Best products from r/Buddhism
We found 563 comments on r/Buddhism discussing the most recommended products. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 1,419 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.
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1. In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (The Teachings of the Buddha)
- Wisdom Publications MA
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2. The Path To Awakening: How Buddhism's Seven Points of Mind Training Can Lead You to a Life of Enlightenment and Happiness
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3. What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada
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4. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
- Broadway Books
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7. The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya (The Teachings of the Buddha)
- Wisdom Publications MA
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8. In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (The Teachings of the Buddha)
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9. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Shambhala Classics)
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10. Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
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11. Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (Sacred Literature)
- Altamira Press
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12. Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
- Great product!
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13. The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
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14. From Here to Enlightenment: An Introduction to Tsong-kha-pa's Classic Text The Great Treatise of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment
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15. The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness
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18. Buddhism Plain and Simple: The Practice of Being Aware, Right Now, Every Day
- Broadway Books
I had kind of a hard time thinking about a response I felt good about. Below are resources roughly sequenced as "stages". All the resources are within or related to the Theravada tradition. I tried to keep everything free. When a preferred resource is not free, I include a free alternative. Buddhism is very much a practice, so when instructions are given put them into practice the best you can. There is also a need to understand why you are practicing, so there is a need to understand Buddhist theory. Some of these resources might not be seem immediately applicable to you, which is fine, just think of it as being similar to reviewing a map before going on the hike. This small collection of selected resources may seem overwhelming, but learning the dhamma is a long process, so there is no hurry to read or listen to everything. It is like walking through mist, you don't necessarily notice getting wet. I just want to reiterate that practicing is very important. Buddhism is about doing, and to lesser degree about acquiring book knowledge. One caution, I put several different meditation styles below; go a head and experiment with them, but figure out which one fits you best and stick with it for a while. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer skillfully. Remember that persistence will bring rewards. Good luck.
With Each & Every Breath: A Guide to Meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana [not free] (Free older version)
Noble Strategy by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
The Buddha’s Teachings: An Introduction by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi [not free] (A free "clone" can be found at www.suttacentral.net. It has all of the introductions Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote, but uses free translations of the suttas)
The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations translated by Gil Fronsdal [not free] (A free and reliable translation of the Dhammapada by Anandajoti Bhikkhu)
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli & Bhikkhu Bodhi [not free] (Free translations of all of the Majjhima Nikaya suttas can be found at www.suttacentral.net. Thanissaro Bhikkhu has translated a free anthology of the Majjhima Nikaya called Handful of Leaves, Volume II: an Anthology from the Majjhima Nikaya)
The Wings to Awakening: An Anthology from the Pali Canon by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Introduction to Meditation is an audio course by Gil Fronsdal.
Basics is collection of talks by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
The Buddha's Teaching As It Is: An Introductory Course is a series of talks by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Eightfold Path Program is a series of talks by Gil Fronsdal.
Four Noble Truths is a series by Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella.
Don't eat your fingers. Seriously though, just listen to talks and get a better feel for the dharma.
Seven Factors of Awakening is a series of talks by Gil Fronsdal.
A Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Resources:(There are a huge number of great resource. Below are the ones I frequent or have frequented)
Texts: www.suttacentral.net, www.accesstoinsight.org, www.buddhanet.net, www.dhammatalks.org, www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net
Talks: www.dharmaseed.org (huge variety of teachers have talks here), www.dhammatalks.org (Thanissaro Bhikkhu has a huge catalog of talks. He has a straight forward style.), www.audiodharma.org (Gil Fronsdal has very accessible teaching style. He presents the dharma in an almost secular way, but doesn't doesn't diminish it in the process.)
Video: Buddhist Society of Western Australia (Ajahn Brahm is a much loved and accessible teacher), Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu (Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu has a very calm demeanor, and does live Q&A regularly, StudentofthePath (Bhikkhu Jayasara is a recently ordained monk and is an active redditor, u/Bhikkhu_Jayasara), Dhammanet (Bhikkhu Sujato has "loose" and friendly teaching style, but is a serious scholar.)
Here's my standard set of recommendations for Theravada Buddhism. If you are interested in other traditions, then other people will recommend more suitable books.
I think the classic book What the Buddha Taught is one of the best starting points there is. It's a rather basic text, but at the same time it covers a lot of ground. Definately a must read. There are other more comprehensive introductory books, but they are a bit more technical.
Another amazing book is the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's book In the Buddha's Words which is an anthology of just a few of the Suttas along with some excellent introductory essays. This book is probably the best introduction to Buddhist scripture out there. This book is the only one on this list that isn't available for free on the internet, but for a little over ten dollars, I'd say it is definitely worth it.
The Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi also gave an introductory summary of Buddhism in the early 80's called The Buddha's Teaching As It Is which is quite good.
His Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikaya is one of the best lecture series there is in my opinion.
You can find some articles he wrote here. I especially recommend the article "The Buddha and his Dhamma" and "The Noble Eightfold Path".
Sutta Central is probably the go to place for translations from the Pali Canon.
Here's a pdf of Mindfulness of Plain English, a very popular and general text on meditation.
Also one of the best books on meditation (although it is a bit more technical) is the book Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization
If you want to practice meditation according to the Mahasi Sawadaw tradition, then read this pdf of Practical Vipassana Exercises is a very good book. Also, if you are interested in the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition I highly recommend the youtube videos of the Ven. Yuttadhammo
Here's a good meditation manual from Ajahn Thanissaro about Mindfulness of Breathing.
If after you go through some of these texts and decide that you want to become Buddhist, it's very easy to do on your own. You just recite the formula for going for refuge and take on the five precepts. Here is a video that shows this, and if you click the closed captioning button, it gives you subtitles.
Hmm, good question. I can't claim to have read a lot of Thay's work (because as you said, there's quite a bit), but my hunch based on what I have read is that where you should start depends on your current knowledge of Buddhism.
Thay seems to write two types of books: a "general audience" type book that draws on Buddhism, but only to the extent that the teachings can be practiced by anyone regardless of their background. The Miracle of Mindfulness might be an example of this, or his "one-word-title books" as I call them: Power, Savor, Fear, etc.
The other type of book he writes seems to be intended for readers who either are already Buddhist or interested in going more deeply into Buddhist teachings. To know where to start with these works, a lot depends on how familiar you already are with the Buddha's teachings. I can tell you the order I read them, which seemed to work quite well:
Started with: The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: This is Thay's overview of the core teachings of Buddhism. I see this book like this: if Buddhism was a country, this would be a map of it. It shows you all the major points of interest, and the roads connecting all of them together. After reading this, you'll have a good grasp of what the different pieces of Buddhism are and how they work together to help you toward awakening/enlightenment.
But if you've never read anything about Buddhism at all before, I'm personally not sure if this is a good first book as it's not exactly a light read. Don't get me wrong: it's written with Thay's usual elegance and clarity, but it's packed with a lot of stuff (in the best sense). I was already somewhat familiar with the basics of Buddhism, so for me it was easy to build on that; but for someone brand new, I think the "general audience" books would still be a better start.
After that first book: In the first book itself, Thay recommends three sutras every serious practitioner should study regularly: the Bhaddekaratta Sutra, the Anapatasati Sutra, and the Satipatthana Sutra. Thankfully, Thay has translated and written commentaries on all three sutras and my links go to his books on these sutras.
