Questions to a Zen Master
By Taisen Deshimaru

Questions to a Zen Master is a collection of dialogues between Taisen Deshimaru, a Japanese Zen master, and his students. The book offers insights into Zen teachings and practices, as well as Deshimaru’s perspectives on various topics, including the nature of reality, the meaning of life, and the role of meditation in spiritual growth. The dialogues are engaging and thought-provoking, and Deshimaru’s answers are often enigmatic, challenging the reader to explore their own understanding of Zen and its relevance to daily life. Overall, Questions to a Zen Master is a valuable resource for anyone interested in Zen philosophy and practice.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
By Shunryu Suzuki

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a book written by Shunryu Suzuki that emphasizes the importance of adopting a beginner’s mindset in Zen practice. The author explains that by letting go of preconceived notions and expectations, one can open their mind to new experiences and insights. He encourages readers to approach meditation with a clear and open mind, free from judgment or comparison to others. Through simple yet profound teachings, Suzuki provides a guide to living a more mindful and peaceful life.

Not Always So
By Shunryu Suzuki, Edward Espe Brown

Not Always So by Shunryu Suzuki is a collection of teachings on Zen Buddhism that emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment and letting go of expectations and preconceived notions. Suzuki encourages his readers to approach life with a beginner’s mind, free from attachment to ego and judgment, and to find joy and peace in simple moments of everyday life. The book offers practical advice for meditation and mindfulness practices, as well as reflections on the nature of reality and the interconnectedness of all things. Overall, it encourages readers to cultivate a deep sense of awareness and compassion towards themselves and others, and to embrace the unpredictability and impermanence of life.

Manual of Zen Buddhism
by D.T. Suzuki

The Manual of Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki provides an overview of the fundamental principles and practices of Zen Buddhism, including its history, philosophy, and meditation techniques. The book explains how Zen emphasizes the direct experience of enlightenment rather than the study of scriptures and doctrines, and encourages individuals to awaken to their true nature through mindfulness, meditation, and a commitment to ethical living. Overall, the Manual of Zen Buddhism serves as a comprehensive introduction to the essential teachings and practices of this ancient spiritual tradition.

Everyday Zen: Love and Work
by Charlotte J. Beck

Everyday Zen: Love and Work by Charlotte J. Beck is a book about the intersection of Zen Buddhism, daily life, and personal relationships. In the book, Beck emphasizes the importance of bringing mindfulness and compassion to all aspects of our lives, including our work and relationships. She offers practical advice and insights on how to cultivate a Zen perspective in the midst of daily activities, and how to use Zen principles to improve our communication and relationships with others. Ultimately, the book is a guide to finding peace and happiness in the midst of our busy and complex lives.

Each Moment Is the Universe
By Dainin Katagiri

Each Moment Is the Universe by Dainin Katagiri is a book about the practice of Zen Buddhism and how it can help individuals find peace and clarity in everyday life. The book explores topics such as meditation, mindfulness, and the interconnectedness of all things. It encourages readers to embrace the present moment and to see the beauty and potential in every situation. Ultimately, the book offers a practical guide for living a more mindful and fulfilling life.

Asking About Zen: 108 Answers
By Jiho Sargent

Asking About Zen: 108 Answers is a comprehensive book that provides answers to 108 questions related to Zen Buddhism, written by Jiho Sargent. The book covers a wide range of topics including meditation, mindfulness, enlightenment, and the practice of Zen in daily life. It is a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about Zen and its teachings.

The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo
By Kosho Uchiyama, Shohaku Okumura

The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo is a collection of teachings and stories of a wandering Zen monk, Kodo Sawaki, who was homeless for most of his life. The book, compiled by Kosho Uchiyama and translated by Shohaku Okumura, portrays Kodo’s unique and unorthodox approach to Zen practice. He emphasized the importance of integrating Zen into daily life, rather than just practicing it in a monastery or temple. Kodo believed that Zen was not just a religious practice, but a way of life that could help people find happiness and fulfillment. The book is an inspiring read for anyone interested in Zen Buddhism and its practical applications in everyday life.

Become What You Are
by Alan W. Watts

Become What You Are by Alan W. Watts is a book that emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and authenticity. The author suggests that individuals often live their lives based on societal expectations and pressures, rather than their true nature. Watts encourages readers to embrace their unique qualities and talents, rather than conforming to societal norms. He also emphasizes the need for individuals to live in the present moment, rather than constantly focusing on the past or future. Through various anecdotes and philosophical musings, Watts offers practical advice on how to live a fulfilling and authentic life. Overall, the book encourages readers to let go of societal expectations and be true to themselves.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
by Paul Reps

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones is a collection of four books that offer a glimpse into the Zen Buddhist tradition through stories, parables, and koans. The book presents a unique perspective on life, death, and the nature of reality, providing the reader with insights into Zen philosophy and practice. The collection is a treasure trove of wisdom and inspiration that can help readers navigate the complexities of modern life with greater clarity and mindfulness. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a newcomer to Zen, this book is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.


