Books

Modern Zen Teachers

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind 
by Shunryu Suzuki  (Author), David Chadwick (Afterword)

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." 

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books.  Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line.  In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen as to completely miss what it's all about.  An instant teaching on the first page.  And that's just the beginning. 

In the forty years since its original publication, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind has become one of the great modern spiritual classics, much beloved, much reread, and much recommended as the best first book to read on Zen. Suzuki Roshi presents the basics — from the details of posture and breathing in zazen to the perception of nonduality — in a way that is not only remarkably clear, but that also resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page.

 
Transient

Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki 
by David Chadwick

Shunryu Suzuki is known to countless readers as the author of the modern spiritual classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.  This most influential teacher comes vividly to life in Crooked Cucumber, the first full biography of any Zen master to be published in the West.  To make up his intimate and engrossing narrative, David Chadwick draws on Suzuki's own words and the memories of his students, friends, and family.  Interspersed with previously unpublished passages from Suzuki's talks, Crooked Cucumberevokes a down-to-earth life of the spirit.  Along with Suzuki we can find a way to "practice with mountains, trees, and stones and to find ourselves in this big world."

 

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."

 

You Have to Say Something (Manifesting Zen Insight)
by Dainin Katagiri  (Author), Steve Hagen  (Editor)

Dainin Katagiri (1928-1990) was a central figure in the transmission of Zen in America. His first book, Returning to Silence, emphasized the need to return to our original, enlightened state of being, and became one of the classics of Zen in America. In You Have to Say Something, selections from his talks have been collected to address another key theme of Katagiri's teaching: that of bringing Zen insight to bear on our everyday experience. "To live life fully" Katagiri says, "means to take care of your life day by day, moment to moment, right here, right now" To do this, he teaches, we must plunge into our life completely, bringing to it the same wholeheartedness that is required in Zen meditation. When we approach life in this way, every activity-everything we do, everything we say-becomes an opportunity for manifesting our own innate wisdom. With extraordinary freshness and immediacy, Katagiri shows the reader how this wisdom not only enlivens our spiritual practice but can help make our life a rich, seamless whole.

 

Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice
by Kosho Uchiyama

For over thirty years, Opening the Hand of Thought has offered an introduction to Zen Buddhism and meditation unmatched in clarity and power. This is the revised edition of Kosho Uchiyama's singularly incisive classic. 

This new edition contains even more useful material: new prefaces, an index, and extended endnotes, in addition to a revised glossary. As Jisho Warner writes in her preface, 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. It's a perfect follow-up for the reader who has read Zen Meditation in Plain English and is especially useful for those who have not yet encountered a Zen teacher.


PRECEPTS STUDY

Everyday Zen
by Charlotte J. Beck 

Charlotte Joko Beck offers a warm, engaging, uniquely American approach to using Zen to deal with the problems of daily living—love, relationships, work, fear, ambition, and suffering. Everyday Zen shows us how to live each moment to the fullest. This Plus edition includes an interview with the author.

 

The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics 
by Robert Aitken 

ITaking the Path of Zen, Robert Aitken provided a concise guide to zazen (Zen meditation) and other aspects of the practice of Zen. In The Mind of Clover he addresses the world beyond the zazen cushions, illuminating issues of appropriate personal and social action through an exploration of the philosophical complexities of Zen ethics. 


Aitken's approach is clear and sure as he shows how our minds can be as nurturing as clover, which enriches the soil and benefits the environment as it grows. The opening chapters discuss the Ten Grave Precepts of Zen, which, Aitken points out, are "not commandments etched in stone but expressions of inspiration written in something more fluid than water." 

 
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Good Life: A Zen Precepts Retreat with Cheri Huber
by Sara Jenkins

Good Life presents the Buddhist precepts as signposts on the path to discovering human beings' inherent goodness. It offers concrete ways of transforming real-life difficulties into freedom.

 

Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion 
by Diane Eshin Rizzetto

Life is rising up to meet us at every moment. The question is: Are we there to meet it or not? Diane Rizzetto presents a simple but supremely effective practice for meeting every moment of our lives with mindfulness, using the Zen precepts as tools to develop a keen awareness of the motivations behind every aspect of our behavior—to "wake up to what we do"—from moment to moment. As we train in mindfulness of our actions, every situation of our lives becomes our teacher, offering priceless insight into what it really means to be happy. It's a simple practice with transformative potential, enabling us to break through our habitual reactions and to see clearly how our own happiness and well-being are intimately, inevitably connected to the happiness and well-being of everyone around us. 

