Here, we are going to see a list of books that explains Buddhism for the best understanding. Thus, the best books on Buddhism include:
This book “My Spiritual Journey” gives a clear picture and glide through the life of the author, Dalai Lama XIV. Generally, the author talked about his life as a little boy. As such, the boy Tenzin Gyatso was only but two years of age when he became identified as an incarnation of the first Dalai Lama. Categorically, he is the fourteenth incarnation. More so, the book continued to his monkhood days in Dharamsala. Afterward, the author talked generally about his exile life as he became a world leader and associated with the symbol of peace.
The author opens up in this book his dedication first, as a human being, second, as a Buddhist monk, and thirdly, as a Dalai Lama. All of these experiences made him an icon of peace and happiness. As a result, he engages more in teaching harmony among all groups and promoting human values. Also, he advocates for the civil rights of the people of Tibet.
“My Spiritual Journey” contains, in a nutshell, the life struggles of the Dalai Lama XIV. On the same note, it equally pointed his courage to face life, his wins, compassion, and laughter as contained in his interesting life.
The book is in the words of the Author. Hence it is more like an autobiography. It is very insightful and inspiring. Most importantly, you get to see Buddhism, the Dalai Lama position, and Tibet through the very own eyes of the Dalai Lama.
If you are searching for where to start a spiritual journey in Buddhism, this is a place to take off. Also, even if you are already familiar with the writings of the Dalai Lama, “My Spiritual Journey” contains insights about life which you would surely appreciate.
THE BOOK OF JOY: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World – The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
“The Book of Joy” as the name implies intends to bring joy and happiness to the world. Of course, we know our world of today is changing rapidly. As such, there is more of fear, fear of hate and violence. The two people considered the most joyful and happy in our world today have come together to tell us that there is a way to achieve lasting happiness.
This book was inspired as a result of the coming together of two old friends who authored the book. The Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala on his 80th birthday. And, their interaction resulted in one of the greatest gifts to the world “The Book of Joy”.
The two authors are both spiritual leaders and winners of the Nobel Prize. In this interaction, they talked about their life stories. More so, they taught about inner peace, true happiness, and joyful living. They shared insights on the most recent science of happiness. Also, the authors clarified on the day-to-day practices that can help promote spiritual living. Since they are happy themselves, they are trying to bring happiness to others.
“The Book of Joy” helps us to understand the world we live in. As such, it explained that while everything presented to us seems to cause anxiety, we lose the picture of the greater good happening in our lives. Thus, the media always tend to report bad things happening around, we feel that is the order of the day. However, there are many acts of compassion going on daily. But, because we see them as common, they do not make the headlines for us.
Significantly, I recommend this book to everyone. More especially, those who seek happiness in a world full of strife.
THE HEART OF THE BUDDHA’S TEACHING: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation – Thich Nhat Hahn
The author in the “Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching” explains in its most understandable form the core Buddhist teachings. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us here basically that the teachings of the Buddha are not abstract. Instead, it is a practice that anyone who wishes can apply in his daily living.
The book talked about the Buddhist view of suffering, the wisdom on how suffering plays a role in generating compassion. Also, it talks about love, peace, and joy as they all make up the characteristics of enlightenment. Some of the core teachings covered in this book include:
- Four Noble Truths,
- The Noble Eightfold Path,
- Three Doors of Liberation,
- The three Dharma Seals,
- The Seven Factors of Awakening, and
- Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-arising
These topics are clearly treated in “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”. Thus, for anyone who has an interest in studying Buddhism, this book is a great have. Moreover, the author kept these basics of Buddhism in its simplified form for a better and easy understanding. He also added some sutras which are essential in understanding Buddhism.
Do you, therefore, wish to know what the Buddha taught? Or, maybe, you wish to know all that Buddhism is about. Then, “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching” is a starting point.
Surely, everyone wants to be happy in life. However, the path to happiness may elude many because they attach themselves to things that cause depression and anxiety. But, then, here is the good news, Chris Prentiss in “Zen and the Art of Happiness” teaches us how to create happiness from our thoughts and feelings. Hence, he pointed out that the things we believe, think about, and feel affects us. And, can especially determine our mood at any point.
