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Suggested Dharma books

We are known for our comprehensive selection of Buddhist titles. Here is a short selection of books put together by the store's owner, a Soto Zen priest who leads a Zen meditation group on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at Sei Ko Kai Church, 2140 Pierce St. More information about this group as well as his blog can be found at www.ancientforestzen.org

Introduction to Buddhism

The Foundations of Buddhism 

By Robert Gethin

Buddhism is a vast and complex religious and philosophical tradition with a history that stretches over 2,500 years, and which is now followed by around 115 million people. In this introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, Rupert Gethin concentrates on the ideas and practices which constitute the common heritage of the different traditions of Buddhism (Thervada, Tibetan, and Eastern) that exist in the world today. From the narrative of the story of the Buddha, through discussions of aspects such as textual traditions, the framework of the Four Noble Truths, the interaction between the monastic and lay ways of life, the cosmology of karma and rebirth, and the path of the bodhisattva, this book provides a stimulating introduction to Buddhism as a religion and way of life.

 

What the Buddha Taught 

By Walpola Rahula

This indispensable volume is a lucid and faithful account of the Buddha's teachings. "For years," says the "Journal of the Buddhist Society," "the newcomer to Buddhism has lacked a simple and reliable introduction to the complexities of the subject. Dr. Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught" fills the need as only could be done by one having a firm grasp of the vast material to be sifted. It is a model of what a book should be that is addressed first of all to 'the educated and intelligent reader.' Authoritative and clear, logical and sober, this study is as comprehensive as it is masterly."

 

Buddhism: Way of LIfe and Thought By Nancy Wilson Ross
Explains the origins, development and basic principles of Buddhism. 


Zen Buddhism 

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

by Shunryu Suzuki

Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases used by Zen teachers to throw you back upon yourself, to make you go behind the words themselves and begin wondering. "I know what my own mind is," you tell yourself, "but what is Zen mind?" And then: "But do I really know what my own mind is?" Is it what I am doing now? Is it what I am thinking now?" And if you should then try to sit physically still for a while to see if you can locate it—then you have begun the practice of Zen, then you have begun to realize the unrestricted mind.

The innocence of this first inquiry—just asking what you are—is beginner's mind. The mind of the beginner is needed throughout Zen practice. It is the open mind, the attitude that includes both doubt and possibility, the ability to see things always as fresh and new. It is needed in all aspects of life. Beginner's mind is the practice of Zen mind.

This book originated from a series of talks given by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki to a small group in Los Altos, California. He joined their meditation periods once a week and afterwards answered their questions and tried to encourage them in their practice of Zen and help them solve the problems of life. His approach is informal, and he draws his examples from ordinary events and common sense. Zen is now and here, he is saying; it can be as meaningful for the West as for the East. But his fundamental teaching and practice are drawn from all the centuries of Zen Buddhism and especially from Dogen, one of the most important and creative of all Zen Masters. 

Opening the Hand of Thought by Kosho Uchiyama

For over thirty years, "Opening the Hand of Thought" has offered an unmatched introduction to Zen Buddhism. This new edition contains even more useful material: new prefaces, an index, and extended end notes are here, in addition to the book's revised glossary and main sections. But then, the book's utility was never in question. As Jisho Warner writes in the book's opening, 'The Story of This Book and Its Author, ' "Opening the Hand of Thought" 'goes directly to the heart of Zen practice [. . .], showing how Zen Buddhism can be a deep and life-sustaining activity.' She goes on to say, 'Uchiyama looks at what a person is, what a self is, how to develop a true self not separate from all things, one that can settle in peace in the midst of life.' By turns humorous, philosophical, and personal, "Opening the Hand of Thought" is above all a great book for the Buddhist practitioner.

Returning to Silence By Dainin Katagiri

For twenty-five hundred years Buddhism has taught that everyone is Buddha—already enlightened, lacking nothing. But still there is the question of how we can experience that truth in our lives. In this book, Dainin Katagiri points to the manifestation of enlightenment right here, right now, in our everyday routine. Genuineness of practice lies in "just living" our lives wholeheartedly. The Zen practice of sitting meditation (zazen) is this not a means to an end but is the activity of enlightenment itself. That is why Katagiri Roshi says, "Don't expect enlightenment—just sit down!"

Based on the author's talks to his American students, Returning to Silence contains the basic teachings of the Buddha, with special emphasis on the meaning of faith and on meditation. It also offers a commentary on "The Bodhisattva's Four Methods of Guidance" from Dogen Zenji's Shobogenzo, which speaks in depth about the appropriate actions of those who guide others in the practice of the Buddha Way. Throughout these pages, Katagiri Roshi energetically brings to life the message that "Buddha is your daily life."

The Art of Just Sitting

Edited by John Daido Loori


This unprecedented and unparalleled volume offers essential guidance--from the most influential Buddhist masters, and from many of modern Zen's preeminent teachers--on one of Zen's two most central practices. The second edition contains three new translations by renowned scholar-practitioners. This is essential for readers interested in meditation or Eastern religion. There is no other book devoted solely to the very important Zen practice of Shikantaza (literally, "just sitting").

Taking the Path of Zen

by Robert Aitken

There is a fine art to presenting complex ideas with simplicity and insight, in a manner that both guides and inspires. In Taking the Path of Zen Robert Aitken presents the practice, lifestyle, rationale, and ideology of Zen Buddhism with remarkable clarity.
The foundation of Zen is the practice of zazen, or mediation, and Aitken Roshi insists that everything flows from the center. He discusses correct breathing, posture, routine, teacher-student relations, and koan study, as well as common problems and milestones encountered in the process. Throughout the book the author returns to zazen, offering further advice and more advanced techniques. The orientation extends to various religious attitudes and includes detailed discussions of the Three Treasures and the Ten Precepts of Zen Buddhism.
Taking the Path of Zen will serve as orientation and guide for anyone who is drawn to the ways of Zen, from the simply curious to the serious Zen student.

