100 books like Start Where You Are

By Pema Chödrön,

Here are 100 books that Start Where You Are fans have personally recommended if you like Start Where You Are. 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 Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Marc Lesser Author Of Finding Clarity: How Compassionate Accountability Builds Vibrant Relationships, Thriving Workplaces and Meaningful Lives

From my list on helping you live a meaningful and successful life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I sometimes describe myself as a stealth Zen teacher working in the business world. I've founded and been CEO of three companies, including the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, a company I helped create and launch inside of Google's headquarters. I'm an executive coach and consultant to CEOs and leaders in the corporate and non-profit worlds. Prior to my business career I was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years. I'm the author of 5 books.

Marc's book list on helping you live a meaningful and successful life

Marc Lesser Why did Marc love this book?

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the experts there are few" is one of hundreds of gems from this collection of talks by Shunryu Suzuki, founding teacher of the San Francisco Zen Center.

Living a meaningful and successful life requires cultivating a full-functioning mind and body. Here are simple and profound instructions for seeing through the world of greed, aversion, and delusion. Suzuki provides guidelines for redefining meaning and success, going way beyond the usual self-help realm and toward a way of transforming how you see and live in the world.

By Shunryu Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century (Spirituality & Practice)

A 50th Anniversary edition of the bestselling Zen classic on meditation, maintaining a curious and open mind, and living with simplicity.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen…


Book cover of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

Bodhipaksa Author Of This Difficult Thing of Being Human: The Art of Self-Compassion

From my list on finding and building compassion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through a particularly hard time several years ago and to get through it I was forced to dig deep into what I’d learned about compassion and self-compassion over three decades of meditating. Because I’m a meditation teacher, I wanted to share with my students everything I learned about being kind and supportive toward myself as I went through the toughest challenges I’d ever faced so that they could benefit as well. That’s why I wrote This Difficult Thing of Being Human. Self-compassion has become the core of everything I’ve taught since then, and one of the wonderful things about it is that once you’ve shown yourself compassion, you automatically find yourself treating others with compassion too.

Bodhipaksa's book list on finding and building compassion

Bodhipaksa Why did Bodhipaksa love this book?

Sharon Salzberg is undoubtedly the preeminent teacher of lovingkindness meditation in the west, and probably the world. When I read her book I’d already been practicing this form of meditation for a dozen years, and yet dipping into it now reminds me of how much of my own teaching draws on Sharon’s pioneering work. If you want to learn to develop lovingkindness, which is the basis of compassion, Sharon’s book is the ideal place to start.

By Sharon Salzberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy—both with others and with ourselves—creates feelings of pain and longing. But these feelings can also awaken in us the desire for freedom and the willingness to take up the spiritual path.

In this inspiring book, longtime meditation practitioner and teacher Sharon Salzberg shows how the Buddhist path can help us discover the radiant, joyful heart within each one of us, drawing on Buddhist teachings, wisdom from various traditions, her personal experiences, and guided meditation exercises. With these…


Book cover of The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

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?

If you’re interested in learning about Buddhism, you don’t want to go the route of Buddhism for Dummies; you want to read the words of true Buddhist masters who are pioneers in the field of making this ancient tradition accessible and relevant to our modern world. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is famous for his peaceful demeanor as well as making Buddhism applicable and meditation easy to grasp and practice. While all of his books are lovely (you can even check out the recent shorter books such as How to Love or How to Fight) this book goes over the foundations of what the Buddha taught so for our purposes it hits the top of the list.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Thich Nhat Hanh shows us the connection between personal, inner peace, and peace on earth.' The Dalai Lama

In The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh brings his gift of clear and poetic expression to an explanation of the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and other basic Buddhist teachings. Thich Nhat Hanh's extraordinary contribution to Buddhism and to life is the way he makes these teachings and practices accessible to everyone, showing us how the very suffering that is holding us down can be the path to our liberation.


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 Wonders of the Natural Mind: The Essense of Dzogchen in the Native Bon Tradition of Tibet

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?

This is Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s first book in English. And what I love about this book is that he puts it all out, no withholding. He talks about his life as a child entering the monastic life, at the monastery not too far from his house, and relates how he visited his mom, and the mantras he would recite if he was scared at night coming back to the monastery.

He describes his powerful dreams and the practice of dark retreat, where he stayed for the traditional 49 days when he was only fifteen years old. And the wonderful experiences, visions, and connections to the higher dzogchen practices of cutting through discursive throughs (trekchod) and leaps of visions (thogyal).

By Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although the Dzogchen teachings are principally familiar to Westerners through the teachings of the Nyingma school, they also survive in the ancient Bön Religion of Tibet. Wonders of the Natural Mind presents Dzogchen as taught in the Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud, the fundamental Bön text. The book summarizes the main points of Dzogchen and its relation to the various systems of Bön teaching. In offering these teachings, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche provides the reader with a vivid and engaging portrait of Bön culture as he interweaves the teachings with his personal story and reflections on the practice of Dzogchen in the…


Book cover of A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

Jonathan Ellerby Author Of The Seven Gateways of Spiritual Experience: Awakening to a Deeper Knowledge of Love, Life Balance, and God

From my list on spiritually-focused books to awaken your heart, mind, and soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love books! I wrote my first book as a science project at age 11. As a writer, books are my passion. Specifically, I have been interested in the nature of consciousness and healing since I was 12 years old. I started reading everything I could get my hands on at that time and continued voraciously until I completed my Ph.D. around the age of 30. Many themes in transformation and spirituality I read almost exhaustively – Indigenous studies, cross-cultural healing, the nature of mind, and the nature of the soul. I have always needed to keep books around me just to feel at home.

Jonathan's book list on spiritually-focused books to awaken your heart, mind, and soul

Jonathan Ellerby Why did Jonathan love this book?

This was the absolute best book I have ever read that explains the spiritual path.

I love that this book is so balanced and whole. Jack Kornfield helped me understand spiritual growth early in my journey through simple but sophisticated psychology and deep nondual philosophy and experience.

He covers everything clearly, with amazing stories and a fantastic writing style that I found inspiring, challenging, and comforting all at once.

By Jack Kornfield,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Path with Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart has been acclaimed as the most significant book yet about American Buddhism-a definitive guide to the practice of traditional mindfulness in America today.

On this audio edition, Kornfield teaches the key principles of Buddhism's cherished vipassana (insight) tradition, and puts them into direct service, with the unique needs of the contemporary seeker in mind.


Book cover of The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation

Shawn Goodman Author Of Kindness for Weakness

From my list on helping you heal and grow.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I’m not writing or reading, I work as a psychologist with kids and families. After twenty-five years of this work, it’s clear that many good people are suffering. It is too easy to respond with apathy or cynicism, which creates even more suffering. I am drawn to writing that gives us understanding and hope. 

Shawn's book list on helping you heal and grow

Shawn Goodman Why did Shawn love this book?

I’ll be honest: I have only scratched the surface of this book and the questions it asks and answers. How to deal with suffering and remain open to joy and beauty? I understand the book’s content at only the most superficial level. I suspect it’s going to take years for me to go deeper with it. As a writer, I am blown away by Trungpa’s style, which is clear, simple, and relatable. As a psychologist, I am humbled to see how clumsy and awkward our modern approaches are. 

By Chögyam Trungpa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Featuring a new foreword by Pema Chödrön, this Tibetan Buddhist classic explores the meaning of freedom and how we can attain it through meditation

Freedom is generally thought of as the ability to achieve goals and satisfy desires. But what are the sources of these goals and desires? If they arise from ignorance, habitual patterns, and negative emotions, is the freedom to pursue these goals true freedom—or is it just a myth? 

