Sometimes it’s quite hard to know where to begin when you are starting your meditation practice. There are so many lineages when it comes down to contemplation. You can go with the yoga philosophy, like many articles on this website, or you can go to mysticism, or something quite known: Buddhism.
I have to mention that very often these lineages are more or less connected to each other. They have quite similar ethics and even the meditation methods are quite related. However, there are some nuances. But we won’t be talking about the differences between all of them.
Let’s just take a look at some of these books to introduce you to the philosophy of Buddhism!
#1 The Dhammapada – Eknath Easwaran
For those who are following my book lists, you might be aware already that I’m a big fan of Eknath Easwaran! I’m so happy to see that he also wrote a book about one of the scripts of Buddhism.
Dhammapada stands for “the path of truth”. Which is quite what all the scriptures of Buddhism, Hinduism and such are about. Not so much the truth about what happened between persons, just the inner truth to live a peaceful and happy life.
This book is really amazing for loads of people. Whether you already know the scriptures inside out or are a complete newbie. Eknath provides insight into every chapter. So, before you dive deep into the verses, you’ll get some wise words from him.
And they aren’t just empty words either. They are really filled with wisdom. And not just that, but they are really understandable too!
It might sound a bit airy though when you don’t have any notion of Buddhism. But if you can look through this, you’ll probably enjoy it a lot!
My favourite quote from the Dhammapada
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”
#2 An Introduction to Buddhism – Dalai Lama
If you are beginning to learn more about Buddhism, why not start at the source? Well, more or less the source. The Dalai Lama is seen as one of the leaders of Buddhism, so he had to study all of the scriptures to get to the point where he is now.
This isn’t just a 101 on Buddhism, neither is it a Buddhism for Dummies. Just the story of the Buddha. This is always a good start if you are looking into some soul searching. The life of Buddha was very insightful and it really shows why it has become so popular. It’s definitely a good read.
And it’s not just the story of the Buddha. There will also be some meditation techniques explained as well. It would’ve been a bit awkward just to read the story of Gautama Siddharta, wouldn’t it? Oh yeah, Gautama is the original name of the Buddha.
So, it’s a bit the same as the previous book, but now with commentary of the Dalai Lama!
My favourite quote from ‘An introduction to Buddhism’
“A genuine understanding of the nature of full enlightenment occurs on the basis of a deep understanding of emptiness.”
#3 The Tibetan Book of the Dead – Graham Coleman
Not only the story about the Buddha is important within Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is probably another important part of the Buddhist scriptures. There are many translations, as you have with many scriptures, but to me, this one was very clear. Or clearer anyway.
I do have to mention, to read this book, you really have to be interested in Buddhism. As they are focusing quite a lot on rebirth and reincarnation. As it is the book of the dead. So there will be a lot of Buddhist views on death and dying.
Very shortly said, this is really kind of a manual to live a good life and to transcend the cycle of life and death. This is why you probably should be really interested in this subject if you want to read it.
If that is so, then this really is something for you.
My favourite quote from ‘The Tibetan book of the Dead’
“You will never understand the meaning of actual reality.”