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Poetry is often able to express the dharma
in ways that are profound and penetrating, almost beyond words. It can open a dharma door for us that speech and prose cannot.

The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain
By Han Shan, translated by Red Pine.
Poems written on rocks, trees, and temple walls in the Tientai mountains of China twelve hundred years ago. Jack Kerouac dedicated The Dharma Bums to Han Shan in 1958, elevating him to almost mythical status among the beats.

Canoeing Up
Cabaga Creek:
Poems 1955-1986

By Philip Whalen
The poet laureate of the beat generation and has filled these pages with wisdom and humor, in words, pictures, symbols and space.

There are so many myths and legends, stories, similes and metaphors linked to the life of the Buddha that it is impossible to produce a purely factual life of Buddha. That may be a challenge for scholars and academicians, but it isn’t for practitioners who see the life of the Buddha as an inspiration and as an opportunity
for learning.

By Karen Armstrong
Whatever your level of practice or sectarian preference, this is a worthy overview of the Buddha’s life–a fascinating read by a New York Times bestselling author.

The Buddha and His Teachings*
By Bhikkhu Narada
For the serious practitioner, a picture of the life of the Buddha and his essential teachings based on the Pali canon.

The Life of the Buddha*
By Bhikkhu Nanamoli
English scholar-monk Bhikkhu Nanamoli presents Lord Buddha with joy and reverence by piecing together excerpts from the Pali canon. A powerful literary devise, telling the story through five different voices, is used to hold the pieces together. This is a teaching biography, an inspired and inspiring work for the advanced student and practitioner.

All of the books are available in print; those with asterisks are also available online.

Empty Cloud: The Teachings of Xu Yun*
By Venerable Jy Din Sakya
A remembrance of Empty Cloud–the great 20th century Chinese practice monk–by his disciple, Master Jy Din Sakya.The Chan teachings and life of this great monk are an inspiration and an example for us to follow.

The Eightfold Noble Path*
Written by Bhikku Bodhi 
An in-depth but accessible presentation of the eightfold path by one of the foremost translators of our time.

The First Discourse of the Buddha*
by Dr. Rewata Dhamma
A clear, thoughtful, straight-to-the-point Theravada
analysis and presentation of the four noble truths.

The Tree of Enlightenment*
By Peter Della Santina  
This is an excellent overall introduction to Buddhism. Santina’s very popular Fundamentals of Buddhism is included within this book.

How Yoga Works
By Geshe Michael Roach and Cristie McNally
A fable, perhaps a parable–a joy to read. Explains not only how yoga works, but how Buddhism works too. If you have any interest in yoga, or yoga and Buddhism, this is a must-read.

Anger: The Seven Deadly Sins
by Robert A. F. Thurman
An insightful little book with a bright red cover that screams at you to recognize, understand and practice with anger. A dense topic, deftly handled without losing its accesiblity to the practice-oriented reader.

The Foundations of Buddhism
By Rupert Gethin  
Explores the early teachings and the way they shaped later Buddhism, covering a broad spectrum of the core beliefs.This is a dense, academic book best suited to the advanced student.

Buddhist Religion, A Historical Introduction
By Richard Robinson & Willard Johnson
A picture of Buddhism framed historically in terms of ritual, devotionalism, institutions, doctrine and meditation practices. This is a post-graduate university text, not for casual reading.

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
By Thich Nhat Hanh  
Thich Nhat Hanh delves into the core teachings of Buddhism with the freshness and subtlety that only a deeply-practiced Buddhist master and teacher can offer.

Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind
by Suzuki Roshi
The first and perhaps only American Zen classic by one of the fathers of Soto Zen in America.

The Way to Buddhahood
By Venerable Yin Shun  
This is an overview of the essentials of Chinese Mahayana Buddhist practice, a serious book with a serious intent. Considered essential reading for advanced students in Chinese monastic communities.






This is a short list of recommended scriptures from the Chinese canon. It is meant as a starting point for those whose practice has led them back to the original words of the Buddha.

In the Buddha’s Words
By Bhikkhu Bodhi  
An anthology of systematically arranged discourses from the Pali Canon with meaningful and insightful introductions to each chapter. This is the easiest way to approach the Pali Canon for the first time.

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi. A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya.
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha
Translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli
A translation of the Majjhima Nikaya

The Long Discourses
of the Buddha

Translated by
Maurice Walshe
A translation of the Digha Nikaya.

Faith in Mind: A Guide to Chan Practice
By Sheng Yen  
The Third Patriarch’s enlightenment poem that is often taught and chanted as a sutra.

Describing the Indescribable
By Hsing Yun  
A particularly sensitive translation of the Diamond Sutra with useful commentary for practitioners at all levels of practice.
The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra
By Edward Conze  
An early 20th century translation and commentary that holds its own against today’s many translations.

The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Robert A. F. Thurman
An elegant translation of this grandly written sutra that is a cornerstone of Mahayana practice.

The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Gene Reeves
A clean, clear translation of this pivotal sutra in everyday readable English.

The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma
Translated by Red Pine  
These ancient words of Bodhidharma still resonate with the power to guide our practice and lead us to liberation.
The Way of the Bodhisattva
(revised edition, Shambala Classics)
Written by Shantideva, translated by the Padmakara Translation Committee
A poem-sutra, one of the five root texts in Tibetan Buddhism. Everything you need to know to be a Bodhisattva is here, in this gracious translation.