Not much more I can share given that I'm about halfway through Thay's book on the Anapanasati Sutra. What I can say is that I can see why he says these are sutras to be studied throughout your life. They have some really powerful teachings that I have no doubt will take me years to grasp and practice properly.
Hope that helps. I'm sure others have read far more of Thay's work than I have, and can either correct my attempt here or give better recommendations.
In terms of 'conversion':
This is not a conversion, but it is a commitment to studying Buddhism -- which is a religious system of education (towards the very eventual outcome of enlightenment) more than it is a "I go to church now" religion. Although in traditional settings there are temples, monasteries, almsgiving, ceremonies etc!
With great love and respect.
My favorite copypasta:
I highly recommend In the Buddha's Words, a curated presentation of the Pali Canon with guiding essays.
Here is an excerpt on the Buddhist definition of faith that you might find useful:
>It is not only theistic religions that teach doctrines beyond the range of immediate empirical confirmation. The Buddha too taught doctrines that an ordinary person cannot directly confirm by everyday experience, and these doctrines are fundamental to the structure of his teaching. We saw, for example, in the introduction to chapters I and II, that the Nikayas envisage a universe with many domains of sentient existence spread out in boundless space and time, a universe in which sentient beings roam and wander from life to life on account of their ignorance, craving, and kamma. The Nikayas presuppose that throughout beginningless time, Buddhas without number have arisen and turned the wheel of the Dhamma, and that each Buddha attains enlightenment after cultivating spiritual perfections over long periods of cosmic time. When we approach the Dhamma we are likely to resist such beliefs and feel that they make excessive demands on our capacity for trust. Thus we inevitably run up against the question whether, if we wish to follow the Buddha’s teaching, we must take on board the entire package of classical Buddhist doctrine.
>For Early Buddhism, all the problems we face in deciding how far we should go in placing faith can be disposed of at a single stroke. That single stroke involves reverting to direct experience as the ultimate basis for judgment. One of the distinctive features of the Buddha’s teaching is the respect it accords to direct experience. The texts of Early Buddhism do not teach a secret doctrine, nor do they leave scope for anything like an esoteric path reserved for an elite of initiates and withheld form others. According to Text III,1, secrecy in a religious teaching is the hallmark of wrong views and confused thinking. The teaching of the Buddha shines openly, as radiant and brilliant as the light of the sun and moon. Freedom from the cloak of secrecy is integral to a teaching that gives primacy to direct experience, inviting each individual to test its principles in the crucible of his or her own experience.
>This does not mean that an ordinary person can fully validate the Buddha’s doctrine by direct experience without special effort. To the contrary, the teaching can only be fully realized through the achievement of certain extraordinary types of experience that are far beyond the range of the ordinary person enmeshed in the concerns of mundane life. However, in sharp contrast to revealed religion, the Buddha does not demand that we begin our spiritual quest by placing faith in doctrines that lie beyond the range of our immediate experience. Rather than ask us to wrestle with issues that, for us in our present condition, no amount of experience can decide, he instead asks us to consider a few simple questions pertaining to our immediate welfare and happiness, questions that we can answer on the basis of personal experience. I highlight the expression “for us in our present condition,” because the fact that we cannot presently validate such matters does not constitute grounds for rejecting them as invalid or even as irrelevant. It only means that we should put them aside for the time being and concern ourselves with issues that come within the range of direct experience.
>The Buddha says that his teaching is about suffering and the cessation of suffering. This statement does not mean that the Dhamma is concerned only with our experience of suffering in the present life, but it does imply that we can use our present experience, backed by intelligent observation, as a criterion for determining what is beneficial and what detrimental to our spiritual progress. Our most insistent existential demand, springing up deep within us, is the need for freedom from harm, sorrow, and distress; or, positively stated, the need to achieve well-being and happiness. However, to avoid harm and to secure our well-being, it is not sufficient for us merely to hope. We first have to understand the conditions on which they depend. According to the Buddha, whatever arises arises through appropriate causes and conditions, and this applies with equal force to suffering and happiness. Thus we must ascertain the causes and conditions that lead to harm and suffering, and likewise the causes and conditions that lead to wellbeing and happiness. Once we have extracted these two principles - the conditions leading to well-being and happiness – we have at our disposal an outline of the entire process that leads to the ultimate goal, final liberation from suffering.
>One text offering an excellent example of this approach is a short discourse in the Anguttara Nikaya popularly known as the Kalama Sutta. The Kalamas were a people living in a remote area of the Ganges plain. Various religious teachers would come to visit them and each would extol his own doctrine and tear down the doctrines of his rivals. Confused and perplexed by this conflict of belief systems, the Kalamas did not know whom to trust. When the Buddha passed through their town, they approached him and asked him to clear away their doubts. Though the text does not specify what particular issues were troubling the Kalamas, the later part of the discourse makes it clear that their perplexities revolved around the questions of rebirth and kamma.
>The Buddha began by assuring the Kalamas that under such circumstances it was proper for them to doubt, for the issues that troubled them were indeed common sources of doubt and perplexity. He then told them not to rely on ten sources of belief. Four of these pertain to established scriptural authority (oral tradition, lineage of teaching, hearsay, and collections of texts); four to rational grounds (logic, inferential reasoning, reasoned cogitation, and the acceptance of a view after pondering it); and two to authoritative persons (impressive speakers and respected teachers). This advice is sometimes quoted to prove that the Buddha rejected all external authorities and invited each individual to fashion his or her own personal path to truth. Read in context, however, the message of the Kalama Sutta is quite different. The Buddha is not advising the Kalamas – who, it must be stressed, had at this point not yet become his own disciples – to reject all authoritative guides to spiritual understanding and fall back solely on their personal intuition. Rather, he is offering them a simple and pragmatic outlet from the morass of doubt and perplexity in which they are immersed. By the use of skillful methods of inquiry, he leads them to understand a number of basic principles that they can verify by their own experience and thereby acquire a sure starting point for further spiritual development…
>…The fact that such texts as this sutta and the Kalama Sutta do not dwell on the doctrines of kamma and rebirth does not mean, as is sometimes assumed, that such teachings are mere cultural accretions to the Dhamma that can be deleted or explained away without losing anything essential. It means only that, at the outset, the Dhamma can be approached in ways that do not require reference to past and future lives. The Buddha’s teaching has many sides, and thus, from certain angles, it can be directly evaluated against our concern for our present well-being and happiness. Once we see that the practice of the teaching does indeed bring peach, joy, and inner security in this very life, this will inspire our trust and confidence in the Dhamma as a whole, including those aspects that lie beyond our present capacity for personal verification. If we were to undertake certain practices – practices that require highly refined skills and determined effort – we would be able to acquire the faculties needed to validate those other aspects, such as the law of kamma, the reality of rebirth, and the existence of supersensible realms
-In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon The Dalai Lama and Bhikkhu Bodhi
I've been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Peaceful Action, Open Heart, which is wonderful, concurrently with A Guide to the Threefold Lotus Sutra, by Nikkyo Niwano, that gives a concise overview of each chapter. It also helps to have an introduction, in the form of a talk or short articles. There's a short chapter in Cultivating the Mind of Love on this Sutra.
