The most recommended Eastern philosophy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to Eastern philosophy, and here are their favorite Eastern philosophy books.
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The Bhagavad Gita

By Jack Hawley,

Book cover of The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners

Jennifer Waldburger Author Of Calm Mama, Happy Baby: The Simple, Intuitive Way to Tame Tears, Improve Sleep, and Help Your Family Thrive

From the list on how to parent with respect rather than control.

Who am I?

As a child, I grew up with a mom and dad who, like just about every parent, did the best they could with the tools they had. Unknowingly, though, they also carried forward into their roles as parents their own unhealed wounds from the past. Luckily for me, my parents sought to become more self-aware as I grew from child to adult. In this book, we aim to share some of the tools and practices that can help parents find wholeness in themselves from the beginning of the parent-child relationship, and avoid many of the pitfalls that can cause unnecessary conflicts and suffering in family living.

Jennifer's book list on how to parent with respect rather than control

Why did Jennifer love this book?

This classic of Eastern philosophy endures for a reason: it contains timeless, essential teachings for living with a full heart, with ease, and in peace. The passages in this book reverberate with universal truths that can be easily applied to the parent-child relationship. The truths in The Bhagavad Gita are universal because they are self-evident, and the reader will likely have the experience not of acquiring new concepts, but of remembering what is known on a soul level but may have been forgotten.

By Jack Hawley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bhagavad Gita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Bhagavad Gita has been called India’s greatest contribution to the world. For more than five thousand years, this great scripture has shown millions in the East how to fill their lives with serenity and love. In these pages, Jack Hawley brings these ancient secrets to Western seekers in a beautiful prose version that makes the story of the Gita clear and exciting, and makes its truths understandable and easy to apply to our busy lives.

The Gita is a universal love song sung by God to His friend man. It can’t be confined by any creed. It is a…

Be Here Now

By Ram Dass,

Book cover of Be Here Now

Srikumar Rao Author Of Modern Wisdom, Ancient Roots: The Movers and Shakers' Guide to Unstoppable Success

From the list on spiritual dynamite.

Who am I?

I am Srikumar Rao – best selling author, TED speaker, and elite coach. I have spent more than five decades studying the teachings of the world’s greatest masters and distilling them into exercises that enable successful individuals to reach entirely new orbits of accomplishment while remaining serene as a Zen monk. My course, Creativity and Personal Mastery, was among the highest-rated and most popular at many of the world’s top business schools and is the only one to have its own alumni association. My work has been covered by major media worldwide and my talks have been viewed by tens of millions on all six continents.

Srikumar's book list on spiritual dynamite

Why did Srikumar love this book?

This is one of the two books that defined the entire era of hippies and flower children in the sixties and seventies. (The other is The Whole Earth Catalog by Stewart Brand.)

The first part of the book is a highly readable first-person account of how Richard Alpert, Harvard psychologist, went to India, met his guru, and became Ram Dass. The next section has hundreds of cryptic sayings in artistic depictions on brown paper.

These are drawn from Eastern traditions and challenge your notions of what is ‘real’. The third and final section is a series of essays on topics like happiness, yoga, transmuting energy, and so on.

By Ram Dass,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Be Here Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beloved guru Ram Dass tells the story of his spiritual awakening and gives you the tools to take control of your life in this “counterculture bible” (The New York Times) featuring powerful guidance on yoga, meditation, and finding your true self.

When Be Here Now was first published in 1971, it filled a deep spiritual emptiness, launched the ongoing mindfulness revolution, and established Ram Dass as perhaps the preeminent seeker of the twentieth century.

Just ten years earlier, he was known as Professor Richard Alpert. He held appointments in four departments at Harvard University. He published books, drove a Mercedes…

Book cover of Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, Tibet, Japan

Richard E. Nisbett Author Of Thinking: A Memoir

From the list on thinking.

Who am I?

Richard Nisbett is one of the world’s preeminent psychologists. His thinking is primarily about thought, but it is extremely wide-ranging – from biopsychology to social psychology to criminology to philosophy. His influence on philosophy has been compared to that of Freud and Skinner.

Richard's book list on thinking

Why did Richard love this book?

The book shows some of the remarkable ways that Eastern and Western thought differs. I read the book 10 years before a brilliant Chinese student named Kaiping Peng came to work with me and told me right off the bat that I thought linearly and logically and he thought non-linearly and dialectically. That sounded like an exaggeration, but Nakamura’s book encouraged me to take Peng seriously. Our research together showed he was absolutely right. East Asian thought was shown by our experiments to be radically different in many ways from Western thought.

