Many people ask me what kind of books I recommend for the time after a meditation retreat. For this reason I thought that it would be a good idea to list all our recommended books. If you have joined one of our retreats and want to study the practice in detail, these books will help.
It certainly seems like quite a few practitioners confuse intellectual understanding with the results of meditation practice. Therefore I usually only recommend reading books as a source of inspiration for practice. Above all, books can be a fantastic source of inspiration and may help a lot there’s no teacher.
Furthermore we might often feel that we don’t know enough to meditate properly. As a result of having joined our retreats you certainly do have enough knowledge to start practicing. Therefore I encourage all of you to accompany your reading session with real life practice. Consequently the knowledge doesn’t stay in dusty shelves. It rather comes alive through your realizations.
Food for the Heart by Ajahn Chah
“Renowned for the beauty and simplicity of his teachings, Ajahn Chah was Thailand’s best-known meditation teacher. His charisma and wisdom influenced many American and European seekers, and helped shape the American Vipassana community. This collection brings together for the first time Ajahn Chah’s most powerful teachings, including those on meditation, liberation from suffering, calming the mind, enlightenment and the ‘living dhamma’.” Therefore we highly recommend it highly!
The sound of Silence by Ajahn Sumedho
“The sound of silence is like a subtlety behind everything that you awaken to; you don’t notice it if you’re seeking the extremes. Yet as we start to become more poised, more present, fully receptive of all this moment has to offer, we start to experience it vividly and listening to it can draw us ever—deeper into the mysteries of now.” We certainly recommend reading books from Ajahn Sumedho!
The Mind and the Way by Ajahn Sumedho
“What would life be like if each one of us chose compassion over anger, loving-kindness over hatred, awareness over ignorance? The Mind and the Way demonstrates a radically simple approach to life, one in which we are able to awaken to our true loving nature and delight in the mystery and wonder of the world. With warmth and a wonderful sense of humor, Ajahn Sumedho draws on the experiences of ordinary life to convey Buddhist insights that for 2,500 years have continued to remain vital and pertinent to our lives.” With this in mind we recommend Ajahn Sumedho highly!
Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
“Ajahn Brahm has no problem sharing his recipe for inconceivable bliss. This step-by-step meditation guide on the Jhanas – a core part of the Buddha’s original meditation teaching – is full of the joy of meditation practice. It comes with precise instructions for traversing the stages of practice and overcoming obstacles. It is also filled with the author’s unique brand of humour and entertaining stories that inspire, instruct, and illuminate, while he waxes lyrical about the bliss at our disposal.” Ajahn Brahm’s books are definitely a great help on the path!
The Art of Disappearing by Ajahn Brahm
“We strive to make life go smoothly for ourselves and others, but that is expecting from the world something it cannot give. Ajahn Brahm presents timeless wisdom for learning to abandon the headwind of false expectations and follow instead the path of understanding in order to find true joy within. By releasing our attachment to past and future, hope and fear, we can settle into the stillness underlying all our thoughts and discover the bliss of the present moment. In that space, we learn what it is to disappear. Ajahn Brahm, an unparalleled guide to the bliss of meditation, makes the journey as fun as it is rewarding.”
Don’t Worry Be Grumpy by Ajahn Brahm
“In 108 brief stories with titles like “The Bad Elephant,” “the Benefits of Being Blown Up,” Are You a Human Being or a Human Going?” and “The Happiness License,” Ajahn Brahm offers up more timeless wisdom that will speak to people from all walks of life. Drawing from his own experiences, stories shared by his students, and old chestnuts that he delivers with a fresh twist, Ajahn Brahm shows he knows his way around the humorous parable, delighting even as he surprises us with unexpected depth and inspiration.”
Pure and Simple by Upasika Kee Nanayon
“Upasika Kee was a uniquely powerful spiritual teacher. Evocative of the great Ajahn Chah, her teachings are earthy, refreshingly direct, and hard-hitting. In the twentieth century, she grew to become one of the most famous teachers in Thailand—male or female. All the more remarkable because, rarer still, she was not a monastic but a layperson.” It should be noted that this book is powerful and inspiring!
Mindfulness with Breathing by Buddhadasa Bikkhu
“Any practitioner, after meditating for some time, inevitably wonders what meditation method the historical Buddha Shakyamuni himself used. Many people understand that prior to his realization, Shakyamuni Buddha studied with many of the great yogis of his time. Most do not know what method he ultimately found leads most directly to nirvana.” Undoubtedly Ajahn Buddhadasa is one of the great minds worth reading.
Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree by Buddhadasa Bikkhu
“In Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu presents in simple language the philosophy of voidness, or sunnata. By carefully tying voidness to ethical discipline, Buddhadasa provides us clear and open grounds to reflect on the place of the philosophy in our lives.”
A Meditators Guide by Venerable Pramote Pamojjo
“A Meditators Guide is a compilation of talks by venerable Pramote Pamojjo. He is one of the most revered Buddhist meditation masters in Thailand. It includes teachings on the true meaning of mindfulness and how it is practiced, both in formal meditation and in our daily lives.”
Access to Insight – THE place to find authentic information
“Access to Insight is a Theravada Buddhist website providing access to many translated texts from the Tipitaka, and contemporary materials published by the Buddhist Publication Society and many teachers from the Thai Forest Tradition.”
Forest Dhamma – Free Books Online
“Forest Dhamma is committed to the free distribution of teachings of the Thai Forest Tradition by Venerable Ajaan Mahā Boowa.”
Forest Sangha Publications – More Free Books
“This Forest Sangha Publications site is dedicated to the free distribution of teachings in the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Venerable Ajahn Chah.”
I certainly hope that these books will be great company for you on this path of meditation. I will update this list of books regularly.