Recommended Reading

There are LOTS of books on Buddhist meditation. I repeat: LOTS! They vary considerably in quality, both of writing and of the material presented. However there are many very good ones; more than the few I have presented below. Any of these are well worth reading, whether you are an experienced meditator or no. All of them are well written and accessible to people with a western education. They are presented in no particular order.

Ken McLeod: Wake Up to Your Life
This overview of key Buddhist concepts benefits from McLeod’s deep scholarship, long experience teaching Western students, and frequent collaboration with professional psychologists. His insights into the true meaning of traditional Buddhist teachings are often surprising, always enlightening.

Stephen Batchelor: Buddhism Without Beliefs
Down-to-earth discussion that allows people with Western backgrounds to grasp core Buddhist concepts like karma and reincarnation without having to adopt traditional eastern attitudes.

Larry Rosenberg: Breath by Breath
A very accessible and effective guide to breath meditation via the Anapanasati Sutra. Very powerful book.

Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Mindfulness
A very beautiful guide to mindfulness by a Vietnamese monk who has a substantial (and richly deserved) following in the West.

Henepola Gunaratana: Mindfulness in Plain English
Exactly what it says, and more: a really, really good meditation manual, well written and easy to read and understand.

Pema Chodron: Start Where You Are
Actually, any book by Pema Chodron is recommended. Abbess of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Chodron is an American who has thoroughly studied the traditional Tibetan path and is able to present its essence in an accessible way.

Uchiyama Roshi: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment
A change of pace from the rest of the books here: Uchiyama (who died in 1998) presents what appears to be advice on the job of the tenzo, the cook in a Zen monastery, but what is really very pithy instruction applicable to any life. Clear, simple, and engaging.