Traditions of Buddha Dharma

When I began studying Buddhism in my early twenties, there were a limited number of books and translations available in English. It was possible to read almost all of what was available. Today, nearly 50 years later, there are so many books and texts available that, not only is it unlikely that anyone has read them all, but it is unlikely that anyone has even heard of them all. Here is a list of some of the books that I have found particularly inspiring or useful somewhere along the journey of my life.

Theravada Tradition

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya)
Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, Wisdom Publications

The Long Discourses of the Buddha (Digha Nikaya) trans by Maurice Walshe,
Wisdom Publications

The Path of Purification(Visuddhi-magga), Volumes One and Two;
Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa, Shambala Publications

A Manual of Abhidhamma, by Narada Maha Thera, Buddhist Publication Society

The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga) by Arahant Upatissa, Buddhist Publication Society

The Pali Text Society’s Pali – English Dictionary, Davids& Stede, Pali Text Society

The Sanskrit – English Dictionary, Monier-Williams, Oxford Universtiy Press

Mahayana Tradition

Translations by Thomas Cleary
The Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra); Entry Into the Inconceivable (An excellent introduction and survey of the Avatamsaka); and Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volumes One to Four

Writings by Thich Nhat Hanh
Old Path, White Clouds (a wonderful narrative of the life of the Buddha); The Miracle of Mindfulness; Peace is Every Step; The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (An excellent introduction to Buddhist teaching and practice); Understanding Our Mind; and Sun in My Heart. Parallax Press

From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment by Dogen and Uchiyama, Weatherhill Inc
(An excellent book for community practice).

The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra; trans by Charles Luk, Shambala Publications

The Sutra of Hui Neng (The Sixth Zen Patriarch); trans by A.E. Price and Wong Mou-Lam

The Awakening of Faith by Asvaghosha translated by Yoshito Hakeda, Columbia University Press

Verses From The Centre by Stephen Batchelor

Prajñaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) Traditions

Mother of the Buddhas by Lex Hixon

Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness by Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoché

The Buddha Within by S.K. Hookham, SUNY Press

The Central Philosophy of Tibet translated by Robert Thurman

Gone Beyond – Volumes 1 and 2 translations and commentary by Karl Brunnholzl

Groundless Paths translations and commentary by Karl Brunnholzl

Vajrayana, Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Traditions

The Mahamudra: Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance, by the 9th Karmapa, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives,

Mahamudra: The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation, by Takpo Tashi Namgyal, Shambala Publications

Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, Rangjung Yeshe Pub.

Luminous Heart: The Third Karmapa on Consciousness, Wisdom and Buddha-nature translations and commentary by Karl Brunnholzll

Straight From The Heart: Buddhist Pith Instructions translations and commentary by Karl Brunnholzl

Mahamudra and Related Pith Instructions translated by Peter Roberts

Translations by Erik Pema Kunsang
The Flight of the Garuda; Empowerment and the Path of Liberation by Tsele Natsok Randrol; As It Is, Volumes one and two by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche; Carefree Dignity by Tsoknyi Rinpoche; Dakini Teachings by Padmasambhava

Teachings by Longchen Rabjam
The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding; A Treasure Trove of Scriptural Transmission; The Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions – (these three were translated by Richard Barron), Padma Press
Also by Longchen Rabjam, You are the Eyes of the World, translated by, K. Lipman and M. Peterson, Lotsawa Pub.
The Practice of Dzogchen, translated by Tulku Thondup, Snow Lion 2014

Buddhahood Without Meditation by Dudjom Lingpa, Padma Pub.

The Heart Treasure of The Enlightened Ones, by Patrul Rinpoché, Shambala

Luminous Mind: The Way of the Buddha by Kalu Rinpoché, Wisdom Pub.

Writings by Tarthang Tulku
Kum Nye Volumes One and Two; Time Space and Knowledge; and other books in this Time, Space, Knowledge series. Dharma Publishing

The Joy of Living, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoché, Three Rivers Press,

Inspiring Biographies of Yogis

The Life of Shabkar, translated by Matthieu Richard, SUNY Press,

The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa Volumes one and two, translated by C.C. Chang, Shambala Publications


It is both impossible and impractical to list the many books that have stimulated my explorations. Here are a few titles and authors that spring to mind. Enjoy!

