Buddhist Book Group Readings

A List for the Louisville Zen Center

Upcoming Meetings

Oct. 15, 2021, 5:30 – 6:30 PM Eastern

Nov. 19, 2021, 5:30 – 6:30 PM Eastern

  • TBD


Books for 2021

  1. Stories from The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. Florence Caplow and Susan Moon. Wisdom Publications, 2013. A list of some of Sensei Amala Wrightson’s Teisho on The Hidden Lamp.


Zen Books Under Consideration

* = On the RZC Suggested Reading List


  • * Illuminating Silence: Insights on the Path of Chinese Zen. Chinese Zen master Sheng-yen, (John H. Crook, Ed.). Watkins Publishing, 2018.
  • * Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice. Kosho Uchiyama, Roshi, (Jisho Warner, Shohaku Okumura, & Thomas Wright, eds.). Wisdom Publications; revised, expanded edition, 2004.
  • The Practice of Zen. Zhenji Zhang. Greenwood Press, 1978, ©1959. Recommended by Larry.
  • Silent Illumination: A Chan Buddhist Path to Natural Awakening. Guo Gu. Shambhala, 2021. Recommended by Larry.
  • * Taking the Path of Zen. Robert Aitken, Roshi. North Point Press, 1982.
  • * The Way of Korean Zen. Master Kusan Sunim, (Martine Batchelor, tr. & Stephen Batchelor, ed.). Weatherhill, 2009.
  • * Zen: Merging of East and West. Philip Kapleau, Roshi. Anchor, 1989. [Revised edition of: Zen: Dawn in the West. Anchor Press, 1979.] Recommended by Jeanette.

Lectures & Essays

  • Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot. Soyen Shaku. Translated by D.T. Suzuki. Three Leaves, 2004. Recommended by Abu.
  • * Zen: Tradition and Transition. Kenneth Kraft, ed. Grove Press, 1994.


  • Footprints in the Snow: The Autobiography of a Chinese Buddhist Monk. Sheng Yen. Random House, 2008. Recommended by Larry. Note: may be hard to get.


  • Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen and the Way of Being Time. Dainin Katagiri. Shambhala, 2008. Recommended by Meredith.

Daily Life

  • Essential Chan Buddhism: The Character and Spirit of Chinese Zen. Guo Jun. Monkfish Book Publishing, 2013. Suggested by Anna Belle.
  • * Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks. Gary Thorp. Walker Books, 2000.

Monastic & Religious Life

  • The Empty Mirror : Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery. Janwillem van de Wetering. Houghton Mifflin, 1974. Recommended by Meredith.
  • Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality. Brad Warner. Wisdom Publications, 2015. Suggested by Mike.
  • The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life. John Tarrant. Harper Perennial, 1999. Suggested by Anna Belle.
  • Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. Thich Nhat Hanh. Bantam Books, 1991. Recommended by Abu.
  • The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective. Robert Aitken. Counterpoint, 1997. Recommended by Larry.
  • The Zen Monastic Experience: Buddhist Practice in Contemporary Korea. Robert Buswell, Princeton University Press, 1993. Recommended by Jeanette.


  • Zen At War. Brian Daizen Victoria. 2nd ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006. Suggested by Mike.


  • Zen Baggage : a Pilgrimage to China. Bill Porter. Counterpoint, 2008. Recommended by Judd.

Zen Teaching Classics

Other Zen Books

  • The Life and Letters of Tofu Roshi. Susan Moon. Shambhala, 2001.


Buddhist Books Under Consideration


  • * Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. Huston Smith & Philip Novak. HarperOne, reprint edition, 2004.
  • * Buddhism: A Way of Life and Thought. Nancy Wilson Ross. Knopf, 1980.

Early Buddhist Texts

  • * Dhammapada. Buddha, (Eknath Easwaran, tr.). Nilgiri Press, 2nd edition, 2007.
  • The Way of the Bodhisattva. Translated by Padmakara Translation Group. Shambhala, 2nd edition, 2006. Recommended by Larry.


