If you could only recommend 4 books...

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

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

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:26 pm

I think this Recommended Book List from Birken Monastery might be something you would be interested in looking over. It has recommendations for Beginners Meditation and Intermediate & Advanced Buddhist Teachings and Practice

http://birken.ca/recommendations/reading

.


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

Postby Reductor » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:28 pm

bodom wrote:See that wasn't so hard. :smile:


Fine! I'll answer the blinking question :roll: Almost.

- Introductory Meditation: Keeking the Breath in Mind by Ajhan Lee
- Introductory Dhamma: The Path to Peace and Freedom for the Mind also by Ajahn Lee

- Intermediate Dhamma: Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

And then I'd suggest the Majjhima as an "introductory to advanced" book.
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 7:40 pm

thereductor wrote:
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:

The world is already filled with a lot of stress and difficulty.

There's no need for us to make it even more difficult.

What I'm getting at is that, regardless which method you use to approach the Dhamma, what matters is that you practice.

You can't start practice if you don't know where to start.

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?

Thankfully it's not, but there are people in the world who don't have very much time left. :(

I made this thread for everyone; the sick and healthy, and the novice and experienced. There's a LOT of material on the dhamma and practice, and I thought it would be nice if we could list 2 dhamma and 2 practice books so this material could maybe be easier to navigate.

bodom wrote: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:

I think this Recommended Book List from Birken Monastery might be something you would be interested in looking over. It has recommendations for Beginners Meditation and Intermediate & Advanced Buddhist Teachings and Practice

http://birken.ca/recommendations/reading
:anjali:

Thank you.

:anjali:

thereductor wrote:
bodom wrote:See that wasn't so hard. :smile:


Fine! I'll answer the blinking question :roll: Almost.

- Introductory Meditation: Keeking the Breath in Mind by Ajhan Lee
- Introductory Dhamma: The Path to Peace and Freedom for the Mind also by Ajahn Lee

- Intermediate Dhamma: Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

And then I'd suggest the Majjhima as an "introductory to advanced" book.

Thank you.

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

Postby Nyana » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:24 pm

Without trying to separate dhamma from meditation, I often recommend one of these (depending on the individual):

A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield.

A Heart as Wide as the World by Sharon Salzberg.

Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah by Ajahn Chah. (Same teachings available online here.)

The Wings to Awakening by Ven. Ṭhānissaro. (Available online here.)

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

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:17 am

mettafuture wrote:


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...
[/quote][/quote]
my first dhamma and dharma books were all the words of the buddha. many in the west probably came to the path the same way as most of these modern books are just that, modern. i guess you could call the path of purification a good place to start if you wanted one book to cover it all, but i wouldn't recommend that text to many people as its a tough read. there are many meditation texts in the nikaya, and i'm pretty sure everyone, unless they've grown up in a cave with no outside exposure to the world, has seen someone meditating, even lisa simpson does it, characters in movies, video games etc. you know you sit cross legged, it says that too in the anapanasati sutta. the texts are remarkably clear, they work on different levels for those exposed to different things, if you've read enough threads on here you'll see that the modern commentaries create a lot of the arguments here as different teachers explain things in different ways due to a myriad of reasons.
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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 Vepacitta » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:34 am

Kenshou wrote:
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!


Beware the so called sagely men ... :sage:

As to books - here's five:

The Way It is - Aj. Sumedho
Food for the Heart and Living Dhamma - Aj. Chah
Theravada Meditation - Winston King
Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless - Aj. Sumedho

Practical "how to's" and very useful when read in conjunction with the suttas.

Aj. Thanissaro also has some good posts on Access to Insight.

For those more ... Mahayanistically inclined - although I do not personally care for them - Venerables Thich Nat Hanh and Pema Chodron also give some pithy advice. Ven Chodron the more so - pithy that is. She has interesting insights on mental chatter.

"Buddho",

V.
I'm your friendly, neighbourhood Asura
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby Reductor » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:56 am

mettafuture wrote:You can't start practice if you don't know where to start.


I never said that you could. What I caution is the need to know everything that one needs to 'know'. Myself, I started my meditation practice with only two instructions: on the in breath think "Buuuu", on the out think "Dohhhh". That got me going, and I'm still at it.

Once a practice is kick started, then that person will have many more experiential reference points that they take back to their study. In this way the practice, however crude, gives you a significant footing on the doctrine, and the doctrine provides you an orientation for further practice.

All to often, and this happened to me when I was a teen, is that we put off earnest practice because we feel unprepared. Then, in an effort to prepare, we read a myriad of books which gives rise to new questions, the answers to which must be in yet another book.

And thus you have a death spiral.

... There's a LOT of material on the dhamma and practice, and I thought it would be nice if we could list 2 dhamma and 2 practice books so this material could maybe be easier to navigate.


Yes, there are many Dhamma books or varying quality. Yes, it is confusing and time consuming to wade through them, and yes, it is helpful to have a guide. But aren't those all good reasons to go to the source? As it has been mentioned, the suttas are actually quite explicit: you just have to read them carefully and widely.

