The Best Books For An Introduction To Zen

The Books I Picked & Why

Zen Meditation in Plain English

By John Daishin Buksbazen

Zen Meditation in Plain English

Why this book?

I love this book and find myself rereading it each year. It is the first book I recommend for my students and for anyone who is curious about the practice of Zen. Daishin has a depth of practice with a tenderness and love for the practice that is palpable. 


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Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice

By Kosho Uchiyama, Shohaku Okumura, Tom Wright

Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice

Why this book?

It's a perfect follow-up for after reading Zen Meditation in Plain English. Uchiyama Roshi’s clarity, warmth and rigor are a gateway into the practice. It is a jewel of a book that continues to illuminate Zen practice as an integrative life practice. I am so deeply appreciative for this book.


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Everyday Zen: Love and Work

By Charlotte Joko Beck

Everyday Zen: Love and Work

Why this book?

Dharma successor to Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Charlotte Joko Beck, was a musician, mother, partner and a person deeply interested in the integration of deep practice in the midst of our ordinary lives. Through her warmth and clarity, this book explicitly explores love, relationships, work, dear, ambition, and suffering. It is a beautiful book about how to live fully.


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Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice

By Taizan Maezumi, Eve Myonen Marko, Wendy Egyoku Nakao

Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice

Why this book?

We need to learn from our ancestors. Taizan Maezumi Roshi (1931-1995), was one of the first Japanese Zen masters to bring Zen to the West and founding abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles and Zen Mountain Center in Idyllwild, California. This inspiring collection of teachings explore zazen and Zen koans, how to appreciate your life as the life of the Buddha, and the essential matter of life and death. As Maezumi Roshi says, this book is a companion to "be intimate with your life."


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Street Zen: The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey

By David Schneider

Street Zen: The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey

Why this book?

This book inspired my own integration of service and Zen. Issan Dorsey is a person who did not hold back. This portrait of a teacher whose creativity, love, honesty, joy, and compassion continues to awaken new possibilities for engaged Buddhism.


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