View Full Version : Influential Books on Buddhism

13 Aug 21, 16:29
Dear forum members,

which book on Buddhism influenced you the most?

Greetings from Germany


13 Aug 21, 19:13
Actually, The Ring of the Way by Taisen Deshimaru and The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo; teachings of the great Kodo Sawaki

The first book is a book for Zen practitioners that have been doing Zazen for years. If you do not have practice Zazen for a long long time the book is meaningless and boring; but with a sustained long practice of Zazen the book can be a guide to improve zazen in the dojo and in daily life.

The second book are the teachings of one of the greatests zen teachers of the contemporary world. The teachings of master Kodo Sawaky have some resemblance with that of Ajahn Chah and his actual disciples.

This are two treasures I have in my book shelves which have made me not to run after a living zen teacher.

And of course... the four books from Wisdom Publications of the Nikayas; the Mahyma, the Diga, the Agnutara, The Samyuta. This books are my Buddhist Compass. I read them from time to time in order to not forget what the Buddha taught.

On the other hand, I am not a fan of reading Buddhist books; in my opinion some of them are scholarly written from an academical perspective which I refuse if that pretends to be a way of Buddhist practice. Others are written because a need from sustained and long zen practice especifically in the dojo; those are not intellectually oriented or scholarly inspired; examples of this are the two quoted books at the beginning of this post.


14 Aug 21, 07:12
The first book I read which was connected to Buddhism was "The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa" and I became intrigued with Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism and the idea of seeking a teacher at that time.

A number of years later while practising Vajrayana, I came across the teachings of Ajahn Chah on the internet and enjoyed them tremendously - so then I finally decided to begin reading Pali Canon suttas and investigating the teachings of the historical Buddha within a Theravada context.


19 Aug 21, 07:34
Two Kinds of Language (http://dhammatalks.net/Books5/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Two_Kinds_of_Language.htm)

ZWEI ARTEN DER SPRACHE (https://www.dhamma-dana.de/files/Dhamma%20Dana/Buecher/buddhadasa/Buddhadasa_Bhikkhu-Zwei_Arten_der_Sprache.pdf)


19 Aug 21, 16:07
The first one I ever read was Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen. Having never read a book on the subject before then I was curious but to be honest I actually found it a bit difficult to get through. :neutral: He explored SOME of the basic principles and ideals of it but there were some parts that came across has being rather vague on detail, and a lot of it seemed to be based on his OWN opinions and experiences and to be frank I only made it about halfway through because I just felt I wasn't getting enough of the right information I was looking for in a guide.

It did inspire me to look around at other literature that was available for caparisons though and although slightly disappointed it did give me insight into what literature was (and is) around.

19 Aug 21, 17:46
The most influential for me would have to be the first Buddhist book I read. Which was "The Way of Zen", by Alan Watts. I know that Watts is frowned upon in some circles as a "mere" popularizer, but that was the book that first exposed me to Buddhism and got me thinking about it as a path in life. I looked up a lot of his bibliographic references and ordered them from the publishers. I quickly broadened my Buddhist reading, and I have never looked back. That was 43 years ago.

Om mani padme hum

19 Aug 21, 22:24
As I mentioned in a live meeting, the one that I read that I consider influential though it's only a novel is Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse which I recommend, it has the "inner inspection" vibe like other Hesse's books.

20 Aug 21, 11:28
Thanks for the input, everyone. Actually my first introduction in Buddhism was general book about Indian Philosophy, which my former roommate, who introduced Buddhism to me, borrowed me. Sadly, I forgot the title. ;) More influential was "Einführung in den Buddhismus" (Introduction into Buddhism) by Prof. Michael von Brück and "Zen Mind Beginners Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki.
Now that I strive out more to Theravada and Secular Buddhism than Mahayana/Zen I prefer the works of Prof. Perry Schmidt-Leukel.