 

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.


Practical Zen

Buddhism Plain and Simple 
by Steve Hagen 

"Buddhism Plain and Simple" offers a clear, straightforward treatise on Buddhism in general and on awareness in particular. Steve Hagan presents the Buddha's uncluttered, original teachings in everyday, accessible language unencumbered by religious ritual

 

Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts 
by Reb Anderson

Being Upright takes us beyond the conventional interpretation of ethical precepts to the ultimate meaning that informs them. Reb Anderson first introduces us to the fundamental ideas of Zen Buddhist practice. Who was Shakyamuni Buddha and what was his central teaching? What does it mean to be a bodhisattva and take the bodhisattva vow? Why should we confess and acknowledge our ancient twisted karma? What is the significance of taking refuge in Buddha, dharma, and sangha? The author explores the ten basic precepts, including not killing, not stealing, not lying, not misusing sexuality, and not using intoxicants. A gifted storyteller, Anderson takes us to the heart of situations, where moral judgments are not easy and we do not have all the answers. With wisdom and compassion, he teaches us how to confront the emotional and ethical turmoil of our lives.

 

A Light in the Mind
by Carolyn Atkinson

Carolyn Atkinson looks directly at the startling and inspiring practice of living our lives right now--just as they are. What does it mean to actually inhabit our lives? When we choose to be present in these very lives that we have, we truly are acting courageously. Developing an ongoing willingness to embrace self-acceptance is a profound place of practice. When we cultivate both mindfulness and stillness in our lives, we can discover a place of peace--a light in the mind.

 

Saying Yes to Life: (Even the Hard Parts)
by Ezra Bayda

Presented in simple yet strikingly memorable language, the messages in Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts) provide inspiration for each day, and invitations to go more deeply into the spiritual life. These gems of wisdom range from page-long reflections to simple aphorisms. The themes presented emphasize the importance of making peace with life's paradoxes, opening to the unwanted, finding the happiness in difficulty, and living always with what's here. Page after page reveals truths that can be put into action in the moment, yet also unfold ever more deeply with thorough examination. Insightful and never convoluted, Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts) is a great companion for life's long journey.

 

Buddhism For Dummies Paperback – July 15, 2011
by Jonathan Landaw,  Stephan Bodian and  Gudrun Bühnemann

Buddhism, one of the world's most widely practiced religions, is a fascinating yet complex eastern religion that is rapidly spreading throughout western civilization. What does it mean to be a Buddhist? What are the fundamental beliefs and history behind this religion? Buddhism For Dummies explores these questions and more in this updated guide to Buddhist culture. You'll gain an understanding of the origins of this ancient practice and how they're currently applied to everyday life.

Whether you're a searcher of truth, a student of religions, or just curious about what makes Buddhism such a widely practiced religion, this guide is for you. In plain English, it defines the important terms, explains the key concepts, and explores in-depth a wide range of fascinating topics.

 

This Is Getting Old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity 
by Susan Moon

In this intimate and funny collection of essays on the sometimes confusing, sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious condition of being a woman over sixty, Susan Moon keeps her sense of humor and she keeps her reader fully engaged. Among the pieces she has included  here are an essay on the gratitude she feels for her weakening bones; observations on finding herself both an orphan and a matriarch following the death of her mother; musings on her tendency to regret the past; thoughts on how not to be afraid of loneliness; appreciation for the inner tomboy; and celebratory advice on how to regard "senior moments" as opportunities to be in the here and now.


Women in Zen

 

The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened WomenPaperbackby Zenshin Florence Caplow & Reigetsu Susan Moon

The Hidden Lamp is a collection of one hundred koans and stories of Buddhist women from the time of the Buddha to the present day. This revolutionary book brings together many teaching stories that were hidden for centuries, unknown until this volume. These stories are extraordinary expressions of freedom and fearlessness, relevant for men and women of any time or place. In these pages we meet nuns, laywomen practicing with their families, famous teachers honored by emperors, and old women selling tea on the side of the road.

Each story is accompanied by a reflection by a contemporary woman teacher--personal responses that help bring the old stories alive for readers today--and concluded by a final meditation for the reader, a question from the editors meant to spark further rumination and inquiry. These are the voices of the women ancestors of every contemporary Buddhist.

