Buddhism is immensely rich encompassing a variety of schools. However there are three main recognised traditions in Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Theravada is the oldest, foundational form of Buddhism and is found in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma. Mahayana focuses on the Bodhisattva ideal (the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for all beings) and it spread to China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Tibet and Mongolia. Vajrayana is the tantric form of Buddhism and is especially associated with Tibetan Buddhism, though there are Chinese and Japanese forms. Zen, or Ch’an in Chinese, is a meditative tradition aimed at directly perceiving our Buddha nature.
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 Tibetan Buddhism from Watkins Books shelves:
Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living:Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness
For millennia, Buddhists have enjoyed the limitless benefits of meditation. But how does it work? And why? The principles behind this ancient practice have long eluded some of the best minds in modern science. Until now. Working with neuroscientists, the author provides clear insights into modern research, which indicates that systematic training in meditation can enhance activity in areas of the brain associated with happiness and compassion. And using the basic meditation practices, he offers readers a chance to recognize the unlimited potential of our own minds.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
Pema Chödrön reveals the vast potential for happiness, wisdom and courage even in the most painful circumstances. This accessible guide to compassionate living shows us how we can use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion and courage, ways of communication that lead to openness and true intimacy with others, practices for reversing our negative habitual patterns, methods for working with chaotic situations and ways to cultivate compassionate, energetic social action
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, What Makes You Not a Buddhist
With wit and irony, Khyentse urges readers to move beyond the superficial trappings of Buddhism-beyond the romance with beads, incense, or exotic robes-straight to the heart of what the Buddha taught. And after he explains what makes you not a Buddhist, he kindly explains what a Buddhist is. The author is one of the most creative and innovative young Tibetan lamas teaching today.
John Powers, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism
This is the most comprehensive and authoritative introduction to Tibetan Buddhism available to date, covering a wide range of topics, including history, doctrines, meditation, practices, schools, religious festivals, and major figures. The revised edition contains expanded discussions of recent Tibetan history and tantra and incorporates important new publications in the field.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa highlights the commonest pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvement—the impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. ‘The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use,” he said, “even spirituality.’His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves.
Dalai Lama, How to See Yourself As You Really Are
How to See Yourself As You Really Are is based on a fundamental Buddhist belief that love and insight work together to bring about enlightenment, like two wings of a bird. It provides a new perspective on the psychological problems of hurting ourselves through misguided, exaggerated notions of self, others, events and physical things. It shows how even our senses deceive us, drawing us into unwise attachments and negative actions that can only come back to haunt us in the future.
Lama Thubten Yeshe, Introduction to Tantra
What is tantra? Who is qualified to practice it? How should it be practiced? What are the results? According to Buddhism, every human being has the potential to achieve profound and lasting happiness. And according to the tantric teachings of Buddhism, this remarkable transformation can be realized very quickly if we utilize all aspects of our human energy – especially the energy of our desires.
Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated by Gyurme Dorje
A comprehensive guide to living and dying The Tibetan Book of the Dead contains exquisitely written guidance and practices related to transforming our experience in the daily life, on the processes of dying and the after-death state, and on how to help those who are dying. As originally intended this is as much a work for the living, as it is for those who wish to think beyond a mere conventional lifetime to a vastly greater and grander cycle.
Namkhai Norbu, Dzogchen Self Perfected State
Our natural condition is self-perfected from the very beginning. What is necessary is that we reawaken and remain in our true nature. Through understanding and practice, we can rediscover the effortless knowledge of the self-perfected state that lies beyond our habitual anguish and confusion, and remain in this uninterrupted flow of contemplation, completely relaxed but fully present through all activities.
Thubten Chodron, Buddhism for Beginners
Thubten Chodron’s responses to the questions that always seem to arise among people approaching Buddhism make this an exceptionally complete and accessible introduction—as well as a manual for living a more peaceful, mindful, and satisfying Life.