Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book List: A Decade of Spiritual Seeking

The following is a partial list of books I have read touching on religion and spirituality over the last decade. Initially, I was still pretty hostile to organized religion, especially Christianity. I say partial for a few reasons. One, most of the book I own are in storage, and some I have read without purchasing. Hence it is possible some of them have slipped my mind. A few that have slipped by may even have been influential, but my memory is just playing tricks. For example, I know I have read at least two and possible three books by Lama Surya Das. One was definitely "Awakening the Buddha Within", but I also read one or more of the following: "Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be", "Awakening to the Sacred", and/or "Buddha Is As Buddha Does". I will have to flip through them at a bookstore sometime to be certain. The list looks waaaay to short. If I find or remember any missing texts, I will add them to the list.

I have tried to place them in approximately the order that I originally read them, but this is also somewhat inaccurate. I have devised a scheme for evaluation as well, for whatever that is worth, based on a 1-5 rating system, using II "Initial Impact", EI "Extended Impact", OI "Overall Impact". So, something may have been really crucial at a given time, but then didn't have much effect after the initial impact, so II might be 5 and EI 1. Get it? Overall impact is decided given an extended perspective, like a historical judgment of overall significance. A comment may or may not be given.


Create Your Own Personal Sacred Text: Develop and Celebrate Your Spiritual Life, Bobbi Parish (II: 4 EI: 2 OI: 3) - "Important because it inspired me to read books from various sacred traditions."

Tao Te Ching, Lao-Tzu, Stephen Addiss, Stanley Lombardo, and Burton Watson (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 4)

Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Cleary (II: 2 EI: 2 OI: 2)

Upanishads, ??? (II: 3 EI: 1 OI: 1)

The Happy Heretic, Judith Hayes (II: 3 EI: 1 OI: 1)

The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self, Woody Hochwender, Greg Martin, and Ted Morino (II: 4 EI: 4 OI: 4) - "I really enjoy this book, lots of good wisdom from self-help and improvement woven well with an uplifting theme; not just for SGI members. The next two are just like extensions of this book, like sequels, but this is the best."

  • The Buddha in Your Rear View Mirror: A Guide to Practicing Buddhism in Modern Life, Woody Hochwender
  • The Buddha Next Door, Zan Gaudioso and Greg Martin

Freedom from the Known,
Jiddu Krishnamurti (II: 1 EI: 1 OI: 1) - "Didn't have the conceptual vocabulary to make sense of this at the time."

The Power on Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle (II: 5 EI: 2 OI: 3) - "Really got me wound up at the time."

The New Buddhism
, David Brazier (II: 3 EI: 1 OI: 1)

[Smaller Pure Land Sutra] (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 4)

[Parts of the Larger Pure Land Sutra] (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 3)

[Heart Sutra] (II: 5 EI: 4 OI: 4)

[Platform Sutra of Hui Neng] (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 3)

[Parts of the Flower Garland Sutra] (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

Buddhism for Beginners, Thubten Chodron (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 1)

Essence of the Heart Sutra, H.H. the Dalai Lama (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2) -"Joyuously confirmed many implications I had gleaned from the Heart Sutra."

Zen Shin Talks, Sensei Ogui (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 3)

Finding Our True Home: Living in the Pure Land Here and Now, Thich Nhat Hahn (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 3)

The Lotus Sutra, Burton Watson (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 4)

Opening the Heart of the Cosmos: Insights on the Lotus Sutra, Thich Nhat Hahn (II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 3)

Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers, and Other Voyagers, Jan Chozen Bays (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2) - "Need to go back and finish the last few chapters."

