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Best Zen Self Help Books

author
Carole Stephens
• Thursday, 19 November, 2020
• 10 min read

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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Contents

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.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Branch The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama The Power of Now, Eckhart Toll Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persia Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Bachelor The Tibetan Book of the Dead as translated by Gourmet More The Connected Discourses by Shikoku Bod hi Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and PRE- Zen Writings by Paul Reps and Neogene Sendai Everyday Zen : Love & Work Charlotte Joke Beck Buddhism: An Introduction and Guide by Christmas Humphreys How to Meditate by Kathleen McDonald The Buddha, Geoff, and Me by Edward Canfor-Dumas Buddhism: What Everyone Needs to Know by Dale S. Wright Psychotherapy Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up by Kosher Paley Ellison Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein Zen as F×ck (Zen as F×ck Journals) by Monica Sweeney The Dude and the Zen Master, by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman The Three Pillars of Zen : Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment by Philip Tableau Joshi Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness by Change Denebola Narayana Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night: A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of by the Holiness the Dalai Lama Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Every day by Matthew Sociology Zurchungpa’s Testament with commentary by Diego Hyenas Roche Buddhism for Beginners by Tauten Chevron Awareness by Anthony Demerol Women’s Buddhism, Buddhism’s Women by Ellison Banks Finely Awakening Compassion by Pea Chevron One Teacher, Many Traditions by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tauten Chevron Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pea Chevron Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Was The Way of the White Clouds by Lama Angara Dorinda Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac Buddhism: An Introduction to the Buddha’s Life, Teachings, and Practices by Joan Duncan Oliver One Breath at a Time by Kevin Edward Griffin Eight Steps to Happiness by Ge she Kelsey Goats Zen Training by Philip Tableau Joshi Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism by Kittisaro and Honiara A Still Forest Pool by Again Chat In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pale Canon by Shikoku Bod hi 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.

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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.

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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.

The Occult Anatomy of Man And when feelings threaten to overwhelm us we cast them aside and go conquer a new world or invent some game-changing device or create a timeless work of art or… or….

According to psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Baseman the thing that prevents most men from being happy is a disconnect between the intuitive, emotional side of our brains and the more deliberate, contemplative, and logical side. Baseman’s goal is to make us aware of the fact that these two modes of thought are often in conflict with each other and proposes ways we can rectify the situation in order to lead more successful, satisfying lives.

“ Wherever You Go, There You Are is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2019 and is still considered one of the best personal development books ever written. For the author, Jon Kabat-Zinn, the secret to living a happier, more well-rounded, and satisfying existence are to identify those things that are creating stress in your life and neutralize them through a combination of mindfulness and acceptance.

For more great stress relieve options, check out our guide to the best adult coloring books. In his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos ”, psychologist Jordan B. Peterson combines the noble truths of ancient spiritual traditions with revelations being brought to light by leading-edge scientific research to form a thesis on happiness and fulfillment that is both eye-opening and easy to comprehend.

In 12 Rules he takes a holistic approach to the psychology of happiness, finding useful examples of spiritually productive behavior in everything from the lowly lobster to the rituals of the ancient Egyptians. But according to Japanese cleaning expert Marie Condo, the true secret to happiness is decluttering your home.

According to Condo, there are certain items in everyone’s house that spark joy, but most of the time they’re buried beneath a mountain of clutter that grows like mushrooms in the dark in spite of our best efforts to bring it under control. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Condo professes that if you follow her simple method for organizing your home you’ll never be overwhelmed by clutter again and both your mind and your spirit will be set free.

They’d rather listen than talk, keep to themselves than engage in heated debate and let their actions speak for them instead of their words. Consider giving this book as this year’s stocking stuffer gift for the people you love.

This line from David Lynch’s sci-fi cult classic “Dune” is a perfect metaphor for the idea that persuasion, rather than confrontation and intimidation, is often the most effective strategy for getting what you want. In The Art of Persuasion author Bob Burg examines how some of history’s most successful and influential individuals got where they did by making others feel important, keeping an open mind (or at least appearing to), relying on some simple pieces of common wisdom and using a deft hand in dealing with difficult individuals.

