The best books on Tibetan Buddhism 📚

Browse the best books on Tibetan Buddhism as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist — One Woman's Spiritual Journey

Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist — One Woman's Spiritual Journey

By Jan Willis

Why this book?

Jan Willis is one of our most respected American Buddhist teachers and scholars. Like so many Americans who identify as Buddhists, Jan Willis’ story begins with a Christian background. Willis was raised in the Baptist church in Alabama where she endured Jim Crow racism and later marched with MLK, Jr. She writes about the obstacles she faced in her Ivy League education and how she eventually met her Buddhist guru in India. This story is so resonant for me because it reminds me that we can evolve and grow on our spiritual journey without rejecting any part of who we…

From the list:

The best Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

By Thupten Jinpa

Why this book?

Thubten Jinpa is the foremost English language translator for the Dalai Lama, a prolific author and translator, and someone highly involved in scientific research on compassion and positive emotions. Here, he shares in detail for the first time a biography of Tsongkhapa who is one of the great geniuses of our shared, human heritage. Anyone interested in Buddhist philosophy or practice will benefit from an understanding of Tsongkhapa's life and work. And anyone interested in Asian history will find his life illuminating.

From the list:

The best biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition

Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition

By Jan Willis

Why this book?

This book does a remarkable job of exploring the nature of spiritual biography itself. It compares and contrasts Western hagiographical traditions with the unique ways that Tibetans (and other Central Asians) use outer, inner, and secret biographies not only to share the stories of great Buddhist masters but also to share history, inspiration, and implicit teachings to apply to one's own practice of the path. Willis explores these themes in complex ways and also provides translations of the life stories of 6 Tibetan lamas of the Ganden tradition who combined profound scholarly and deep yogic pursuits in unique ways.
From the list:

The best biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

The Heart of the Buddha: Entering the Tibetan Buddhist Path

By Chögyam Trungpa

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best books on how to learn Buddhism

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West

By Donald S. Lopez Jr

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books on Buddhism and the West

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan

The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan

By Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Unknown

Why this book?

For me personally, this book changed my life more than any other, opening me up to the inspiring possibility that a deeply imperfect person could become enlightened through sincere and mighty efforts. This work is one of the world's great stories. The name Milarepa has inspired people for a millenium throughout Central Asia, being almost synonymous with being a yogi and with redemption through heartfelt efforts. It includes Milarepa's life story and some of the many poems which he spontaneously composed to educate and enlighten others as he wandered through the Himalayas.

From the list:

The best biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 15 books about Tibetan Buddhism

New book lists about Tibetan Buddhism

All book lists about Tibetan Buddhism

Bookshelves related to Tibetan Buddhism

Browse books by…