100 books like Enlightened Beings

By Jan Willis,

Here are 100 books that Enlightened Beings fans have personally recommended if you like Enlightened Beings. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist — One Woman's Spiritual Journey

Cyndi Lee Author Of May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind

From my list on Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a practicing yogi and Buddhist for 50 years. For me these lifelong practices started with reading, or as my Zen teacher calls it, being a “Book Buddhist.” Buddhism and Yoga are not typically called “faith-based” practices, but there is an element of faith — it is faith in the process. But you can’t have faith until you have experienced the benefits of practice. The unconventional lives of the yogis told in these books illustrate for all of us how we, too, can develop wisdom, joy, and compassion. I found each of these books really, really fun to read and I’ve gained much insight and inspiration for my own spiritual path.

Cyndi's book list on Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs

Cyndi Lee Why did Cyndi love this book?

Jan Willis is one of our most respected American Buddhist teachers and scholars. Like so many Americans who identify as Buddhists, Jan Willis’ story begins with a Christian background. Willis was raised in the Baptist church in Alabama where she endured Jim Crow racism and later marched with MLK, Jr. She writes about the obstacles she faced in her Ivy League education and how she eventually met her Buddhist guru in India. This story is so resonant for me because it reminds me that we can evolve and grow on our spiritual journey without rejecting any part of who we already are. I read this book when it was published in 2001 and it continues to inspire me as a Buddhist, an American, and a writer.

By Jan Willis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dreaming Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jan Willis is not Baptist or Buddhist. She is simply both. Dreaming Me is the story of her life, as a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, dealing with racism in an Ivy League college, and becoming involved with the Black Panther Party. But it wasn't until meeting Lama Yeshe, a Tibetan Buddhist monk living in the mountains of Nepal, that she realized who the real Jan Willis was, and how to make the most of the life she was living.


Book cover of The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan

Lorne Ladner Author Of The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

From my list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a clinical psychologist who also writes about and teaches Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation. I've had the great good fortune to be closely mentored by a number of elder Tibetan teachers who were educated in old Tibet.  Over the decades, when seeking wisdom and compassion in the midst of life's challenges, I've repeatedly found inspiration, education, solace, and guidance along my own path in the enlightened and enlightening life stories of a number of the great scholar/yogis of the Himalayan Buddhist traditions. 

Lorne's book list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Lorne Ladner Why did Lorne love this book?

For me personally, this book changed my life more than any other, opening me up to the inspiring possibility that a deeply imperfect person could become enlightened through sincere and mighty efforts. This work is one of the world's great stories. The name Milarepa has inspired people for a millenium throughout Central Asia, being almost synonymous with being a yogi and with redemption through heartfelt efforts. It includes Milarepa's life story and some of the many poems which he spontaneously composed to educate and enlighten others as he wandered through the Himalayas.

By Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Unknown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life of Milarepa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Life of Milarepa is the most beloved story of the Tibetan people amd one of the greatest source books for the contemplative life in all world literature. This biography, a true folk tale from a culture now in crisis, can be read on several levels: a personal and moving introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, it is also a profoundly detailed guidebook in the search for consciousness. It presents the quest for spiritual perfection, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great saint. But it is also a powerful and graphic folk tale, full of magic, disaster, feuds,…


Book cover of Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

Patrick Ussher Author Of Stoicism & Western Buddhism: A Reflection on Two Philosophical Ways of Life

From my list on modern-day adaptations of Buddhism and Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been interested in what different traditions have to say about how to live our best lives. While a graduate student, I naturally drifted towards studying both Stoicism and Buddhism and wrote my MA dissertation on a comparison of both (which ultimately, much later, became the basis for my book). During my time as a Ph.D. student, I was actively involved in the Modern Stoicism project. As well as running the blog for the project, I was also involved, along with a team of academics and psychotherapists, in creating adaptations of that ancient philosophy for the modern world. I also draw on both philosophies in coping with chronic illness.

Patrick's book list on modern-day adaptations of Buddhism and Stoicism

Patrick Ussher Why did Patrick love this book?

