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Silas Day’s Booklist

This is an incomplete list of books for people of any skill level. I have found these handy in expanding my horizons both philosophically and in meditation practice.

Keep an eye out for book reviews that will dig deeper into individual books.

Beginner

  • Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
  • The Book by Alan Watts
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  • Way of Zen by Alan Watts
  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana
  • Direct Pointing To Reality by Anne Bancroft
  • Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen
  • Zen For Americans by D.T. Suzuki
  • Zen Bridge by Keido Fukushima
  • Effortless Living by Jason Gregory
  • Advice Not Given by Mark Epstein
  • The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • The Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikku Bodhi
  • Living Buddha Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Dhammapada
  • Huston Smith’s: The World’s Religions
  • You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Being Nobody, Going Nowhere by Ayya Khema
  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
  • Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris
  • Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Diamond Mind and the Psychology of Meditation by Rob Nairn
  • Seeds by Thomas Merton
  • What is Zen? by Norman Fischer
  • True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Grist for the Mill by Ram Dass
  • Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  • Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff
  • Psychotherapy East and West by Alan Watts
  • Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
  • A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield
  • Practical Insight Meditation by Mahasi Sayadaw
  • Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa
  • Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom by Joseph Goldstein
  • The Path Is the Goal: A Basic Handbook of Buddhist Meditation by Chogyam Trungpa
  • The Path of Serenity and Insight by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
  • Teachings of Ramana Maharshi

Adept

  • The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master
  • Being-Time: A Guide to Shobogenzo by Shinshu Roberts
  • The Middle Way by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • What is Sangha? by Sangharakshita
  • Stilling the Mind by Alan Wallace
  • Fathoming the Mind by Alan Wallace
  • The Life of Milarepa
  • The Science of Self Realization by A. C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
  • Upanishads
  • Bhagavadgita
  • Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Bashō
  • The Tantra Tradition by Agehananda Bharati
  • The Ramayana
  • The Gospel According to Zen
  • Hoofprints of the Ox by Sheng Yen
  • Buddhist Wisdom Books: Containing the Diamond and the Heart Sutra
  • Garden Chrysanthemums and First Mountain Snow by Ian Haight
  • The Tibetan Yoga of Dreams and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
  • A Flower Does Not Talk by Zenkei Shibayam
  • Mudra by Chogam Trungpa
  • The Art of Living Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka by William Hart
  • The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Tibetan Book of the Dead translated by Robert A.F. Thurman
  • Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
  • Ponder On This by Alice Bailey
  • The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
  • Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book by Daniel Ingram
  • After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield
  • In This Very Life by Sayadaw U. Pandita
  • Indestructible Truth by Reginald A. Ray
  • Secret of the Vajra World by Reginald A. Ray
  • Living Dharma edited by Jack Kornfield
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha translated by Bikkhu Nanamoli and Bikkhu Bodhi
  • Path to Deliverance by Nyanatiloka
  • The Path of Serenity and Insight by Henepola Gunaratana
  • Insight Meditation: Practical Steps to Ultimate Truth by Achan Sobin S. Namto
  • A Still Forest Pool: The Insight Meditation of Achaan Chah compiled and edited by Jack Kornfield and Paul Breiter
  • The Progress of Insight by Mahasi Sayadaw
  • Psychology and Alchemy: the Collected Works of C.G. Jung
  • Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition by Frances A. Yates
  • Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment by Pabongka Rinpoche
  • Clarifying the Natural State: A Principal Guidance Manual for Mahamudra by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
  • Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness (Shambhala Library) by Chogyam Trungpa
  • Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos by Padmasambhava
  • Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas by Leigh Brasington
  • Avadhuta Gita

Advanced

  • The Land Of Bliss/Sukhavativyuha Sutra
  • The Platform Sutra
  • Shobogenzo by Dogen
  • Mumonkan
  • The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way/Mulamadhyamakakarika by Nagarjuna
  • The Vajra Essence by Dudjom Lingpa
  • The Lotus Sutra by Gene Reeves
  • Naked Awareness by Gyatrul Rinpoche
  • Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness by Khensur Jampa Tegchok and Thubten Chodron
  • Bodhicaryavatara Shantideva
  • In the Light of Self: Adi Shankara and the Yoga of Non-Dualism
  • The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali translated by Chip Hartranft
  • Zen Comments on Mumonkan by Zenkei Shibayama
  • Zen and the Brain by James H. Austin
  • Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana by Shaila Catherine
  • The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) translated by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli
  • The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga) translated by Rev. N.R.M. Ehara, Soma Thera and Kheminda Thera
  • Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice by Paravahera Vajirana Mahathera
  • Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen
  • Light of Wisdom, Vol. 1 by Padmasambhava
  • Light of Wisdom, Volume II: A Collection of Padmasambhava’s Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Togyal and Other Close Disciples
  • Light of Wisdom, Volume III: Teachings on the Secret Empowerment by Padmasambhava
  • Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind: Trilogy of Rest, Volume 1-3 by Longchenpa
  • Buddhahood without Meditation (Dudjom Lingpa’s Visions of the Great Perfection) by Dudjom Lingpa
  • Heart of the Great Perfection: Dudjom Lingpa’s Visions of the Great Perfection
  • A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga by Karma Chagme

Nothing In The World Can Bother You

It’s all in your head.

No really. It’s all in your head.

Everything that seems to be the source of your problems isn’t really your problem.

You’re not having a bad day because that guy cut you off in traffic and you were late to work. It’s not because your milk went bad. And it’s not because your boss asked you to do two weeks of work in three days (although, that’s pretty rough).

The anger and stress don’t come from those situations. Those negative emotions come from your mind.

