10 books like Everyday Zen

By Charlotte Joko Beck,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Everyday Zen. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Street Zen

By David Schneider,

Book cover of Street Zen: The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey

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.

Street Zen

By David Schneider,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drag queen. Prostitute. Drug addict. American bodhisattva.

These words describe the unlikely persona of Issan Dorsey, one of the most beloved teachers to emerge in American Zen. From his early days as a gorgeous female impersonator to the LSD experiences that set him on the spiritual path, Issan's life was never conventional. In 1989, after twenty years of Zen practice, he became the Founding Abbot of San Francisco's Hartford Street Zen Center, where he established Maitri Hospice for AIDS patients. Featuring Bernie Glassman's foreword to the second edition, as well as a new foreword by Koshin Paley Ellison, Street Zen…


Zen Meditation in Plain English

By John Daishin Buksbazen,

Book cover of Zen Meditation in Plain English

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. 

Zen Meditation in Plain English

By John Daishin Buksbazen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zen Meditation in Plain English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An excellent, practical introduction to Zen meditation. Written in a warm and easily accessible style, this book appeals to anyone with an interest in meditation, Zen, or, as is often the case today, a combination of the two. The book emphasizes the importance of receiving good instruction and of finding groups to practice with, yet it lays out the necessary steps to practice Zen meditation on your own. The book includes easily followed exercises to help the reader along. For anyone looking to uncover a clear and insightful path into the philosophy and practice of Zen meditation, this book represents…


Opening the Hand of Thought

By Kosho Uchiyama, Shohaku Okumura (editor), Tom Wright (editor)

Book cover of Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice

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.

Opening the Hand of Thought

By Kosho Uchiyama, Shohaku Okumura (editor), Tom Wright (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Opening the Hand of Thought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over thirty years, Opening the Hand of Thought has offered an introduction to Zen Buddhism and meditation unmatched in clarity and power. This is the revised edition of Kosho Uchiyama's singularly incisive classic.

This new edition contains even more useful material: new prefaces, an index, and extended endnotes, in addition to a revised glossary. As Jisho Warner writes in her preface, Opening the Hand of Thought "goes directly to the heart of Zen practice... showing how Zen Buddhism can be a deep and life-sustaining activity." She goes on to say, "Uchiyama looks at what a person is, what a…


Appreciate Your Life

By Taizan Maezumi, Eve Myonen Marko (editor), Wendy Egyoku Nakao (editor)

Book cover of Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice

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."

Appreciate Your Life

By Taizan Maezumi, Eve Myonen Marko (editor), Wendy Egyoku Nakao (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of short, inspiring teachings on Zen koans, the Buddha, and more—from a leader in introducing Zen Buddhism to the West
 
Here is the first major collection of the teachings of Taizan Maezumi Roshi (1931-1995), 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. These short, inspiring readings illuminate Zen practice in simple, eloquent language. Topics include zazen and Zen koans, how to appreciate your life as the life of the Buddha, and the essential matter of life…


The Mind of Clover

By Robert Aitken,

Book cover of The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics

Robert Aitken was the first American born Zen teacher to be ranked an equal among the first generation of Zen missionaries from East Asia. Several of his books count as classics, but Mind of Clover stands out for its clarity while introducing Zen's ethical precepts as an essential container of Zen practice. 

The Mind of Clover

By Robert Aitken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Taking the Path of Zen, Robert Aitken provided a concise guide to zazen (Zen meditation) and other aspects of the practice of Zen. In The Mind of Clover he addresses the world beyond the zazen cushions, illuminating issues of appropriate personal and social action through an exploration of the philosophical complexities of Zen ethics.

Aitken's approach is clear and sure as he shows how our minds can be as nurturing as clover, which enriches the soil and benefits the environment as it grows. The opening chapters discuss the Ten Grave Precepts of Zen, which, Aitken points out, are "not…


Nothing Special

By Charlotte Joko Beck, Steven A. Smith,

Book cover of Nothing Special

This is a book that gets obstacles for seeing out of the way. This is the book I turn to if I’m sad, unsure, not confident. It’s not that this Zen master makes me happy or sure of myself. No, she puts my life in perspective: What is the big deal? I imagine her saying. You are a small thing in the universe. But while you are here, it's important to do your work. Read it and you’ll be back in the river, whisked along in the current, one more unimportant but vitally aware part of the great stream of life.

