Reading and Study

This reading list is provided for those interested in supplementing their practice with readings. The classification as "Introductory", "Intermediate" and "Advanced" is somewhat arbitrary, and is intended simply as a rough guide for where you might start. Each of the texts below contains seeds which, if watered, will guide to the threshold of awakening, and each has the potential to jolt anyone, regardless of their familiarity with Buddhism, turning their world upside-down with profound realization in an instant. So jump in where you feel inclined.

In addition to the reading list, here is a collection of sutras and texts that I have pulled together over the years and use in my own practice; most I recite regularly; some I chant occasionally; and others (such as those associated with the deceased) I look to rarely, but when I do, my engagement is intensive for a period of time. A series of Thursday evening talks running from July 2023 through September 2023 covered these texts (see Dharma Talk Recordings or our YouTube Streaming page).

As always, I'm available to talk and discuss. Just drop me a note or find me in person at Red Clay.

- Gareth Young


  • Mindfulness - Joseph Goldstein: This commentary on the Satipatthana (Four Foundations of Mindfulness) Sutta from the Pali canon of Theravadan Buddhism provides a solid and comprehensive introduction to the foundational teachings and practices of Buddhism;
  • Zen Mind, Beginners Mind - Shunryo Suzuki: No list of recommended texts can be complete without including this wonderful classic, a series of dharma talks from the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center;
  • Boundless Heart - Christina Feldman: The Brahmaviharas are both the fruit of an awakened life and the path that leads to it, and metta practice is a specific technique that embodies this. Feldman's text is a wonderful and thorough introduction;
  • With Each and Every Breath - Thanissaro Bikkhu: A wonderful introduction and guide to the practice of meditation, which goes in detail from the very simplest and earliest steps all the way through to the experience of awakening itself. Thanissaro structures this teaching based on the Pali sutta canon;
  • A Still Forest Pool - Achaan Chah: A collection of short talks from Thai Forest, Master Achaan Chah, a teacher who reformed Thai Buddhism and heavily influenced the first generations of western Buddhist teachers;
  • The Hidden Lamp - Florence Caplow and Susan Moon: A contemporary collection of 100 koans, each a story featuring women and with a commentary by a female Buddhist teacher;
  • Daughters of Emptiness - Beata Grant: A collection of poems from sixteen centuries of Chinese female liberative practice recovered and translated by Ms Grant;
  • Awakening of the Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh: A broad collection of sutras from different traditions, each with a beautiful and insightful commentary from the Vietnamese master;
  • Jesus and the Disinherited - Howard Thurman: A classic of American Christianity, this text helped shape the US Civil Rights Movement, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King carried it in his jacket pocket. It offers all, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, profound insight into suffering and the end of suffering, and the cultivation of wisdom and compassion;
  • First Female Buddhists - Susan Murcott: This is a modern translation of with scholarly commentary on the Therigatha, a classic Theravadan collection of poems by "wives, mothers, teachers, courtesans, prostitutes and wanderers who became the first female disciples of the Buddha".


  • Pure and Simple - Upaseka Kee Nanayon: "The extraordinary teachings of a Thai Forest laywoman" are manifest the directness, starkness and simplicity of the teachings themselves and of a style of delivering them;
  • Talks with Ramana Maharshi: A collection of dialogs with this icon of self-enlightened Twentieth-Century Hindu mystics;
  • Pointers from Nisargadata Maharaj: Ramesh Balkesar: Conversations with Nisargadata assembled and provided context by his disciple, Balsekar. The structure and narrative offered by Balkesar makes this a far more approachable text than the more well known "I Am That", while at the same time preserving the startling wisdom and insight of the teacher;
  • On The Path - Thanissaro Bikkhu: A rigorous and thorough guide to engaging with the components of the Attangikamagga, the Noble Eightfold/ Eight-Limbed Path, Buddha's primary teaching methodology;
  • Strategies for Modern Living - Yuen Bo/ Alfred Bloom: A translation of and commentary on the Tannisho, a classic Pure Land text, which provides practical everyday advice that has applicability to all Buddhists;
  • Buddhism for Today: Nikkyo Niwano - A commentary on the "King of Sutras", the Lotus Sutra, by the founder of Rissho Kossei Kai, a mid-Twentieth Century Lotus Sutra movement. It illuminates this challenging text, both bringing it to life and helping the reader make sense of it in the context of broader Buddhism and Twenty-First Century life;
  • So That Others May Live - Fetullah Gulen: A collection of public talks from a renowned Sufi scholar, teacher and leader of the Hizmet movement. While Gulen's lectures are delivered from the theistic tradition of the Qu'ran, they are very accessible and are expressions of pure compassion and love with universal import;
  • Blue Cliff Record: Cleary and Cleary - A translation of the classic Japanese collection of Zen koans. Traditionally this is used in the Rinzai sect for koan practice, but it can also be taken as reading material (to be taken slowly!). Don't try to (or expect to be able to!) understand the koans or the commentaries, but let them lie in the background of your mind, working away invisibly;
  • A Very Short Introduction to Consciousness - Susan Blackmore: This is a lovely overview, from a modern scientific perspective, of the current understanding of science. In addition to being a former full-time academic, now part-time and an author, Blackmore is a long-time Zen practitioner, and this book give a lovely and very helpful perspective that can give the practitioner another way into investigation in practice. There are a number of other useful titles in this OUP series of Very Short Introductions that can also provide useful different perspective, such as the text on Memory.
  • Awakening Together: Andrew Yang - This is a wonderful text about diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the Buddhist world, written from the experience of a non-binary Asian American Buddhist teacher.


  • The Wings to Awakening - Thanissaro Bikkhu: A deep and thorough guide to Buddhist practice following the Pali Canon and the Theravadan tradition. For anyone interested in engaging in a thorough study of Theravadan teachings, you could begin by reading this a few times!
  • Diamond Sutra Explained - Master Nan Huai-Chin: A translation of and commentary on the Diamond Sutra from a Chinese Ch'an Master. While he is not well known in the west, this translation and commentary are the most profound I've read, and offer deep wisdom and insight;
  • The Awakening of Faith - Yoshito Hakeda: A translation of and commentary on a seminal and profoundly influential Chinese treatise that drew a vast number of historical commentaries and had a deep impact on the development of Buddhism in Eastern Asia.
  • Food for the Heart - The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah: A collection of discourses from the Thai Forest Master. Longer, more comprehensive, more subtle and at the same time more explosive than those in "A Still Forest Pool";
  • Original Nature - Zen Comments on the Sixth Patriarch's Platform Sutra - Sokei-An: A series of talks on this classic text from the founder of the New York Zen Center, delivered over a 2-year period and full of the startling and penetrating wisdom of the Zen tradition;
  • The Holy Geeta - Swami Chinmayananda: The Bhagavad Gita is the central religious text of Hindu meditative/ liberative philosophy and practice. It in may ways parallels Buddhist practice, viewing through a different lens, it can profoundly inform and help our journey to awakening. Chinmayananda's lengthy commentary, while written in an Indian voice with male pronouns and a dash of nationalism that may offend Western sensibilities, penetrates into the depth of the source text and breaks open its teachings non-duality and compassion;
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Complete Translation) Gyurme Dorje: A difficult text that requires additional reading for grounding and context, but one that can be transformative and significantly reshape one's approach to the practice. It is the primary canonical Buddhist text that specifically focuses on preparing for the actual experience of dying from this specific incarnation/life.
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