I’m not saying there aren’t billions of other minds out there causing trouble in the world. BUT…

You bare the weight and responsibility of your mind, which means when you respond to something bad happening, that’s on you.

No one but you is going to feel the frustration and lingering effects of that negativity. Buddha says that anger is like holding a hot coal and expecting the other person to be burned.

It really isn’t worth it.

Have you ever really, I mean REALLY, not wanted to do something or go to a certain event? And then, at the last minute, you hear that it’s been canceled?

Maybe it was a long meeting, maybe it was a dinner with your in-laws, maybe it was that review on harassment in the workplace.

When you realize you don’t have to go, the whole world will seem to have changed. You get a huge sense of relief. The day is a little brighter.

Here’s the thing…

Nothing really happened or changed. Your mind just stopped centering on that negative idea.

Seldom are things as bad as we think they will be. Or as good as we think they will be. Human beings are pretty terrible at estimating how miserable or happy any given thing will make them.

So why not just be with them for what they are?

An old Zen proverb says: “Enlightenment comes easy to the person of no preference.”

To someone who is not worried and anxious about what comes next or how something will be, it will be AS IT IS. And they accept that.

I know we all can’t do that 100% of the time. We all have bad days. Just do what you can and touch into the spirit of making your walk through the world the best and calmest journey you can.

I Got Meditation All Wrong

When I first started meditating, I had no idea what I was doing.

All I knew was that it had something to do with crossing your legs and breathing. I also knew that meditation came from Asia, so before I would meditate, I would make white tea and drink it beforehand. And try to eat my meal with chopsticks.

I was twelve. Give me a break here.

Since then, I think I’ve gotten a little better at it. I understand more of the theory, form, and technicalities.

You might not think those words go together. What technicalities could meditation possibly have?

When you meditate, you aren’t just sitting there in perfect serenity as soon as you sit down. If you’ve tried to meditate, you probably know this. It isn’t easy.

There will be distractions. Full stop.

I promise you if you meditate, you will run into things that pull your focus away from what you are doing right here, right now.

It may be something outside of–construction, a crying baby, a car alarm, or even just your dishwasher running in the background. It might be something inside of you–a deadline, a recent breakup, bills, or plain old boredom.

This is where form and theory come in.

Just the way you sit and breathe (among other things) can help or hinder your practice.

Beyond any of those things, one thing that you can continuously do to better your meditation and life in general is to have the right effort.

To approach meditation with curiosity, devotion, and reflection every single day will propel you forward faster in your practice than those who may have everything else memorized.

I’m paraphrasing a little, but the Buddha said something to the effect of: the fool who practices with his heart will attain enlightenment faster than the scholar who may know the whole dharma but practices not at all.

Even if you don’t understand all the technicalities, theories, and methods, if you have persistence and discipline to meditate each day, then the fruits of practice will become more apparent in your day to day life.

So even though I thought white tea and chopsticks was a great prelude to meditation all those years ago, by committing to practicing every single day, I did a lot more for myself than I at first knew.

What is the biggest reason you don’t have a daily practice?

I encourage you to write this down and reflect on it to begin to overcome whatever it is that is stopping you.

Take A Moment To Be…

Sometimes the biggest problems have the simplest solutions…

Our lives are filled with constant activities and distractions, we get pulled in a thousand directions at once.

With Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, the internet in general, and a constant connection it can be hard to “turn on, tune in, drop out” (as Timothy Leary put it).

Our age seems to be one of anxiety and anger, but it doesn’t have to be for you. It can be a clear and simple understanding that reverberates joy throughout all aspects of your life.

With a simple and daily practice of reflection and meditation, we can train ourselves to be in control of our emotions and touch into deeper understandings that help us to deal with the problems of life more efficiently.

It may decrease those problems or it may not, but regardless of the storm you sail through, you will be able to weather it with ease.

All it takes is to stop and just be for as little as 15 minutes, slowly training the attention to be at complete focus beyond any distractions that are arising in the mind. If you want to do more, do more! If you need to do less, do less!

But to just stop and be?

Well let’s just say, I hope you get a moment of that today.

Where are places in your world where you just get to sit and be in the moment? A park bench, a forest, your porch? I’d be curious to know.

You are always welcome to reach out to me. Leave a comment below.

Mindfulness Isn’t What You Think It Is

You know what I don’t like?

Disingenuous teachers of mindfulness and meditation.

People who teach and talk about mindfulness but really have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

They learned it as a health benefit or think that they are “so spiritual” for being able to….do what exactly?

Most of the modern mindfulness fad teachers I have run across don’t teach anything at all.

No really.

They aren’t teaching you to do anything. They are teaching you just to sit there and not do anything.

That isn’t mindfulness, and it definitely isn’t meditation either.

At this point, you may be asking: then what the heck is mindfulness?

This may surprise you. It isn’t just trying to “clear the head”. It isn’t just dwelling in emptiness. And it definitely is not “nothing”.

Mindfulness is consciously attending to the arising and passing of all things in this very moment.

Non-judgmentally and neutrally.

Mindfulness is the training of the mind toward a greater state of awareness and focus so that you can go deeper and deeper and deeper into different states of meditation.

Off the cushion, it helps you notice everything that isn’t you.

Here’s what I mean by that…

All those negative emotions (and positive ones, yes), discomforts, distractions, annoyances, and everything else holding you back… those things are NOT you.

Mindfulness helps your consciousness recognize those things as creations of the mind and not as stemming from your true being.

When you can do this, you can more easily find joy in every moment.

What’s the biggest hurdle that you think you face in working with mindfulness?

I’d love to hear. Leave me a comment below.