If you could only recommend 4 books...

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
User avatar
jcsuperstar
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska
Contact:

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:08 pm

mettafuture wrote:
samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya
Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.
where better to learn those things than from the Buddha himself?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

User avatar
mettafuture
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:28 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
samadhi_steve wrote::thumbsup:

Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya
Again, if someone knows nothing about the 4 noble truths or 8 fold path, would giving them the nikayas really be the best solution? Lol.
where better to learn those things than from the Buddha himself?
From the Anapanasati Sutta: "Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'"

How should one sit while breathing? How does one "discern" the different types of breathing? How, exactly, does one "train himself"? These questions don't have clear explanations in the suttas. This is why the commentaries, subcommentaries, modern day dhamma teachers, and books like Mindfulness in Plain English exist.

Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...

Reductor
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Reductor » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:44 pm

mettafuture wrote: Or you can just read an introductory book on Buddhism, then read In The Buddha's Words for an overview of all the nikayas, and then dive into the nikayas themselves, starting with the Majjhima Nikaya. And as you study the dhamma, you can see a teacher to learn more about proper practice, and use books like Mindfulness In Plain English to help you along the way.
Sure... if you want to do it the easy way :lol:

What I'm getting at is that, regardless which method you use to approach the Dhamma, what matters is that you practice. Practice will give the material you're reading the needed context to get lasting value from it without which you're left grasping views (those ethereal little buggers), whether it is straight from the Nikayas or written by a contemporary teacher being less important.
So really, it all comes down to patient practice and daily reflection on the material at hand (ancient or contemporary). In light of such practices even the suttas, some of which may seem impenetrable, can be understood... in time.
What about those who are dying of terminal illness and don't have a lot of time?
Such a circumstance was not considered in my reply. Is that a circumstance you're experiencing?

Now if a person is terminally ill I would suggest that, if they haven't already started a practice, they should seek a good teacher straight away. But what a person should do in this situation differs from what a healthy and non-terminal person may do by way of study (given they have fewer time constraints). But the need to practice in order to give any material a suitable context is very important for both ends of the health spectrum.

It should be remembered that this is all my own humble opinion and that I myself started with some online books on meditation; so I do understand the value of contemporary material. But I was not that well versed in doctrine before I started reading the Nikayas, yet I gained a great deal from them regardless of my initial unfamiliarity with their contents. I ascribe this fact to my previous meditation efforts.

Kenshou
Posts: 1030
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Kenshou » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:06 pm

Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...
Yes, those pesky Buddhists, I hate those guys!

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6265
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by bodom » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:08 pm

Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante G.
Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
In the Buddhas Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Buddhadhamma by Phra Payutto.

See that wasn't so hard. :smile:

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6265
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by bodom » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:26 pm

I think this Recommended Book List from Birken Monastery might be something you would be interested in looking over. It has recommendations for Beginners Meditation and Intermediate & Advanced Buddhist Teachings and Practice

http://birken.ca/recommendations/reading" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

.


:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Reductor
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Reductor » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:28 pm

bodom wrote: See that wasn't so hard. :smile:
Fine! I'll answer the blinking question :roll: Almost.

- Introductory Meditation: Keeking the Breath in Mind by Ajhan Lee
- Introductory Dhamma: The Path to Peace and Freedom for the Mind also by Ajahn Lee

- Intermediate Dhamma: Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

And then I'd suggest the Majjhima as an "introductory to advanced" book.

User avatar
mettafuture
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by mettafuture » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:40 pm

thereductor wrote:
mettafuture wrote: Or you can just read an introductory book on Buddhism, then read In The Buddha's Words for an overview of all the nikayas, and then dive into the nikayas themselves, starting with the Majjhima Nikaya. And as you study the dhamma, you can see a teacher to learn more about proper practice, and use books like Mindfulness In Plain English to help you along the way.
Sure... if you want to do it the easy way :lol:
The world is already filled with a lot of stress and difficulty.

There's no need for us to make it even more difficult.
What I'm getting at is that, regardless which method you use to approach the Dhamma, what matters is that you practice.
You can't start practice if you don't know where to start.
What about those who are dying of terminal illness and don't have a lot of time?
Such a circumstance was not considered in my reply. Is that a circumstance you're experiencing?
Thankfully it's not, but there are people in the world who don't have very much time left. :(

I made this thread for everyone; the sick and healthy, and the novice and experienced. There's a LOT of material on the dhamma and practice, and I thought it would be nice if we could list 2 dhamma and 2 practice books so this material could maybe be easier to navigate.
bodom wrote:Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante G.
Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
In the Buddhas Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Buddhadhamma by Phra Payutto.

See that wasn't so hard. :smile:

I think this Recommended Book List from Birken Monastery might be something you would be interested in looking over. It has recommendations for Beginners Meditation and Intermediate & Advanced Buddhist Teachings and Practice

http://birken.ca/recommendations/reading" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:anjali:
Thank you.

:anjali:
thereductor wrote:
bodom wrote: See that wasn't so hard. :smile:
Fine! I'll answer the blinking question :roll: Almost.

- Introductory Meditation: Keeking the Breath in Mind by Ajhan Lee
- Introductory Dhamma: The Path to Peace and Freedom for the Mind also by Ajahn Lee

- Intermediate Dhamma: Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

And then I'd suggest the Majjhima as an "introductory to advanced" book.
Thank you.