General Buddhism

Buddhism is not what you think
by Steve Hagen

In Buddhism is not what you think Steve Hagen presents a unique perspective on the Buddhist teachings, challenging common misconceptions and highlighting the essence of the Buddha’s message. He argues that Buddhism is not a set of beliefs or dogmas but rather a way of looking at and experiencing the world. Hagen stresses the importance of direct experience and observation, emphasizing the impermanence and interdependence of all phenomena. He also discusses the role of meditation in cultivating mindfulness and insight, and the need for ethical conduct in living a truly fulfilling life. Overall, Hagen’s book offers a refreshing and insightful take on Buddhism that encourages readers to explore the teachings for themselves rather than simply accepting them at face value.

In the Buddha’s Words
By Bhikkhu Bodhi

In the Buddha’s Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi provides a comprehensive overview of the Buddha’s teachings on various subjects such as the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, meditation, ethics, and more. The book presents the Buddha’s words in a clear and accessible manner, making it a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced practitioners of Buddhism. Overall, the book is an excellent guide to understanding the core teachings of Buddhism and how they can be applied to everyday life.

Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions
By Dalai Lama, Thubten Chodron

Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions is a book that explores the diversity of Buddhist traditions and teachings around the world. Written by the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron, the book highlights the commonalities and differences among the various schools of Buddhism. The authors also emphasize the importance of dialogue and understanding among different traditions, and the need for practitioners to develop a personal relationship with the teachings. Overall, the book offers a nuanced and insightful view of Buddhism as a living tradition that continues to evolve and adapt to changing times and cultures.

Why Buddhism is True
By Robert Wright

Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright is a book that explores the relationship between Buddhism and modern science. The book argues that Buddhism’s teachings on the nature of the self, suffering, and happiness align with modern scientific discoveries, such as those in evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. Wright explores how meditation and mindfulness can help individuals overcome negative thoughts and emotions and ultimately achieve a more fulfilling life. He also argues that Buddhism offers a way to find meaning and purpose in a world that can often feel chaotic and overwhelming. Overall, Why Buddhism is True is a fascinating exploration of the potential benefits of integrating Buddhist practices into modern life.


Buddhism and Mindfulness

The Miracle of Mindfulness
By Thich Nhat Hanh

The Miracle of Mindfulness is a book by Thich Nhat Hanh that teaches readers how to live mindfully and find peace in their daily lives. The book explains that mindfulness is the key to happiness and that it can be achieved through simple practices like breathing, walking, and eating. Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment and cultivating awareness in all aspects of life. The book offers practical tips and exercises to help readers develop mindfulness and experience the benefits it brings, such as reduced stress and greater clarity of mind. Overall, The Miracle of Mindfulness is a guide to living a more fulfilling and peaceful life through the practice of mindfulness.

Wherever You Go, There You Are
by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wherever You Go, There You Are is a book written by Jon Kabat-Zinn that explores the concept of mindfulness and how it can be incorporated into daily life. It provides practical tips and exercises to help readers become more present and aware of the world around them. The main message is that wherever we go, we always have the opportunity to be fully present and engage with the present moment.

10-Minute Mindfulness
by S.J. Scott, Barrie Davenport

10-Minute Mindfulness by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport is a practical guide for people who want to incorporate mindfulness into their daily routine but don’t have much time. The authors explain the benefits of mindfulness, such as reducing stress and increasing focus, and provide simple exercises that can be done in just 10 minutes. The exercises include mindful breathing, body scanning, and gratitude practice, among others. The book also addresses common obstacles to mindfulness, such as distractions and negative self-talk, and offers tips for overcoming them. Overall, “10-Minute Mindfulness” is a useful tool for anyone who wants to improve their mental wellbeing without committing a lot of time or effort.


Buddhism and Karma

Good Karma
by Thubten Chodron

Good Karma by Thubten Chodron is a book that explains the concept of karma and how it affects our lives. The author explains that our actions have consequences and that by cultivating positive thoughts and behavior, we can create good karma. She emphasizes the importance of developing kindness, compassion, and wisdom, and offers practical tips for doing so. The book also delves into the concept of rebirth and how our actions in this life can affect our future lives. Overall, Good Karma provides readers with a clear understanding of karma and how to create positive change in their lives.

