10 Great Buddhist Books, Recommended by 10 Buddhist Teachers

In this archive article from the Fall 2007 issue of Buddhadharma, ten Buddhist teachers, scholars, and writers recommend great Buddhist books.

Lion’s Roar
7 April 2019
Pile of books
Photo by John-Mark Smith.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunyru Suzuki (Weatherhill 1970) 

Recommended by Sharon Salzberg: “I read this book soon after it came out in 1973, during my time of dedicated practice in India. It was the book I continually returned to for years to help me remember that we practice not to attain buddhanature, but rather to express it. The book changed my motivation for practice and my entire sense of right effort.”

Peaks and Lamas by Marco Pallis (Readers Union 1939)

Recommended by Gary Snyder: “I started reading it for the mountaineering section, at seventeen, and got drawn into the Tibetan Buddhism section as well. I found my spiritual home there, even before discovering Zen.”

Life of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Nanamoli (Pariyatti Publishing 2003)

Recommended by Ajahn Amaro: “Through his expert translations and flawless feel for the wisdom and wit of the ancient texts, Bhikkhu Nanamoli succeeds in drawing the reader into the dusty paths of India and into the presence of the Buddha himself.”

Moon in Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen edited by Kaz Tanahashi (North Point Press 1995)

Recommended by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara: “This translation of essential writings of Dogen has been a vital book for me. Kaz Tanahashi’s insightful and transparent renderings of Dogen’s texts changed my experience of Zen from a supportive practice to a transformational one. I am so grateful to have the opportunity, as an English speaker, to study and practice with these profound teachings.”

Mind in Comfort and Ease by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Wisdom Publications, 2007)

Recommended by B. Alan Wallace: “This is an outstanding introduction to the Great Perfection tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and it includes His Holiness’s oral commentary on a major text by Longchen Rabjam. His Holiness places the Great Perfection within the broader context of Buddhism as a whole and also elucidates areas of inquiry that are relevant to science and Buddhism.”

Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Awakening by Analayo (Wind Horse Publications 2004)

Recommended by Joseph Goldstein: “This is an engaging and thorough presentation of the Buddha’s teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness. Ven. Analayo offers an in-depth analysis of this essential text, including a range of interpretations on different points of controversy. His work inspired my own more careful investigation of the depth and breadth of this extraordinary discourse.”

Meditation on Emptiness by Jeffrey Hopkins (Wisdom Publications 1983)

Recommended by Georges Dreyfus: “It brought for the first time a sophisticated account of Tibetan interpretations of Madhyamaka, which was an enormous resource for those interested in Buddhist philosophy.”

Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Master Hongzhi translated by Taigen Dan Leighton and Yi Wu (Tuttle Publishing, 2000) 

Recommended by Sojun Mel Weitsman: “This is a work of outstanding inspiration. I never get tired of reading it.”

Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group (Shambhala 1991)

Recommended by Anne Carolyn Klein: “Almost every teacher I’ve studied with has taught or cited this text, finding within it places of rest and wisdom. Its many famous stories are mini-movies that frame and support the practice of sutra, tantra, and Dzogchen. Straight from the expansive heart of Heart Essence traditions.”

Lankavatara Sutra by D. T. Suzuki (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers  1978)

Recommended by Jeffrey Hopkins: “It presents in grand detail the horizons of Mind-only and Middle Way thought.”

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