• 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.


Dzogchen Essentials (Marcia Binder Schmidt)

Dzogchen EssentialsFull Title: Dzogchen Essentials: The Path that Clarifies Confusion
Major Topic: dzogchen, direct awareness
Level: experienced and advanced
Click here to order this book from Amazon.com

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
Click here to order this book from Amazon.com

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)

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
Click here to order this book from Amazon.com

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.

On Having No Head (Douglas E. Harding)

On Having No HeadFull Title: On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious
Major Topic: Direct awareness, experience without conception or projection.
Level: all levels

Douglas Harding’s offbeat approach works wonderfully. Do the exercises. You may find one or more become methods of practice for you.

Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

Alice in WonderlandFull Title: Alice in Wonderland
Major Topic: A fantasy world constructed by the author.
Level: all levels

This classic children’s book is a virtual must for anyone who goes to any depth in Buddhist meditation. Lewis Carroll’s logical absurdities create a dreamlike atmosphere in which anything and everything is possible. From the nonsensical Jabberwocky, which nevertheless moves one emotionally, to the need to walk away from where one is intending to go, Carroll time again points (albeit inadvertently) to the kinds of paradox and mystery one encounters in practice. The principal theme is the mind training instruction “regard all experience as a dream”. The logic puzzles and the play of language frequently create gaps in the conceptual mind and one can rest in those gaps.

An Arrow To The Heart (Ken McLeod)

An Arrow To The HeartFull Title: An Arrow To The Heart: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra
Major Topic: Heart Sutra
Level: all levels

An unorthodox, highly experiential commentary on the Heart Sutra. The book elicits experiences of insight, openness, possibly even emptiness, through the conjunction of imagery, poetry, questions, and quotations. Read a page, sit back, reflect, then take another sip.