 

First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening
by Susan Murcott

First Buddhist Women is a readable, contemporary translation of and commentary on the enlightenment verses of the first female disciples of the Buddha. Through the study of the Therigatha, the earliest-known collection of women’s religious poetry, the book explores Buddhism's 2,600-year-long liberal attitude toward women. Utilizing commentary and storytelling, author Susan Murcott traces the journey of wives, mothers, teachers, courtesans, prostitutes, and wanderers who became leaders in the Buddhist community, acquiring roles that even today are rarely filled by women in other, patriarchal religions.

 

Woman Awake: Women Practicing Buddhism
by Christina Feldman

Because women have been conditioned to live according to traditional feminine values—conformity, passivity, and surrender of the self, they often feel powerless to transform their lives and lose their sense of worth. In Woman Awake, Christina Feldman suggests that it is possible for women to break out of their negative patterns and accept themselves as they really are. With a growing awarenss of the dignity of all life and its connection with them, women can overcome the social conditioning and myth-making that overwhelm and oppress them.

For those women new to Buddhist meditation, Christina Feldman offers sensitive and valuable guidelines on breathing and relaxation, stressing, above all, that learning to understand, appreciate, and value themselves is the first step towards women's creative and joyful integration with the world.

Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America 
by Lenore Friedman 

This book celebrates the flowering of women in American Buddhism. Lenore Friedman set out to explore this phenomenon by interviewing some of the remarkable women who were teaching Buddhism in the United States. The seventeen women she writes about vary in background, personality, and form of teaching. Together the represent the growing presence and influence of women teachers in America--a development that will surely affect Buddhism in the West for years to come. This revised edition includes a new section describing developments in these women's lives and work since the book's first publication in 1987. Teachers include: Toni Packer, Maurine Stuart, Pema Chödrön, Joko Beck, Ruth Denison, Bobby Rhodes, Jiyu Kennett, Sharon Salzberg, Karuna Dharma, Joanna Macy, Gesshin Prabhasa Dharma, Sonja Margulies, Yvonne Rand, Jacqueline Mandell, Colleen Schmitz, Ayya Khema, and Tsering Everest.


Zen & Buddhist History

Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
by Andy Ferguson 

Zen's Chinese Heritage traces twenty-five generations of inlightened Buddhist teachers, supplementing their core teachings with history, biography, and poetry. The result is an intimate and profound human portrait of the enlightened Zen ancients, and an unprecedented look into the depths of the rich cultural heritage.In this new edition with even more valuable material, Ferguson surveys generations of Zen masters, moving chronologically through successive generations of ancestral teachers, supplementing their core teachings with history, biography, and starkly beautiful poetry. In addition to giving the reader the engaging sense of the "family history" of Zen, this uniquely valuable book paints a clear picture of the tradition's evolution as a religious, literary, and historical force.hinese Htraces twenty-five generations of inlightened Buddhist teachers, supplementing their core teachings with history, biography, and poetry. The result is an intimate and profound human portrait of the enlightened Zen ancients, and an unprecedented look into the depths of the rich cultural heritage.


Historical Buddhist Writings

Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community: A Translation of Eihei Shingi 
by Eihei Dogen (Author), Taigen Daniel Leighton, & Shohaku Okumura

This is a complete translation of Eihei Shingi, the major writing by the Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen (1200-1253) on monastic practice and the role of community life in Buddhism. Dogen was the founder of the Soto branch of Japanese Zen, but his teaching was not limited by any particular school of Buddhism. His writings are generally regarded today as a great summit of Japanese Buddhist philosophy, meditation practice, psychology, and poetic insight into the nature of reality. 

Eihei Shingi contains Dogen's principal guidelines and instructions for everyday life and rituals in the monastic training center he established. Included are a collection of dramatic teaching stories, or koans, on the attitude and responsibilities for practitioners in the community, the only collection of traditional koans with this practical focus.

 

Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen
by 
Kazuaki Tanahashi

 Enlightenment Unfolds is a sequel to Kaz Tanahashi's previous collection,  Moon in a Dewdrop, which has become a primary source on Dogen for Western Zen students. Dogen Zenji (1200-1253) is unquestionably the most significant religious figure in Japanese history. Founder of the Soto school of Zen (which emphasizes the practice of zazen or sitting meditation), he was a prolific writer whose works have remained popular for six hundred years. Enlightenment Unfolds presents even more of the incisive and inspiring writings of this seminal figure, focusing on essays from his great life work, Treasury of the True Dharma Eye as well as poems, talks, and correspondence, much of which appears here in English for the first time.

