If you could only recommend 4 books...

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If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:05 am

If you could only recommend 1 introductory and 1 intermediate Dhamma book, 1 introductory and 1 intermediate practice book, which books would you recommend?

There is soooooo much material on Buddhism, and it can be easy for someone, even a Dhamma veteran, to get lost in it all. Perhaps we could try to simplify our suggestions into small lists?

Here are my top 4 recommendations:

- Introductory Dhamma: What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
- Intermediate Dhamma: In The Buddha's Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi

- Introductory Practice: Insight Meditation by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein
- Intermediate Practice: The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga by Buddhaghosa
Last edited by mettafuture on Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby username_5 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:24 am

Your list includes Mindfulness in Plain English, but links to Insight Meditation: A Step-By-Step Course on How to Meditate. Have not read Insight, but have read Mindfulness and would recommend it.

Would also recommend Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness for Introductory dhamma.

Too new to make other recommendations, but will watch the list build and give Amazon lots of business I am sure.
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:26 am

username_5 wrote:Your list includes Mindfulness in Plain English, but links to Insight Meditation: A Step-By-Step Course on How to Meditate.

Mistake corrected.

I was originally going to recommend Mindfulness in Plain English, but I think Insight Meditation by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein is a more complete package. It includes a book, audio, diagrams, etc.
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby Monkey Mind » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:54 am

I am currently reading "Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching" By Ajahn Sucitto. So far I am pleased, it has resolved some confusions of mine, which are numerous. I'll think about the other three.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mirco » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:26 am

Here are my top 4 recommendations and that ain't no joke:

Introductory & Intermediate Dhamma, Introductory & Intermediate Practice:
Most Ven. Vimalaramsi Mahathera: The Anapanasati Sutta : A Practical Guide
plus the Majjhima Nikaya.

_()_
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:44 am

mettafuture wrote:
- Introductory Dhamma: What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
- Intermediate Dhamma: In The Buddha's Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi

- Introductory Practice: Insight Meditation by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein

i've given all of these to people before who have come to me wanting to learn Buddhism from me, quite a few of the first book a couple of the last two.
many other books as well. however there is no blanket list of books i would use for every person other than the 1st two books. i'd have to know the person before recommending any meditation styles.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:39 pm

mirco wrote:Here are my top 4 recommendations and that ain't no joke:

Introductory & Intermediate Dhamma, Introductory & Intermediate Practice:
Most Ven. Vimalaramsi Mahathera: The Anapanasati Sutta : A Practical Guide
plus the Majjhima Nikaya.

_()_

There's a single book that covers all 4 categories?! :shock:

I haven't heard of this book before. And it's free. I'll check it out now.

Thank you for posting it.

jcsuperstar wrote:i've given all of these to people before who have come to me wanting to learn Buddhism from me, quite a few of the first book a couple of the last two.
many other books as well. however there is no blanket list of books i would use for every person other than the 1st two books. i'd have to know the person before recommending any meditation styles.

I'm curious. Which styles (books) would you recommend to which people?
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:42 pm

4 books? easy:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:52 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:4 books? easy:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

:twothumbsup:

Those books aren't exactly "introductory" material though. :D

Or could they be?
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby samadhi_steve » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:54 pm

:thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya
Buddho is something cool and calm. It's the path for giving rise to peace and contentment — the only path that will release us from the suffering and stress in this world.
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:03 pm

samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby Reductor » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:31 pm

mettafuture wrote:
samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.


Sure, why not? Just direct them to read the introduction of Ven. Bodhi's MN and take it from there. The real key is to read a sufficient number of suttas combined with a daily meditation effort (in which case you could start with MN118 and MN10).
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:00 pm

thereductor wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.


Sure, why not? Just direct them to read the introduction of Ven. Bodhi's MN and take it from there. The real key is to read a sufficient number of suttas combined with a daily meditation effort (in which case you could start with MN118 and MN10).

