Top 10 Books on Theravada Buddhism

Our Top-10 lists aim to represent a particular topic through the selected outstanding books, balancing classic texts and latest titles, popular books and less known must-reads. Here’s a selection on Theravada and General Buddhism from Watkins Books shelves:

1. A Still Forest Pool by Achaan Chah £15.50 (online £13.95)

Thai Buddhist master Achaan Chah’s insights – compiled here by Jack Kornfield and Paul Breiter – refelect the quiet, intensive, and joyous practice of the forest monks in Thailand and awaken the spirit of inquiry, wonderment, understanding and deep inner peace.

2. Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor £8.99

This lucid examination of the Buddha’s core teaching demystifies Buddhism by explaining, without jargon or obscure terminology, what awakening is and how to practise it.

3. In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Editor)£11.99 (online £10.79)

The renowned scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi here presents selected discourses of the Buddha from the Pali Canon, the earliest record of what the Buddha taught. Divided into ten thematic chapters, In the Buddha’s Words reveals the full scope of the Buddha’s discourses, from family life and marriage to renunciation and the path of insight. Taken as a whole, these texts bear eloquent testimony to the breadth and intelligence of the Buddha’s teachings, and point the way to an ancient yet ever-vital path.

4. Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Mark Epstein £11.99

A Buddhist psychiatrist challenges the preoccupation of Western psychology with the ego and its satisfaction, showing readers how to attain true happiness through Buddhist spirituality and through favoring being over doing.

5. Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana £11.99

With his distinctive clarity and wit, “Bhante G” – as he is affectionately known – extends a hand to readers of all backgrounds; he takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. He reveals that we already have the foundation we need to live a more mindful, productive, and peaceful life.

6. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh £9.99

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the West, a rare combination of mystic, poet, scholar and activist. In this beautifully written book he explains how to acquire and practice the skills of mindfulness to arrive at greater self-understanding and peacefulness.

7. Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path by Ayya Khema £11.99

This modern Buddhist classic gives clear, practical instruction on meditation and techniques for overcoming counterproductive mental habits and beliefs. Through the simple practices detailed here, one can develop deeper insight, a sense of calm well-being, and a greater capacity to love and feel loved on a daily basis.

8. A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield £12.99

In undertaking a spiritual life, we must ensure that our path is connected with our heart. With this core understanding renowned Western Buddhist master Kornfield guides the reader through the ups and downs of contemporary living and the difficulties of achieving a balanced life of simplicity.

9. What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula £9.99 (online £8.99)

This book is considered by many to be by far the best introduction to Buddhism available. It draws on the actual words spoken by the Buddha to give a lucid and accurate account of the fundamental principles of Buddhist doctrine. Richly supported by extracts from the ancient texts, Rahula gives clear and direct explanations of Buddhism’s essential teachings.

10. The Dhammapada by Valerie Roebuck (Editor) £9.99

One of the best-loved works of Buddhist literature, the “Dhammapada” forms part of the oldest surviving body of Buddhist writings, and is traditionally regarded as the authentic teachings of the Buddha himself, spoken by him in his lifetime, and memorized and handed on by his followers after his death. A collection of simple verses the “Dhammapada” is accessible, instructional and mind-clearing, with lessons in each verse to give ethical advice and to remind the listener of the transience of life.

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