  • * Being Dharma: The Essence of the Buddha’s Teaching. Ajahn Chah. Shambhala, 2001. Theravada Buddhism.
  • The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom. Jack Kornfield. Shambala, 2010. Snippets from other books. Recommended by Judd.
  • Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom. Joseph Goldstein. Shambhala, 2003. Eryl Kubicka used this book as her primary source for the December 2020 online sesshin.
  • * Mindfulness in Plain English. Bhante Gunaratana. Wisdom Publications, 2011. Theravada Buddhism.
  • The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works. Shinzen Young. Sounds True, 2016. On mindfulness. Suggested by Mike.


  • Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master. Amy Schmidt. BlueBridge, 2005. Recommended by Anna Belle


  • * Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression – An Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism. Taigen Dan Leighton. Wisdom Publications, 2012. Recommended by Larry.

Compassion and Metta

  • A Fearless Heart : How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives. Thupten Jinpa. Avery Pub Group, 2016. Recommended by Anna Belle
  • Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Sharon Salzberg. Shambala, 1995/2002.
  • Commentaries on Lojong (The Seven Point Mind Training) – Larry favorites:
    • The Intelligent Heart: A Guide to the Compassionate Life. Dzigar Kongtrul; forward by Pema Chodron. Shambhala, 2016. (“I love the accessibility of Kongrul Rinpoche’s writings, his fluency in Western issues, and his practicality.”)
    • The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva. Dilgo Khyentse. Shambhala, 2007. Available as a stand-alone volume and also in Vol. 1 of The Collected Works­. (“Dilgo Khyentse was one of a handful of truly towering spiritual beings to take human form in the 20th century; reading anything of his works imparts inspiration and blessings.”)
    • Buddhism With an Attitude: The Tibetan Seven-Point Mind Training. B. Alan Wallace. Snow Lion, reprint edition, 2003. (“Slightly drier and more scholarly than some, still very practical.”)
    • The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind. Traleg Kyabgon. Shambhala, 2007. (“My copy has a lot of passages underlined, and I have enjoyed revisiting it.”)

Daily Life

  • Getting Unstuck. Pema Chödrön. Sounds True, 2005. Audio & CD. Recommended by Larry.
  • * When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Pema Chödrön. Shambhala, 20th anniversary edition, 2016. Recommended by Chloe. Tibetan Buddhism.


  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Sogyal Rinpoche. HarperCollins, 1992. Recommended by Iriz.


  • Mindfully Facing Climate Change. Bhikkhu Analayo. Independently published, 2019. It’s available to purchase in book format or there is a free PDF version. Recommended by Alan based on an AZC email.


  • Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom. Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius and Daniel Siegel. New Harbinger Publications, 2009. Recommended by Alan.
  • Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness. Mark Epstein. Harmony, 1999. Recommended by Chloe.
  • True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. Tara Brach. Bantam, 2013. Recommended by Judd.
  • The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology. Jack Kornfield. Bantam, 2008.


  • A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism. Pamela Weiss. North Atlantic Books, 2020. Suggested by Anna Belle after listening to a podcast episode with the author.
  • * Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master. Amy Schmidt. BlueBridge, 2005. Recommended by Anna Belle
  • A Tale for the Time Being. Ruth Ozeki. Viking, 2013. Recommended by Alan.


  • Siddhartha. Hermann Hesse. Translated by Hilda Rosner. New Directions, 1951 (U.S.). [Originally published in Germany in 1922.] Recommended by Abu.
  • A Tale for the Time Being. Ruth Ozeki. Viking, 2013. Recommended by Alan.

From the Rochester Zen Center


  • Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. Oren Jay Sofer. Shambhala, 2018. Recommended by Alan.