I was at a retreat with TNH in the 1990's where he spoke about the Avatamsaka and Lotus Sutras, that's since been issued by Sounds True as The Ultimate Dimension.
Most of the talks were on the foundational practices for entering into the kinds of experiences described in these Sutras, and I found that his framing them in this way actually made them accessible. Remarkable!
These are good places to start.
As Thay said in his commentary, these are not so much works to be studied with the rational part of ourselves as they are to be received as inspired poetry, lived with and enjoyed. Then meaning of these sutras and the truth they speak of can reveal themselves to us gradually.
He says, in the beginning of The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching:
“When we hear a Dharma talk or study a sutra, our only job is to remain open. Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing. If we read or listen with an open mind and an open heart, the rain of the Dharma will penetrate the soil of our consciousness.
“The gentle spring rain permeates the soil of my soul.
A seed has lain deeply in the earth for many years just smiles.
“When reading or listening, don’t work too hard. Be like the earth. When the rain comes, the earth only has to open herself up to the rain. Allow the rain of the Dharma to come in and penetrate the seeds that are buried deep in your consciousness.
“A teacher cannot give you the truth. The truth is already in you. You only need to open yourself - body, mind, and heart - so that his or her teachings will penetrate your own seeds of understanding and enlightenment. If you let the words enter you, the soil and the seeds will do the rest of the work.”
Best wishes to you in your practice.
Sounds like you are making great progress. Here's a couple of things to try:
*If you are interested, there are two other books that may be of use on your journey. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzburg
>When I notice activity which creates a self I try to stop it
I think you are sort of fundamentally misunderstanding, and you are essentially encouraging aversion.
It's not that you 'stop' self, it's that the self never ultimately existed in the way that we might have thought. There's nothing to stop other than delusion, and that is not 'stopped' from a volitional act but rather through insight. In general, this wrong view of self is overcome with stream entry. The 4 factors related to stream entry are,
>Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
If you think that there is a self and then you are trying to destroy the self, this is mistaken, and generally speaking leads to results like what you are saying.
In general, regarding the quote above, if you don't cause harm, then generally speaking you will find that you have less obstacles, both 'inner' and 'outer'. If you are open to the aspect of virtue, you will find that meaning, richness, etc become more and more profound, pronounced, and life will be rich in a wholesome way that is in line with the Path.
You might specifically consider the 4 immeasureables.
The Metta Sutta says,
>"Monks, for one whose awareness-release through good will is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken, eleven benefits can be expected. Which eleven?
>"One sleeps easily, wakes easily, dreams no evil dreams. One is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings. The devas protect one. Neither fire, poison, nor weapons can touch one. One's mind gains concentration quickly. One's complexion is bright. One dies unconfused and — if penetrating no higher — is headed for the Brahma worlds.
>"These are the eleven benefits that can be expected for one whose awareness-release through good will is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken."
I have heard very good things about the book Loving Kindness by Sharon Salzberg, which is sort of a practical book, not just theory.
> There are so many branches of Buddhism, which one is the right one for me?
This usually comes naturally after you learn a few things. You will feel naturall affection towards a certain tradition. At this point it is important to understand that different traditions of Buddhism are based on different kinds of motivations. Check them out and decide for yourself, which one fits you the best: http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Motivation
> Should I read books in the beginning to answer the vast amount of questions I have, or should I try to find some sort of Sangha/Community right away (I'm from southern Germany, and from what I can tell, there aren't too many of them)?
Reading books is great and you should learn the basics. I can recommend two great books of Tibetan Buddhism:
The Path To Awakening
> Mind training is a comprehensive practice that is suitable for all types of students. It contains the entire path and does not depend on a person's background. Mind Training nurses and cultivates the Buddha Nature, that pure seed of awakening that is at the very heart of every sentient being. It has the power to transform even egotistical self-clinging into self-lessness. Put into practice diligently, it is enough to lead you all the way to awakening.
Way of Tibetan Buddhism
> This comprehensive introduction contains all the information you need to gain an in-depth knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism, including what Tibetan Buddhism is and how it has developed, an insight into all the basic teachings including Indian, Tibetan and Western practice, the historical background to Buddhism and a summary of the major schools.
You should also find sangha, that would be very helpful and friends can answer a lot of your questions quickly. Also, you don't need to find many groups, find one or two and check the people there. If you like it, then stay and learn.
> Should I try out meditation by myself, or is "profssional" help required/recommanded?
You can try simple meditations yourself, like breathing calming meditation. But if you can find sangha that you feel good with, then follow their practices and their teacher, as it is quite important for your development.
Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, which is an introduction of the Lam-Rim, the Stepped Path to Enlightenment. HH the Dalai Lama also gave a great introduction on the Lam-Rim, https://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Illuminting-the-Path-to-Enlightenment-by-Dalai-Lama.pdf Here is him teaching the Lam-Rim, in podcasts: http://lamrim.com/hhdl/atishaslamp.html Also, the Discovering Buddhism Program at FPMT is a great place to start: https://fpmt.org/education/. Most of these courses have Youtube video intros (and the 2nd course, Intro to Meditation, is free). The others do cost a bit, but these courses are the best Buddhism courses on the internet. They include teachings by very knowledgeable teachers and all the texts you might need for the courses. (I did complete this Program and fully recommend it. It's very good.)
If you find you enjoy and practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, [the Easy Path, by the First Panchen Lama](https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Path-Illuminating-Panchen-Instructions-ebook/dp/B00B3M48K2/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=easy+path+khensur+rinpoche&qid=1565701149&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0), is great and is taught here by Gyurmed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa. The book provides teachings and meditation practices on all topics of the Lam-Rim. [Youtube videos of Rinpoche teaching the book are available here](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG5JrBzfW8M). Enjoy!
Enjoy! And Good Luck!
Rupert Gethin's Foundations of Buddhism is a thorough introduction to Buddhism. For starting reading the Pāli discourses, there's Bhikkhu Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words - this is a selection of discourses serving as an entry point.
Then you can start with the discourses directly: start with the Majjima Nikāya and then you can also go through The Dīgha Nikāya and the Samyutta Nikāya. And then the last but not least: Aṇguttara Nikāya and the Khuddhaka Nikāya (search on Amazon). These texts would be important references for the rest of your life if you seriously pursue Buddhism.
Regarding insight meditation, Bhikkhu Anālayo's Satipaṭṭāna book is the best modern day commentary available. Highly recommend it. His "Excursions into the Pāli Discourses" Part 1 and Part 2 are also very useful since they summarize many of the topics discusses in the discourses.
Books by Shaila Catherine or Ajāhn Brahmavaṃso would be good texts regarding samatha meditation.
There are the various texts written by the Ledi Sayādaw and Mahāsi Sayadaw - two Burmese scholar-practitioners who popularized insight meditation in the last century. You can go through Ven. Ledi Sayādaw's Vipassanā Dīpani (Manual of Insight) and you can find Ven. Mahāsi Sayadaw's books here.
Bhikkhu K. Ñānānanda has many books discussing deep questions about dependent arising, the nature of nirvāna, and so forth. You can find them here.
