As an avid reader and a woman deeply in love with the introspective life, I have read lots of amazing books over the years. Recently there have been some Buddhist titles that have really been speaking to my heart. Here is a rundown of the top five Buddhist books that I highly recommend to other spiritual seekers.
1. Unsubscribe by Josh Korda
I read Unsubscribe at the end of last year, and it really got me viewing my lifestyle in a lot of new ways. In classical Buddhist tradition you will find that many spiritual seekers have chosen lives of profound isolation in order to become enlightened. I find myself living a somewhat lonely lifestyle as a homemaker and Unsubscribe got me thinking about ways to get out into the world in entirely new ways. The book talks about how most relationships take place on the internet today and how important it is to forge friendships in the real world. Mr. Korda combines the best of classical Buddhist teachings with Western Psychology to produce a book chock full of exercises and techniques for getting over your hang ups and putting yourself out into the world. A big part of the book gets you asking questions about what is most important to you in life, and helps you examine life purpose and the big picture. I highly recommend this book and the DharmaPunx NYC website for further study.
2. Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
Sharon Salzberg is a powerhouse in the Western bunch of spiritual teachers. Her main teachings focus around Lovingkindness meditations that get you in touch with tender feelings of love and acceptance for yourself and other people. One of her latest books which was released a few years ago is a mainstay on my bookshelf. Real Happiness is filled to the brim with meditations that are perfect for anyone who wants to live a more mindful life. The book comes with a CD, however I find the guided meditations to be a little distracting. There are some powerful meditations in the book, my favorite is the body scan meditation and her basic breath meditation is really relaxing.
3. The Zen Path Through Depression by Philip Martin
If you struggle with depression, this book is a really valuable resource to keep on hand. I get depressed from time to time and when I do I turn to this book for quick exercises that get me thinking about life in a more positive way. The book is full of mini chapters that talk about common experiences that people have when they are depressed, with short meditation exercises at the end of each chapter. What I love about this book is that it makes you realize that you are not alone in your thought process. Hallmarks of depression and low thinking are discussed throughout the book and above all you realize that what you are going through is totally surmountable.
4. The Heart of the Revolution by Noah Levine
This book focuses on exercises to help open your heart to love and forgiveness. The author admits that it took him years of devout meditation to reach the point where he could really get out of monkey mind and begin to love and accept other people wholeheartedly. However the point of the book is that it is possible to let go of hatred and to see people in a whole new light. I find the book to be quite timely with all the hatred and delusion in American culture and politics today. Sometimes the further along the spiritual path you go, the more you realize the faults in your way of viewing other people. Let this book be a guidepost to tune into the love and natural goodness of your own heart.
These books are inspiring me right now, and will remain on my bookshelf for years to come! Buddhism has changed a lot since coming to American soil. Widely accepted as a path of mindfulness, the deeper you go there is so much more to discover. I hope this list gets you inspired to read some fresh inspiration, and that your new year is full of all the gifts of love and wisdom.