Nothing Special

By Charlotte Joko Beck, Steven A. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nothing Special as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WHEN NOTHING IS SPECIAL, EVERYTHING CAN BE

The best-selling author of 'Everyday Zen' shows how to awaken to daily life and discover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships, and work. 'Nothing Special' offers the rare and delightful experience of learning in the authentic Buddhist tradition with a wonderfully contemporary Western master.


Beyond Happiness

By Ezra Bayda,

Book cover of Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment

It’s the 2nd book on my list that’s about happiness, but it’s more philosophical and personal than Dan Gilbert’s book. This book changed my life. It made me realize that I had an expectation that my life should be easy and comfortable. Before I read this book whenever something happened in my life that was not easy and comfortable – my plane was delayed, I got sick, a client was late paying an invoice – I would spin into unhappiness. Why was this happening to me? Everything was personal. Stuff happens all the time. What makes us miserable is how we react to it. I remember reading a passage from the book and feeling my frame of reference change. It permanently changed my view of myself and how I deal with life.

Beyond Happiness

By Ezra Bayda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Zen teacher explains that true happiness can only be found by dropping our ideas about happiness—and learning to live fully and fearlessly in the moment

Many books have been published in recent years on happiness. Ezra Bayda, a remarkably down-to-earth Zen teacher, believes that the happiness “boom” has been largely a bust for readers. Why? Because it's precisely the pursuit of happiness that keeps us trapped in cycles of dissatisfaction and suffering.

In Beyond Happiness, Bayda draws on Zen teachings to question our conventional notions about what happiness is and where we can find it. Most of us seek…


The Way of Zen

By Alan Watts,

Book cover of The Way of Zen

This was one of the first books on Buddhism I ever read: I have a battered and much-scribbled-on copy beside me that dates back to 1970. Like Stephen Batchelor he has been seen as an ‘outsider’ to the Buddhist establishment – he described himself ironically as a ‘genuine fake’ – but his psychological understanding, contemporary language and his vivid turn of phrase spoke to me then, and still do now, in a way that much of the more ‘religious’ and scholastic writings never have. For example, he points out that in a sea wave, the actual water isn’t going anywhere; it “only moves up and down, creating the illusion of a ‘piece’ of water moving over the surface. It is a similar illusion that there is a constant ‘self’ moving through successive experiences [and] constituting a link between them.” I would love to have met and listened to Watts, and…

The Way of Zen

By Alan Watts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The perfect guide for a course correction in life' Deepak Chopra

If we open our eyes and see clearly it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant

An insightful exploration into the origins and history of Zen Buddhism from pioneering Zen scholar Alan Watts. With a rare combination of freshness and lucidity, Watts explores the principles of Zen and how it can revolutionize our daily life.


My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

By Leo Tolstoi,

Book cover of My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

When a clearly enlightened spiritual master speaks to us, our first reaction is often resistance because the message is designed to end the reign of egocentricity and return us to Authentic Being. To me, everything Leo Tolstoy wrote in his maturity offers the same possibility, but none so starkly as My Religion. As with reading Mahatma Gandhi, we have the opportunity to witness the deep practice of an aspirant grappling with transcending the suffering of the human condition, in much the same way John of the Cross describes the “dark night of the soul.” It illustrates every person’s spiritual journey and the uncompromising nature of the path to awakening.

My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

By Leo Tolstoi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Journal of Leo Tolstoi is a compilation of Tolstoy's journal entries. They entries range from 1895 through 1899.

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 - 20 November [O.S. 7 November] 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and nominations for Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910, and his miss of the prize is a major Nobel prize controversy.


Zen's Chinese Heritage

By Andy Ferguson,

Book cover of Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings

A virtual encyclopedia of great Zen stories translated by Ferguson that takes the reader through twenty-five generations of Chinese Zen ancestors with commentary that paints a rich picture of the background. 

Zen's Chinese Heritage

By Andy Ferguson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zen's Chinese Heritage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zen's Chinese Heritage traces twenty-five generations of inlightened Buddhist teachers, supplementing their core teachings with history, biography, and poetry. The result is an intimate and profound human portrait of the enlightened Zen ancients, and an unprecedented look into the depths of the rich cultural heritage.

In this new edition with even more valuable material, Ferguson surveys generations of Zen masters, moving chronologically through successive generations of ancestral teachers, supplementing their core teachings with history, biography, and starkly beautiful poetry. In addition to giving the reader the engaging sense of the "family history" of Zen, this uniquely valuable book paints a…


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