10 books like Zen's Chinese Heritage

By Andy Ferguson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Zen's Chinese Heritage. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Essential Dogen

By Kazuaki Tanahashi, Peter Levitt,

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 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.


The Heart Sutra

By Red Pine,

Book cover of The Heart Sutra

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.

The Heart Sutra

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…


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…


Street Zen

By David Schneider,

Book cover of Street Zen: The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey

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.

Street Zen

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…


The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

By Sogyal Rinpoche,

Book cover of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

A lot of people I spoke to in Britain and the US regarded thanatophobiathe fear of dyingas the right, proper, and ordinary human state. So it’s very comforting to read about our death culture through the eyes of someone who wasn’t raised that way. In TTBOLAD, the ‘western’ view of death is held up and examined as very much one of many ways to respond to itand while it’s certainly not healthy to ignore it until you’re dealing with grief or you’re dying yourself (ie. when you’re at your highest moment of trauma), with this book it becomes very clear, very quickly that it’s not the only option.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

By Sogyal Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explains the Tibetan understanding of what happens when a person dies, and how this can help in a person's daily life, in caring for the terminally ill and the bereaved, and to deepen one's understanding of life.


Prisoners of Shangri-La

By Donald S. Lopez Jr,

Book cover of Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West

When my grandparents died they left small presents for their grandchildren, and in a way that many Buddhists would recognise I bought a book about Buddhism – a funny and sad one. Lopez’s book tells the story of how Western fantasies talk over actual Tibetans and their struggles, from what we think we know about the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” to Lobsang Rampa’s spurious The Third Eye, passing through how we talk about Tibetan art and what we say about the mantra “Om mani padme hum”. This is a deeply humane book about how Tibetans are trapped not only by superpower politics and colonialism but also by how they are represented to the West. 

Prisoners of Shangri-La

By Donald S. Lopez Jr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prisoners of Shangri-La as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the Western imagination, Tibet evokes exoticism, mysticism, and wonder: a fabled land removed from the grinding onslaught of modernity, spiritually endowed with all that the West has lost. Originally published in 1998, Prisoners of Shangri-La provided the first cultural history of the strange encounter between Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Donald Lopez reveals here fanciful misconceptions of Tibetan life and religion. He examines, among much else, the politics of the term "Lamaism," a pejorative synonym for Tibetan Buddhism; the various theosophical, psychedelic, and New Age purposes served by the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead; and the unexpected history…


Women of Wisdom

By Tsultrim Allione,

Book cover of Women of Wisdom

This book is a wonderful collection of the lives of six Tibetan female mystics, brought together by the American Lama Tsultrim Allione, the emanation of the renowned 11th-century Tibetan yogini, Machig Labdrön, and one of the few women Lamas in the world today. The book includes an extensive autobiographical preface and introduction in which Lama Tultrum Allione shares her own story and experience of the difficulties and triumphs of women in Tibetan Buddhism, and of women pursuing a spiritual life in the West with candid honesty. The stories of these remarkable women's pasts and brought together in this book offer a wealth of insight and encouragement for both women and men who aspire to a spiritual life in the face of adversity.

Women of Wisdom

By Tsultrim Allione,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “fascinating and inspiring” celebration of women’s spirituality and the female mystics of Tibetan Buddhism—now featuring an updated and expanded author autobiography (San Francisco Chronicle)
 
Women of Wisdom explores and celebrates the spiritual potential of all women, as exemplified by the lives of six Tibetan female mystics. These stories of great women who have achieved full illumination—overcoming cultural prejudices and a host of other problems which male practitioners do not encounter—offer a wealth of inspiration to everyone on the spiritual path.

In this revised and expanded edition, Tsultrim Allione’s extensive autobiographical preface and introduction speak directly to the difficulties and…


Tea in China

By James A. Benn,

Book cover of Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History

This is the book I had been waiting for and was so delighted when it appeared. It provides a fascinating and sweeping account of the meaning of tea in Chinese culture from its earliest appearance to the late imperial period. Benn has a wonderful eye for examples and delicious details that illuminate how religion, art, poetry, class, and gender created a commodity and culture that travelled around the world. A great place to start if you are interested in the history of tea or China.

Tea in China

By James A. Benn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tea in China explores the contours of religious and cultural transformation in traditional China from the point of view of an everyday commodity and popularbeverage. Th e work traces the development of tea drinking from its mythical origins to the nineteenth century and examines the changes in aesthetics, ritual, science, health, and knowledge that tea brought with it.

Th e shift in drinking habits that occurred in late medieval China cannot be understood without an appreciation of the fact that Buddhist monks were responsible for not only changing people's attitudes toward the intoxicating substance, but also the proliferation of tea…


Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

By Yusen Kashiwahara, Koyu Sonoda,

Book cover of Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

This book includes twenty full and seventy-five brief biographies of significant figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism, some of them orthodox, many of them eccentric, each contributing some unique genius to the living tradition from the sixth century up to modern times. An excellent way to enter the spirit of the tradition with many stories to enjoy.

Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

By Yusen Kashiwahara, Koyu Sonoda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than thirteen centuries of clergy, laity, and social conditions interacted to mold Japan's Buddhism. Today's resulting characteristics, which distinguish it from its mainland sources, include a proliferation of independent sects, emphasis on religion for lay members, and de-emphasis of clerical codes. The twenty main biographies and seventy-five sketches presented in this book reveal both the individual and social aspects of Buddhist evolution and in Japan, spanning from the sixth through twentieth centuries. They cover the many separate interchanges that brought Buddhist texts and practices from Korea and China as well as the innovations that arose in Japan.


The Heart of the Buddha

By Chögyam Trungpa,

Book cover of The Heart of the Buddha: Entering the Tibetan Buddhist Path

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.

The Heart of the Buddha

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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