In The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation, Chögyam Trungpa explores the true meaning of freedom, showing us how our attitudes, preconceptions, and even our spiritual…


Book cover of Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life: Awakening Your Heart, Connecting with God

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

This approach to meditation includes the wisdom of Buddhism and Judaism as a way to learn from life experience. By combining these two traditions, Rabbi Roth presents a model that allows westerners―both Jews and non-Jews―to embrace timeless Eastern teachings and integrate them with Jewish practice as well.

By Rabbi Jeff Roth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awaken your heart and mind to see your own capacity for wisdom, compassion and kindness.

"When we awaken to our own light, it becomes possible to develop real wisdom about our life. As wisdom allows us to see clearly, our hearts break open with compassion for the struggles of our own lives and the lives of all beings. Awakened with wisdom and compassion, we are impelled to live our lives with kindness, and we are led to do whatever we can to repair the brokenness of our world."
—from the Introduction

At last, a fresh take on meditation that draws…


Book cover of Buddha Da

Elissa Soave Author Of Ginger and Me

From my list on Scottish reads centring working-class women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Scottish writer and have long loved books from and about Scotland. But I would love to see more written about the working-class Scottish experience from women’s perspective as I think that would lead to less focus on the violence and poverty that is featured in so many contemporary Scottish books from male authors. There is so much joy in the Scottish working-class experience – a pot of soup always on the stove in someone’s kitchen, the stories, the laughter, a community that cares for their own. Let’s see more of that, and more stories from and about Scottish working-class women.

Elissa's book list on Scottish reads centring working-class women

Elissa Soave Why did Elissa love this book?

Buddha Da is about Anne Marie’s painter/decorator Da who turns the whole family’s life upside down when he suddenly decides to become a Buddhist.

Set in Glasgow, and filled with quiet humour and pathos, I love how the author takes an ordinary working-class family and infuses their story with charm and wit. You cannot but warm to Jimmy and his family, and feel for Jimmy in particular as he searches for spiritual enlightenment.

I love that this is a novel about working-class Scottish life that is about more than men drinking and fighting, and grim poverty. It is about working-class life as it is – centring on family bonds (with brilliant strong women with minds of their own!), the everyday, and most of all, the universal human desire to find meaning in life. 

By Anne Donovan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anne Marie's Da, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first tells his family that he's taking up meditation at the Buddhist Centre in town, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in his search for the spiritual his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz, and cracks begin to form in their previously happy family.

With grace, humour and humility Anne Donovan's beloved debut tells the story of one man's search for a higher power. But in his search for meaning,…


Book cover of Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown

Diana Winston Author Of The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness

From my list on Buddhist stories from lesser-known women authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are so many good spiritual books out there that get little attention, especially books by women and women of color. I have been a meditation practitioner for three decades, running a mindfulness center at UCLA, and been teaching and sharing Buddhist and mindfulness teaching for 20+ years. I need my sources of inspiration too! Each of these books forced me to think—and brought new depth to my own meditation practice. I am interested in how the Buddhist and mindfulness teachings, which I love so deeply, can help us build resiliency and weather the challenges of the intersecting, current ecological, political and social crises. These books are a great start.

Diana's book list on Buddhist stories from lesser-known women authors

Diana Winston Why did Diana love this book?

Follow Eden on a journey into all the fecundity of darkness—into the body, nature, silence, world challenges. She is an amazing guide to a shadow side of the Buddhist practice that I have not seen elsewhere. She shows how these neglected aspects of ourselves are actually a path to awakening and healing. It’s a pretty remarkable and unusual book and it just came out!

By Deborah Eden Tull,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A resonant call to explore the darkness in life, in nature, and in consciousness—including difficult emotions like uncertainty, grief, fear, and xenophobia—through teachings, embodied meditations, and mindful inquiry that provide us with a powerful path to healing.

Darkness is deeply misunderstood in today’s world; yet it offers powerful medicine, serenity, strength, healing, and regeneration. All insight, vision, creativity, and revelation arise from darkness. It is through learning to stay present and meet the dark with curiosity rather than judgment that we connect to an unwavering light within. Welcoming darkness with curiosity, rather than fear or judgment, enables us to access…


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