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Buddhist/Eastern - First Readings in Buddhist Meditation

The books in this first list are recommended as first reading because they provide an inclusive overview of important understandings in Buddhist practice in general. Working with these materials first will make your further reading more efficient and your practice development more effective. They are not elementary or necessarily easy teachings, but good knowledge to further build upon.
  • Aronson, Harvey. Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology.

    Harvey?s writing clarifies many issues regarding the understanding of Buddhist practice in light of psychology or western knowledge of good mental health. Reading this work will help you avoid common pitfalls in incorporating an eastern practice into western cultural experience. I recommend it to meditation students so that long after leaving class they have in-depth answers to critical questions that have come up as they begin the practice.

  • Batchelor, Stephen. The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture.

    This is an excellent history of how Buddhism came to the West, including roots of the developing traditions for westerners, the primary teachers, and differences among the traditions.

  • Byrom, Thomas, trans. The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha (Sacred Teachings).
  • Cleary, Thomas, trans. Dhammapada: The Sayings of Buddha.

    Two translations of the Dhammapada, one source of foundational ethical teachings of Buddha. These are good to read in small segments, perhaps after a meditation session, to savor and digest slowing, and integrate into life experience. I first used them as companion reading with a Christian ethical resource - Joan Chittister?s commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict. The parallels were very interesting and mutually supporting.

  • Epstein, Mark. Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness .

    Mark Epstien brings understanding of Buddhist practice in light of psychology or western knowledge of good mental health. I especially like the way Epstein uses the Four Noble Truths to demonstrate the great value of Buddhist practice to mental health. It is a good introduction to an integrated understanding of the four noble truths.

  • Goldstein, Joseph. One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism .

    Joseph's latest book is a great follow-up to the history offered in The Awakening of the West. He demonstrates a possible coming together of traditions, a reconstellation of the teachings as skillful means to use across the board rather than separate sectarian dominions. I love the way he does this without denigrating any tradition.

  • Goldstein, Joseph. The Experience of Insight: A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation (Shambhala Dragon Editions) .
  • Goldstein, Joseph, and Jack Kornfield. Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation (Shambhala Classics) .

    These two books are one and two, in the listed order, of an introduction to the Buddhist teachings offered through the Insight Meditation network. They encompass basic concepts and practices of the teachings. An excellent, well founded beginning for grasping the breadth of the practice by two leading teachers of this community. Seeking the Heart of Wisdom is the only book these two primary teachers have written together.

  • Kornfield, Jack. A Path with Heart : A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life.

    This book offers a deepening of the teachings, a culmination of Jack Kornfield?s teaching up to 1993, incorporating western connections in psychology and a little with religion. It includes practice suggestions and meditations, as well as additional reading. As Seeking the Heart of Wisdom and The Experience of Insight, it is an excellent practice manual.

  • Rees, Mary. Being Prayer-Transforming Consciousness: Good News of Buddhist Practice

    Being Prayer Being Prayer answers questions about compatibility of Buddhist teachings and Christianity (and to some extent other theistic traditions). Among other goals, I wanted to show that Buddhist practice is a way to make all of life prayer, to demonstrate that the practices are joyful and rich (definitely not nihilistic), and to summarize and reinforce some of the philosophy behind the experiential focus of the teachings. It is a good resource for beginning practice, but also provides practice tools for all levels of understanding. It is especially valuble as practice support when life is most challenging.

  • Salzberg, Sharon. Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience .

    Sharon is one of the three primary teachers in the Insight Meditation network in the US. She has written other books including two books on Loving-kindness and edited a book of talks or writings of various Senior Teachers within the tradition. This one is my favorite. She speaks candidly about her own life and the relationship of her happiness to her practice. Her writings especially bring in important heart qualities of the teachings, not to mention addressing the critical questions and misunderstandings about the meaning of the word faith.

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