100 books like Just This Is It

By Taigen Dan Leighton,

Here are 100 books that Just This Is It fans have personally recommended if you like Just This Is It. 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 The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master

David Reich Chadwick Author Of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

From my list on interested in Zen Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got involved in Zen Buddhism in 1966 because Shunryu Suzuki was a Zen Buddhist and the San Francisco Zen Center which he founded was where I went to meditate with others free of any heavy trips, not pushing a rigid belief system, just learning to include stillness and silence in our lives so that we can feel and hear what the cosmos has to say to us. 

David's book list on interested in Zen Buddhism

David Reich Chadwick Why did David love this book?

Dogen is one of the great original minds from all of Japanese history and human history. This book contains an ocean of Dogen’s profound writing. One can return time after time to delve into new layers of wisdom. 

By Peter Levitt, Kazuaki Tanahashi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

These pithy and powerful readings provide a perfect introduction to the teachings of Zen master Dogen—and will inspire spiritual practice in people of all traditions
 
Eihei Dogen (1200–1253), founder of the Soto School of Zen Buddhism, is one of the greatest religious, philosophical, and literary geniuses of Japan. His writings have been studied by Zen students for centuries, particularly his masterwork, Shobo Genzo or Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. This is the first book to offer the great master’s incisive wisdom in short selections taken from the whole range of his voluminous works.


Book cover of The Heart Sutra

David Reich Chadwick Author Of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

From my list on interested in Zen Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got involved in Zen Buddhism in 1966 because Shunryu Suzuki was a Zen Buddhist and the San Francisco Zen Center which he founded was where I went to meditate with others free of any heavy trips, not pushing a rigid belief system, just learning to include stillness and silence in our lives so that we can feel and hear what the cosmos has to say to us. 

David's book list on interested in Zen Buddhism

David Reich Chadwick Why did David love this book?

Red Pine’s in-depth translation of and commentary on the heart of the Prajna Paramita Sutras, of the wisdom that has gone beyond, of the heart of Mahayana Buddhism, and brings this ancient text, chanted daily by Zen monks and lay followers, skillfully into our hearts.

By Red Pine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Heart Sutra is Buddhism in a nutshell. It has had the most profound and wide-reaching influence of any text in Buddhism. This short text covers more of the Buddha’s teachings than any other scripture, and it does so without being superficial or hurried. Although the original author is unknown, he was clearly someone with a deep realization of the Dharma.

For this new English translation, Red Pine, award-winning translator of Chinese poetry and religious texts, has utilized various Sanskrit and Chinese versions, refining the teachings of dozens of ancient teachers together with his own commentary to offer a profound…


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

David Reich Chadwick Author Of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

From my list on interested in Zen Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got involved in Zen Buddhism in 1966 because Shunryu Suzuki was a Zen Buddhist and the San Francisco Zen Center which he founded was where I went to meditate with others free of any heavy trips, not pushing a rigid belief system, just learning to include stillness and silence in our lives so that we can feel and hear what the cosmos has to say to us. 

David's book list on interested in Zen Buddhism

David Reich Chadwick Why did David love this book?

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. 

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…


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

Koshin Paley Ellison Author Of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up

From my list on an introduction to Zen.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison is an author, Soto Zen teacher, and Jungian psychotherapist. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, which offers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and Zen practice. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up. And the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care. He is a recognized Zen teacher by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, White Plum Asanga, and American Zen Teachers Association. 

Koshin's book list on an introduction to Zen

Koshin Paley Ellison Why did Koshin love 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.

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…


Book cover of The Wild, White Goose: The Diary of a Female Zen Priest

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 is a diary of an English woman who moved to Japan in the 1950s to study Zen at one of the most prestigious temples at the time and become the first female to be sanctioned by the Soto School of Japan to teach in the West. The diary takes us through her years of arduous training in Japan, through the challenges that beset her, and gives a truly moving account of her brilliant mindset throughout her grueling ordeal to become a Zen priest. 

By Roshi P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book, first published as two volumes in 1977 and 1978, was published purely for the purpose of showing how Buddhist training was done by the Reverend Jiyu-Kennett in the Far East. The material for the book was taken from diaries covering eight years spent by the author in Far Eastern temples, and describe her religious training and her growth of a Zen priest into a teacher, running her own temple.


Book cover of When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts

Goran Powell Author Of Karate on a Cushion: A journey into Zen

From my list on zen and martial arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

Goran Powell is an award-winning martial arts writer who holds a 5th Dan in Goju Ryu Karate. His love affair with the martial arts began as a boy with Judo and he took up full-contact Karate in 1984. In 2002, he completed the grueling 30 Man Fight and documented his experience in his first book, Waking Dragons, before going on to write a string of acclaimed fiction and non-fiction titles. In 2015, he joined the Dogen Sangha Zen group in London and his latest book, Karate on a Cushion, examines the intriguing connection between Zen and martial arts. Goran won Writer of the Year at the prestigious British Martial Arts Awards In 2017.

Goran's book list on zen and martial arts

Goran Powell Why did Goran love this book?