I'll let others recommend Mahāyāna, Vajrayāna and Zen material. In general, Reginald Rays books on Tibetan Buddhism are great entry points to Tibetan Buddhism, and then there's Gampopa's Jewel Ornament Of Liberation. There's also Shantidēva's Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, useful for any Mahāyāna practitioner. With Zen there's always Dōgen Zenji's Shōbōgenzō.
You should be able to find all of the above by googling if it's available for free or on Amazon (or a University library) otherwise.
Depends on what I want, study or practice. But my most recent have been...
Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise
For daily living the books by Thich Nhat Hanh are fantastic, especially the power of silence. The book is aimed at all audiences but really goes in to depth showcasing how life in the west especially has become out of control, we are constantly imbued with noise, constantly thinking and never truly coming home to ourselves, so our suffering is always 'ours' carried by us everywhere until it begins to spill out in our actions and thoughts.
In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha)
I really like both this book and the middle length discourses for when I desire to feel 'closer' to the teachings. This book in particular takes teachings from the the pali canon and presents those which bear the most relevance to life today. The teachings are very profound and each suttra is very powerful. Many of the questions here could be easily answered by reading these translations of the discourses by Bikkhu Bodhi.
Although I do feel these are books for the book shelf as the suttras are kept purposely intact but it means there is a lot of cumbersome repetition and one or two suttras a session are best I find.
Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: Majjhima-Nikaya: New Translation (Teachings of the Buddha)
This book focuses more on the Buddha's time at jetta grove and a lot of the pages describe his dealings with the monastics, but also detail his meetings with all walks of life from princes to simple villagers. There is the classic hell suttra too, which is gruesome and had me in contemplation for a while! The teachings are profound though and any discerning Buddhist would benefit from reading the texts.
'The translated teachings of Miao Yun'
This is not so much a book as a collection of teachings which have been translated for a western audience. The words however contain a lot of wisdom and really detail the framework of a path from human to buddha-hood and the importance of cultivating core values such as wisdom and compassion.
> requires a self and the doctrine of Anatta denies its existence.
If there's no self, who's reading this response?
"The Buddha does not negate the relative existence of anything, but teaches that whatever exists in the relative or conventional sense, exists interdependently... The inherently existing self, an independent existence of "I" does not exist; it is to be negated, it is just an illusion. To reiterate, the person, the "I" or the "You," is an interdependently originated nature, and this mode of existence is real, and it is there. We are not negating the interdependent existence when we are negating the "I." In other words, we are not negating the "I" which does exist relatively... So, the existence of the interdependent "I" is never negated by Buddhism." - Geshe Samdhong Rinpoche https://www.amazon.com/Samdhong-Rinpoche-Uncompromising-Truth-Compromised/dp/1933316209/
"So, when we talk about anatman, we do not mean the total nonexistence of the nominal or conventional self; we very much accept the existence of such a conventional self. What we actually mean is the nonexistence of the self that is thought to be totally independent and has nothing whatsoever to do with the self of the physical aggregates; it is totally separate from the self of the physical aggregates, which is the kind of self that is being denied." - The Dalai Lama https://www.amazon.com/Wanted-Holiness-Dalai-Happiness-Living/dp/1401920160/
"Thus, in the ultimate truth there is no 'I' but in the relative truth 'I' exists. Because there is 'I' then the Buddha also teaches that there are no phenomena which are not interdependent. 'I' exists as a dependent phenomenon in a relative, conventional world. When 'I' create a good karmic accumulation, the good result comes to 'me', not someone else. When 'I' study it is 'I' who become well-educated. On the relative level there is nothing which is not dependent and so there is definitely an 'I'. On the ultimate level, precisely because everything is interdependent, then nothing has true existence as its essence. Everything depends upon something else and so nothing has solid independent existence. For this reason it is said that there is not anything which is permanent." - Tai Situ Rinpoche http://www.samyeling.org/buddhism-and-meditation/teaching-archive-2/chamgon-khentin-tai-situpa/thr-four-seals-of-mahamudra/
"The Buddha does not reject the existence of a personal [conventional/nominal] self. There is a person who acts, amassing karma. There is a person who experiences the consequences of those actions. The Buddha asks us to analyze the nature of our self. The self, or the person, exists in dependence upon certain physical and mental elements. However, in our naïve perception of ourselves we tend to assume that the self is something like a master that rules over our body and mind, that it is an essence somehow independent of them. It is that kind of self, one that we falsely assume to exist, that the Buddha negates. Buddhists refute not the person, but a mistaken conception about the self." - The Dalai Lama https://www.amazon.com/Here-Enlightenment-Introduction-Tsong-kha-pas-Treatise/dp/1559394234/
> determinism (dependant origination) is true, then our acts are the consequence of laws of nature and events in the remote past.
Dependent origination and determinism are different concepts.
"The Buddha also rejected a purely deterministic view in his teaching on karma. Most of the Buddha's contemporaries taught that karma operates in a simple straight line. Your life now is the result of what you did in the past; what you do now will determine your life in the future. The problem with this view is that it leads to a degree of fatalism -- there's nothing you can do about your life now.
But the Buddha taught that effects of past karma can be mitigated by present action; in other words, one is not fated to suffer X because one did X in the past. Your actions now can change the course of karma and impact your life now. The Theravadin monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote,
> Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past.
In short, Buddhism doesn't align with western philosophy for a neat, side-by-side comparison. As long as we are lost in a fog of illusion, our "will" isn't as free as we think it is, and our lives will be caught in karmic effects and our own unskillful acts. But, the Buddha said, we are capable of living in greater clarity and happiness through our own efforts." - Barbara O'brien https://www.thoughtco.com/free-will-and-buddhism-449602
Together with our past karma, the actions that we take everyday influence how we experience our existence:
"The experience of the present is shaped both by actions in the present and by actions in the past. Actions in the present shape both the present and the future. The results of past and present actions continually interact. Thus there is always room for new input into the system, which gives scope for free will. There is also room for the many feedback loops that make experience so thoroughly complex, and that are so intriguingly described in chaos theory." - Thanissaro Bhikkhu http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/resonance.html
"In this way, the Buddha points to one of the most distinctive features of his own teaching on kamma: that the present experience of pleasure and pain is a combined result of both past and present actions. This seemingly small addition to the notion of kamma plays an enormous role in allowing for the exercise of free will and the possibility of putting an end to suffering before the effects of all past actions have ripened." - Thanissaro Bhikkhu http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.101.than.html
"The result, the future, is in our hands; our actions now will create a result. The law of karma does not mean that you just sink into a sleep, thinking, “There is no point. All I can do is wait for the result”. Our present human life carries the experience of the result of our past actions, but at the same time we are creating our own future. If you see it in this way, everything is not pre-determined by karma, because we are also creating our own, new karma. One thing I keep on saying is, “Doesn’t matter what you did, what matters is what you do now so that you can make your future better”. - Akong Tulku Rinpoche http://www.samyeling.org/buddhism-and-meditation/teaching-archive-2/choje-akong-tulku-rinpoche/karma/
"I once heard of Karma to be described as a huge web, with many, many interconnections between the threads making up the web. Now think of a drop of water sliding down one thread, changing course where another thread crosses it’s path. The drop of water can go this way or that way. We are making up the interconnections in the threads with our actions, and accordingly we do control our Karma. The only “predetermination” we will find is that virtuous action results in happiness and non virtuous action results in suffering." - Anyen Rinpoche http://www.anyenrinpoche.com/blog/2011/01/23/death-and-karma/
>I seek to help others through the Bodhisattva Vow to help others reach enlightenment
Indeed, and it is the Noble Way, but remember that the vow of the Bodhisattva is to attain enlightenment for all sentient beings. It is not a vow of altruism, so do not be led astray by your feelings of compassion.