The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion: Commentaries on the Prajñaparamita Diamond Sutra, Thich Naht Hahn (II:2 EI:3 OI:2)

Dharma Drum: The Life & Heart of Ch'an Practice, Ch'an Master Sheng-Yen (II: 2 EI: 1 OI: 1)

Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master, Ch'an Master Sheng-Yen and Dan Stevenson (II: 2 EI: 2 OI: 1)

Buddha of Infinite Light: The Teachings of Shin Buddhism, the Japanese Way of Wisdom and Compassion, Daisetz T. Suzuki (II: 3 EI: 3 OI: 3)

Shin Buddhism: Bit of Rubble Turn Into Gold, Taitetsu Unno
(II: 4 EI: 4 OI: 4)

Rivers of Fire, Rivers of Water,
Taitetsu Unno
(II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 4)

The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, Br. Wayne Teasdale
(II: 5 EI: 5 OI: 5)

A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life, Br. Wayne Teasdale
(II: 5 EI: 4 OI: 5)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism, Gary Gach
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

The Universe in a Single Atom - The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, H.H. the Dalai Lama
(II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 2)

Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg
(II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 2)

The God We Never Knew, Marcus Borg
(II: 3 EI: 3 OI: 2)

The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, Marcus Borg
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 3)

Meditation Without Gurus: A Guide to the Heart of Practice, Clark Strand
(II: 2 EI: 1 OI: 1)

**Amitabha books**
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2) - "A lot of books published by a Taiwanese press by Master Chin Kung distributed by the Amitabha Society."

Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World, Lama Surya Das
(II: 3 EI: 3 OI: 3)

The Good Heart
- A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus, H.H. the Dalai Lama
(II: 3 EI: 1 OI: 2)

Going Home: Jesus and the Buddha as Brothers, Thich Nhat Hahn
(II: 4 EI: 4 OI: 5)

Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hahn
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

Manifesting God, Fr. Thomas Keating
(II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 4)

Open Heart, Open Mind: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
, Fr. Thomas Keating
(II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 3)

The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience, Fr. Thomas Keating
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

Dangerous Words: Talking About God in the Age of Fundamentalism, Gary Eberle
(II: 4 EI: 4 OI: 5)

Prayer for People Who Think Too Much: A Guide to Everyday, Anywhere Prayer from the World's Faith Traditions, by Mitch Finley
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

A Beginner's Guide to Tibetan Buddhism, Bruce Newman
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2) - "Need to finish."

Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, Daisaku Ikeda
(II: 4 EI: 3 OI: 4) - "Based on a wide study and synthesis of various forms of Buddhism, this comes across as a sensible overview of subtle, nuanced and sophistacted wisdom, even for non-SGI members."

No Death, No Fear, Thich Nhat Hahn
(II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

Whose Church?: A Concise Guide to Progressive Catholicism, Daniel C. Maguire (II: 4 EI: 2 OI: 2)

Credo, William Sloane Coffin and James Carroll (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 3)

No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers, Michael Novak (II: 3 EI: 2 OI: 2)

? Drawing a blank on this period ?

How to Believe in God (Whether or Not You Believe in Religion), Clark Strand
(II: 5 EI: 4)

A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God Is Good and Faith Isn't Evil, David G. Myers
(II: 3 EI: 3)

You Can Run but You Can't Hide, Duane "The Dog" Chapman
(II: 4 EI: 3)

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, Timothy Keller (II:4)

Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, Shane Clairborne
(II: 5) - "I wish I had read this when I was about 18-19 and ready to just give up on Christianity."

Becoming Enlightened, H.H. the Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins (II: 2)
Books I am interested in reading...

The Raft Is Not the Shore: Conversations Toward a Buddhist-Christian Awareness,
Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan


  1. Looks like some interesting stuff. I soooo need to start reading again. I keep saying that. ;-)

  2. as i scrolled thru your list )and discovered some titles i'd like to read) i thought of clark strand's new book, so am glad to see it made the cut, and that it ranks high on your list 'cos i too much enjoy it

    and of course i dont need to remind you that it (It) is not (necessarily) in a book

    -/ with peaceful greetings

    gary gach

  3. I can't believe its' been 10 years!

    that was a great list.

  4. The list is pretty short because I've been busy with grad school and then trying to find and do work after, but it does have some really good finds and some real clunkers, but I guess even the latter are useful in a way. Of course, first-hand experience can't come from a book, but some really are very inspiring.

    Yeah, ten years and I've just gotten older and deeper in debt, but spiritually and religiously I am still a dud on the faith-o-meter. But a very well-read dud. I could pass public-speaking wise for a seasoned holy man :)


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