Published more than 40 years ago, this read has grown to be one of the most highly regarded spiritual publications in the world. If you are a beginner, you will learn everything you need to know to get started, including posture and breathing techniques, as well as the most important practices.
Alan Watts is one of the true masters of Buddhist interpretation, and oh boy does he show it in this, one of the bestZenbooks ever written. In this title, Alan Watts takes us back to basics as he reveals the true interpretation of Buddhist philosophy.
He journeys all the way back to the birth of Buddhism as it rose from the concepts of Hinduism. From there we journey towards today and see how Chan has grown over the years, right up to the modern-day and a look at the symbolical representation of Buddhism in Japanese art.
What makes this one of the bestZenbooks of all time is the way in which Watt’s explains the core concepts for a Western audience. In Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert M Persia shares the transformational story of a journey across America with his son.
The journey becomes a story of personal growth and transformation as Persia delves into the most fundamental questions of modern-day living. In it, Joshi Philip Tableau presents an examination of the three core pillars of Chan Buddhism: teaching, practice and enlightenment.
What makes this one of the bestZenbooks ever is Tableau’s ability to merge his personal story in technical teachings on the practices and techniques. As we journey through Tableau’s time from student to master, we are led along our own path of spiritual development.
Revised to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the current edition features beautiful illustrations and photographs that are really just the icing on the cake. Originally published in 1957, this title immediately won the hearts of readers who were just beginning to learn about Chan Buddhism.
Subsequently, it has become one of the most influential publications on the subject, inspiring students and teachers alike. This title presents texts and challenges readers to make their own interpretations of the core philosophies of Chan Buddhism.
Let the whole thundering world come home booking Let The Whole Thundering World Come Home, Zen practitioner Natalie Goldberg shares a personal and inspiring story of how she overcame the trauma of cancer by practicing Zen. Natalie is a highly regarded Zen teacher whose words are captivating and enlightening.
It provides easy ways to start meditating and answers most of the common questions about the practice. Suzuki is one of the most prominent luminaries in the field, inspiring millions of people around the world.
There’s depth and insight for the most ardent Chan Buddhist, and there are clear instructions and advice for newcomers. The best thing about this book is that it is very straightforward and offers clear guidance on various aspects of Zen.
The book covers the basics of Zen and shows you how to apply the concepts to your own life to create feelings of peace and happiness. The book focuses on playfulness and curiosity, which the author, Charlie Ambler, states is the key to being a happy person.
It’s a more light-hearted read compared to the other books in this list, and the illustrations are really cool (done by Brooklyn artist Iris Gottlieb). If you’ve been looking for a more playful book to help you get into Zen, I highly recommend Charlie Ambler’s read.
No Man Is an Island When we first start practicing Zen meditation, there is this voracious curiosity to learn more about this fascinating philosophy.
Luckily, there are several books that explore this vast subject in great detail. In this article, we’ve listed down our 5 favorite Zen books which should be read by anyone who’s passionate or wants to learn more about Zen.
The book contains mindfulness advice from one of the greatest authorities on Zen, Which That Hand. It is full of useful guidelines and principles for leading a mindful, peaceful life and helping those around you do the same.
What’s truly wonderful about this book is that the author has lived by these guidelines and principles all his life. Exiled from his native country Vietnam for his participation in the peace movement, Which That Hand has since lived in France.
Though he has authored several books on Zen and on the life and teachings of the Buddha, Peace is Every Step deserves a special mention in this list because it presents mindfulness principles in the context of everyday life. Which That Hand acknowledges the sorrows and challenges of modern life, but draws our attention back to the power of the present moment.
While practicing Taken meditation, it’s important to approach the subject with a beginner’s mind. And that is the idea Suzuki presents in an eloquent style while demystifying a complex subject like Zen.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the history of Buddhism and Zen, this is the book you should read. Watts effectively outlines the history of Buddhism, its roots in Vedic philosophy, and its travel through China to Japan.
Like Zen itself, Alan Watts’ style is simple, straightforward, and devoid of unnecessary jargon. Any Zen reading list would be incomplete without a book containing the teachings of the Dalai Lama.