Anyway, this is my defense of studying the canon in detail and my thoughts on how practice functions in conjunction with study, all of which is applicable to the inexperienced beginner and those with a few season under our belts.

I shall now relinquish the box :soap:

Who's next?
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 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:11 am

jcsuperstar wrote:you know you sit cross legged, it says that too in the anapanasati sutta.

The nice thing about modern meditation teachers and manuals is that they offer alternative postures in case one posture proves to be too difficult.

thereductor wrote:All to often, and this happened to me when I was a teen, is that we put off earnest practice because we feel unprepared. Then, in an effort to prepare, we read a myriad of books which gives rise to new questions, the answers to which must be in yet another book.

Where can one find the "Buuuu Dohhhh" instructions that kick started your practice? A simple answer would be: 1) From a teacher. You can find a good one here [insert web link] Or 2) From this book called [insert title here].

Simple question. Simple answer.

And books don't have to lead to more books. For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.

Yes, there are many Dhamma books or varying quality. Yes, it is confusing and time consuming to wade through them, and yes, it is helpful to have a guide. But aren't those all good reasons to go to the source? As it has been mentioned, the suttas are actually quite explicit: you just have to read them carefully and widely.

If you have the time to read them carefully and widely.

Not everyone has this kind of time.

Vepacitta wrote:
Kenshou wrote:
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!


Beware the so called sagely men ... :sage:

:tongue:

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

Postby Nyana » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:46 am

mettafuture wrote:For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.

:lol:

An advanced student of what???
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Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Postby mettafuture » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:45 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
mettafuture wrote:For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.

:lol:

An advanced student of what???

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

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:14 am

mettafuture wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
mettafuture wrote:For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.

:lol:

An advanced student of what???

:focus:
And here I was so hoping for an answer.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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

Postby mettafuture » Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:51 am

I just revised my list. I think the Visuddhimagga by Buddhaghosa might qualify as a better book for intermediate practice. (I'm sorry Ajahn Brahm :D) The Visuddhimagga is very concise, and it can clarify any confusion that may arise from the sometimes cryptic and dense language of the nikayas.

I hope newcomers to this forum are able to weed through this thread and get to the great suggestions that have been posted so far.

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

Postby Reductor » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:06 pm

mettafuture wrote:I just revised my list. I think the Visuddhimagga by Buddhaghosa might qualify as a better book for intermediate practice. (I'm sorry Ajahn Brahm :D) The Visuddhimagga is very concise, and it can clarify any confusion that may arise from the sometimes cryptic and dense language of the nikayas.


You have quite a sense of humor, mettafuture. :tongue:
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 Hoo » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:17 pm

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


That happens to be me :) Had a brain tumor removed last April and it is of the recurrent type. Some people have heart trouble, I have brain trouble - chuckle. But any number of folks could have testified to my brain trouble over the years. They were referring to something different, I suspect :cookoo:

It does put things in a different perspective. Any of us can go at any time, but my options seem to be limited by the nature of the illness. How do I see myself in a year or so, and what needs to happen for me to get there? There's lots of opinions out there on what's important and what to avoid but few of them are facing their demise in the immediate future :)

For me, the advice to avoid goal-orientation and goal-setting makes sense. A "wholesome desire" to make progress with the time I have left also makes sense. I've read many of the books mentioned and could certainly stand to improve my fledgling practice, but with what end in mind?

There are two chords that resound for me. One is Ajahn Chah's approach in Being Dharma and others of his books.

The second chord is simplicity and practice. Most of my life was governed by complexity and intellection - and the suffering of existential dispair. Since practicing Buddhism, The works of Bodhi, Thannisario, the mindfulness books, and the Suttas support my wish for dispassion, detachment, being the Brahma Vihara, living the path to stream entry, etc.

When considered as guides, rather than instruction manuals, these books help me "see and be" in each moment. I'm not good at it, mind you :) But I am determined to practice it in my remaining time.

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

Postby mettafuture » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:13 pm

Hi Hoo,

Thank you for sharing your story, suggestions, and approach with us! :)

I wish you happiness, much success with your practice, and long life.

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

Postby Hoo » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:16 am

mettafuture wrote:Hi Hoo,

Thank you for sharing your story, suggestions, and approach with us! :)

I wish you happiness, much success with your practice, and long life.

- MettaFuture


Hi MettaFuture and thanks :) I wish you much Metta and success in your practice, too. :) Your question has created a good bunch of information for me, and probably for many more. I couldn't narrow it to just four books, but I could add my "me too" to many of the suggestions made by others :)

Are you by chance near the North Shore Meditation & Dharma Center in Highland Park? It's a Chan temple and I happen to be not too far from its sister monastery, Mid-America Buddhist Association outside St Louis. Down here, I've found them to be exceptionally supportive and interested in the Pali Canon. I'd expect no less from the folks up there.

With Metta,
Hoo
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