Best Zen Books 2020

Elaine Sutton
• Wednesday, 11 November, 2020
• 8 min read

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.

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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. Suzuki provides helpful and thought-provoking truths about meditation for anyone who wants to lead a more mindful life.

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Best quote from the book: “What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.” 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. Editor’s Note: This article was first published on Dec 6, 2016 and has been updated regularly since then for relevance and comprehensiveness.

Some are personal stories, some are educative and contain tutorials, some are in-depth essay style publications, and some are novellas. In the list below, I’ve shared different works that together encompass a broad range of Zen teaching.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Occult Anatomy of Man As a mindfulness teacher, writer and avid reader, I have read all the best meditation books out there.

In this list, I will share the absolute best mindfulness and meditation books for 2020. We’ll look at some classics and some new publications, and I will help you find the best meditation book for you based on your personal needs.

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While I was reading through dozens of meditation books, it occurred to me that there is not one single publication that covers everything. There are books about mindfulness, chakras, Buddhist methods, Taoist methods… but no one title that covers every aspect of the practice.

In my book, you will learn methods from Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga, and some modern techniques too. Too many reads just scratch the surface of what meditation is, and they don’t show you how to use it in your everyday life for real-world change.

Written by Program Trunk , this inspiring read shares insightful pearls of wisdom about the practice that will truly open your mind. Trunk’s insights on generosity, discipline, patience, energy, clarity, and wisdom will inspire you to live a good life, and his teachings on various meditation disciplines will help to advance your practice.

She’s written some of the best meditation and mindfulness books over the years, including the exceptional Heart Advice For Difficult Times. But if I have to tip my hat to one of them, it has got to be How To Meditate: A Practical Guide To Making Friends With Your Mind.

It provides fun and straightforward instructions and advice to help get kids meditating. And it shows how kids can get a handle on difficult emotions like sadness and anxiety.

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Even younger children will find it easy to understand the messages in this book. In this excellent meditation book, Camille Maurine & Lori Roche is full of some genuinely illuminating insights and wisdom that you need to read.

In it, Maurine and Roche cover the entire gamut of the human experience as they reveal how the practice can help with all areas of life. It takes all the wisdom of the practice and puts it into action in the real world.

I wrote this book to make it very easy for readers to find ways to meditate in their busy lives. In this inspiring but straightforward publication, Jack Cornfield provides a short and sweet (it’s less than 100 pages) guide to getting started with the practice.

The book comes packaged with a CD of guided exercises, which are a great way to relax. One mindfulness book that teaches how to live at the moment is The Power Of Now by Eckhart Toll.

One read that instructs you how to do that is the indispensable Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices. Unquestionably one of the best mindfulness meditation books, Which That Hand lays down the path through which we can all achieve lasting contentment.

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Best of all, he does so with uncomplicated and practical guidance, showing how chores such as walking, eating, driving, doing the dishes and more can be used as mindfulness meditation to cultivate peace of mind and serenity. Written by Which That Hand, the foremost figure in mindfulness meditation, it is packed full of practical activities and pointers to help you take advantage of the Western mindset.

In this wonderful read, Paige Old ham teaches you how to combine the law of attraction with mindfulness to create your ideal life. Old ham combines this with mindfulness to create a way to intentionally manifest wealth, happiness, and love.

I found this to be a truly inspiring read that made me feel wonderfully optimistic. Julie was so stressed at one point in her life that she experienced the symptoms of a stroke.

The event made her change her life and start living mindfully. The methods Julie shares in the book are backed by science and the writing is heartfelt and inspiring.

In the list above, I’ve shared my favorite meditation books, which I think you will get an absolute ton out of. And if you feel like being kind and doing me a great big favor, go ahead and take a look at my one (the link is above).

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