Books Already Read

  • What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada. Walpola Rahula. Grove Press, 1994. On RZC list. Read for June 5, 2020.
  • Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. Robert Wright. Simon & Schuster, 2017. Read for June 5, 2020.
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha. Tara Brach. Bantam, 2003. Read for July 3, 2020.
  • Mindful of Race : Transforming Racism From the Inside Out. Ruth King. Sounds True, 2018.
  • Finding Your Seat: A Zen Handbook. Amala Wrightson, Kathryn Argetsinger. Auckland Zen Centre, 2020.
  • Buddha. Karen Armstrong. Viking Penguin, 2001.
  • Tracking Bodhidharma: A Journey to the Heart of Chinese Culture. Andy Ferguson. Counterpoint, 2013. Read for Nov. 13, 2020.
  • Cave in the Snow : A Western Woman’s Quest for Enlightenment. Vicki Mackenzie. Bloomsbury, 1998. Read for Nov. 13, 2020.
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Shunryu Suzuki. Weatherhill, 1970. (There’s also a 2020 50th anniversary edition.) Read for Dec. 18, 2020.
  • The First Rule of Ten. (Tenzing Norbu mystery series no. 1). Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay. Hay House Visions, 2012. Read for Dec. 18, 2020.
  • Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity. Soko Morinaga. Wisdom, 2002. Suggestion inspired by Trueman’s Dharma talk 1 and Dharma talk 2 of Sept. 2020. Read for Jan. 22, 2021.
  • How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment. Dogen, Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. Shambhala, 2005. Read for Feb. 19, 2021.
  • The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. Robert Aitken. North Point Press, 4th ed., 1984. Read for March 19, 2021.
  • Therigatha. Read for April 16, 2021.
    • The First Buddhist Women: Translations and Commentary on the Therigatha. Susan Murcott. Parallax Press, 1991.
    • Therigatha: Selected Poems of the First Buddhist Women. Charles Hallisey. Harvard University Press, 2015.
    • Eight Dharma Talks by Gil Fronsdal and Meg Gawler of the Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, California. Related: Ninth Dharma Talk by Gil Fronsdal about the Therigatha-based statuary at his Center.
  • Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong. Norman Fischer. Shambhala, 2013. Read for May 21, 2021.
  • Minding the Earth, Mending the World: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis. Susan Murphy. Counterpoint, 2014. Read for June 18, 2021.
  • The Three Pillars of Zen. Philip Kapleau. Read for July 16 and August 20, 2021.
  • World as Lover, World as Self: Courage for Global Justice and Planetary Renewal. Joanna Macy. Parallax Press. 30th Anniversary Edition, 2021. Read for Sept. 17, 2021.

The Hidden Lamp: Stories Already Read

From The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. Florence Caplow and Susan Moon. Wisdom Publications, 2013.

  • “Chiyono’s No Water No Moon” and reflection by Merle Kodo Boyd. Pages 37-40. Two teishos by Amala Sensei on this story: Oct. 2018 in Rochester and Nov. 2020 in Auckland. Read for Jan. 22, 2021.
  • “The Old Woman’s Rice Cakes.” Pages 256-259 in The Hidden Lamp. Note: Roshi discusses this encounter in his teisho of January 12, 2013. Read for Feb. 19, 2021.
  • “Lingzhao’s Helping.” The first story in part 4 (“The Path of Practice”) in The Hidden Lamp. Read for March 19, 2021.
  • “Maylie Scott Meets Loneliness.” A story in part 2 (“Bring Me a Mustard Seed”). Read for April 16, 2021.
  • “Bhikkhuni Kabilsingh Keeps the Precepts.” #90. Read for May 21, 2021
  • “Satsujo Weeps.” #50. Read for June 18, 2021.
  • “Satsujo Sits on the Lotus Sutra.” #72 in The Hidden Lamp. Read for July 16, 2021.
  • “Satsujo Overcomes Hakuin.” Read for Aug. 20, 2021.
  • “Songyeong Doesn’t Undress.” #95. Read for Sept. 17, 2021