Geoffrey Mann does a great job of laying out the history of Buddhism and Zen and its links to the martial arts. Thoroughly researched and widely referenced, it’s definitely the place to start, and the hardback edition makes a handsome addition to any martial arts library.

By Jeffrey K. Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Buddhists Attack as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uncover the historical truth about Buddhist warrior monks with this informative and enlightening book.

Film, television and popular fiction have long exploited the image of the serene Buddhist monk who is master of the deadly craft of hand-to-hand combat. While these media overly romanticize the relationship between a philosophy of non-violence and the art of fighting, When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts shows this link to be nevertheless real, even natural.

Exploring the origins of Buddhism and the ethos of the Japanese samurai, university professor and martial arts practitioner Jeffrey Mann traces the close…


Book cover of On Having No Head

Guy Claxton Author Of The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World

From my list on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a long-time meditator and student of Buddhism, and a retired but still active academic. I am a cognitive scientist specialising in the learnable aspects of real-world intelligence. My meditation ‘career’ started when I was an undergraduate studying psychology at Cambridge in the late 1960s, and has since taken me to America, India, and Japan, as well as to many retreats in the UK with visiting teachers from all the main branches of Buddhism. In my academic life, I have a doctorate in psycholinguistics from Oxford and have been Professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Bristol and the Research Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning in Winchester. My books on the crossover between Eastern and Western Psychology include The Psychology of Awakening, Wholly HumanNoises from the Darkroom, and The Heart of Buddhism.

Guy's book list on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter

Guy Claxton Why did Guy love this book?

One person I was lucky enough to meet and study with, though, was a very English Englishman called Douglas Harding: an ex British army officer who has some transformative experiences whist serving in India and spent the rest of his life devising smart, simple and profound ways to induce the same experiences in others. For example: point with your right index finger at the tip of your nose, and pay close attention to your actual experience of what the finger (which you can see) is pointing at (which you can’t). If you are lucky, you’ll be quite disconcerted! It was only some years after his wake-up call that Douglas realised that he had discovered Zen Buddhism for himself.

By Douglas Edison Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Having No Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down... I forgot my name, my humanness, my thingness, all that could be called me or mine. Past and future dropped away... Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.' Thus Douglas Harding describes his first experience of headlessness, or no self. First published in 1961, this is a classic work which conveys the experience that mystics of all times have tried to put words to.


Book cover of The Way of Zen

Guy Claxton Author Of The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World

From my list on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a long-time meditator and student of Buddhism, and a retired but still active academic. I am a cognitive scientist specialising in the learnable aspects of real-world intelligence. My meditation ‘career’ started when I was an undergraduate studying psychology at Cambridge in the late 1960s, and has since taken me to America, India, and Japan, as well as to many retreats in the UK with visiting teachers from all the main branches of Buddhism. In my academic life, I have a doctorate in psycholinguistics from Oxford and have been Professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Bristol and the Research Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning in Winchester. My books on the crossover between Eastern and Western Psychology include The Psychology of Awakening, Wholly HumanNoises from the Darkroom, and The Heart of Buddhism.

Guy's book list on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter

Guy Claxton Why did Guy love this book?

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…

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.


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

Koshin Paley Ellison Author Of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up

From my list on an introduction to Zen.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison is an author, Soto Zen teacher, and Jungian psychotherapist. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, which offers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and Zen practice. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up. And the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care. He is a recognized Zen teacher by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, White Plum Asanga, and American Zen Teachers Association. 

Koshin's book list on an introduction to Zen

Koshin Paley Ellison Why did Koshin love 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.

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…


Book cover of The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World

James Ishmael Ford Author Of Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons

From my list on Zen from a Zen teacher.

Why am I passionate about this?

James Ford is a Zen teacher and the author or editor of five books on Zen history and spirituality. His history of Zen in the West, Zen Master Who? captured the personalities who formed our emerging Western schools, while the Book of Mu, which he compiled and edited with Melissa Myozen Blacker is considered essential for any contemporary student of koans, Zen’s arcane spiritual discipline.

James' book list on Zen from a Zen teacher

James Ishmael Ford Why did James love this book?

Journalist and long-time Zen student Barbara O'Brien offers the only readable, concise, and yet comprehensive survey of Zen's history, the development of its teachings from the beginnings of Buddhism to the dawn of the twenty-first century. She finds a genuine middle ground between an appreciation of the received tradition and the best of modern scholarship. A masterful accomplishment. 

By Barbara O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A comprehensive, accessible guide to the fascinating history of Zen Buddhism--including important figures, schools, foundational texts, practices, and politics.

Zen Buddhism has a storied history--Bodhidharma sitting in meditation in a cave for nine years; a would-be disciple cutting off his own arm to get the master's attention; the proliferating schools and intense Dharma combat of the Tang and Song Dynasties; Zen nuns and laypeople holding their own against patriarchal lineages; the appearance of new masters in the Zen schools of Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and later the Western world. In The Circle of the Way, Zen practitioner and popular religion writer…


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