I understand your concern, that in non-attachment we lose our desire to help others; but I promise that is not the case. Non-attachment precludes nothing, compassion and love still shine through. In fact, far more radiantly, they can shine, for without an attachment to how things are or how things should be, compassion and love can more fully pervade all action and all speech. When we act with a pure mind, that is how we can benefit the world.
Furthermore, full awakening is not a requirement either; stream-entry is not a lofty goal, and will be enough for the purpose you seek to fulfill. It does not require becoming a nun or a monk, and is attainable if you are diligent (it all is, in fact), and so, to that end, I recommend this book, for its contemporary language and ease of understanding. It helped me in my meditation practice, and perhaps it may help yours, too.
Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but if you are looking for a good "intro to Buddhism" book that puts great emphasis on cultivating bodhichitta (the aspiration to attain enlightenment/buddhahood in order to best help infinitely many beings), then I can recommend 3 of my favorite books by the Dalai Lama, and one book by the famous 8th century Bodhisattva Shantideva:
I ordered the books from lightest to more dense reading. Shantideva's text is all poetry, I derive great inspiration from it but I admit that it may be somewhat difficult to read for someone less familiar with Mahayana Buddhism.
Fronsdal's translation of the Dhammapada is good. It certainly looks nice, and the translation is elegant yet accurate. I also recommend Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation, which you can get for free online, or you can download the book in PDF format.
I would recommend reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words before digging more deeply into the full Nikayas. This book wonderfully selects passages from the Pali Canon and organizes them in a logical fashion, with clear commentaries.
I also recommend Thanissaro Bhikkhu's many e-books which you can download for free online. For beginners I highly recommend Refuge and The Wings to Awakening (found at the bottom of the linked page).
Hope this helps!
My post in the book recommendations to the right:
>For all Buddhists:
> The Majjhima Nikaya: The Middle Length Discources of the Buddha
> The Digha Nikaya: The Long Length Discourses of the Buddha
>For Mahayana Buddhists:
> The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech: A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva
>For Vajrayana Buddhists:
> Words of my Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche
>Nothing in particular after that.
>There are a TON of misconceptions out there about what the Buddha taught and the presentation of the basic Buddhist path. Not reading the Digha/Majjhima Nikaya and calling yourself a Buddhist is the same as calling yourself a Christian without ever reading the Bible.
>Similarly, not having read the Bodhicharyavatara (a commentary really helps on this one, which is why I linked the best one) and calling yourself a Mahayana Buddhist is the same.
>Words of my Perfect teacher is simply an excellent introduction to the Vajrayana path, so I think it should be on there as well. Maybe not as necessary as the previous 3 (because in Vajrayana it's most important to learn from a qualified guru), it's still an excellent book. And if you haven't found a teacher yet, it would certainly help in finding a good one.
A great primer for the core tenets and historical context is "What The Buddha Taught" by Walpola Pahula. It provides a wonderful explanation of the thought process and is very clearly written; a lot of colleges use it in their comparative religion courses.
I also think that reading the "Dhammapada" is particularly vital. I prefer the Eknath Easwaran translation; I feel like he did an excellent job translating it into modern laguage while retaining the meaning of the text and providing excellent discussions of each sutra without being to neurotically overbearing, like so many religious commentaries can be. He also did excellent versions of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads if you are interested in broader Indian spirituality.
For me, personally, I started with the 'Basics' section on the sidebar. It contains, amongst other things:
I myself started with Walpola Rahula's book, as recommended in those links, and the https://bswa.org/ resources including those on Youtube. I then progressed onto In the Buddha's Words.
I also find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talks to be informative. They can be found at https://www.dhammatalks.org/ -- note there is a 'For Beginners' tab -- and also on Youtube. I think the former is kept more up-to-date but there are many valuable talks on both, about all kinds of topics.
I am very thankful that you have come out of this situation with so much physical and mental strength. I hope this means that you can find peace, happiness and health. I hope you do not mind me also saying that I extend this too to your attacker, as their actions are clearly not helpful for them or the living beings around them.
>1.Different schools of Buddhism? I understand that their are different ones, are there a lot of differences? For example, Zen, Tibetan, etc.
Lots of differences. But, that's not so important right now. Just look at everything. Finding the right style of practice, and more importantly, the right teacher, is like falling in love. You can't plan it, you can't prepare for it, but if you're open to it, it will happen. For now, commit to nothing but honesty and curiosity and look at everything you can find.
>2.Best beginner book for Buddhism? Something that can teach me a lot about Buddhism, and books to explore different sects.
I'd advise anyone to read Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's "What Makes You Not A Buddhist". Very good introduction, from a Tibetan background. As with everything in the Dharma, the purpose is more to learn about you than about Buddhism, though ;)
>3.What are you. supposed to do when you mediate? Some compare it to lucid dreaming, the ability to do whatever, but what exactly are you supposed to do? Aren't you supposed to focus on being awakened, if so, how?
Best (only) way is to learn face-to-face. And there are many many techniques, which may or may not work for you. For now, sit up straight, but relaxed. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. If you get distracted, no problem, just breathe in again. You're not "supposed to" feel this way or that way. Just breathe, be present and come what may. Start with 5 minutes a day, every day.
>4.How would you know if you were "Awakened"?
Dunno, I'm not. Not worrying seems to be a factor.
>5.What school of Buddhism do you prefer and why?
Karma Kagyu, one of the Tibetan "schools", because that's what my teachers teach me. And my teachers are my teachers because when I think of them I can't think of being anything but their student.
>6.How do I become a Buddhist?
By sending me $ 3.50! ;) No, if you feel Lord Buddha is your guide, his teaching (the Dharma) is your path, and his students (the Sangha) are your homeboys, you're a Buddhist. Different schools may have different rituals to confirm this, which is fine but unimportant.
Keep your doubt! It's useful. Keep your faith too, for the same reason. Feeling strongly about something does not make you right, and being right does not make you kind, which is arguably the best thing to be. Investigate everything (with the exception of non-prescription opiates and asshattery) and enjoy yourself! Good luck!
>what does the Buddha mean when he references his teachings simply as a raft meant to cross a river in Chapter 6 ?
This is actually a very deep simile, rich with many layers of meaning. I've sat here for a while and typed out several explanations, then deleted them realizing none of them captures all the levels of what the Buddha was saying here. That would be an entire essay, really.
The essence of it is that the Buddha did not want people to get caught up in his words, thinking that by analyzing his words they would attain enlightenment. He had to use words because that was the primary way he could communicate the Dhamma, but what he was teaching is beyond words.
This connects to your second question, because later in the Diamond Sutra the Buddha said:
>Subhuti, as to speaking truth, no truth can be spoken.
A clue to understanding this is given by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh when he wrote in The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching (emphasis mine): "Right View is the absence of all views."
