• 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.


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.

As It Is (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche)

As It IsFull Title: As It Is: Volumes 1 and 2
Major Topic: Using traditional practices and methods to know mind nature directly.
Level: all levels
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Urgyen Tulku, even among Tibetans, had a special gift for leading people into the experience of mind and explaining in simple language how to practice deeply. In these two volumes, he describes traditional vajrayana teachings in terms of mind and mind nature. Read a chapter or a few pages carefully and then do some meditation. Experiment with the methods and find the ones that work for you. (Note: It can be hard to find without the ISBN: for Volume 1 is 9627341355; for Volume 2 it is 9627341398)

Unfettered Mind (Takuan Soho)

Unfettered MindFull Title: Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master
Major Topic: presence
Level: experienced and advanced
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Using the context of martial arts, Takuan describes how to live awake and present. A subtle book, to be read with care. It may take time to appreciate exactly what Takuin is pointing to in each section.

Creation and Completion (Jamgon Kontrul)

Creation and CompletionFull Title: Creation and Completion: Essential Points of Tantric Meditation
Major Topic: creation and completion phase practice in Vajrayana
Level: experienced and advanced
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Practical exposition of the key points in Vajrayana practice and how to integrate the many different elements of this form of practice. For Vajrayana practitioners, this book will keep you focused on the important points and help you not be distracted by all the ritual and form.

The Art of War (Sun Tzu)

Art of WarFull Title: Art of War: Complete Text and Commentaries
Major Topic: The conditions and methods necessary for the effective use of power and the dangers of the misuse.
Level: all levels

Exposition of the skillful employment of military power. As such, it can be read as an analogy for the use of power both externally and internally in our lives. The danger here is to attempt to use these approaches for personal agendas. If you do this internally, you’ll end up in a mess.