In this pocket-friendly book, you will learn the practical and spiritual wisdom of the Eastern Zen Buddhist philosophy. This philosophy contains messages that can positively influence our bodily make-up to the cellular level by influencing our belief system. Thus, our thoughts and feelings will help us to create happiness and a kind of vibrant lifestyle that will help us adapt to life’s constant changes and challenges.
The book also talks about healthy ways to deal with stress. Thereby, when we learn these practical arts, we are building mindful happiness in our daily living. Above all, we are enhancing our spiritual, emotional, and physical lives through these methods.
The author made us understand that we do not need to compare ourselves with anybody as this takes happiness far from us. Instead, he let us know that our happiness lies within us. Thus, we are the ones to create our reality.
If you need to improve your spiritual life, be happy in life, and live through thick and thin, this book is for you. Certainly, you will learn to create a philosophy of life personal to you. This will help you create happiness in all situations.
THE ART OF HAPPINESS, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living – The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler M. D
The Dalai Lama is one whose trademark overtime is happiness. Therefore, authoring “The Art of Happiness” is a gift to us. Although, this book is more of an interview between a psychiatrist Dr. Cutler and the Dalai Lama. Therefore, the Dalai Lama got to answer questions on how to overcome our daily stress, anxiety, and gloominess. Of course, if we can defeat these enemies of happiness, then, we will surely attain true happiness at last.
This book cuts through various aspects of life. These include wealth pursuit, relationship, loss of valuables and so on. In these topics, the Dalai Lama taught how to go through the challenges of life while still holding onto our inner peace and happiness.
The Dalai Lama presented practical steps to achieving happiness in life. Also, these steps are logical and equally a spiritual means to attain happiness.
This is among the best books recommended for everyone. It does not matter whether you are into the art and practice of Buddhism or not. Well, of course, happiness is a thing for all. Therefore, read to understand the Dalai Lama’s insight on “The Art of Happiness”
“Anger” is a book written by one of the greatest Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. In this book, the author is making us understand that anger and other perceived negative emotions are just signs that we need to take care of something. Thus, he advises on how to transform our energies into improving the parts of us that anger ruined. Here, the author gives the reader the power and ability to positively change everything.
As you read this book, you will likely change your perception of anger. Hence, instead of ignoring the anger and negative emotions, you find out that it is time to make some changes. Either, slowing things down, or finding new ways of doing things. Generally, what you need is to sit back and figure out what to do next. Figure out the cause of your negative emotions and take charge of it. The author explained the details in this book.
Some people experience anger issues. This book will go a long way to help them understand their struggles and handle it accordingly. More so, the wisdom shared in “Anger” treats negative emotions in general. As such, the book is recommended when battling stress and anxiety.
“The Cow in the Parking Lot” is a short handbook that practically treats the issue of anger in our lives. Leonard Scheff was a trial attorney who controlled his court appearance with anger. However, luckily he got to realize the dangers of anger. This he was able to check as he studied Buddhism and practiced meditation.
In this book, the author tried to explain the transformation from anger to peace in simple parables. Thus, imagine searching for a space in a parking lot already crowded. Then, as you spot a space another driver races up to occupy the space. Now, imagine the anger that comes up almost immediately. However, imagine this time that as you spot the free space, a cow already moved clumsily and occupied the space. Instead of anger this time around, you will show more of bewilderment. In all these, it is your perspective that changed.
As a result, the authors of this book tries to explain simple ways to change our perspective about things. This step-by-step guide involves simple Buddhist principles that anyone can easily grab. The goal is to be able to replace anger with happiness.
In this anger management program by Scheff and Edmiston, anger bases on demands which are not yet met.
As a result, the authors pointed out the four most common of them which includes:
- Important and Reasonable e.g. you want love from your partner
- Unimportant but reasonable e.g. you did not get the seat in the restaurant window
- Irrational e.g. you want respect from a stranger, and
- The impossible e.g. you want someone to fix everything wrong in your life.
