Suggested Zen Reading

  Title Author Find Thoughts

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

ISBN: 978 159 0302675

 Shunryu SuzukiKannon Do Library 
Library near you 
The most beloved of American Zen books was created from Suzuki Roshi's talks to the Sangha at Haiku Zen, the predecessor of Kannon Do. Read this slowly, one or two chapters a week.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." Suzuki Roshi presents the basics-from the details of posture and breathing in Zazen to the perception of non-duality in a way that is not only remarkably clear, but that also resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page. It's a book to come back to time and time again as an inspiration to practice.

Zen at Work 
 Zen at Work

ISBN: 978-051-7886205
  Les Kaye Kannon Do Library 
Library near you
 Kaye-roshi explains  with deceptive simplicity how practice "...prepares us to respond in a confident, caring way to whatever comes up in life..." even in the fast paced, high tech workplace.  Kaye-roshi is a unique Zen master managing a family and  a successful 30 year career at IBM while expanding and deepening his practice to become a lineage holder in the Soto Zen tradition. Suzuki-roshi ordained him as a priest in 1971. Kaye-roshi is one of three disciples Suzuki-roshi's son Hoitsu gave transmission in order to complete, he felt, his father's works after his death. Dan Geddes provides a wonderful review in the critical journal The Satirist. 
 Buddha Buddha

ISBN: 670-089-1932
Karen Armstrong

(Links to her Karen Armstrong TED talks page)
Kannon Do Library
Library near you
 Karen Armstrong is one of the most interesting and clear religious writers in our century.  In Buddha, Armstrong presents a crisp historical portrait of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, while discussing Buddhist concepts in a very learned yet detached manner.  She "deftly" compares the Buddha's teaching to many of the teachings of great Western thinkers such as Jesus, Socrates and Mohammed.  An amazing read that can be difficult to put down once started. An excellent review was written by Laura Miller for
Cultivating the Mind of Love

ISBN: 093-807-7708
 Thich Nhat Hanh

Kannon Do Library 
Library near you
Thich Nhat Hanh begins with a moving story from his past.  When he was a young monk, he fell deeply in love with a young nun. How he translates his passion for a woman into a passion for the world is a breathtaking process..."Where is the self? Where is the non-self? Who is your first love? Who is your last? What is the difference from your first love to your last? How can anything die?" Originally subtitled "The Practice of Looking Deeply into the Mahayana Buddhist Tradition" (for some reason this was dropped in the newer editions) he also discusses the Mahayana traditions and concepts while presenting practical information about meditation. An excellent review by Binh Anson.

 The Dhammapada

ISBN: 978-0140-449410
Valerie Roebuck: TranslatorKannon Do Library 
Library near you
The Dhammapada is a third century collection of the spoken Buddha's words in verse form.  Composed in the ancient Pali language during the third century, it is the most widely read and studied Buddhist scripture in existence today. An exceptional review of this book appeared in the peer reviewed Religions of South Asia written by Elizabeth Harris, a senior lecturer in religious studies at Liverpool Hope University. 
Unseen Rain, Rumi
 Unseen Rain: Quatrains of Rumi

ISBN: 978-093-9660162
 Jelaluddin Rumi Kannon Do Library
or Library near you

 In his 2011 Sweeping Zen interview, Kaye-roshi suggested this book as a good book for someone interested in Zen practice. 

"Being is not what it seems,
Nor non-being. The world's
existence is not
in the world."
Excerpt from Unseen Rain
 way The Way of Zen

ISBN: 037-570-5104
 Alan WattsKannon Do Library 
Library near you
 "In 1961, a young man, recently employed as an engineer at IBM in its heyday, attended a party at the home of a friend. Perusing the bookshelves of his hostess, he discovered a book that was to change his life and, therefore, those of many others over the next twenty-five years. The man was Les Kaye; the book was The Way of Zen by Alan Watts."  written by Merrill-roshi from the introduction of Zen at Work

Zen at Work remains as witty, fresh, vibrant, and insightful today as it was fifty years ago. Half of the book relates the rich history of Zen Buddhism while the second half devotes itself to Zen principles and practices.  A very nice review by Mary Kay McBrayer for the Buddhistchannel.
 WhatWhat the Buddha Taught

