• About This Booklist

    People often ask me for guidance about books to read, particularly those that would enhance the curriculum outlined in Wake Up To Your Life.

    I will post new titles each week, along with brief comments outlining the main topic, level of practice for which it is appropriate, and how you might use the book. Each entry is also categorized according to the chapter of Wake Up To Your Life it might relate to.

    If you are familiar with a given title and have something to say about it, please add your comments as they will help other viewers find books that will be helpful to them.
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Heart Lamp (Tsele Natsok Rangdrol)

Lamp of MahamudraFull Title: Heart Lamp: The Heart of the Matter and Lamp of Mahamudra
Major Topic: Mahamudra, direct awareness practice
Level: experienced and advanced

Two concise, comprehensive treatments of Mahamudra meditation have just be republished together. This is a practice manual. Study the fundamentals and let the richness of the teachings unfold in your practice.

Learning How to Learn (Idries Shah)

Learning How to LearnFull Title: Learning How to Learn: A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition
Major Topic: what constitutes learning
Level: all levels
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Sufi insights into basic human processes such as knowing and learning define very clearly what works and doesn’t work in each of these areas. Read and study carefully and then look at your own life with “new eyes”.

Nothing Special (Charlotte Joko Beck)

Nothing SpecialFull Title: Nothing Special: Living Zen
Major Topic: Direct awareness, experience without conception or projection.
Level: all levels
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Straightforward account of how to approach one’s life from the perspective of Zen practice. The simplicity of much Zen instruction belies its depth. Look carefully at how these instructions work internally and externally. When we approach practice as something special, we’ve already disconnected from our lives. When we sit, with no special ideas, we create the conditions in which we might just experience things as they are.

Dzogchen Essentials (Marcia Binder Schmidt)

Dzogchen EssentialsFull Title: Dzogchen Essentials: The Path that Clarifies Confusion
Major Topic: dzogchen, direct awareness
Level: experienced and advanced
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Compilation of short texts that describe various aspects of Dzogchen practice. A good collection for those who have had instruction and training in mahamudra or dzogchen and want to refresh their practice. These instructions are meant as guides to meditation practice and to ways of experiencing our lives all the time. Most of them are relatively straightforward to understand, but the important point is to develop these abilities. This takes patient practice, learning how to live with the coming and going of thoughts and sensations, not reacting to them, but letting them resolve themselves.

Calm Abiding and Special Insight (Geshe Gedun Lodro)

Calm Abiding and Special InsightFull Title: Calm Abiding and Special Insight: Achieving Spiritual Transformation Through Meditation
Major Topic:
Level:
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(This is a revised edition of the earlier Walking Through Walls). Gedun Lodro’s approach is similar to Jam-yang-shay-ba’s classic Great Exposition of the Concentrations and Formless Absorptions. See also the teachings in Lati Rinbochay’s Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism. This text presents a methodical path for developing attention and insight. Quite technical and detailed, focus on the spirit of what is being presented. Rather than try to force your experience to conform to these descriptions, use the advice and guidelines to explore your experience in sitting with the breath and letting thoughts, feelings, and emotions resolve themselves.

Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient (Will Johnson)

Aligned, Relaxed, ResilientFull Title: Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient: The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness
Major Topic:
Level:
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Excellent introduction to how to sit and the importance of awareness of body sensations. Most thoughts are reactions to subtle sensations in the body. The thoughts dissipate attention so that we never experience those sensations. Following the instructions in this book, you will learn to sense the body directly, opening up ways to experience the emotional cores of the patterns that pull us out of presence in our lives.

Peacock in the Poison Grove (Sopa Geshe Lhundub)

Peacock in the Poison GroveFull Title: Peacock in the Poison Grove: Two Buddhist Texts on Training the Mind
Major Topic:
Level:
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Translations of and commentaries on two Kadampa texts, the Wheel-Weapon and the Poison-Destroying Peacock. Mind training involves cultivating a way of approaching and experiencing life that rubs against our ordinary self-centered attitudes. The key point here is to experience the friction, the tension between what is being presented and how we ordinarily view things. When we hold the two together, we see things differently and new possibilities open, internally and externally.