Recommended Readings

Find these and many other books in the Austin Zen Center Library.

Modern Zen Teachers
Opening the Hand of Thought, by Kosho Uchiyama.
Accessible yet profound discussion on the elements of Zen practice and life by a very important teacher in Japan.
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki.
These dharma talks by the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center are related in simple style, yet still manage to convey the deeper meanings of Zen and its practice. The Austin Zen Center is in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi.
Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai, by Shunryu Suzuki.
A collection of Suzuki’s talks on the Sandokai, an eighth-century poem written by the Chinese Zen master Sekito Kisen. Suzuki explores the poem, expounding on the meanings of its imagery and relevance to Buddhist practice and to life.
Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, by David Chadwick.
Chadwick interviewed family, friends, and disciples to create a rich context for Suzuki Roshi’s vast and deep teachings.This epic biography of the Japanese founder of the San Francisco Zen Center is hard to put down.
To Shine One Corner of the World : Moments With Shunryu Suzuki, by David Chadwick (Editor).
These brief personal stories, which are contributed anonymously, offer a strong sense of the man, his teachings and his enduring sense of humor.
Encouraging Words : Zen Buddhist Teachings for Western Students, by Robert Aitken
A practical guide that offers advice to both lay and advanced practitioners on how to integrate their spiritual practice into everyday life.
The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective, by Robert Aitken
This book not only addresses the 10 Paramitas (Perfections), but also the role of the teacher, the transformation of the self through sitting meditation (zazen), koan study, and the Mahayana tradition of responsibility for the welfare of others.
Taking the Path of Zen, by Robert Aitken.
This is possibly the best nuts-and-bolts book on sitting practice, rituals and form, walking meditation, koan study.
Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains: Dharma Talks on Zen Meditation, by Reb Anderson
A collection of dharma talks, intermingling stories of lineage teachers and their students with those from Anderson Roshi’s life and practice. The focus is generally on meditation and understanding of Zen practice.
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters & Their Teachings, by A. Ferguson and R. Anderson
The teachings of the Chinese Zen masters from Bodhidharma at the turn of the 5th century to Huikai in the 13th century are presented here in their core records and writings in chronological order by generation, spanning 25 generations in all.
Every Day Zen, by Charlotte Joko Beck.
Founder of the American Zen school of Ordinary Mind, Joko speaks in a way easily understandble to the western mind, with especially good advice on sitting practice and relations between people.
Returning to Silence : Zen Practice in Daily Life, by Dainin Katagiri
Offers a basic understanding of Zen Buddhism with a special emphasis on discovering the experience of enlightenment in the midst of everyday life.
You Have to Say Something : Manifesting Zen Insight, by Dainin Katagiri, Steve Hagen (Editor)
These selections from Katagiri Roshi’s talks address a key theme in his teaching, that of bringing Zen insight to bear on our everyday experience.
Buddhism for Dummies, by Jonathan Landaw and Stephan Bodian
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.
Trying to be Human by Cheri Huber
Trying To Be Human is about discovering that we already are everything we yearn for.
Saying Yes to Life by Ezra Bayda
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.
Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen
This is a book about awareness. It’s about being “awake” and in touch with what is going on here and now. Practical and down-to-earth, it deals exclusively with the present, not with speculation, theory, or belief in some far off time and place.
Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt
Why do we suffer? Is there a purpose to our pain? Noting that human beings have wrestled with such questions for thousands of years, Phillip Moffitt has found answers for his own life in Buddhist philosophy and meditation.
The Feeling Buddha by David Brazier
This engaging introduction to Buddhism explains the Buddha’s earliest teachings, and is a practical guide for how to live fully in today’s stressful world.
Precepts Study
Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics, by Robert Aitken
A concise guide to zazen and other aspects of the practice. Aitken addresses the world beyond the cushions, illuminating issues of personal and social action through an exploration of the philosophical complexities of Zen ethics.
Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts by Reb Anderson.
In this exploration into the ethical dilemmas that lie at the heart of each of the ten precepts, Anderson Roshi reveals a search for a compassionate life that requires sincere effort and attentiveness, the ability to be “upright” in each moment.
Waking Up to What You Do by Dianne Rizzetto
The author presents a simple, 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.
The Engaged Spiritual Life by Donald Rothberg
The author provides a clear, thorough, and compelling guide for those interested in connecting inner and outer transformation.
Invoking Reality by Daido Loori
The author presents and explains the ethical precepts of Zen as essential aspects of Zen training and development.
Good Life: A Zen Precepts Retreat with Cheri Huber by Sarah Jenkins (ed.)
The author 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.
Women in Buddhism
The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Women by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon (Editors)
This book presents a collection of one hundred koans and stories of Buddhist women from the time of the Buddha to the present day.
Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters by Grace Shireson
This book explores the teachings and history of Zen’s female ancestors, from the time of the Buddha to ancient and modern female masters in China, Korea, and Japan.
First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening by Susan Murcott
A readable, contemporary translation of, and commentary on, the enlightenment verses of the first female disciples of the Buddha.
Women Awake: Women Practicing Buddhism by Christina Feldman
For those women new to Buddhist meditation, the author offers valuable guidelines on breathing and relaxation—stressing, above all, that learning to understand, appreciate, and value themselves is the first step toward women’s creative and joyful integration with the world.
Women’s Buddhism, Buddhism’s Women — Tradition, Revision, Renewal by Elison Findly
A diverse array of scholars, activists, and practitioners explore how women have always managed to sustain a vital place for themselves within the tradition and continue to bring about change in the forms, practices, and institutions of Buddhism.
Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America by Lenore Friedman
This book celebrates the flowering of women in American Buddhism. The author set out to explore this phenomenon by interviewing some of the remarkable women who were teaching Buddhism in the United States
Historical Zen Teachers & Writings
Dogen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community : A Translation of the Eihei Shingi, by Eihei Dogen; translated by Shohaku Okumura.Provides insight into Dogen’s practical concerns for the sangha. These writings contain the depth of Dogen’s teachings on zazen practice while speaking of the day-to-day details of monastic life.
Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen, by Kazuaki Takahashi (Editor)
This book contains accounts of Dogen’s studies in China, poems, instructions on Zen practice, and informal talks with his students. Enlightenment for Dogen was not something that results from practice but is, in fact, practice itself.
The Wholehearted Way: A Translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa, translated by Kosho Uchiyama and Shohaku Okumura
Zen Master Dogen’s “Bendowa” is one of the primary texts on Zen practice. The text was written in 1231 and expresses Dogen’s teaching of the essential meaning of seated meditation and its actual practice.
The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader, edited by Nelson Foster and Jack Shoemaker.
Biographical sketches, writings and stories of about forty-five historical Chinese and Japanese Zen masters.
The Blue Cliff Record, by Numata Center for Buddhist Translation, Translated from the Chinese by Thomas Cleary.
A collection of one hundred famous Zen koans accompanied by commentaries and verses from the teachings of Chinese Zen masters
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.
Other Buddhist Teachers
The Places That Scare You, by Pema Chodron
These are teachings of fearlessness. Chodron introduces tools for transforming anxieties and negative emotions into positive living and suggests that opening ourselves to vulnerability from which comes loving-kindness, compassion, and joy.
When Things Fall Apart : Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron
The message of this book is that there is a fundamental happiness readily available to each one of us. But to find it, we must learn to stop running from suffering, and instead actually learn to approach it fearlessly, compassionately, and with curiosity.
The Wisdom of No Escape : And the Path of Loving-Kindness, by Pema Chodron
A collection of talks given during a month-long meditation retreat, which emphasizes the cultivation of loving-kindness toward everything, including ourselves.
For a Future to Be Possible : Commentaries on the Five Mindfulness Trainings, by Thich Nhat Hanh (Editor)
The Five Mindfulness Trainings—protecting life, acting with generosity, behaving responsibly in sexual relationships, speaking and listening deeply and mindfully, and avoiding substance abuse—are the basic statement of ethics and morality in Buddhism.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation, by Thich Nhat Hahn.
This book shows how the meditative mind can be maintained througout the day. This Vietnamese Zen master is one of the best known Buddhist leaders in the West. In Austin, his teachings inform the Plumb Blossom Sangha.
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, by Chogyam Trungpa
Examines the self-deceptions, distortions, and sidetracks that imperil the spiritual journey as well as awareness and fearlessness of the true path.
The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation, by Chogyam Trungpa
Explores the meaning of freedom in the context of Tibetan Buddhism and shows how meditation can help eliminate obstacles to true freedom.
Shambhala : Sacred Path of the Warrior, by Chogyam Trungpa, Carolyn Rose Gimian (Editor)
Presents the the principles and practices of the warrior’s path as a way for modern men and women to meet the challenges of life with fearlessness and dignity.
Zen & Buddhist History
How the Swans Came to the Lake, by Rick Fields.
A very enjoyable book about the history of Buddhism in the West, including early British and Portugese colonial contacts, Thoreau, early Zen missionaries in America, Buddhist beatniks, and the recent growth of Tibetan Buddhism.
Buddhism; A Way of Thought and Life, by Nancy Ross Wilson.
A very clear, readable introduction to Buddhism, with a historical perspective. Good chapters specifically on Tibetan, Theravada (Southern) and Zen Buddhism.