By Hajime Nakamura,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1997. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

The Awakened Family

By Shefali Tsabary,

Book cover of The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting

Shari Leid Author Of Ask Yourself This: Ultimate Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends

From the list on helping you live your most imperfectly perfect life.

Who am I?

These are the books that changed my life and were the catalyst for a change in career from litigation attorney to life coach. I am also a Friendship expert who is currently traveling the US, meeting a stranger in every state to share a meal with. These books align with the way I live and the energy and lessons that I hope to share with everyone I meet. These are not just books to entertain but also books that have helped me get through some difficult times in life and have helped me find real purpose and meaning in the way I move through life.

Shari's book list on helping you live your most imperfectly perfect life

Why did Shari love this book?

This book singlehandedly changed the way I parented my children, especially my daughter who is very different than me in the way she processes information and how she moves through life. 

Through this book I learned to not only understand that her journey is her own and whenever I’m upset about her choices or the way she is doing things it often is because I’m inserting my own journey and fears into her life instead of letting her be who she is gloriously designed to be.

This book brought me a realization that my fears were often the motivator behind my parenting and helped me to redirect my focus to the joy and the wonder of the differences my child has and look for ways to support her strengths rather than focusing on changing what I deemed her weaknesses – thus, I was able to empower her in a way…

By Shefali Tsabary,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Awakened Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Parents ... you will be wowed and awed by [Dr. Shefali].' - Oprah Winfrey

Become the awakened parent you've always wanted to be and watch your children thrive.

All parents have aspirations for their children but for some these hopes turn into unrealistic expectations. In many cases, this puts huge amounts of pressure on children and has the potential to cause real harm, hindering your child's development.

Challenging modern myths on how kids should be, Dr Shefali helps parents recognise children for who they truly are instead of holding onto society's impossible ideals.

Drawing on Eastern philosophy as well as…

Embrace Yoga's Roots

By Susanna Barkataki,

Book cover of Embrace Yoga's Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice

Courtney Seiberling Author Of YOGA's YAMAS and NIYAMAS: 10 Principles for Peace & Purpose

From the list on the philosophy behind yoga.

Who am I?

The physical practice of yoga transformed my relationship to my body, but the philosophy of yoga changed my life. When I began to study the Sutras, my mind became calmer; I had a greater capacity to listen and be patient in my relationships, and my quality of life improved. As I studied philosophy more, my perspective shifted from lack and blame to abundance and self-awareness. Knowing there is more to yoga than just the physical practice, I find it important to honor the tradition the way it was intended: as a whole system for the mind, body, and spirit to reduce the suffering of all beings.

Courtney's book list on the philosophy behind yoga

Why did Courtney love this book?

Susanna Barkataki is a teacher, inclusivity promoter, and yoga culture advocate with an active social media presence who compassionately and playfully nudges the West to honor the original tradition of yoga. Her book takes many of her teachings and presents them in one place. Her wisdom is essential for anyone who wants to understand what yoga is beyond the physical practice. For Westerners, her book is a generous offering and necessary to ensure we are being reverent with the practice of yoga and not appropriating it.

By Susanna Barkataki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Embrace Yoga's Roots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you want to be on the cutting edge of the future of yoga?

If you desire an authentic yoga practice embracing ancient yogic philosophy and traditions but don’t know how to embody that knowledge with integrity in today’s modern yoga culture, Embrace Yoga’s Roots is your guide to honor and not appropriate yoga.

"When we mistake yoga for a workout routine, reduce it to physical fitness or even do some of the deeper aspects of yoga without an eye to the whole system of liberation it offers, we rob ourselves and each other of the potential of this practice,"…

Book cover of Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better

Anthony Weston Author Of Teaching as the Art of Staging: A Scenario-Based College Pedagogy in Action

From the list on to provoke the impresario in every teacher.

Who am I?

I’ve taught Philosophy graduate students at the same time as assisting in kindergartens when my kids were in community co-op schools... staging both classes the same way. Proud to be named Elon University’s 2002 Teacher of the Year, I have led classes “on the edge” ranging from “Millennial Imagination” and “Life in the Universe” (students just called it “Aliens”) to a Philosophy of Education course taught with a totally different pedagogy – embodying a different philosophy – every single session. I also work in environmental philosophy and am deeply involved in designing and building Common Ground Ecovillage in central North Carolina.

Anthony's book list on to provoke the impresario in every teacher

Why did Anthony love this book?

Holt writes that the best learning experience in his life wasn’t a “learning experience” at all, but serving on a submarine during World War 2. Success – and sheer survival – manifestly hinged on quickly bringing even the rawest and supposedly least educable of the crew to function at the highest level. In such purposive settings, everything about “teaching and learning” is different. School as we know it, Holt argues, is hypocrisy-inducing and soul-crushing, plus stupendously inefficient, but you can take this angry book as also a provocation to rethink pedagogy in a radical but still constructive way... even in, yes, something like school.

By John Holt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Instead of Education is Holt's most direct and radical challenge to the educational status quo and a clarion call to parents to save their children from schools of all kinds. In this breakthrough work Holt lays out the foundation for un-schooling as the vital path to self-directed learning and a creative life.

Mount Analogue

By René Daumal,

Book cover of Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures

Jean Muenchrath Author Of If I Live Until Morning, A True Story of Adventure, Tragedy and Transformation

From the list on adventure, healing, and growth.

Who am I?

Jean Muenchrath wrote down her story to heal herself from the trauma of a life-threatening mountaineering accident, an epic survival incident, and decades of chronic pain. She then published her memoir to inspire readers to follow their dreams and to encourage them to overcome whatever challenges their life presents. Before she became an author, Muenchrath was a park ranger with the National Park Service for over thirty years. She’s led trekking tours in Nepal and Thailand and worked in Bhutan with the World Wildlife Fund. Jean enjoys traveling to foreign lands, exploring wild places and sitting quietly in meditation.

Jean's book list on adventure, healing, and growth

Why did Jean love this book?

This book is one of my all time favorite reads. Mount Analogue is a short poetic novel. Daumal’s rich descriptions and symbolism engaged my imagination and made me think deeply about the story’s meaning. The author takes readers on a journey to a mystical place with an unusual set of characters and strange circumstances. The story revolves around an adventurous sailing and climbing expedition to a mystical mountain hidden from the world’s inhabitants which is believed to link the earth to a higher sphere of reality. It’s full of intrigue and packed with pithy philosophical statements worth pondering. Daumal’s words and descriptions are so thought-provoking, that I used a quote from this book as the opening to my memoir, If I Live Until Morning.

By René Daumal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This pataphysical journey up a mountain whose "summit must be inaccessible, but its base accessible to human beings" depicts an allegorical landscape akin to Alice in Wonderland

A beloved cult classic of surrealism, pataphysics and Gurdjieffian mysticism, René Daumal’s Mount Analogue is the allegorical tale of an expedition to a mountain whose existence can only be deduced, not observed. As its numerous editions (most now rare) over the decades attest, the book has been highly influential: Alejandro Jodorowsky's visionary 1973 film The Holy Mountain is a loose adaptation of the book, and John Zorn based an eponymous album on it.…

Eastern Philosophy

By Mel Thompson,

Book cover of Eastern Philosophy

Jet McDonald Author Of Mind is the Ride

From the list on for a long bike ride.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, musician, and psychiatrist, a member of the Philosophy Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the owner of far too many bikes. I cycled four thousand miles from Bristol in the UK to India. But I didn’t just want to write a travel book, I wanted to take apart my experiences with the tool kit of philosophy, and then put them back together again, in a long-distance bike ride. Freewheeling down the mountains, clutching at the brakes.

Jet's book list on for a long bike ride

Why did Jet love this book?

If Bertrand Russell’s book is about Western Philosophy, our rational need to investigate objects and minds, as unwilling observers, then Mel Thompson’s book explores the ideas of the East, where immersive philosophies don’t just employ thought, but also feelings and physical reactions, ritual, and meditation. Where mind and body aren’t just separate entities on the end of a stick, but an integral part of the environment that surrounds us. This eloquent book, equally unpatronising and rigorous, puts thicker tomes to shame. If you’re willing to believe that a long-distance bicycle ride is a pilgrimage of sorts, an experiment in self-understanding, then this book might just help you reach a different destination.

By Mel Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eastern Philosophy examines key ideas that developed within the ancient civilisations of India and China. It presents a range of philosophies that both inform discussion of personal, moral and social issues and address the fundamental questions about the nature of reality and the place and purpose of human life within it.

From the erotic images of Tantra to the simple precision of Zen, and from the social order in traditional Confucian teaching to the rich variety of Hindu ideas and lifestyles, Eastern Philosophy provides a feast of ideas of universal relevance.

Eastern Philosophy:

- Looks at the ethical and social…