10 books like On Having No Head

By Douglas Edison Harding,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like On Having No Head. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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After Buddhism

By Stephen Batchelor,

Book cover of After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age

Stephen Batchelor is an old and dear friend of mine – partly because I love his radical ‘take’ on Buddhism. He knows his traditional Buddhist stuff all right: he was a Tibetan Buddhism monk for eight years, and studied in a Korean Zen monastery for four. To some, he is a heretic because his books peel away the cultural superstitions that have befogged the Buddha’s original teachings – such as karma and reincarnation - and reveal a message that is as relevant and insightful today as it was two and a half millennia ago. But his deep and lightly-worn scholarship shines through and – to me at least – he is bang on: both down to earth and utterly inspirational.

After Buddhism

By Stephen Batchelor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A renowned Buddhist teacher's magnum opus, based on his fresh reading of the tradition's earliest texts

Some twenty-five centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. What does it mean to adapt religious practices to secular contexts?

Stephen Batchelor, an internationally known author and teacher, is committed to a secularized version of the Buddha's teachings. The time has come, he feels, to articulate a coherent ethical, contemplative, and philosophical vision of Buddhism for our age. After Buddhism, the culmination of four decades of study and practice…


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.


The Miracle of Mindfulness

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

This little book is the best introduction to the practice – and benefits – of mindfulness I know. It is easy to make meditation more complicated than it needs to be, and Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh keeps drawing you back to the simple essence of the practice, and to the peaceful aura of the present. Just above my computer screen I have one of his postcards pinned to the wall. “Here I am, sitting in this room, aware of the chair, aware of the sitting, aware of the breathing – aware of this precious moment.” What an effective stress-buster – bringing me back from the maelstroms of thoughts inside my head to the simple, pleasurable fact of just being alive, here, now, and enabling me to reset the emotional dashboard!

The Miracle of Mindfulness

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the best available introductions to the wisdom and beauty of meditation practice. --New Age Journal

In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness--being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.


Radical Acceptance

By Tara Brach,

Book cover of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha

Talking of the emotional dashboard, Tara Brach’s book on radical acceptance dives deeply into how we can better deal with the uncomfortable and threatening nature of much of our experience. “The way out of our cage begins with accepting absolutely everything about ourselves and our lives” she says. Really? Everything? Sorrow, shame, pain, inconvenient desire? Even accepting my non-acceptance? Yep: the lot. “Clearly recognising what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart”: doesn’t that sound nice! Not wallowing or fighting or indulging; just telling ourselves the truth so we can deal with things on the basis of the full picture, not one occluded by denial. Highly recommended.

Radical Acceptance

By Tara Brach,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much--just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work--to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
—from Radical Acceptance

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering…


When Buddhists Attack

By Jeffrey K. Mann,

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

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.

When Buddhists Attack

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…


What Is Zen?

By D.T. Suzuki,

Book cover of What Is Zen?

As I began my search to make some kind of sense of my life, I started with philosophy and moved to religion. When I came across this book, I intuitively sensed that the author knew what I wanted to know. I had no idea what he was talking about but my heart sang with every page. This was my first experience of being taken to the “place” from which the author wrote. Reading it was like sitting at the feet of the Master, aware of a lack of comprehension while witnessing a living example of what the heart intuitively knows.

What Is Zen?

By D.T. Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From one of the most influential books ever written on Zen Buddhism: A fascinating study of this ancient discipline.

One of the leading twentieth-century works on Zen,D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture is an invaluable source for those wishing to understand Zen concepts in the context of Japanese life and art.

What is Zen offers a general introduction to the concepts and philosophy of Zen, including Mr. Suzuki's observations of its effects on Japanese art culture, and his explorations of Zen and the study of Confucianism.

In simple, often poetic language, enhanced by anecdotes and poetry, D.T. Suzuki describes what…


The Essential Dogen

By Peter Levitt, Kazuaki Tanahashi,

Book cover of The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master

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. 

The Essential Dogen

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.


The Wild, White Goose

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

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

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. 

The Wild, White Goose

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.


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…


Just This Is It

By Taigen Dan Leighton,

Book cover of Just This Is It: Dongshan and the Practice of Suchness

Penetrating into the original Chinese texts, Leighton brings us close to the incomprehensible teaching of suchness, also called thusness, a positive approach to emptiness. Buddha is the Tathagata, the thus come. Suchness reminds us that the world, our lives, and emptiness are identical.

Just This Is It

By Taigen Dan Leighton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Just This Is It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Teachings on the practice of things-as-they-are, through commentaries on a legendary Chinese Zen figure.

The joy of “suchness”—the ultimate and true nature inherent in all appearance—shines through the teachings attributed to Dongshan Liangjie (807–869), the legendary founder of the Caodong lineage of Chan Buddhism (the predecessor of Soto Zen). Taigen Dan Leighton looks at the teachings attributed to Dongshan—in his Recorded Sayings and in the numerous koans in which he is featured as a character—to reveal the subtlety and depth of the teaching on the nature of reality that Dongshan expresses. Included are an analysis of the well-known teaching poem…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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