A Basic Buddhist Library & Website Links
by Victor Bradford

No matter how far you advance, you can use these good solid basic sources for many years. In my humble opinion, the best conceptual introduction to Buddhism is Rupert Gethin’s Foundations of Buddhism. Compassion is also vital in Buddhism, and two books – Jack Kornfield’s A Path with Heart and Sharon Salzbeg’s Lovingkindess – develop Buddhism’s “heart.”

For Theravada Buddhism (located in SE Asia), In the Buddha’s Words (ed. Bhikku Bodhi) is a solid book, and Wings to Awakening, translated by the highly respected Thanisaaro Bhikkhu, is another. The Dhammapada (a literary summary of Buddhism) is a beautiful addition to any library, and good free translations are available at accestoinsight.org.

For Zen, consider Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by S. Suzuki, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh, and The Heart Sutra (translated by people such as Thich Nhat Hanh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Red Pine, Ken McLeod, or Edward Conze).

For Tibetan Buddhism, consider Alan Wallace’s Tibetan Buddhism From the Ground Up, John Powers’ Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, and any introductory book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life is among the most universally beloved texts in Tibetan Buddhism, and Alan Wallace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso have written good translations.

You can learn about Buddhism from a written or audio source, but you have no substitute for a good teacher, community, or retreat for learning meditation, although good meditation authors include Bhante Gunaratana (Eight Mindful Steps), Thich Nhat Hanh (Walking Meditation; Blooming of the Lotus), Jack Kornfield (Buddhist Meditation for Beginners audio), and Larry Rosenberg (Breath By Breath). Alan Wallace’s Attention Revolution is an excellent resource to help meditators develop this critical factor.

Buddhist & Meditation Websites

–You’ll find other good websites in the links and Buddhist or Yogic journals.
–“Just because you saw it on the internet, or heard it in the media, doesn’t mean it’s true or up-to-date,” and “turn off the computer at least one day a week.”

Buddhist & Meditation Books

The following is a short list of must-read books no matter your level:

Wherever You Go There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Experience of Insight – Joseph Goldstein

Insight Meditation: A Psychology of Freedom – Joseph Goldstein

Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation – Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield

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

A Gradual Awakening – Stephen Levine

Mindfulness in Plain English – Venerable Henepola Ganaratana

What the Buddha Taught – Wolpola Rahula

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation: The Buddha’s Way of Mindfulness – Nyanaponika Thera

It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness – Sylvia Boorstein

Lovingkindess: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness – Sharon Salzberg

The Mind and the Way: Buddhist reflections on Life – Ajahn Sumedho

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Revised Meditations on the Buddhist Path – Ayya Khema

When the Iron Eagle Flies: Buddhism for the West – Ayya Khema

The First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening – Susan Murcott

Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America – Lenore Friedman

Miracle of Mindfulness: An introduction to the Practice of Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh