• 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.

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.

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.

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.

Nothing Left Over (Toinette Lippe)

Nothing Left OverFull Title: Nothing Left Over: A Plain and Simple Life
Major Topic: mindful and simple living
Level: all levels

One woman’s account of how she applies mindfulness and the principles of simplicity and balance in all aspects of life. Read, take what is useful for you.

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.

How to Cook Your Life (Dogen & Uchiyama Roshi)

How to Cook Your LifeFull Title: How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment
Major Topic: how to live in awareness
Level: middle, experienced and advanced

Probably the best book describing what living in awareness is actually like. Previously published as From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment: Refining Your Life. On the first read, go straight to the commentary. The central chapters are high level descriptions of how to live the four immeasurables at the level of awareness.