:toast:

Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Nyana » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:24 pm

Without trying to separate dhamma from meditation, I often recommend one of these (depending on the individual):

A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield.

A Heart as Wide as the World by Sharon Salzberg.

Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah by Ajahn Chah. (Same teachings available online here.)

The Wings to Awakening by Ven. Ṭhānissaro. (Available online here.)

:smile:

User avatar
jcsuperstar
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska
Contact:

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:17 am

mettafuture wrote:


Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...
[/quote][/quote]
my first dhamma and dharma books were all the words of the buddha. many in the west probably came to the path the same way as most of these modern books are just that, modern. i guess you could call the path of purification a good place to start if you wanted one book to cover it all, but i wouldn't recommend that text to many people as its a tough read. there are many meditation texts in the nikaya, and i'm pretty sure everyone, unless they've grown up in a cave with no outside exposure to the world, has seen someone meditating, even lisa simpson does it, characters in movies, video games etc. you know you sit cross legged, it says that too in the anapanasati sutta. the texts are remarkably clear, they work on different levels for those exposed to different things, if you've read enough threads on here you'll see that the modern commentaries create a lot of the arguments here as different teachers explain things in different ways due to a myriad of reasons.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

User avatar
Vepacitta
Posts: 299
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 3:58 pm
Location: Somewhere on the slopes of Mt. Meru

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Vepacitta » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:34 am

Kenshou wrote:
Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...
Yes, those pesky Buddhists, I hate those guys!
Beware the so called sagely men ... :sage:

As to books - here's five:

The Way It is - Aj. Sumedho
Food for the Heart and Living Dhamma - Aj. Chah
Theravada Meditation - Winston King
Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless - Aj. Sumedho

Practical "how to's" and very useful when read in conjunction with the suttas.

Aj. Thanissaro also has some good posts on Access to Insight.

For those more ... Mahayanistically inclined - although I do not personally care for them - Venerables Thich Nat Hanh and Pema Chodron also give some pithy advice. Ven Chodron the more so - pithy that is. She has interesting insights on mental chatter.

"Buddho",

V.
I'm your friendly, neighbourhood Asura

Reductor
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Reductor » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:56 am

mettafuture wrote: You can't start practice if you don't know where to start.
I never said that you could. What I caution is the need to know everything that one needs to 'know'. Myself, I started my meditation practice with only two instructions: on the in breath think "Buuuu", on the out think "Dohhhh". That got me going, and I'm still at it.

Once a practice is kick started, then that person will have many more experiential reference points that they take back to their study. In this way the practice, however crude, gives you a significant footing on the doctrine, and the doctrine provides you an orientation for further practice.

All to often, and this happened to me when I was a teen, is that we put off earnest practice because we feel unprepared. Then, in an effort to prepare, we read a myriad of books which gives rise to new questions, the answers to which must be in yet another book.

And thus you have a death spiral.
... There's a LOT of material on the dhamma and practice, and I thought it would be nice if we could list 2 dhamma and 2 practice books so this material could maybe be easier to navigate.
Yes, there are many Dhamma books or varying quality. Yes, it is confusing and time consuming to wade through them, and yes, it is helpful to have a guide. But aren't those all good reasons to go to the source? As it has been mentioned, the suttas are actually quite explicit: you just have to read them carefully and widely.

Anyway, this is my defense of studying the canon in detail and my thoughts on how practice functions in conjunction with study, all of which is applicable to the inexperienced beginner and those with a few season under our belts.

I shall now relinquish the box :soap:

Who's next?

User avatar
mettafuture
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by mettafuture » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:11 am

jcsuperstar wrote:you know you sit cross legged, it says that too in the anapanasati sutta.
The nice thing about modern meditation teachers and manuals is that they offer alternative postures in case one posture proves to be too difficult.
thereductor wrote:All to often, and this happened to me when I was a teen, is that we put off earnest practice because we feel unprepared. Then, in an effort to prepare, we read a myriad of books which gives rise to new questions, the answers to which must be in yet another book.
Where can one find the "Buuuu Dohhhh" instructions that kick started your practice? A simple answer would be: 1) From a teacher. You can find a good one here [insert web link] Or 2) From this book called [insert title here].

Simple question. Simple answer.

And books don't have to lead to more books. For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.
Yes, there are many Dhamma books or varying quality. Yes, it is confusing and time consuming to wade through them, and yes, it is helpful to have a guide. But aren't those all good reasons to go to the source? As it has been mentioned, the suttas are actually quite explicit: you just have to read them carefully and widely.
If you have the time to read them carefully and widely.

Not everyone has this kind of time.
Vepacitta wrote:
Kenshou wrote:
Ugh... Why must Buddhists always try to show off their cleverness with quirky, complicated, and poetic answers to even the most basic questions? I only asked for 4 book recommendations...
Yes, those pesky Buddhists, I hate those guys!
Beware the so called sagely men ... :sage:
:tongue:

And thank you.

Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by Nyana » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:46 am

mettafuture wrote:For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.
:lol:

An advanced student of what???

User avatar
mettafuture
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: If you could only recommend 4 books...

Post by mettafuture » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:45 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
mettafuture wrote:For an advanced student, a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya (with footnotes) and the Visuddhimagga is all you probably need.
:lol:

An advanced student of what???
:focus:

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 26 guests