ISBN: 978-080-2130310
 Walpola RahulaKannon Do Library 
Library near you
  "An exposition of Buddhism conceived in a resolutely modern spirit.”--from the Foreword. "For years,” says the Journal of the Buddhist Society, "the newcomer to Buddhism has lacked a simple and reliable introduction to the complexities of the subject. Dr. Rahula’s What the Buddha Taught fills the need as only could be done by one having a firm grasp of the vast material to be sifted. It is a model of what a book should be that is addressed first of all to 'the educated and intelligent reader.’ Authoritative and clear, logical and sober, this study is as comprehensive as it is masterly.” A classic textbook.
 Zen Buddhism: A History Heinrich Dumoulin Kannon Do Library 
Library near you
 Written by a Jesuit theologian who became a leading Zen scholar after studying Zen during the 1930s in Japan,  this book has become a classic of Zen history.  Dumoulin carefully considers Zen history, introduces many of Zens greatest thinkers and even examines topics such as Zen in art and culture.


The Digha Nikaya, or the Long Discourses of Buddha, are considered some of the oldest records of the Buddha's original teachings.  These are the the major texts of the Pali Cannon and focus on the gentleness, compassion, power, and penetrating wisdom of the Buddha.  

The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya (Teachings of the Buddha)The Long Discourses of the Buddha

Siddhārtha Gautama : Maurice O'Connell Walshe (1995). New York: Wisdom Publications; 2nd edition.
978 086 1711031                                      Locate at a library near you using WorldCat

Originally released under the title Thus I Have Heard, Walshe's translation cuts through the often endless repetitions while rendering this important text into graceful modern English. Wisdom publications offers a preview of the first 53 pages. 

Shōbōgenzō by Japanese Sōtō Zen Master Eihei Dōgen 


The Shōbōgenzō by the  Japanese Sōtō Zen Master Eihei Dōgen  usually refers to 95 lectures and writings given to his monks and recorded by his Dharma successor Koun Ejō between the years 1231-1253.   However, the organization of Dōgen's work can be very confusing: Shōbōgenzō can refer to three different collections of  Dōgen's essays.  This article from the website does a lovely job of explaining the difference.  If this were not confusing enough, the term  Shōbōgenzō  maybe used to refer to the essence of Buddha dharma in Mahayana Buddhism or a title of Koan collections written by the Dahui Zonggao. 

Dōgen's  Shōbōgenzō  can be difficult for Westerners, so studying in a group with others it can be most helpful. A wonderful place to start is studying Dōgen's essay Genjokoan, thirteen paragraphs outlining Zen for the lay practitioner.

Master Dogen's Shobogenzo: 1

Master Dogen's Shobogenzo

Dōgen : Translated: Gudo Wafu NishijimaChodo Cross 1997). Numata Center for Busshist Translation and Research.

ISBN: 978 141 9638206                                              Free Downloadable PDF

A free downloadable highly regarded translation with extensive and accurate annotations. .


The Shōbōgenzō: A Trainee’s Translation of Great Master Dōgen’s Spiritual Masterpiece

Dōgen : Translated: Hubert Nearman (1996). Mount Shasta, California: Shasta Abbey Press.
997 809 30066178                                        Free Downloadable PDF

A free downloadable very readable translation by the monk Hubert Nearman. Prior to becoming a monk, he was a scholar and translator of medieval Japanese texts and was a recipient of a grant for his translation work from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

book cover

The Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record: Zen Comments by Haikuin and Tenkei

Thomas Cleary (2000). Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala.

ISBN: 978 157 0629129                         Locate at a library near you using WorldCat

The Blue Cliff record is a collection of Zen koans originally compiled in China during the song Dynasty of 1125.  In The Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record: Zen Comments by Hakuin and Tenkei Thomas Cleary present each koan  as  introduced by Yuan Wu K'e Ch'in (1063-1135) and then examines them  through the commentaries of Tenkei Denson (1648-1735) a Soto Zen master and Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768), a Rinzai Zen Master.  Cleary wisely omits any comments of his own, allowing readers to compare - often line by line - the viewpoints of two sects of Japanese Zen. 

Yuanwu Keqin (1125). China.

Link to an open source listing of the 100 koans.


The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch