Introduction to Buddhism - Recommended Reading List

TBC Introduction to Buddhism Suggested Reading List

We are pleased to provide the following list of recommended readings, compiled by our senior teachers, to go along not only with our Introduction to Buddhism series, but to serve as great general practice resources, as well.  (Descriptions courtesy of

  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon, (ed. Bhikku Bodhi, Wisdom Pub)  “The works of the Buddha can feel vast, and it is sometimes difficult for even longtime students to know where to look. Designed to provide just such a framework, In the Buddha's Words is an anthology of the Buddha's works that is arrayed in ten thematic sections ranging from ‘The Human Condition’ to ‘Mastering the Mind’ to ‘The Planes of Realization’."
  • The World's Religions (Huston Smith) “Huston Smith's masterpiece explores the essential elements and teachings of the world's predominant faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the native traditions of Australia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Smith conveys the unique appeal and gifts of each of the traditions and reveals their hold on the human heart and imagination.”
  • The Shambala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (Shambala Pub.)  “The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen is the most complete compact reference work of its kind available in the English language. It is designed to help familiarize all readers with Buddhist terms and concepts—such as chakra, karma, koan, nirvana, and tantra.”
  • When Things Fall Apart (Pema Chodron)“Chodron's book is filled with useful advice about how Buddhism helps readers to cope with the grim realities of modern life, including fear, despair, rage and the feeling that we are not in control of our lives.”
  • No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva (Pema Chodron, Wisdom Pub.)  “Popular Buddhist teacher Chödrön’s comments at length on an eighth-century text by the Indian Buddhist sage Shantideva. It's a guidebook for developing bodhichitta, an awakened mind that expresses itself in compassionate action to alleviate suffering. The lengthy text will certainly be unfamiliar to beginners, but Chödrön is a wise choice for an escort.”
  • Buddha Heart, Buddha Mind: Living the Four Noble Truths (HH the XIV Dalai Lama) “This book has considerable, complex depth by addressing suffering and its cessation. For beginners, the seven pages of "Specific Instructions on Meditation," the Dalai Lama gives the benefit of his measureless experience in clear, useful terms.”
  • Freedom in Exile (HH the XIV Dalai Lama) “The Dalai Lama's autobiography recounts his life from the time he was whisked away from his home in 1939 at the age of 4, to his treacherous escape from Tibet in 1959, to his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Inspiring in every way, Freedom in Exile is both a historical document and a fable of deepest trust in humanity.”
  • Awakening the Buddha Within (Lama Surya Das).  “Lama Surya Das has a hip delivery that belies his years of sheltered training in Buddhist monasteries. With the "Five T's of Concentration," the question of "need or greed," and the story of the monk who bares his backside to prove a point, Surya Das invokes a path of wisdom that is as accessible and down-to-earth as a worn pair of loafers.”
  • As It Is, Vol. 1 (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche). "Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s direct oral instructions inspired admiration, delight in practice, and deep trust and confidence in the teachings among those who met him. His words always helped their minds, and naturally allowed compassion, love and insight to blossom."- Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Introductory Teachings
  • The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva (Dilgo Khyentse). “What would be the practical implications of caring more about others than about yourself? This is the radical theme of this extraordinary set of instructions, a training manual composed in the fourteenth century by the Buddhist hermit Ngulchu Thogme, here explained in detail by one of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters of the twentieth century, Dilgo Khyentse.”
  • Guru Yoga (Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche). “Why is the practice of guru yoga, (union with the nature of the guru) so important? Because, with the help of the outer teacher, the inner teacher (the true nature of our own mind) is discovered. This excellent work presents a succinct overview of the heart of the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition in Tibet.”
  • How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator (Thubten Chodron).  “The beloved deity Tara is the feminine embodiment of enlightenment. For centuries, practitioners have turned to her for protection from both external and internal dangers, from fire to arrogance. This well-written book, presented in conversational style, is an authoritative guide to the practice of Tara.”
  • Tara's Enlightened Activity (Palden Sherab Rinpoche. and Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche). “This book of practical advice for meditation on the female deity Tara emphasizes embodying the qualities of courage and lovingkindess. Both male and female students of Buddhism use these visualization practices to evoke in themselves the qualities that Tara symbolizes.”
  • The Great Path of Awakening (Jamgon Kongtrul, Shambala Classics). “Here is a practical Buddhist guidebook that offers techniques for developing a truly compassionate heart in the midst of everyday life. For centuries, Tibetans have used fifty-nine pithy slogans—such as "A joyous state of mind is a constant support" and "Don't talk about others' shortcomings"—as a means to awaken kindness, gentleness, and compassion.”
  • The Awakened One: A Life of the Buddha (Sherab Chodzin Kohn, Shambala Dragon Editions).  “The principal doctrines are presented in a way that is not only clear and succinct, but that—most importantly—enables the reader to understand them not as abstract doctrine, but as insights which were themselves events in the life of the Buddha.”
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche). "Popular Tibetan teacher Sogyal Rinpoche has transformed that ancient text, conveying a perennial philosophy that is at once religious, scientific, and practical. Through extraordinary anecdotes and stories from religious traditions East and West, Rinpoche introduces the reader to the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism, moving gradually to the topics of death and dying."
  • The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan (Lobsang P. Lhalungpa).  “This life story of Milarepa has long been one of the most popular books among Tibetans of all backgrounds and lineages, and Lhalungpa's clear translation brings the story to life in English.”
  • How to Meditate (Kathleen McDonald). “This book has enormous value for anyone who wishes to begin a meditation practice. Kathleen McDonald is a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, but this book offers useful advice to anyone of any spiritual persuasion.”
  • What Makes You Not a Buddhist (Jamyang Khyentse). "Khyentse, a lama from an influential family and Buddhist lineage in Bhutan, is also a filmmaker, responsible for the sleeper hit The Cup, about a group of Tibetan monks obsessed with soccer. The monk brings the same multicultural fluency to his first book. He can make references to Viagra and Camilla Parker-Bowles as easily as he can tell stories of the Buddha's life. With confidence tempered by wit, he cuts to the core of Buddhism: four "seals"—truths—that make up a Buddhist "right view" of the world and existence."


  • The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness (Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche). "Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is among the generation of Tibetan lamas trained outside of Tibet. His brain activity has been measured during meditation, earning him the enviable sobriquet of "happiest man on earth." He fuses scientific and spiritual considerations, explaining meditation as a physical as well as a spiritual process. Mingyur Rinpoche experienced panic attacks as a child that he was able to overcome through intensive meditation. If diligently practiced, meditation can affect the "neuronal gossip"—his imaginative rendering of brain cell communication—that keeps us stuck in unhappy behaviors."