So when you ask, "Here is my view now, is it valid?" The answer is most likely "No."
The Buddha taught purely out of compassion. He didn't teach because we lacked something, or he needed to "save" us, or any of that. He sat for days after his enlightenment deciding what to do, because he realized that there was nothing to do. And that is why he says there is no teaching, and that to consider the teaching as having an existence is false.
You are therefore right to connect no-self with the non-existence of the teaching as well. The teaching of no-self, anatta, is something also deep and requiring a good teacher to go through with you. I am definitely not a master or teacher of that caliber, so all I can do is recommend this video on non-self that might help you understand it.
> Many people are telling me to meditate and figure it out for myself. How can I do this?
Honestly, I would advise against that. I'd recommend learning meditation from a teacher, and I'd also recommend studying some Dharma first before making meditation the main focus of your practice. And before all of that, the most important thing is going to be conduct. The most important aspect of conduct is to not take life, even very tiny insects. If you don't have proper conduct, then nothing else is really going to work. So, I'd recommend that order:
It won't hurt to start a small meditation practice right now, in fact I would recommend that. But it will be best to spend the most energy on conduct and study at this time.
> What should I focus on? Karma and dependent origin? Cessation of attachment? Compassion? Which aspect is the most important?
It's really hard to say. I don't think there's any right answer unless you're working within a specific tradition. My personal recommendation would be to read In the Buddha's Words by Bhikku Bodhi. This will give you a really strong introduction to Theravada teachings. Even though it's Theravada, it is the common foundation of all schools of Buddhism. If you don't understand everything in this book, it will be difficult to understand anything else in Buddhism beyond this.
Then, if you want to get a little introduction to the Mahayana, I'd suggest reading some translation of Shantideva's Entering the Conduct of a Bodhisattva (maybe translated as The Way of the Bodhisattva). This book is great for both complete beginners and very advanced bodhisattvas. I have read this text several times over the last 10 years and I learn something new every time. The Dalai Lama said:
> If I have any understanding of compassion and the bodhisattva path, it all comes from studying this text.
If you find that you are attracted to the Mahayana, then I would suggest that your next quest is to find your teacher. In Theravada, a teacher may not be of the utmost importance. But for Mahayana, a teacher is indispensible. There are enlightened teachers living today, it just takes effort to find one. My sincere advice would be to find an enlightened teacher, and then follow their advice as best as you can.
Finally, don't turn Dharma into an escape. Dharma is never going to solve your worldly problems. You will still need to learn how to deal with life just like any other adult does in our society. Make sure to spend the proper effort and do well in school :) Dharma doesn't solve worldly problems, but it will lead to peace where no worldly problems bother you at all.
>“I say, bhikkhus, that (1) true knowledge and liberation have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for true knowledge and liberation?
>...[7 causally linked factors that I've removed for brevity]...
>It should be said: (9) hearing the good Dhamma. Hearing the good Dhamma, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for hearing the good Dhamma? It should be said: (10) associating with good persons. (source)
In the text above, the Buddha explains how associating with good persons leads to enlightenment. These days we have other ways to hear the good Dhamma too; talks by monks online, books, especially reading the word of the Buddha.
Obviously the best thing is to hang around a Buddha or other enlightened monks or nuns, but that can be hard to come by :-)
>Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, if someone were to give a gift of one hundred serving dishes [of food] in the morning, one hundred at mid-day, and one hundred in the evening; and another person were to develop a mind of good-will — even for the time it takes to pull on a cow's udder — in the morning, again at mid-day, and again in the evening, this [the second action] would be more fruitful than that [the first]. (source)
Metta is one of those things that, even if you do it just a little, it does a lot of good.
I recommend the Middle-Length Discourses, the Majjhima Nikaya. It is a colledtion of suttas, which are discourses, that is part of something called the Pali canon, which is the oldest surviving complete collection of Buddhist writings.
It's a long book, but one of the reasons why I would recommend it is because each of its discourses is not predicated on any other, and they're usueally only a few pages long each, so they're good for intermittent reading. They are also aimed at people of varying levels of understanding, so there will be something (hopefully several somethings) in there that speaks to you, from the start and as your understanding develops.
It's also quite a good way to familiarize yourself with the context of Buddhism and what most likely went on two and a half thousand years ago, as the discourses take place in many locations, from towns, meeting halls, and huts to forests, lake beds, and groves, and involve many people, from monks to contemplatives to "the Niganthans" (Jains) to laypeople and kings.
I hope you consider this, which is one of the books on which modern Theravada Buddhism is based, and if you have questions about the Pali canon in general, I may know the answer or how to find one as I have been reading them/about them for about a year. But know that they're probably a little more difficult to read than most of the suggestions out there, because they are very old and were translated from their original language.
Best of luck in finding a good book for you.
Great suggestions and I would comment that Look_within's recommendation is great, I read that and In the Buddha's Words, which is an outstanding anthology of Buddha's teachings organized in a very logical format by one of the top Pali translators and Scholars of our time Bodhi Bikkhu. He also has an amazing site Access to Insight, which in and of itself is an outstanding resource.
Personally if you want to pop off some stuff, I would learn the 4 Noble Truths, the 8 Fold Path, The Life of the Buddha, Dependent origination, The 3 Marks of Existence and the 5 precepts. Also meditation is a big part of the path, so I would start with Mindfulness in Plain English, try to meditate daily starting at 20 minutes a day.
Mahayana is a much bigger beast than Theravada. Rather than a general introduction to all of Mahayana, you would be better off looking for introductions to particular traditions- Zen, Tibetan, Pure Land, etc. Mahayana Buddhists generally accept as canonical the full variety of Mahayana texts, but specific texts are more emphasized by particular traditions.
In addition, there has been a kind of 'reconstruction' movement within the Theravada that sought to reform the tradition to conform more closely to the canonical texts. That movement came about in part because of critique and contact with Western theology, which emphasizes the primacy of source texts. In other traditions, post-canonical texts may be more important- rather than tackling the source texts, monks and lay students are taught from summaries and commentaries that contain the views of the oral tradition and prominent teachers.
Something like Words of My Perfect Teacher contains a pretty comprehensive overview of the Tibetan tradition as derived from the traditional sources... In the Zen tradition, The Platform Sutra is primarily a biography/hagiography of the Patriarch Hui Neng, but also contains information on how the Zen tradition regarded the teachings of various popular sutras.
Yeah, do some research. We have a pretty solid reading list started over on the right hand side. (It's only two books long, but they are good books.) I don't know your level of knowledge about Buddhist thought and teachings so I would suggest you look up this one or this one.
I am sure there are some less expensive places to find them, half.com is an eBay company and I have found some really great books for like .75, soooo go has a look.
I wouldn't avoid reading Sutras first off. But I wouldn't make that the central part of my study as they are often very difficult to read and can be confusing. I mean, yeah read some Sutras, but read some other material as well.
Also, go to tricycle.com. Pretty solid website.
Before starting on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, you might want a survey book of Buddhism. Although not at all complete, I do think the book The Buddha and His Teaching is a great academic survey covering many foundations of Buddhism including the Buddha's story, Karma, the eightfold path, ego, attachment, and meditation. It mainly follows the Tibetan model in organization: Part 1: Hinayana, Part 2: Mahayana, Part 3: Vajrayana, excluding focus on schools like Zen and Theravada. All in all, though, an excellent read.