Zen & Karma
By Taisen Deshimaru

Zen & Karma by Taisen Deshimaru is a book that explores the relationship between Zen Buddhism and the concept of karma. Deshimaru explains that karma, the law of cause and effect, is an integral part of Zen practice, as it influences one’s actions and the consequences they bring. He discusses the importance of mindfulness in breaking free from negative karma and achieving enlightenment. Deshimaru also emphasizes the need to understand the interconnectedness of all things in order to fully grasp the concept of karma. Overall, the book offers insights into how Zen teachings and practices can help individuals live a more harmonious and fulfilling life.


Buddhism and Happiness

The Book of Joy
By Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu

The Book of Joy is a collaborative effort between two spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, who share their insights on how to cultivate joy in our lives despite the many challenges we face. The book is based on a week-long meeting between the two men in Dharamsala, India, where they discussed various aspects of joy, such as gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and mindfulness. Throughout the book, they offer practical advice on how to overcome negative emotions and embrace a more positive outlook on life. The authors also share personal anecdotes and stories from their own lives to illustrate their points. Ultimately, the book aims to inspire readers to cultivate a deeper sense of joy and purpose in their lives.

The Art of Happiness
by Dalai Lama

The Art of Happiness is a book that explores the Dalai Lama’s ideas on achieving inner peace and happiness. The book is based on a series of interviews and conversations between the Dalai Lama and a psychiatrist named Howard Cutler. Throughout the book, the Dalai Lama provides insights into how to cultivate happiness through compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, and other virtues. He also offers practical advice on dealing with negative emotions and finding meaning in life. The book highlights the importance of mindfulness, meditation, and cultivating a positive outlook as essential ingredients for achieving lasting happiness.

TIME Mindfulness
by The Editors Of TIME

TIME Mindfulness is a special edition magazine by the editors of TIME that provides an overview of the practice of mindfulness. The magazine is designed to help readers understand the benefits of mindfulness and how to integrate it into their daily lives. The magazine covers a wide range of topics, including the science behind mindfulness, the benefits of mindfulness for physical and mental health, and practical tips for incorporating mindfulness into daily routines. Overall, the magazine aims to help readers reduce stress, improve focus, and live a more fulfilling life through the practice of mindfulness.


Buddhism and Anger

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
by Thich Nhat Hanh

In Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, Thich Nhat Hanh provides practical advice for managing and transforming anger. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the root causes of our anger and developing mindfulness and compassion to overcome it. Hanh also offers specific techniques for calming the mind and communicating effectively in difficult situations. Overall, the book encourages readers to take responsibility for their emotions and use them as a tool for personal growth and positive change.

Healing Anger
by Dalai Lama

In Healing Anger, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of cultivating compassion and patience in order to overcome anger. He advises that one should first recognize the harm that anger causes to oneself and others, and then actively work to transform anger into a more positive emotion. This can be done through mindfulness practices, empathy for others, and reflection on the impermanence of all things. Ultimately, the Dalai Lama suggests that the key to healing anger is to develop a more altruistic outlook on life and to recognize the interconnectedness of all beings.


Zen Classics

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye
by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye is a collection of 300 koans or Zen riddles compiled by the 13th-century Japanese Zen master Dogen. This book, edited and translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi, presents a selection of 95 koans that explore the essence of Zen practice and the nature of reality. Each koan is a brief story or dialogue that challenges the reader to question their assumptions and perceptions. Through contemplating and meditating on the koans, the reader is invited to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world.

Dogen’s Extensive Record
by Dogen Zenji 

Dogen’s Extensive Record is a collection of teachings, anecdotes, and personal stories by the famous Zen master Dogen Zenji. This book provides a unique and intimate insight into the mind and teachings of one of the greatest Buddhist teachers in history. The teachings in this book emphasize the importance of mindfulness, compassion, and the direct experience of reality. The book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in Zen Buddhism and the teachings of Dogen Zenji.

Conclusion

Buddhist books offer a wealth of knowledge and wisdom for those seeking inner peace and enlightenment. The suggested books above provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the fundamental teachings of Buddhism, as well as practical applications for daily life. 

Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a newcomer to Buddhism, these books offer invaluable insights and inspiration to deepen your spiritual practice. I hope that these recommendations will serve as a helpful resource in your journey towards greater understanding and spiritual growth. 

Allow me to remind you that while Buddhist books can provide an excellent source of information and guidance, the true essence of Buddhism can only be experienced through personal practice (meditation, eightfold path, middle way, etc.) and not through books alone. 

Fuyu