In The Untethered Soul author Michael Singer revisits well-traveled Buddhist concepts dealing with the nature and sources of unhappiness and discontent. Singer essentially presents these noble concepts in a way that’s more palatable to the contemporary audience and also provides some useful exercises that will help hasten your transition to a higher state of awareness.

One doesn’t need cutting-edge science to know that men and women process and express their feelings differently. But it’s still helpful for guys to develop some tools for dealing with anger in a way that doesn’t result in them lashing out or otherwise losing control.

“ Beyond Anger is perhaps the most useful insights here are the ones that focus on how angry outbursts can affect family members, friendships, and professional relationships. And the most useful suggestions are those that offer a way to process feelings more effectively before they explode outward and damage our relationships and social standing.

While he has authored numerous texts on a variety of scientific, religious, and humanist topics his Art of Happiness is perhaps his most enduring work. There’s an old adage that states if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning your day can only get better after that.

Whereas many personal development books for men focus on ways to avoid or transcend difficult or unpleasant situations Eat That Frog author Brian Tracy suggests the best way to achieve both success and contentment is to tackle your worst problem first. Recently revised with two new chapters dealing with maintaining focus the age of everything all the time and how technology can help you prioritize.

In it, author Dr. Susan Jeffery looks at the origins of fear, its function, and how we can transcend it. This isn’t exactly tough love, but it’s not a soft nurturing voice that’s going to promise you a participation trophy either.

Innit founder and CEO Aubrey Marcus has some thoughts about how a guy can set his life on a more productive and satisfying course. To illustrate his point he guides the reader on a journey through a single day, shining a light on the impact of the various choices we make from the time we roll out of bed to the time we roll back in.

Own the Day, Own Your Life is more than a little like a Monty Python sketch “First, become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something…” but he does provide some useful insight. Making and breaking habits is not rocket science, but it is a behavioral science and Clear plums the depths of the subject to find simple, easily executable methods for creating new, more effective habits that will work for you and not against you.

In The Game, author Neil Strauss takes us on a hilarious journey into what he would have us believe is the magical world of the PUA (pickup artist). Those who think that getting laid is the result of some mystical power rather than a simple combination of self -confidence and not looking like a Walking Dead extra.

Still, Strauss’s tale is nothing if not funny and before it grinds to its predictable conclusion it manages to paint a memorable picture of contemporary meat markets, and he even throws in the occasional close encounter of the celebrity kind. Tony Robbins learned most of what he knows from Dale Carnegie but much to his credit he’s managed to put his own compelling spin on the idea that success and failure are a matter of how you view the world.

The whole thing fits nicely into the postmodern fetish for reducing complex issues to tidy ordered lists. In Make Your Bed Admiral William H. Craven shares the lessons he learned during his Navy SEAL training as well as those imposed upon him by years of military experience to suggest ways we can get more out of the lives we’re given, while simultaneously making the world around us a little better for everyone.

The Admiral’s guidance is delivered with the steady hand and in the measured tone you’d expect from a senior military commander and there are no gratuitous pats on his own back along the way. Like a lot of people who decided on career paths before they really knew who they were the author of The Mask of Masculinity, Lewis Howe's woke up one day to confront an uncomfortable reality.

Instead of looking inward, Howe reaches out to a rogue’s gallery of celebrities in a move that undermines his credibility and turns his “journey” into more of an SEO campaign than a search for the essential self. “ Boundaries ”, the bestseller from DRS Henry Cloud and John Townsend, was an expansive investigation into the phenomenon of how we define ourselves and our space.

In the wake of his revelation, he embraced a lifestyle philosophy called “minimalism” where he ditched the ephemera of consumerism (credit cards, stuff), shed debt, and walked away from a 6-figure job.

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Sources
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