There are also a number of contemporary readings that will explain Dharma through a modern lens. What Makes You Not a Buddhist? was recommended to me awhile back.
Also, if you'd like to get to the heart of it, start meditating. You only need 10 minutes a day of basic shamatha and vippasana practice to start becoming a student of your own mind.
EDIT: it just dawned on me that Shamatha and Vippasana might be foreign terms to you. You can do a google search, or you can PM me and I'd be happy to help
So many of the suggestions so far seem to be of the Theravada or Mahayana lineages. It's important to understand that buddhist teachings vary depending on the lineage you follow. The lineages generally coexist respectfully, recognizing that "there are many ways up the mountain".
I just wanted throw my hat into the ring and suggest What makes you not a Budhhist by Dzangsar Khyentse. It comes from the Vajrayana lineage of teachings, and I love the author's pithy style. I think it's the best introduction to Buddhist teachings I have read so far, but it should be coupled with something more conceptually comprehensive.
In contrast I found What the Buddha Taught to be informative, but slightly dry. It was well worth the read, but I struggled to translate what I learned there into my daily practice. Just something to be aware of.
By far the best thing I did was to find an authentic teacher and supportive Sangha. Reading and learning is good, but this path requires so much more of you than just knowledge. I think that finding a qualified teacher is one of the most important tasks that a novice has in front of them, because there are a lot of unqualified teachers in the west who will inadvertently lead you astray.
As for Tibetan Buddhism, I remember that Words of My Perfect Teacher says that the number of hell beings compared to pretas is like the stars visible at night compared to stars visible in the day. The same analogy applies for the number of pretas vs. animals, and the number of animals compared to humans.
The Pansu Suttas say the number of sentient beings who get bad rebirths as opposed to good rebirths is like the dirt under your fingernail compared to the size of the planet Earth. That's from the Pali Canon, so it should apply to all traditions.
>Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"
>"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.
>"In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell.
In terms of Buddhist texts. The Pali Canon contains the core teachings but all of it was written down many years after the death of Gotama Buddha. Until the time of the councils that codified and committed the teachings to text, it was an oral tradition. There were also notable disagreements between factions of the sangha before and after the teachings were written down. In other words, 'authenticity' is a tricky subject in Buddhism, just as in any other religion.
As a general guide, a good translation of the key points of the Pali Canon such as 'In The Buddha's Words' by Bhikkhu Bodhi is a good start. And if you're interested in Mahayana, then the writings of scholars like Dogen and Nagarjuna are important so look for good translations of those.
As for remaining secular in Buddhism. As a Western practice, that's pretty common, especially since the rise of secular mindfulness schools and such. Technically these practices shouldn't really be labeled Buddhism because the original teachings absolutely contain a strong metaphysics and literal belief in not only rebirth but also in various spiritual realms and such. Don't get hung up on desiring the label of 'Buddhist'. Just follow your path through secular schools and see where it leads you.
The most lucid expositions I know of for original buddhism are Walpola Rahula - What the Buddha taught and Paul Williams - Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition.
I read them years ago, but I remember that what I particularly liked about them is that they are pretty clever in clearing common objections that a modern student may have, they don't dumb it down (while still being clear and concise), and they don't avoid the sides of Buddhism that may be scary for people (in other words they won't present Buddhism as a good-vibe, let's just chill out and love everybody style of life, like many books do to cater to wide audiences).
There are some scathing reviews in there. Especially the one where he's talking about levitation.
I have to say that I don't completely disagree with some of the reviewers' complaints. Lama Surya Das is a decent writer in my opinion, and the book is entertaining. But as others have said, it really is more of an autobiography. And while he has led an interesting life, this is not why I originally read the book. He definitely tries to put a "Western spin" on Buddhism, and this is obviously because westerners are his target audience. But what winds up being produced is a new-age self-help kind of book.
If you are interested, my top 4 recommendations for easy to read, entertaining books that cover some different aspects/sects of Buddhism (in order of my personal preference) are as follows:
As I said, those are my personal favorites and will give you a good look at some of the major Buddhist traditions.
I really like https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Buddhas-Teaching-Transforming-Liberation/dp/0767903692/ as a good introductory book.
It's great to go to practice with a group, but even better if possible is to go practice with several groups, to get a feel for the variety of the traditions within Buddhism. You can then pick the one that feels best for you. Also, as your practice evolves, maybe you will start to feel a bit stuck somehow, and you will know about other groups that might help you get unstuck. Really Buddhism is like a vast toolbox or medicine chest. Use what helps you. As you evolve, your practice can and should evolve.
First, check out the directories on DharmaNet and BuddhaNet. If you're lucky you'll find someplace close to you. If you're really lucky you'll find a good teacher who you connect with. I think that is important. My practice gained a new depth once I found a teacher.
If you're not so lucky, there are still great resources out there. Both the websites I mentioned above have a lot of good stuff on them. One of my favorites is Buddhism in a Nutshell.
If you're willing to spend the money (or have a good library system) two of my favorite books are Mindfulness in Plain English and What the Buddha Taught. Personally, I recommend buying both of them.
Mindfulness in Plain English is an amazing "how to" guide to get you meditating. In the absence of a teacher this will take you quite a ways. What the Buddha Taught is very much from the Theravada perspective and is a fantastic introduction to the most important concepts. It can be a bit textbookish at time but it well worth the read.
Congratulations on your interest in a path that is truly deep and awesome. If you're looking for accessible, structured guides to Buddhist practice and theory, The Mind Illuminated and Seeing That Frees are totally solid. The first book covers concentration, bliss, and relaxation, while the second is about developing and understanding insight. Both have techniques that you can start applying immediately.
I'm not currently sure how best to approach this interest. My advice is based a lot on research and science, and on my own experience. So take this with a grain of salt. I do however, want to volunteer with Camphill, and I'll report and share when I have my own observations.
I'm not sure what sources to share, as I have done a lot general reading and my own meditation practice. But for example, here's a study I just found after few seconds of googling: "meditation and autism"
Diet and meditation, when done properly I believe is the most transformative tools, and our efforts should be concentrated in these areas.
There's TOO much misinformed advice on nutrition, the only authoritative source I can honestly point you to is nutritionfacts.org and his book How To Not Die. Basically, humans are designed to eat purely a plant-based diet. The more you read, the more you will see the connection between these disorders and how nutrition helps with improving dysfunctional pathways in the body.
For meditation, what helped my cognitive, severe depression, social dysfunction, mania problems etc (and recent cancer in my early 20's)... is connecting to the breath. No other meditative technique really worked other than concentrating and connecting with my breathing. I practice during the day, but started off lying down on my back as I found that to be the most effective, perhaps because of my postural problems.
Then there's metta , where I know people who has had great success with this. This is a good book. But I personally struggle with this.
There is so much information and advice on things that can tremendously help people with specific problems, but the solution always comes down to universal principles and a holistic approach.