 

The Wholehearted Way Paperback 
by Eihei Dogen (Author), Kosho Uchiyama Roshi (Translator), Shohaku Okumura (Translator)

The Wholehearted Way is a translation of Eihei Dogen's Bendowa, one of the primary texts on Zen practice. Transcending any particular school of Buddhism or religious belief, Dogen's profound and poetic writings are respected as a pinnacle of world spiritual literature. Bendowa, or A Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way, was written in 1231 A.D. and expresses Dogen's teaching of the essential meaning of zazen (seated meditation) and its practice. This edition also contains commentary on Bendowa by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, a foreword by Taigen Daniel Leighton, and an Introduction by Shohaku Okumura, both of whom prepared this English translation.

The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader
by Nelson Foster & Jack Shoemaker 

The Roaring, Stream: A New Zen Reader is a groundbreaking, immensely readable anthology drawn From the vast corpus of Ch'an and Zen Buddhist literature. It offers readers a tour through more than a millennium of writing, presenting one masterpiece after another in chronological progression. "You can dip into the waters of this stream, again and again, at any point Finding refreshment and perspective, " notes Robert Aitken in his introduction. "A year From now you can dip in again and find treasures that were not at all evident the First time." From lectures to letters, brief poems to extended disquisitions, this collection is an ideal point of entry For newcomers to the Zen tradition, and an essential sourcebook For those who are already " on the way."

 

The Blue Cliff Record
by Thomas Cleary

The Blue Cliff Record is a translation of the Pi Yen Lu , a collection of one hundred famous Zen koans accompanied by commentaries and verses from the teachings of Chinese Zen masters. Compiled in the twelfth century, it is considered one of the great treasures of Zen literature and an essential study manual for students of Zen.



Book of Serenity, by Hsing-Hsiu, Thomas Cleary (Introduction)
An important collection of 100 classic Zen Buddhist koans with commentaries. A classic collection of koans--the paradoxical teaching devices that have been closely associated with Zen study and practice since the tenth century.

 

Book of Serenity: One Hundred Zen Dialogues
by Thomas Cleary

 

Book of Serenity is a translation of Shoyo Roku, a collection of one hundred Zen koans with commentaries that stands as a companion to the other great Chinese koan collection, the Blue Cliff Record (Pi Yen Lu). A classic of Chan (Chinese Zen) Buddhism, Book of Serenity has been skillfully rendered into English by the renowned translator Thomas Cleary. 

Compiled in China in the twelfth century, the Book of Serenity is, in the words of Zen teacher Tenshin Reb Anderson, "an auspicious peak in the mountain range of Zen literature, a subtle flowing stream in the deep valleys of our teaching, a treasure house of inspiration and guidance in studying the ocean of Buddhist teachings." Each one of its one hundred chapters begins with an introduction, along with a main case, or koan, taken from Zen lore or Buddhist scripture. This is followed by commentary on the main case, verses inspired by it, and, finally, further commentary on all of these. The book contains a glossary of Zen/Chan terms and metaphors


Other Buddhist Teachers

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron 

The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Chödrön discusses: 

 

Living Buddha, Living Christ 10th Anniversary Edition 
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddha and Christ, perhaps the two most pivotal figures in the history of humankind, each left behind a legacy of teachings and practices that have shaped the lives of billions of people over two millennia. If they were to meet on the road today, what would each think of the other's spiritual views and practices? In this classic text for spiritual seekers, Thich Nhat Hanh explores the crossroads of compassion and holiness at which the two traditions meet, and he reawakens our understanding of both.

 

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
by Chogyam Trungpa

In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa highlights the commonest pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvement—the impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. "The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use," he said, "even spirituality." His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for nearly thirty years, and remains fresh as ever today. 

 



Zen & Buddhist History

How the Swans Came to the Lake
by Rick Fields

This new updated edition of How the Swans Came to the Lake includes much new information about recent events in Buddhist groups in America and discusses such issues as spiritual authority, the role of women, and social action


Buddha 
by Karen Armstrong

Many know the Buddha only from seeing countless serene, iconic images. But what of the man himself and the world he lived in? What did he actually do in his roughly eighty years on earth that spawned one of the greatest religions in world history? Armstrong tackles these questions and more by examining the life and times of the Buddha in this engrossing philosophical biography. Against the tumultuous cultural background of his world, she blends history, philosophy, mythology, and biography to create a compelling and illuminating portrait of a man whose awakening continues to inspire millions.

 

Buddhism: Way of Life & Thought
by Nancy Wilson Ross

Explains the origins, development and basic principles of the religion followed by nearly one-quarter of the people on earth.

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