100 books like Street Zen

By David Schneider,

Here are 100 books that Street Zen fans have personally recommended if you like Street Zen. 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 Just This Is It: Dongshan and the Practice of Suchness

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?

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.

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…


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 Zen Meditation in Plain English

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?

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. 

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…


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 Everyday Zen: Love and Work

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?

Dharma successor to Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Charlotte Joko Beck, was a musician, mother, partner and a person deeply interested in the integration of deep practice in the midst of our ordinary lives. Through her warmth and clarity, this book explicitly explores love, relationships, work, dear, ambition, and suffering. It is a beautiful book about how to live fully.

By Charlotte Joko Beck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Charlotte Joko Beck is one of the most popular Zen teachers currently teaching in the West.

This beautifully written book is a Zen guide to the problems of daily living, love, relationships, work, fear and suffering. Beck describes how to be in the present and living each moment to the full.


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

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."

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…


Book cover of Nothing Special

Janet Sternburg Author Of Janet Sternburg - I've Been Walking

From my list on discovering how to see.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and a late-life fine arts photographerFor eight years I had been writing a book set in the personal and historical past. I would sit at the computer, shut my eyes, and say to myself, “Go deeper.” Eventually, I was able to recall long-forgotten details. When I looked up from those years of writing, the memoir, entitled Phantom Limb, was finished and being published. However, I discovered that I could no longer see – really see – what was around me. Along the way, I had lost that alert attention to the way light falls, to colors that used to hit me between the eyes. I felt the loss deeply. I’ve always loved to look. I had to do something to summon it back.

Janet's book list on discovering how to see

Janet Sternburg Why did Janet love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Being Peace

David J. Bookbinder Author Of The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World

From my list on living your best life.

Why am I passionate about this?

To paraphrase the old Hair Club for Men ads from 1980s late-night TV, I'm not only a life coach, I'm also a client. I’ve been a self-help junkie since before the term was a book category. I started out with Eastern thought, added in meditation and psychology, and eventually became a therapist and life coach myself. Like the authors of several of the books I’m recommending here, I’ve crystalized into one easy-to-access volume the essence of what I’ve learned from 20 years of working with clients and from my own struggles. I hope these books help you move ahead confidently, knowing you can take on whatever comes your way.

David's book list on living your best life

David J. Bookbinder Why did David love this book?

I read Being Peace about 30 years ago. It’s the first of many books by this Zen Buddhist monk that I’ve read since then.

In one short volume, it captures the essence of what he teaches in his writings, retreats, and videos. Each short segment has layers of meaning and emotion that, over time, settle into the soul.

Despite years of therapy and meditation, my periods of inner peace were few and far between. This book planted a seed that led to more books, a new meditation practice, and eventually to my going to a large retreat, joining a community of Buddhist practitioners, and becoming a therapist myself.

I’ve passed on many of Thich Nhat Hanh’s wise insights and observations to my own clients.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A bestseller with over 250,000 copies sold, Being Peace is the seminal founding work by Zen Master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh. With a new introduction by Jack Kornfield and the first update since its release over fifteen years ago, this eloquent meditation on "being peace in order to make peace" is more relevant than ever. A book for everyone concerned about the state of the world and the quality of our lives, it has lost none of its timeliness since it was first published in 1987. It is filled with practical suggestions how to create a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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