You can be your own scientific investigator and see your own observations. You can go as far as you like, or just help a little in these areas. In any case, even just a little extra nutritional support and 10 minutes of daily meditation, will at least do some good
I agree with friend numserv about the pali cannon. This book by Bhikkhu Bodhi is also great in bringing together important suttas and bhante explaining the teachings: http://www.amazon.com/Buddhas-Words-Anthology-Discourses-Teachings/dp/0861714911
I would add though that if she is looking for something less cannoical text wise id suggest any of the books from Ajahn Chah.
The books out contain his talks and teachings which are amazing for putting the deep teachings into basic understandable words.
Most of it can be found for free here : http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/index.php or on Amazon in paperback form.
I wrote this in another thread, sounds like it applies to your question:
In the Buddha's Words
It is an absolutely fantastic book. How many books can you say are appropriate both for people totally unfamiliar with Buddhism, and for already devout practicing Buddhists? For beginners and experts alike? A perfect balance of summary with original texts.
His (Bikkhu Bodhi) summaries of the teachings and his explanations of core concepts (such as karma) are really among the highest quality and clarity I have seen. He is truly a brilliant teacher and linguist.
I liked What Makes You Not a Buddhist for a bit of a twist on learning some basics.
Despite his critics I’ve always enjoyed Brad Warner’s books. He does a pretty good job of weaving Dogen’s teachings into his own narratives.
The Dhammapada is probably the most widely known of Buddha’s teachings.
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh is also a great book.
I just finished reading Buddhism Without Beliefs and overall found it to be great. He really gets into personal struggle, frustration of living, what we all internally feel but rarely (if ever) talk about, and how to find meaning and purpose in our lives, all from a Buddhist perspective and without any mention whatsoever of after life, rebirth, gods or creators. The book hit me pretty hard several times.
Another thing I loved about this book is it's very simple and draws from the teachings of the Buddha himself. It doesn't get involved in any of the later developments that Buddhism evolved into.
Be warned though, the author is a bit in love with his own words and at times the book seems to be a bit hoity toity for the sake of it. Other than that, I loved it.
An alternate translation, also from Bhikkhu Bodhi:
"There are, O monks, eight reasons for giving. What eight?
People may give out of affection;
or in an angry mood;
or out of stupidity;
or out of fear;
or with the thought: 'Such gifts have been given before by my
father and grandfather and it was done by them before; hence it would
be unworthy of me to give up this old family tradition';
or with the thought, 'By giving this gift, I shall be reborn in a good destination, in
a heavenly world, after death';
or with the thought, 'When giving this gift, my heart will be glad, and happiness and joy will arise in me';
or one gives because it ennobles and adorns the mind."
AN 8:33; IV 236-3
In The Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon Edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Page 169
To attain right view is to really understand by experience (wisdom) the teaching of the four noble truths.
Right resolve/intention, would be that the backbone of your practice and desire to learn more about buddhism etc, is to help ease the suffering of all beings (including yourself).
Right action, speech, livelihood are basically that you behave accordingly with right view and intention. Etc etc.
Honestly i dont like the way of separating each into groups like that. All the eightfold path are completely related and dependent on one another. To have one, you need them all.
Here's a book recommendation. Great thich nhat hanh book, that does a phenomenal job explaining the core teachings.
Here's a brief series of videos, a few minutes each, of Thich Nhat Hanh discussing the Buddhist concepts of the Buddha, karma, dharma, nirvana, impermanence, eternalism/nihilism, and meditation from his own very naturalistic perspective.
Nhat Hanh has studied Buddhist scriptures extensively, especially the earliest ones thought to have been transmitted with the fewest errors like the Satipatthana and Anapanasati Suttas, and developed his own lineage with an emphasis on openness, non-attachment to views, and freedom of thought. If that sounds like something you may be interested in then be sure to check out http://plumvillage.org/, or perhaps his overview of Buddhism recommended in the FAQs, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
I don't think there's anything wrong with interfaith dialogue, but reddit is probably not the best place for it. This would probably work best as a panel discussion, of which there are numerous examples on youtube.
I'm not familiar with Quaker views, but the Three marks of existence: anicca, dukkha, and anatta would make God, Christ, the soul, and salvation as presented in traditional Christianity rather moot.
What the Buddha Taught is a great book for understanding the Buddhist view. I also like chapter 3 of Meido Moore's book The Rinzai Zen Way, titled "Zen and Abrahamic Faiths" for another take on this topic.
There is indeed debate among Buddhists, but Dependent Origination, the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the Three Marks are difficult to dispute since the Buddha himself taught them.
How one would reconcile these teachings with traditional Christian views of an eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing God and all of the individual souls that must be "saved" is quite a puzzle. Perhaps the Quaker view is different.
I'm in a similar situation and after having looked around a bit I've put these two books on my Christmas list. (My family still celebrates the holiday and I look at it more as a time for giving and being with Family.)
If anyone here as any specific praise or criticism of either of these books as starters I would love to hear it. I'm also reading electronic copies of Mindfulness in Plain English and Zen and the Brain.
-Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright
-Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
There also are pretty extensive peer reviewed journals and statistics on meditation. Check out Richard Davidson and Daniel Goleman.
-Altered Traits by Richard Davidson and Daniel Goleman
Hope some of that is of help.
Best of luck!
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzburg. It helped me a lot. Metta (loving-kindness) meditation in general helped me a lot, and this is a really good introduction to it.
Honestly, it felt a bit cheezy at first. But after sticking with it for a while, I now think it's the most important part of my practice. There is a very powerful resonance between loving yourself and loving other people. In metta you cultivate both, and they enhance each other.
In the Tibetan tradition there's the gradual training of Lojong. The core practice there is to realize that there's actually no difference between us and anyone else, step by step becoming truly impartially loving. He wasn't a Buddhist, but I've always liked Ramana Maharshi's answer to the question how we can really benefit others. He simply asked Which "others?"
There's many books on Lojong and it's best to find a living teacher to guide you to really get into it, but I think The Path to Awakening by Künzig Shamar Rinpoche is an accessible book on the subject.
Thich Nhat Hanh's The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching is a really wonderful primer I discovered recently. My own introduction was the free podcast by Gil Fronsdal. He's a terrific speaker and communicates from an easy Western perspective.
If paying shipping doesn't bother you, check out used books on Amazon. Lots of people would rather pass a book along to the next reader than throw it away, and some people sell books just for the tiny profit they can make on Amazon's shipping fee, so there are a lot of used books that go for basically free + shipping. Here are some good deals:
I don't want to dissuade you from doing a meditation practice that resonates for you, but have you read "The Mind Illuminated" by Culadasa? It provides detailed instructions for reaching the higher stages of meditation and attaining Insight (including stream entry). Culadasa says that this is all doable while leading a normal, non-monastic life: maybe 1-2 hours of meditation per day, and occasional retreats lasting a week or so.
Here's an early version of the overview chapter, which describes the 10 stages of meditation. Note that the book itself goes into about 50x more detail!
Many people have succeeded with his methods while holding a normal job, etc. Check out r/themindilluminated and r/streamentry to learn more.
The Words of My Perfect Teacher is a great book on the preliminary practices in the Nyingma tradition. The preliminaries aren't much different from tradition to tradition, so it's pretty applicable regardless of the school. This book will give you a crystal clear idea of what your practice would be like for the first X,XXX hours of practice if you happen to begin a Vajrayana practice.
If you're keen on Dzogchen, you could also check out The Crystal and the Way of Light.