The instructions in the Anapanasati and Satipatthana suttas aren't the easiest to understand. This is why books like Mindfulness in Plain English are so popular and highly regarded. They break down the postures and techniques into a language most people, especially beginners, can follow.
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby Reductor » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:22 pm

mettafuture wrote:
thereductor wrote:Sure, why not? Just direct them to read the introduction of Ven. Bodhi's MN and take it from there. The real key is to read a sufficient number of suttas combined with a daily meditation effort (in which case you could start with MN118 and MN10).

The instructions in the Anapanasati and Satipatthana suttas aren't the easiest to understand. This is why books like Mindfulness in Plain English are so popular and highly regarded. They break down the postures and techniques into a language most people, especially beginners, can follow.


They aren't the easiest to understand because they cannot be properly understood when separated from practice, which is how we first come to them. This is the same with modern books, but because of their phrasing we suppose that we understand when really we do not.

So really, it all comes down to patient practice and daily reflection on the material at hand (ancient or contemporary). In light of such practices even the suttas, some of which may seem impenetrable, can be understood... in time.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:46 pm

thereductor wrote:They aren't the easiest to understand because they cannot be properly understood when separated from practice, which is how we first come to them. This is the same with modern books, but because of their phrasing we suppose that we understand when really we do not.

Or you can just read an introductory book on Buddhism, then read In The Buddha's Words for an overview of all the nikayas, and then dive into the nikayas themselves, starting with the Majjhima Nikaya. And as you study the dhamma, you can see a teacher to learn more about proper practice, and use books like Mindfulness In Plain English to help you along the way.

So really, it all comes down to patient practice and daily reflection on the material at hand (ancient or contemporary). In light of such practices even the suttas, some of which may seem impenetrable, can be understood... in time.

What about those who are dying of terminal illness and don't have a lot of time?
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:08 pm

mettafuture wrote:
samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.

where better to learn those things than from the Buddha himself?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:28 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.

where better to learn those things than from the Buddha himself?

From the Anapanasati Sutta: "Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'"

How should one sit while breathing? How does one "discern" the different types of breathing? How, exactly, does one "train himself"? These questions don't have clear explanations in the suttas. This is why the commentaries, subcommentaries, modern day dhamma teachers, and books like Mindfulness in Plain English exist.

Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby Reductor » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:44 pm

mettafuture wrote:Or you can just read an introductory book on Buddhism, then read In The Buddha's Words for an overview of all the nikayas, and then dive into the nikayas themselves, starting with the Majjhima Nikaya. And as you study the dhamma, you can see a teacher to learn more about proper practice, and use books like Mindfulness In Plain English to help you along the way.


Sure... if you want to do it the easy way :lol:

What I'm getting at is that, regardless which method you use to approach the Dhamma, what matters is that you practice. Practice will give the material you're reading the needed context to get lasting value from it without which you're left grasping views (those ethereal little buggers), whether it is straight from the Nikayas or written by a contemporary teacher being less important.


So really, it all comes down to patient practice and daily reflection on the material at hand (ancient or contemporary). In light of such practices even the suttas, some of which may seem impenetrable, can be understood... in time.

What about those who are dying of terminal illness and don't have a lot of time?


Such a circumstance was not considered in my reply. Is that a circumstance you're experiencing?

Now if a person is terminally ill I would suggest that, if they haven't already started a practice, they should seek a good teacher straight away. But what a person should do in this situation differs from what a healthy and non-terminal person may do by way of study (given they have fewer time constraints). But the need to practice in order to give any material a suitable context is very important for both ends of the health spectrum.

It should be remembered that this is all my own humble opinion and that I myself started with some online books on meditation; so I do understand the value of contemporary material. But I was not that well versed in doctrine before I started reading the Nikayas, yet I gained a great deal from them regardless of my initial unfamiliarity with their contents. I ascribe this fact to my previous meditation efforts.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby Kenshou » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:06 pm

Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...


Yes, those pesky Buddhists, I hate those guys!
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:08 pm

Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante G.
Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
In the Buddhas Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Buddhadhamma by Phra Payutto.

See that wasn't so hard. :smile:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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