This, the biography of a 14th-century Tibetan Buddhist master, might seem out of place for a list that is about modern-day adaptations of ancient philosophies. However, I wanted to include it as a reminder that while philosophical reform can be all well and good, sometimes the masters of yesteryear are those from whom we still have the most to learn.

I find this book magical: its lucid descriptions of the rich intellectual and spiritual tradition of 14th-century Tibetan culture, its monastic curriculum and debates, and the evident commitment to enlightenment among its many protagonists, all of these things have much to teach us moderns who might just have a tendency to get a little cute when we think that we know best.  

By Thupten Jinpa,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tsongkhapa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The new standard work and definitive biography of Tsongkhapa, one of the principle founders of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism--the school of the Dalai Lamas.

In this groundbreaking addition to the Lives of the Masters series, Thupten Jinpa, a scholar-practitioner and long-time translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, offers the most comprehensive portrait available of Jé Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), one of the greatest Buddhist teachers in history. A devout monastic, Tsongkhapa took on the difficult task of locating and studying all of the Indian Buddhist classics available in Tibet in his day. He went on to synthesize this knowledge…


Book cover of The Life and Teaching of Naropa

Lorne Ladner Author Of The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

From my list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a clinical psychologist who also writes about and teaches Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation. I've had the great good fortune to be closely mentored by a number of elder Tibetan teachers who were educated in old Tibet.  Over the decades, when seeking wisdom and compassion in the midst of life's challenges, I've repeatedly found inspiration, education, solace, and guidance along my own path in the enlightened and enlightening life stories of a number of the great scholar/yogis of the Himalayan Buddhist traditions. 

Lorne's book list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Lorne Ladner Why did Lorne love this book?

Naropa was an important figure in Indian Tantric Buddhism whose lineages gained great popularity in Tibet. His life story beautifully embodies many archetypal elements of the spiritual journey in a way that has proved compelling, inspiring, and educational for Buddhist practitioners for well over a millenium. He goes from being a great scholar to a seeker who bears many hardships to an enlightened master. If you yourself are someone deeply committed to a spiritual journey, then it's likely that you'll find moments of your own experience reflected back for you in his remarkable story.

By Herbert V. Guenther,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life and Teaching of Naropa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the history of Tibetan Buddhism, the eleventh-century Indian mystic Nâropa occupies an unusual position, for his life and teachings mark both the end of a long tradition and the beginning of a new and rich era in Buddhist thought. Nâropa's biography, translated by the world-renowned Buddhist scholar Herbert V. Guenther from hitherto unknown sources, describes with great psychological insight the spiritual development of this scholar-saint. It is unique in that it also contains a detailed analysis of his teaching that has been authoritative for the whole of Tantric Buddhism.

This modern translation is accompanied by a commentary that relates…


Book cover of The Third Eye

Tommy Chong Author Of The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint

From my list on for seekers, poets, and philosophers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tommy Chong is a Canadian-American actor, writer, director, musician, cannabis rights activist, and comedian. He is known for the Cheech and Chong comedy albums and movies along with many other roles. He is a poet and a philosopher and these are his picks for the books that mark his spiritual journey through life.

Tommy's book list on for seekers, poets, and philosophers

Tommy Chong Why did Tommy love this book?

A long time ago, I used to own part of a Jazz club. There was a jazz guitar player named Sunny Greenwich and he turned me onto this book. It is a compelling story of an English man who was a reincarnated Tibetan lama. This book changed my life and it gave me a vision of who we really are, why we are, and how we are. And, how we are all connected to our spiritual selves. When our bodies die they go back to their spiritual selves, and we are just out here to gain experience. This book sent me to some good places and helped open my eyes so I could see the next book on my path.

By T. Lobsang Rampa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Third Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

T. Lobsang Rampa was preordained to be a Tibetan priest, a sign from the stars that could not be ignored. When he left his wealthy home to enter the monastery, his heart was filled with trepidation, with only a slight knowledge of the rigorous spiritual training and physical ordeal that awaited him.


Book cover of The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen

Alejandro Chaoul Author Of Tibetan Yoga: Magical Movements of Body, Breath, and Mind

From my list on the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist yogic path.

Why am I passionate about this?

Maybe reincarnation, maybe early interest, but since elementary school I had a call that I didn’t quite understand. It became clearer as I moved through high school, college, and grad school. Traveling to India and Nepal from 1989-1990 for 9 months was the gestation period for my interest in this Tibetan yogic path. I was fortunate to continue training at Ligmincha International as well as in Menri Monastery in India, Tritan Norbutse in Nepal, and visit Tibet. From teaching in the US, Latin America, and Europe, my greatest privilege was the 20 years at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, connecting with people at a deep human level.

Alejandro's book list on the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist yogic path

Alejandro Chaoul Why did Alejandro love this book?

If you want a clear explanation of Tibetan spirituality, and gain a deeper understanding of sutra, tantra, and Dzogchen, this is your book! Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche’s direct and clear style of teaching is vibrant in this book. And like its title, this book is the crystal that with one’s awareness or rigpa, can bring light into your practice and everyday life.

By Chogyal Namkhai Norbu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crystal and the Way of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A contemporary exploration of, and personal meditation on, the Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen and its many teachings for modern life—by an esteemed Tibetan master

In The Crystal and the Way of Light, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu examines the spiritual path from the viewpoint of Dzogchen. He discusses the base path and fruit of Dzogchen practice, and describes his education and how he met his principal master who showed him the real meaning of direct introduction to Dzogchen.

By interweaving his life story with the teachings, he both sets Dzogchen in its traditional context and reveals its powerful contemporary relevance. The book…


Book cover of Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West

Laurence Cox Author Of The Irish Buddhist: The Forgotten Monk Who Faced Down the British Empire

From my list on Buddhism and the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a street musician, set up kindergartens, worked in special needs education, and run wood-fired showers in a field for meditation retreats. I’m also associate professor of sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. I became a Buddhist partly out of interest in a very different culture and started wondering how Buddhism got from Asia to the West. I think about this through my own experience of teaching meditation, being an activist for 35 years, living in five countries, and learning ten languages: what do you have to do to make an idea come alive in a different culture? 

Laurence's book list on Buddhism and the West

Laurence Cox Why did Laurence love this book?

When my grandparents died they left small presents for their grandchildren, and in a way that many Buddhists would recognise I bought a book about Buddhism – a funny and sad one. Lopez’s book tells the story of how Western fantasies talk over actual Tibetans and their struggles, from what we think we know about the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” to Lobsang Rampa’s spurious The Third Eye, passing through how we talk about Tibetan art and what we say about the mantra “Om mani padme hum”. This is a deeply humane book about how Tibetans are trapped not only by superpower politics and colonialism but also by how they are represented to the West. 

By Donald S. Lopez Jr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prisoners of Shangri-La as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the Western imagination, Tibet evokes exoticism, mysticism, and wonder: a fabled land removed from the grinding onslaught of modernity, spiritually endowed with all that the West has lost. Originally published in 1998, Prisoners of Shangri-La provided the first cultural history of the strange encounter between Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Donald Lopez reveals here fanciful misconceptions of Tibetan life and religion. He examines, among much else, the politics of the term "Lamaism," a pejorative synonym for Tibetan Buddhism; the various theosophical, psychedelic, and New Age purposes served by the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead; and the unexpected history…


Book cover of Women of Wisdom

Elles Lohuis Author Of A Pilgrim's Heart

From my list on biographies of Western Buddhist women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write novels that enthrall, enrich, and enliven you. I've been student of Buddhism for more than thirty years and spend long periods of time with the most generous Tibetan Buddhist nuns in their monasteries in the remote Himalayas, relishing the solitude and contemplative life. Their tales of resilience are an enormous inspiration to me. The biographies of Western Buddhist women I’ve selected are everything I look for in ‘great writing’. The stories are engaging and entertaining, but also make us pause and reflect to appreciate the astonishing opportunities of the privileged times we live in, and challenge us once again to be and do better—every moment of this precious life.

Elles' book list on biographies of Western Buddhist women

Elles Lohuis Why did Elles love this book?