Hence, the authors suggested that one needs to identify his unmet demand to dissolve his anger. Thus, once you understand your “buttons”, you can as well determine what happens when you push them. Also, the book teaches how we can laugh at ourselves. This is a step toward changing anger issues. At the end of all the exercises, it would matter less who occupies the space in the parking lot. Thus, you can decide whether to be angry or happy.
Thich Nhat Hanh in “The Art of Living” teaches about the seven meditations that can transform our lives. It introduces new ways we can perceive our lives, manage our relationships, and interact with the world surrounding us. The Zen master teaches in this book the art of living mindfully. By so doing, we can get answers to the deepest questions about our changing world. Therein, we may experience the happiness and freedom we seek.
“The Art of Living” gives our lives a spiritual dimension. As such, this path will help us to understand our life journey, where we are coming from, and where we are going to. The happiness talked about in this book is not an attempt to escape life. Instead, it promotes understanding through the seven transformative meditations discussed here. Thereafter, we may attain peace and freedom right in the present time. And, then, live an active life till old age and eventually death without fear.
This is one of the must-have books that teaches happiness through practical steps. Also, it helps the reader experience peace in the here and now.
“Living Buddha, Living Christ” is a book where Thich Nhat Hanh the Zen master shared his views and insights into two of the world’s beautiful “flowers”, Buddhism and Christianity. As such, he envisioned a society that will begin to dissolve the wrong views they have about religions. And, afterward, see each other in a whole new way with a spirit of acceptance and mutual understanding.
The Buddha and Christ are the two most revered figures recorded in the history of man. Certainly, each kept teachings as well as practices that became a legacy. These teachings and practices influenced and still influences the lives of man. Imagine these two great figures met each other. Imagine what each would think of the other’s approach to spirituality.
As such, Thich Nhat Hanh in the “Living Buddha, Living Christ” explores the crossroads between Buddhism and Christianity. He also checks compassion and holiness, the core aspects of Buddhism and Christianity. And, above all, distinguishing and linking the Buddha with Christ.
This book is a good read when searching for harmony between world religious groups. This 20th-anniversary edition features a mindful living journal, revised, and updated.
The goal of Pema Chodron in this book is to enable the readers to awaken their compassionate hearts. “Start Where You Are” provides a guiding principle on how to live fearlessly. More so, these principles suggest that we are better off when we accept our life difficulties instead of shying away from them. These teachings on compassion revolve around fifty-nine traditional maxims of Tibetan Buddhists. Some of these maxims include:
“Always apply only a joyful state of mind”
“Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment”
“Do not seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness”
“Be grateful to everyone”
“Do not expect applause”
With these maxims and the practice of meditation, we can develop confidence in ourselves. Most importantly, we can handle pains that comes from within and lead a happy life.
Pema Chodron emphasizes the need for us to seek peace from within. And, only when we find out what really drives us shall we be truly happy.
Adyashanti in “Falling into Grace” provides a way out for everyone seeking to let go of suffering. As a result, the book provides the power of letting go of our struggles and falling into the hands of who we truly are. This book shares insights on what the author believes will spark a revolution in the way we perceive life.
The author of this book explores the following aspects of life with clarity:
- The human Dilemma: this explains the concept of a separate self as the cause of all suffering. More so, it left us to choose to stop believing thoughts that perpetuate our self-image.
- “Taking a step backward” into the true potential of the present moment.
- Letting go of the control we think we have.
- Invitation of spirituality: opening up our minds when we realize that there is grace in every moment. Hence, we stop dreaming and hold on to what already is.
With “Falling into Grace”, we have the opportunity to view life from a different perspective of letting grace lead.
“The Three Pillars of Zen” explores the basics of Zen Buddhism. The author clearly presents Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment as they form the base on which Zen Buddhism stands. Generally, Roshi Philip Kapleau introduces the history and discipline which Zen operates in this book.
If you have an interest in studying Zen, this book would greatly influence your journey.
This page has explored the best books on Buddhism. Basically, the books discussed here are in no particular order. They are all great books any person with interest in Buddhism should check out. More so, most of these books explain life in general. Although, mostly in Buddhist principles. But then, even non-Buddhists can equally lay hands on them.