Dharma Books


Recommended Books

Here are suggestions for your study of Ancient and Contemporary Buddhist writings.
Please feel welcome to stop by our Temple and explore our lending library.

For more dharma resources, check out Taigen’s teachings and our Dharma Podcast Library.

Introductory Books on Zen and Buddhism

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki (Weatherhill, 1970).
THE classic cherished teachings on modern Western Zen practice. Shunryu Suzuki was the  Japanese Zen teacher who came to San Francisco in 1959 and brought the style of Zen to America that we practice at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate.
Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression—An Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism
by Taigen Dan Leighton; Foreword by Joan Halifax(Wisdom Publications, 2012)
Living by Vow. Shohaku Okumura.
Opening the Hand of Thought
, Kosho Uchiyama (Wisdom Publications; Revised, Expanded edition, 2004)
Returning to Silence: Zen Practice in Daily Life, Dainin Katagiri (Shambhala, 1988)
Buddhism Plain and Simple, Steve Hagen (Broadway Books, 1998).
Meditation Now or Never, Steve Hagen (HarperOne, 2007).
Roger Corless—The Faces of Buddhism  Engaging introduction to Buddhist traditions
Gary Gach—The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Buddhism   Introduction to the schools and doctrines of Buddhism
Paul Williams—Mahayana Buddhism    Introduction to the diverse doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism

The Bodhisattva Precepts and Ethics

Being Upright:  Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Reb Anderson (Rodmell Press, 2001). Excellent, helpful discussions of bodhisattva precepts and their multiple levels in practice, as well as the ethical implications of meditation.
The Mind of Clover, Robert Aitken. A Zen teacher’s approach to ethics.

Engaged Buddhism: Social and Environmental Justice

A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency, edited by John Stanley, David Loy, and Gyurme Dorje (Wisdom Publications, 2009). Buddhism, but concerns the whole planet. It includes Buddhist responses to climate damage from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, a dozen fine Tibetan masters, and also from Western teachers including Aitken Roshi, Joanna Macy, Bhikku Bodhi, Matthieu Ricard, Alan Senauke, and Ancient Dragon Zen Gate teacher Taigen Leighton [see “Now the Whole Planet Has its Head on Fire” ], with teachings of contentment, nonviolence, and hopefulness to help us all go beyond the greed of consumerism that has led us to the current plight. Perhaps more important than these teachings are the book’s up-to-date, scientific information about our world’s situation, and the practical, immediate measures that are still possible to remedy the worst of the damage
World as Lover, World as SelfJoanna Macy (Parallax Press, 1991).
The Way of Tenderness:  Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender,  Zen Earthlyn Manuel. (Wisdom, 2015)

Buddhist Women

The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, Florence Caplow and Susan Moon, eds. (Wisdom, 2013).
Zen Women, Grace Shireson. (Shambala, 2009).
Women of the Way, Sallie Tisdale. (HarperCollins, 2006)
Seeds of Virtue, Seeds of Change, Jikyo Cheryl Wolfer, ed.  (Temple Ground Press, 2014)

American Buddhism

Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teachings of Shunryu Suzuki, David Chadwick (Broadway Books, 1999).
Not Always So: practicing the true spirit of Zen, Shunryu Suzuki (Harper Collins, 2002). More teachings from the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, edited by Ed Brown, author of Tassajara Bread Book and Tassajara Cooking.
Branching Streams Flow into the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai, Shunryu Suzuki (University of California Press, 1999).
Practice of the Wild, Gary Snyder (North Point Press, 1990).
An important, liberating book by one of the great founders of American Zen, this work connects the wilderness of Nature and Mind.
Mountains and Rivers Without End, Gary Snyder (Counterpoint, 1996).
Seeds for a Boundless Life: Zen Teachings for the Heart, Zenkei Blanche Hartmann. (Shambala, 2015)

Deeper Dives:  Other recommended reading for Dharma students

The following selections are useful readings for Soto Zen practitioners. Inquiries are welcome for more reading suggestions for any specific Dharma topics. Please contact Taigen for more information.
Our Guiding Teacher, Taigen Dan Leighton, has written, translated and edited many wonderful books on Zen Buddhism.  HIs books can be found here

