• 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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Essential Rumi (Coleman Barks)

Essential RumiFull Title: Essential Rumi
Major Topic: ecstatic spiritual poetry
Level: all levels
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Rumi’s poetry always illuminates and inspires. Ecstatic, loving and devotional in tone, beautiful and inspiring for the heart and mind. Read a stanza or two. Then read it aloud. You will find that it often elicits an emotional response in you, or precipitates a gap in the conceptual mind. In either case, rest in that experience for a moment or two. When read this way, Rumi puts you in touch again and again with aspects of experience that can be known, but cannot be put into words.


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)

Denial of Death (Ernest Becker)

Denial of DeathFull Title: Denial of Death
Major Topic:
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Classic discussion of the psychology of the fear of death, including the construction of social reality. Many people have found this detailed discussion highly illuminating, shedding light on many of the problems we create for ourselves when we endeavor to ignore the fact that life has an end. Read this to augment and deepen your practice and reflections on death and impermanence. You may also find this book helpful in questioning the way that we, as social animals, construct a reality and then find ourselves imprisoned by it.

Buddhist Ethics (Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye)

Buddhist EthicsFull Title: Buddhist Ethics (Treasury of Knowledge)
Major Topic: The three vows (individual freedom, awakening being and knowledge holder)
Level: advanced
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Comprehensive summary of ethical systems and ordinations as practiced in the Tibetan tradition for the last thousand years; one chapter of Kongtrul’s encyclopedia of Tibetan Buddhism. This is a reference book, with authoritative presentations of the vows and commitments of the three vows in Tibetan Buddhism (monastic, bodhisattva, and vajrayana).

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.

Little Book on the Human Shadow (Robert Bly)

Little Book on the Human ShadowFull Title: Little Book on the Human Shadow
Major Topic: a commentary on Wallace Steven’s poetry, illuminated by Bly’s articulation of Jungian approaches
Level: all levels
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Contemporary view on how to recognize, neutralize, and step out of the operations of projection. The section on retrieving the shadow is an excellent guide to working with projections.

Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa (Garma C. C. Chang)

Hundred Thousand Songs of MilarepaFull Title: Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa: The Life Story and Teaching of the Greatest Poet-Saint Ever to Appear in the History of Buddhism
Major Topic: Milarepa’s challenges and teachings
Level: all levels
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For those familiar with Tibetan Buddhism concepts, Milarepa’s songs are an inexhaustible treasury of teaching and instruction. Two ways to use this book. Some of the chapters are wonderful accounts of spiritual challenges, albeit in highly mythic language. Second, the songs themselves contain so much teaching that any of them can be used for meditation, inspiration, or contemplation.