This book is a wonderful collection of the lives of six Tibetan female mystics, brought together by the American Lama Tsultrim Allione, the emanation of the renowned 11th-century Tibetan yogini, Machig Labdrön, and one of the few women Lamas in the world today. The book includes an extensive autobiographical preface and introduction in which Lama Tultrum Allione shares her own story and experience of the difficulties and triumphs of women in Tibetan Buddhism, and of women pursuing a spiritual life in the West with candid honesty. The stories of these remarkable women's pasts and brought together in this book offer a wealth of insight and encouragement for both women and men who aspire to a spiritual life in the face of adversity.

By Tsultrim Allione,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women of Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “fascinating and inspiring” celebration of women’s spirituality and the female mystics of Tibetan Buddhism—now featuring an updated and expanded author autobiography (San Francisco Chronicle)
 
Women of Wisdom explores and celebrates the spiritual potential of all women, as exemplified by the lives of six Tibetan female mystics. These stories of great women who have achieved full illumination—overcoming cultural prejudices and a host of other problems which male practitioners do not encounter—offer a wealth of inspiration to everyone on the spiritual path.

In this revised and expanded edition, Tsultrim Allione’s extensive autobiographical preface and introduction speak directly to the difficulties and…


Book cover of The Heart of the Buddha: Entering the Tibetan Buddhist Path

Lodro Rinzler Author Of Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times

From my list on how to learn Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lodro Rinzler has taught Buddhism for 20 years, starting when he was just 18 years-old. He is the author of seven meditation books including the best-seller The Buddha Walks into a Bar, and the co-founder of MNDFL meditation studios in New York City. His books Walk Like a Buddha and The Buddha Walks into the Office both have received Independent Publisher Book Awards. Named one of 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness by SONIMA, Rinzler's new book is Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times.

Lodro's book list on how to learn Buddhism

Lodro Rinzler Why did Lodro love this book?

Moving from the Zen lineages over to another branch of this tradition, Tibetan Buddhism, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was famous for making the esoteric accessible. In this book he covers a wide variety of topics ranging from the four foundations of mindfulness over to advanced Buddhist views around taking vows and maintaining sacred outlook throughout one’s day. Bonus: there’s a section devoted to a number of modern day issues where he offers Buddhist teachings on relationships, art, and money.

By Chögyam Trungpa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Heart of the Buddha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basic teachings of Buddhism as they relate to everyday life—presented by the esteemed Tibetan meditation master
 
In The Heart of the Buddha, Chögyam Trungpa examines the basic teachings of Buddhism and places them within the context of daily life. Divided into three parts, the book begins with a discussion about the open, inquisitive, and good-humored qualities of the “heart of the Buddha”—an “enlightened gene” that everyone possesses. Next, Chögyam Trungpa moves to the stages of the Buddhist path, presenting the three vehicles—Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana—that carry the Buddhist practitioner toward enlightenment. Finally, he describes the direct application of Buddhist…


Book cover of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Mada Eliza Dalian Author Of In Search of the Miraculous: Healing into Consciousness

From my list on spirituality and self-discovery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 5 when I saw my grandfather die. He drank morphene from a bottle, to stop his cancer pains, and soon after he stopped breathing. In the silent peace that followed, I realized that I too shall die one day, and life on earth will continue. The questions, Who am I? Where do I come from? What am I doing here? and Where will I go when I die? felt like the most important questions to find answers to before I die. The book, In Search of the Miraculous: Healing into Consciousness, was written fifty years later, and is the fruit of my search and discovery of answers to these questions.

Mada's book list on spirituality and self-discovery

Mada Eliza Dalian Why did Mada love this book?

If we want to live life fully we must embrace death fully.

Death is an integral part of life, which cannot be ignored.

This book helps the reader understand the wisdom of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and its purpose to help the dying soul to dis-identify from the worldly attachments and find liberation from within.

By Sogyal Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explains the Tibetan understanding of what happens when a person dies, and how this can help in a person's daily life, in caring for the terminally ill and the bereaved, and to deepen one's understanding of life.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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