Dogen Translations and Commentaries

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo, Kaz Tanahashi, ed. (Shambala, 2013)
Dogen’s Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku.  Dogen (Taigen Dan Leighton, trans. Wisdom, 2010)
Dogen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community: a translation of Eihei Shingi.  Dogen (Taigen Dan Leighton, trans. SUNY, 1995)
Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, edited and trans. by Kazuaki Tanahashi (North Point Press, 1985).
Co-Translated with elders of San Francisco Zen Center, including Taigen, this is one of the best introductory collection of Dogen’s writings.
Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen, edited and trans. by Kazuaki Tanahashi (Shambhala, 1999).
Another good Dogen collection, also co-translated with elders of San Francisco Zen Center, including Taigen on Muchu Setsumu “Expressing the Dream Within the Dream,” and Temborin “Turning the Dharma Wheel.”
Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation; Zen Master Dogen, edited and trans. by Kazuaki Tanahashi (Shambhala, 2004).
Third volume of Dogen selections from Kaz Tanahashi, also co-translated with elders of San Francisco Zen Center, including Taigen on Gyobutsu Igi “The Awesome Presence of Active Buddhas.”
The Heart of Dogen’s Shobogenzo, translated by Norman Waddell and Masao Abe (State University of New York Press, 2002).
These translations, with excellent annotation, were originally published in “Eastern Buddhist” in the early 70s, but remain among the very best renditions of key Dogen writings.
Shobogenzo: Zen Essays, trans. by Thomas Cleary (University of Hawaii Press, 1986).
Another excellent collection of translations, with useful commentary.
Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist, by Hee-Jin Kim (new edition, Wisdom Publications, 2004).
An excellent, comprehensive discussion of Dogen’s thought and practice, with new Foreword by Taigen Leighton.
Did Dogen Go to China?: What He Wrote and When he Wrote It, by Steven Heine (Oxford University Press, 2006).
An important, informative book about the different phases and emphases of Dogen’s teaching career, effectively debunking old stereotypes about radically different so-called early and late Dogens.
Dogen and the Koan Tradition, by Steven Heine (State University of New York Press, 1994).
An academic work, and dense reading, but a clear, excellent presentation of how Dogen developed the Koan practice tradition as he introduced it to Japan.

Chinese Chan/Zen Sources

Book of Serenity, trans. by Thomas Cleary (Shambhala, 1998).
A primary collection of 100 koans collected with verse comments by Hongzhi Zhengjue. A bit more reader-friendly than other collections such as the Blue Cliff Record.
Sun Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-tsu and the Hung-chou School of Ch’an, trans. with intro. by Cheng Chien Bhikshu (Jain Publishing Co., 1993).
This and the next three selections are good translations of traditional Recorded Sayings attributed to the great classic Chan masters.
The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu, trans. by James Green (Shambhala, 1998).
The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi (Rinzai), trans. Burton Watson (Columbia Univ. Pr., 1999)
Master Yunmen: From the Record of the Chan Teacher, trans. & edited by Urs App
(Kodansha, 1994).
Zen Flesh Zen Bones  – Paul Reps,  Classic collection of Zen stories and the Mumonkan koan collection
Minding Mind: A course in Basic Meditation, trans. by Thomas Cleary (Shambhala 1995).
A useful collection of classic Zen meditation manuals from Japan and Korea as well as China.

Mahayana Sutras and Commentaries

The Lotus Sutra, trans. by Gene Reeves (Wisdom Publications, 2008).
This clear, highly readable new translation is immediately the one to use, excellently and accurately presenting what is arguably the most important East Asian sutra. This edition includes the significant “opening” and “closing” sutras, and makes this stimulating and provocative teaching accessible to the modern world.
Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma, trans. by Leon Hurvitz (Columbia University Press, 1976).
The Threefold Lotus Sutra, trans. by Butto Kato, Yoshiro Tamura, & Kojiro Miyasaka (Weatherhill, 1975).
Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, trans. by Thomas Cleary (Shambhala, 1993).
A vast, panoramic, psychedelic vision of the workings of bodhisattvas
Entry into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-yen Buddhism, trans. by Thomas Cleary (University of Hawaii Press, 1995).
Translations of primary commentaries from the Chinese Hua-yen school, which developed a profound Mahayana dialectical philosophy based on the Avatamsaka Sutra.
The Holy Teachings of Vimalakirti, trans. by Robert Thurman (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976). Highly entertaining sutra recounting the inconceivable displays of the great enlightened layman of Buddha’s time
The Eternal Legacy: An Introduction to the Canonical Literature of Buddhism, Sangharakshita (Tharpa Publications, 1985). A good survey resource for Buddhist sutras.
Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, Paul Williams(Routledge, 1989).A fine survey introduction to the range of Mahayana Philosophy.

Japanese Buddhism

Art of Just Sitting, edited by Daido Loori (Wisdom Publications, 2002). Essays and talks about shikantaza from a wide range of sources
Soto Zen in Medieval Japan
,
William Bodiford (University of Hawaii Press, 1993).
An excellent academic history of the development of Soto Zen in Japan after Dogen.
Ryokan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, trans. by Burton Watson (Columbia University Press, 1992).
This and the next selection give the fine poetry & teachings of Ryokan, the beloved nineteenth century Soto Zen monk/fool.
Zen Master Ryokan: Poems, Letters, and Other Writings, trans. with Essays by Ryuichi Abe and Peter Haskel (University of Hawaii Press, 1996).
The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin, trans. by Norman Waddell (Shambhala, 1994).
Teachings of the great, dynamic eighteenth century Japanese Rinzai master Hakuin.