For a beginner to the art of Zen, finding the right books to understand the concepts can be difficult. The best books for Zen beginners give you a clear understanding of Zen philosophy and practice.
In this article, I’ve compiled a list of best Zen books for beginners to prepare you for your Zen journey. With these books about Zen philosophy, You'll be able to understand what Zen is and how people around the world practice it.
Table of Contents
Taking the Path of Zen, by Robert Aitken
Taking the Path of Zen is one of the top Zen Buddhism spirituality books. It’s a comprehensive introduction to the teachings and practices of Zen Buddhism. This Zen philosophy book gives a background on the history and development of Zen. It’s also considered one of the best books for spiritual awakening, making it an ideal introduction for those new to the practice of Zen. It focuses on the spiritual disciplines and practices to attaining enlightenment.
Top Lesson from the book:
We are just bundles of sense perceptions, with the substance of a dream or a bubble on the surface of the sea.
The Art of Power, by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Art of Power explores the connection between mindfulness and personal power. This can be picked as one of the best beginner Buddhism books. The book is about spirituality and ways to incorporate spiritual practices into everyday life. It explains how true power comes from inner peace and awareness. And it also suggests that this power can be cultivated through the practice of mindfulness. This book of Zen would be beneficial for those interested in learning and applying Buddhist teachings to modern-day problems and challenges.
Top 5 Lessons from the book:
Many people think excitement is happiness.... But when you are excited, you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.
If you suffer and make your loved ones suffer, there is nothing that can justify your desire.
It is my conviction that there is no way to peace – peace is the way.
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don't try to be a magnolia flower.
To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future.
Also Read: 7 Best Books for Mindfulness
Zen: The Path of Paradox, by Osho
Zen The Path of Paradox is a unique take on the teachings of Zen Buddhism. It’s one of the popular Zen philosophy books that challenges conventional thinking and encourages readers to question their beliefs and assumptions. Through a series of talks and meditations, Osho provides a fresh perspective on the practices of Zen and the path to enlightenment. It’s a beneficial read for those who want to deepen their understanding of Zen. And it’s another of the best books on Zen practice out there.
Top 4 Lessons from the book:
Zen gives you tremendous dignity. There is no authority anywhere. Freedom is utter and ultimate.
Zen is a single step – the journey of one single step. You can call it the last step or the first step, it doesn’t matter.
There is no other space, no other time. This moment is all. In this moment the whole existence converges, in this moment all is available.
Zen is magic. It gives you the key to open the miraculous. And the miraculous is in you and the key is also in you.
The Art of Happiness, by Dalai Lama
The Art of Happiness isn’t particularly the best Zen book. But it can still be counted among the beginner Zen books. It’s a guide to finding happiness and contentment in life through the teachings of Buddhism. This book on zen Buddhism is an intersection of Buddhist teachings and personal happiness. And it covers many Zen topics, like the importance of compassion, the value of solitude, and the role of mindfulness in achieving happiness. The Dalai Lama's writing is filled with wisdom, making it, probably, one of the best Zen books to read.
Top 5 Lessons from the book:
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.
Whether our action is wholesome or unwholesome depends on whether that action or deed arises from a disciplined or undisciplined state of mind.
Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is a classic introduction to the teachings and practices of Zen Buddhism. And it’s definitely one of the best books about zen Buddhism. Its idea is that you can attain true wisdom and enlightenment only by approaching the practice with a beginner's mind, free from preconceptions and assumptions. This book on Zen is easy to read, making it ideal for those new to the practice of Zen. You'll be able to develop a deeper understanding of the core teachings and practices of Zen Buddhism.
Top 5 Lessons from the book:
Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few
Even though you try to put people under control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous.
To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do, like eating supper and going to bed. This is Buddhism.
What we call "I" is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.
OK, those were some of the best books on Zen Buddhism and philosophy. There are many other books for Zen Buddhism. But these are among the best Zen Buddhism books for beginners to start learning and adapting the practices in daily life.
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