Introductory Books on Buddhism

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Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Punya » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:42 pm

While advice is offered to individual newcomers from time to time, I haven't seen a recent easily searchable DW thread that discusses introductory books across all the buddhist traditions so I thought I'd start one here.

I suggest each post contains only one or two books so a number of us can participate and that you say which tradition the book belongs to and briefly why you think it's good/helpful.

If someone suggests a book by a controversial buddhist figure by all means point this out but maybe attach a link to another thread rather than cluttering up this one.
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Monsoon » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:09 pm

May I also suggest that when you have a reasonable number of book titles you compile them in the first post on this thread. That would save people from having to necessarily search through a potentially long thread. Or possibly, if enough suggestions arise to create a new Sticky. I have seen this done on other fora and it does work quite well. Just a thought.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Motova » Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:59 am

The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought

By: Geshe Tashi Tsering
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:32 am

Motova wrote:The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought

By: Geshe Tashi Tsering
Seconded.

accesstoinsight.org is a great Theravada site. Any book by the Dalai Lama is good.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:40 am

Depending on one's inclinations:

The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh

or

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby lobster » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:13 am

is 'dharma for dummies' out yet?
http://explorations.chasrmartin.com/wor ... r-dummies/

Do you have access to e-books, library or bookstore/amazon?

I get all my dharma from the interweb. :namaste:
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Punya » Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:04 pm

Thanks for the thought Monsoon. Lets see how we go. We could start another thread for online resources Lobster but I take your point.

It's hard to pick and I guess it depends on the student but my two books are The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche (Nyingma) and What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula (Theravada but highly recommended by two of my Tibetan teachers).
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Strife with outer enemies will never end.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby lobster » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:22 pm

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche (Nyingma) and What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula (Theravada but highly recommended by two of my Tibetan teachers).


Excellent choice. :twothumbsup:
Here is one of them as a PDF
http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_Walpo ... Taught.pdf
I would always recommend intro/dummies/series based books because they are very difficult to write and are written by accomplished, skilled and commissioned writers. I try not to kill bits of trees as they are some of my favourite conversationalists . . . hence the interweb and ebook reference . . .
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby smcj » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:26 pm

I'll tell you one book to NOT recommend: Milarepa. That set me back decades in my practice. Tibetans find the book inspiring and heroic. I find it alarming--and I'm a Kagyu! For that matter keep Naropa and Tilopa out of sight too!
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:31 pm

smcj wrote:I'll tell you one book to NOT recommend: Milarepa. That set me back decades in my practice. Tibetans find the book inspiring and heroic. I find it alarming--and I'm a Kagyu! For that matter keep Naropa and Tilopa out of sight too!
Milarepa's story seems to have been greatly exaggerated. The truth was probably a lot tamer.

Gampopa's story is a good one. I think it's on Berzin's site.

EDIT

Yeah here it is: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/teachers/lineage_masters/how_gampopa_reached_spiritual_attainments.html?query=gampopa
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby MalaBeads » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:50 pm

"What the Buddha Taught" is excellent.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Punya » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:09 pm

smcj wrote:I'll tell you one book to NOT recommend: Milarepa. That set me back decades in my practice. Tibetans find the book inspiring and heroic. I find it alarming--and I'm a Kagyu! For that matter keep Naropa and Tilopa out of sight too!


Interesting, I love those books (and the movie of Milarepa)! Their devotion to their teachers is endless. But you're right, probably not the place for a beginner to start.
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:12 pm

The first book I read was "Awakenimg the Buddha Within" by Lama Surya Das.

I also agree What the Buddhs Taught is a great book as well
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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
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One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:17 pm

I do recall a thread on this a while back....can anyone remember the name or help locate it?
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:41 pm

One great introductory book is Chagdud Tulku's "Gates of Buddhist Practice" Image

Another good one is "Opening to Our Primordial Nature" by Kenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Image


I haven't found the thread I was thinking of, it may have been way back on Esangha.. but alternatively here is a related thread that could be useful:

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=5266
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Punya » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:32 am

Awakening the Buddha Within was the first serious buddhist book I read too Dave. I don't know your choices Adamantine but they look interesting. I bought CR's biography recently but haven't read it yet.

Catmoon's choices in the "must have" thread are suitable for beginners. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is still a favourite. Unfortunately I haven't made quite the same effort to put HHDL's advice into practice. :emb:
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Michael_Dorfman » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:53 pm

My standard recommendations for general introductions to Buddhism are Rupert Gethin's The Foundations of Buddhism, and Peter Harvey's An Introduction to Buddhism.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:29 pm

I'm going to second Thich Nhat Hanh's Heart of the Buddha's Teaching. There's another book I've found useful, and not only as a beginner's guide, but something I go back to from time to time. It's called Buddhist Inspirations: Essential Philosophy, Truth, and Enlightenment, by Tom Lowenstein.

http://books.google.com/books/about/Buddhist_Inspirations.html?id=fKSd6XoPk64C

As far as Zen specific books go, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is a good one, as well as the Three Pillars of Zen.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:15 pm

In the Buddha's Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi is a great introduction to the Pali Canon, giving vital information on Gotama's life, the beginning of Buddhism and many of the basic concepts. It is officially Theravada, but 99 % of it is true for Mahayana as well.
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Re: Introductory Books on Buddhism

Postby smcj » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:32 pm

Milarepa's story seems to have been greatly exaggerated. The truth was probably a lot tamer.

Perhaps, but present day Tibetans take it quite seriously. The previous Kalu R. spent many years on retreat in Himalayan caves trying to emulate him. HHDL says the story still brings tears to his eyes. Plus there's the precedents of the Tilopa & Naropa stories--a VERY bad first impression!
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