100 books like The Complete Illustrated Guide to Zen

By Seigaku Amato,

Here are 100 books that The Complete Illustrated Guide to Zen fans have personally recommended if you like The Complete Illustrated Guide to 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 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 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…


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

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?

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. 

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…


Book cover of Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen

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?

Collecting and editing translations from a who's who of Zen scholarship, Kaz Tanahashi provides what has become the classic introduction to the writings of Eihei Dogen. The founder of Japanese Soto Zen, Dogen is considered one of the signal figures in the distillation of Zen's teachings. 

By Eihei Dogen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon in a Dewdrop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), among the first to transmit Zen Buddhism from China to Japan and founder of the important Soto School, was not only a profoundly influential and provocative Zen philosopher but also one of the most stimulating figures in Japanese letters.

Kazuaki Tanahashi, collaborating with several other Zen authorities, has produced sensitive and accurate translations of Dogen's most important texts. Moon in a Dewdrop contains the key essays of the great master, as well as extensive background materials that will help Western readers to approach this significant work. There is also a selection of Dogen's poetry, most of which…


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 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 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 What Is Zen?

Cheri Huber Author Of There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

From my list on Zen awareness practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

These books attempt to describe the indescribable, pointing to the unknowable, only the living of which makes living living. What they have in common is that they invite us to practice along with the author, not giving any answers, but inviting us to look. I fell in love with Awareness Practice in my youth and through the decades that love has only deepened. I continue to love this journey of exploration and I hope the books that I have written contribute to that same experience for others. There is nothing more magical than having a direct experience of encountering who we really are, beyond ego’s dualistic world of opposites.

Cheri's book list on Zen awareness practice

Cheri Huber Why did Cheri love this book?

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.

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…


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 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 Kazuaki Tanahashi, Peter Levitt,

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.


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