100 books like The Essential Dogen

By Peter Levitt, Kazuaki Tanahashi,

Here are 100 books that The Essential Dogen fans have personally recommended if you like The Essential Dogen. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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 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.

Who am I?

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 What Is Zen?

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

From my list on Zen awareness practice.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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 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.

Who am I?

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.

Who am I?

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.


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