Dogen's Extensive Record Translated by Taigen Leighton and Shohaku Okamura

Eihei Dogen, the 13th-century Zen master who founded the Japanese Soto School of Zen, is renowned as one of the world's most remarkable religious thinkers. As Shakespeare did with English, Dogen utterly transformed the language of Zen, using it in novel and extraordinarily beautiful ways to point to everything important in religious life. "Dogen's Extensive Record" is the first-ever complete and scholarly translation of this monumental work into English. This edition contains extensive and detailed research and annotation by scholar, translator, and Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton, as well as forewords by the 18th-century poet-monk Ryokan and Tenshin Reb Anderson, former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center -- plus introductory essays from Dogen scholar Steven Heine and the prominent American Zen master John Daido Loori.

Tibetan Buddhism

Wisdom Energy By Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche

"Wisdom Energy" is a simple and compelling introduction to Buddhism by two Tibetan lamas renowned for their insight and skill in teaching Westerners. Containing an entire meditation course, it goes to the heart of basic Buddhist practice and discusses the meaning and purpose of meditation, the causes of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, and the methods for subduing them and gaining control over our minds and lives. This special 25th Anniversary Edition of "Wisdom Energy" preserves the power, humor, and directness of the lamas's first teaching tour of North America, giving the reader the feeling of an intimate audience with two highly respected teachers

Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa

Warning: Using this book could be hazardous to your ego! The slogans it contains are designed to awaken the heart and cultivate love and kindness toward others. They are revolutionary in that practicing them fosters abandonment of personal territory in relating to others and in understanding the world as it is.

The fifty-nine provocative slogans presented here—each with a commentary by the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa—have been used by Tibetan Buddhists for eight centuries to help meditation students remember and focus on important principles and practices of mind training. They emphasize meeting the ordinary situations of life with intelligence and compassion under all circumstances. Slogans include, "Don't be swayed by external circumstances," "Be grateful to everyone," and "Always maintain only a joyful mind."

This edition contains a new foreword by Pema Chödrön.

Life of Milarepa Translated by Lobsang Lhalungpa

Now recognized as the standard translation of one of the most beloved stories of the Tibetan people, The Life of Milarepa is both a portrait of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist saint and folk hero and a profoundly detailed guidebook to the search for consciousness. 

How To Meditate 

by Kathleen McDonald                                                       

In a world seemingly moving at hyperspeed, it can be daunting to simply slow down -- or stop -- even briefly to try to make sense of things. Meditation has been proven to help. But exactly what is it? Why practice it? Which techniques are best? This popular guide answers these and many more questions for anyone who wants to begin -- or is struggling to maintain -- a meditation practice. Written by a Western Buddhist nun with solid experience in both the practice and teaching of meditation, "How to Meditate contains a wealth of practical advice on a variety of authentic techniques, from what to do with the mind, to how to sit, to visualizations and other traditional practices. Best of all, McDonald's warm, encouraging approach is as close to the intimacy of private instruction as a book can be.

Cave in the Snow 

by Tenzin Palmo

This is the incredible story of Tenzin Palmo, a remarkable woman who spent 12 years alone in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas.
At the age of 20, Diane Perry, looking to fill a void in her life, entered a monastery in India--the only woman amongst hundreds of monks---and began her battle against the prejudice that had excluded women from enlightenment for thousands of years.

Thirteen years later, Diane Perry a.k.a. Tenzin Palmo secluded herself in a remote cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where she stayed for twelve years. In her mountain retreat, she face unimaginable cold, wild animals, floods, snow and rockfalls, grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box, three feet square. She never lay down.

Tenzin emerged from the cave with a determination to build a convent in northern India to revive the Togdenma lineage, a long-forgotten female spiritual elite. She has traveled around the world to find support for her cause, meeting with spiritual leaders from the Pope to Desmond Tutu. She agreed to tell her story only to Vicky Mackenzie and a portion of the royalties from this book will help towards the completion of her convent.

 Words of My Perfect Teacher

by Pamtrul Rinpoche 

This is a classic commentary on the preliminary practices of Longchen Nyingthig, a cycle of teachings of the Nyingma school. Patrul Rinpoche teaches through a wealth of stories, quotations, and references to everyday life, giving the book the atmosphere of an oral teaching. This is a new and revised edition.

For more than a century, The Words of My Perfect Teacher has served as a guide to the spiritual practices common to all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the classic commentary on the preliminary practices of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle of teachings--the great spiritual treasure of the Nyingmapa school, the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The author, Patrul Rinpoche, makes his subject accessible through a wealth of stories, quotations, and references to everyday life. His sense of poetry and irony, and his warm, colloquial style infuse the text with the atmosphere and vitality of an oral teaching.

Theravada Buddhism

Path with Heart

by Jack Kornfield

Beloved Western Buddhist master Kornfield makes known his personal, practical wisdom, garnered from 25 years of practicing and teaching the path of awakening, as he guides self-searchers to a simplicity of perception that brings alive spiritual practice, peace, and truth in their daily lives.

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere

by Ayya Khema

"Being Nobody, Going Nowhere" is the winner of the Christmas Humphreys Award for Best Introductory Buddhist Book. In this new edition of her classic best-selling book, Ayya Khema gives clear, practical instruction on meditation and techniques for overcoming counterproductive mental habits and beliefs. Through the simple practices detailed here, one can develop deeper insight, a sense of calm well-being, and a greater capacity to love and feel loved on a daily basis. This incredible book also includes an eloquent, sparklingly lucid outline of the Buddhist path that can be understood and enjoyed by everyone.