This book is a series of interviews and meetings between Dr. Howard Cutler and the Dalai Lama, as His Holiness explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, and illustrates how one can ride through life’s challenges and obstacles to lead a more peaceful, mindful life. Though not as comprehensive and detailed as other books in this list, Tableau’s passion for the subject and his enthusiasm to share insights on Zen is remarkable.
If you are a genuine beginner and don't know a Zebulon from zucchini, here are some books for you. But in the West, this seems to be the book that everyone reads before they show up at the Zen center.
Most of all, this book holds out the hope that practice can be integrated into anyone's life, no matter how bleeped up it is. This book is as close as you're going to get to a nuts-and-bolts explanation of formal Zen training.
His explanations of even the most vexatious koan can be wonderfully accessible. The difference is that Aiken's book might be better for someone who's already got a foot in the door at a Zen center.
In the Preface, the author says “My purpose in this book is to provide a manual that may be used, chapter by chapter, as a program of instruction over the first few weeks of Zen training.” It does, however, provide a nice preview of what the first few weeks of Zen training are like.
We are ambivalent about Philip Tableau's Three Pillars of Zen. It's very good, but it gives the impression that the koan Mu is the be-all and end-all of Zen, which is very much not the case.
Written by a Vietnamese Zen Monk who was friend with Martin Luther King, Which That Hand (1926-) introduces us to a simple concept that we often forget in our busy hectic daily lives: the present moment. It is easy to read and does not require a lot of cognitive power and its content is life-changing.
The book is a series of talks that the Zen Master Henry Suzuki gave in a garage in the 1960s, so you can expect a clear and concise experience. Spoilers alert: The Three Pillars of Zen are practice, teaching and enlightenment.
Philip Tableau (1912-2004) who was ordained in Japan after 13 years of practice, was the founder of the Rochester Zen Center in the USA. Tableau Joshi (Joshi means Zen Master, ) was a teacher in the relatively new San Kodak tradition that mixes both mainstream traditions of Zen in Japan, Sinai and Soto.
You should read Hardcore Zen if you are looking for something that does not sound too scholastic, but nonetheless contains a lot of great insights and funny anecdotes. Brad Warner (1964-) is an ordained monk in the Soto school of Zen and was a student of late Judo Weight Nishijima.
Brad Warner spent more than a decade working in Japan before coming back to the US. A Californian who is into rock n’ roll music, Japanese monster movies and blogging, Zen Master Warner writes books that go off the beaten tracks by including references to modern culture.
The Way of Zen is beautifully written by a great communicator named Alan Watts that had the ability to simplify hard-to-understand concepts and explain them in a manner easy to understand for all. The book provides insights in the history and the concepts Zen Buddhism in the greater scheme of things: the different traditions of the Smaller (Hinayana) and the Great Vehicle (Mahayana), the influence of Chinese Taoism and Indian Buddhism on Zen, Zen’s influence on Japanese and Chinese cultures, etc.
Alan Watts (1915-1973) was a British-American theologian, writer, Zen practitioner and interpreter of Eastern philosophy for Westerners. Originally published in French, the English translation of Zen Keys is well-written and provides clear explanations about core concepts of Zen like awareness, impermanence, mindfulness, modernity and spirituality.
The introduction was written by Philip Tableau (the author of the “Three Pillars of Zen ”) which means this book should definitively on your “To Read” list. Shamble publications, probably the most famous publisher for works about Buddhism in the West, brings us Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy, a book written by Zen Master Katsuki Skid.
The book is often tagged as a “handbook for taken sitting meditation” and how to live and train as a Zen practitioner. Zen Training also discusses the emphasis that is put on enlightenment, which Skid believes is overly represented in the practice of Zen, which goes beyond the enlightenment concept with a diverse and rich practice.
The author also makes parallels with Western philosophy and psychology, comparing the similitude between each thinking systems. This is a book that requires a bit more of intellectual willpower to read as well as an interest in scholarly topics.
The book is based on his talks and provides anecdotes, historical explanations, concepts explorations and introductions to the different schools of Buddhism and their own particularities. After fighting in the Korean War, he eventually settled in America where he spends a few decades building the Kwan Um School of Zen, which is active all around the world.
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