• 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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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.


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).

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.

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.

Wake Up To Your Life (Ken McLeod)

Wake Up To Your LifeFull Title: Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention
Major Topic: how to practice Buddhism
Level: all levels

A comprehensive manual, almost an encyclopedia, of practice methods, starting with basic meditation and ending with the experience of no separation. The methods are derived principally from the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. The commentary is likely useful to practitioners in all traditions. The content is presented free of the cultural influences of Asian traditions and is eminently accessible to Western practitioners.

See Unfettered Mind website for suggestions on how to use it.

Natural Great Perfection (Nyoshul Khenpo)

Natural Great PerfectionFull Title: Natural Great Perfection
Major Topic: dzogchen, direct awareness
Level: all levels

Compilation of talks by contemporary Dzogchen master; clear, simple, and profound. Read and savor each of the chapters, sit with them, and let them guide your practice.