Writings by Lynn Margulis
What is Life; Microcosmos; The Origin of Sex; Slanted Truths; Kingdoms and Domains: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth; Environmental Evolution; Early Life; Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species; Chimeras and Consciousness: Evolution of the Sensory Self

Writings by Antonio Damasio
Descartes’ Error; The Feeling of What Happens; Looking for Spinoza; and, Self Comes to Mind

Writings by Gerald Edelman
Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of Mind; Wider Than the Sky; A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter becomes Imagination

Writings by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela
The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Understanding; Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realisation of the Living

Writings by Humberto Maturana
From Being to Doing: The Origins of the Biology of Cognition; The Origin of Humanness in the Biology of Love

Writings by David Bohm
Wholeness And The Implicate Order; Causality and Chance in Modern Physics; The Essential David Bohm – edited by Lee Nichol

Writings by Colin Tudge
The Variety of Life; The Secret Life of Trees; The Time Before History

The Self Organising Universe by Erich Jantsch, Pergamon Press

The Music of Life: Biology Beyond Genes by Denis Noble, Oxford University Press 2006

Writings by David Suzuki
Tree – a biography; Sacred Balance: Rediscovering our Place in Nature

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold,Oxford University Press

Atom by Lawrence Krauss, Abacus

A New Bacteriology by S Sonea and M. Panisset, Jones and Bartlet Pub.

The Biosphere by Vladimir Vernadsky, Springer-Verlag

Traces of Bygone Biospheres by A.V. Lapo, Mir Publishers, Moscow

Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia by Stephan Harding, Green Books

Healing Gaia by James Lovelock, Harmony Books

The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Microcosm by Carl Zimmer

Larousse Encyclopedia of Animal Life, Hamlyn Publishing

The Anatomy Colouring Book by Kapit and Elson, Harper Row Publishers

Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork by Deane Juhan, Station Hill Press

Timescale: an atlas of the fourth dimension by Nigel Calder, Viking Press

Dictionary of Biology 11th Edition by M. Thain and M. Hickman, Penguin Books

The Molecular Biology of the Cell (3rd and 4th editions) by Alberts, Bray, Lewis, Raff, Roberts, Watson and others, Garland Publishing

For the Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

The Smaller Majority by Piotr Naskrecki, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Writings by Loren Eiseley

Life: An Unauthorised Biography, by Richard Fortey, Flamingo

Writings by Alexander Skutch
Life Ascending, A Naturalist on a Tropical Farm

Writings by Lewis Thomas
The Lives of the Cell; The Fragile Species; Late Night Thoughts

Writings by David Bodanis
The Secret Family; The Secret House and others

Writings by Edward O. Wilson
The Diversity of Life; Biophilia

Writings by David George Haskell
The Forest Unseen; The Songs of Trees

Writings by Eric R. Kandel
In Search of Memory; The Age of Insight


The Origins of English Words by Joseph Shipley, John Hopkins University Press

Writings by Frederick Franck
The Zen of Seeing; The Awakened Eye; The Book of Angelus Silesius

The Luminous Vision: Six Medieval Mystics and Their Teachings < by Anne Bancroft

Writings by David Abram
The Spell of the Sensuous; Becoming Animal

Writings by Gary Snyder
The Real Work; Turtle Island; No Nature; and The Practice of the Wild

Writings by Wendell Berry
The Way of Ignorance; The Unsettling of America; Jaber Crow; Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community

Writings by Oliver Sacks
Awakenings; Musicophilia; The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Into the Silent Land by Paul Broks; Atlantic Books 2003

The Soil and Heath by Sir Albert Howard; The University Press of Kentucky

The Great Work by Thomas Berry, Bell Tower 1999

Earth In Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect by David Orr, Island Press

Writings by Jacques Lusseyran
And There Was Light; Against the Pollution of the I


Wendell Berry
Mary Oliver
Pattiann Rodgers
Gary Snyder
Walt Whitman
David Whyte


A Human Being Died That Night
by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
Mariner Books, 2004, ISBN 0-618-44659-1

Writings by Joseph Campbell
The Masks of God (4 volumes); Hero of a Thousand Faces; The Portable Jung

Writings by Carl Jung
Memories, Dreams and Reflections

The Origins and History of Consciousness, by Erich Neumann

Stanislav Groff – Realms of the Human Unconscious; Beyond the Brain

We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and The World is Getting Worse, by Hilman and Ventura

Philosophy in the Flesh: the Embodied Mind & its Challenge to Western Thought by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

Writings by Erik Fromm
To Have or To Be; The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness; The Art of Loving

Writings by Stephen Levine
Guided Meditations, Explorations and Healings; Gradual Awakening; Healing into Life and Death; Embracing the Beloved

Writings by R.D. Laing
Self and Others; The Politics of the Family; Knots

Writings by Joanna Macy
World as Lover, World as Self; Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age; The Dharma of Natural Systems

Body Centered Psychotherapy: The Hakomi Method by Ron Kurtz

Writings by Eugene Gendlin
Focussing; Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams

Writings by John Ralston Saul
On Equilibrium; Voltaire’s Bastards; The Unconscious Civilisation