• 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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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.

Cultivating the Empty Field (Taigen Dan Leighton)

Cultivating the Empty FieldFull Title: Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi
Major Topic: Presence, stability, clarity
Level: All levels
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A 12th century ancestor of Dogen gives sparkling descriptions of presence, where stability and clarity are integrated and phenomena are unrestricted. Translated by Taigen Daniel Leighton and Yi Wu.

The Jewel Ornament of Liberation (Gampopa & Herbert Guenther)

The Jewel Ornament of LiberationFull Title: The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings
Major Topic: Tibetan mahayana Buddhism
Level: all levels

A classical description of the path of spiritual awakening according to the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Gampopa blends the classical Indian scholastic tradition he received in his Kadampa training with the training in practice and mahamudra he received from Milarepa. The Jewel Ornament has been the principal lamrim (stages of the path) text in the Kagyu tradition for the last 900 years. Guenther’s translation into English make the text more difficult and less clear than the original Tibetan.

I strongly suggest listening to the podcasts of the Then and Now class while you read the text. Read this text as a series of answers to various spiritual questions and then sit back, and reflect on what your answers to these questions are.


Treasury of Precious Qualities (Longchen Yeshe Dorje)

Treasury of Precious QualitiesFull Title: Treasury of Precious Qualities: A Commentary on the Root Text of Jigme Lingpa
Major Topic: Tibetan form of Mahayana Buddhism
Level: all levels

Thorough exposition of the concepts and teachings at the base of all Tibetan Buddhist practice. A reference book that provides classical presentations of the path as practiced in Tibetan Buddhism.

Heart Sutra (Red Pine)

Heart SutraFull Title: Heart Sutra
Major Topic: perfection of wisdom
Level: all levels

Probably the most famous sutra in the Buddhist canon. In one page it demolishes conceptual knowing and points to a path to freedom. Memorize it, say it daily, read good commentaries (like this one) and let it soak you.

Verses from the Center (Stephen Batchelor)

Verses from the CenterFull Title: Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime
Major Topic: Direct awareness, experience without conception or projection.
Level: middle, experienced and advanced

Batchelor’s commentary and translation of Nagarjuna transforms a treatise on logic into precise instructions to bring the reader into non-conceptual knowing. Use this book as a practice. Take each section and bring attention to the many questions in it. Don’t try to answer them. Instead, use them to explore your experience.

Diamond Sutra (Red Pine)

Diamond SutraFull Title: Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom
Major Topic: Direct awareness, experience without conception or projection.
Level: experienced and advanced

Sutra in the Perfection of Wisdom genre. Provides the basis for the practice of the Great Middle Way. To get the most out of this book, read each exchange between Buddha and Subhuti, and feel the shift in awareness. The read the commentaries for that section. Make sure you recall the shift before going to the next exchange.