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10 Best Buddhism Books

Gautam Buddha was the originator of Buddhism. This is not just a religion but a path to enlightenment, awareness, wisdom, and kindness. It is a practice of spiritual development that leads to understanding reality. An enlightened individual sees reality in a clear manner and leaves it in accordance with it fully.

Buddhism is not about idol worship. The basic ideas of Buddhism are extremely practical such as, nothing is permanent, change is evident, actions have results, and many more. There are no barriers of caste, race, sexuality, nationality, or gender in Buddhism. Everyone is dearly welcome. It is globally followed by millions.

The key teachings of Buddhism are as below:

  • The Four Noble Truths
  • Karma
  • The Cycle of Rebirth

The four noble truths involve the truth of suffering, the truth of suffering, the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

Karma in Buddhism refers to the good and bad actions of a person committed in their lifetime.

In Buddhism, there are six different ways in which an individual can be reborn. Such as:

  • Three Fortunate Realms
  • Three Unfortunate Realms

The realm of man gives an opportunity to attain enlightenment or Nirvana.

Best Buddhism Books

To explore more, there are plenty of Buddhism books available. In this article, we have entailed the 10 best books for Buddhism to expand your knowledge base and gain some brilliant insights.

Let’s start!

1. What The Buddha Taught

What the Buddha Taught

Author: Paul Demieville Walpole Rahula
Last Published: 2019
Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Description

This book is comprehensive yet compact in nature. All the Buddha teachings are described in it meticulously. It is highly popular in several universities, colleges, and schools both nationally and internationally. The writer has beautifully described the teachings of Buddha relating to the present English language reader.

There are a total of eight chapters along with appendices. Each chapter comprises an easy-to-understand language. The book is extremely clear, logical, sober, as well as authoritative. It is a fine example of a classic accumulation of what the Buddha taught. There is a collection of texts from the original Pali texts that contain the Dhammapada and the suttas.

The bifurcation of the chapters is done neatly explaining the important aspects of Buddhism.

The first chapter entails the Buddhist conception relating to the mind. The second chapter to the fifth has an explanation of the four noble truths, Arising and the cessation of dukkha and magga. Chapter 6 contains one of the most unique Buddhist ideas that states ‘anatta’, the doctrine of no-soul. The basic idea is that the concept of a permanent soul that lives past the body disappears is just an illusion.

The seventh chapter explains mindfulness meditation and the difference between the two. It focuses on the eightfold path. Finally, the last chapter talks about how the teachings of Buddha can be included in the present day.

It is a spectacular book and you will learn a lot about life in general.

You can buy this book here.

2. Buddhism for Beginners

Buddhism for Beginners

Author: Thubten Chodron
Last Published: 2001
Publisher: Snow Lion

Description

If you wish to be familiar with the basics of Buddhism, then this is an incredible resource for you to study.

The book starts from the basic question, what is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings! The answers are pretty concise and simple to understand. You will get a deep insight into the religion along with the life-altering teachings. Buddhism is a way to lead a more peaceful and mindful life. The writer has explained the same concept in a well-elaborated manner.

The approach is nonsectarian and focuses on the basic unity of Buddhism. The writer has described how the basic principles can be incorporated in the day to day life. It is a concise book that contains remarkable topics for beginners to understand Buddhism.

The writing of Thubten reflects wisdom and truth. This is a wonderful book that you can give to your loved ones.

You can buy this book here.

3. Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction

Buddhist Religions A Historical Introduction (Religious Life in History)

Author: Richard Robinson
Last Published: 2004
Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc

Description

Buddhist religions will introduce you to the rich history of Buddhism. A very fine description of how it has changed over time is given in the book.

The book talks fondly about five main aspects of Buddhism such as:

  • Doctrine
  • Ritual
  • Meditation
  • Devotionalism
  • Practice

This is a classic informative book that will help you to understand Buddhism deeply. You will explore a lot about Buddhist culture along with the teachings of Buddha. The book is loved internationally too.

The key chapters that foretell the importance of Buddhism are stated as below:

  • The Buddha’s Awakening
  • The Buddha as teacher in power figure
  • The development of early Indian Buddhism
  • The period of the three vehicles
  • Early medieval Indian Buddhism
  • Late medieval Indian Buddhism
  • Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia
  • Buddhism in Central Asia and China
  • Buddhism in Korea and Vietnam
  • Buddhism in Japan
  • Buddhism in the Tibetan Cultural Area
  • Buddhism Comes West

This book is an ocean of ample information regarding Buddhism.

You can buy this book here.

4. The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada 3 (Classics of Indian Spirituality)

Author: Eknath Easwaran
Last Published: 2007
Publisher: Nilgiri Press

Description

The meaning of Dhammapada is the path of Dharma. Path of dharma means the path of harmony, truth, and righteousness. This book is one of the best-selling editions all across the globe. A detailed depiction about the Buddha’s teachings enlightens the readers in every way.

The writer is an incredible storyteller and the book also contains impressive essays depicting the story of young Siddharth. The verses of Buddha are transforming the lives of millions. Various spiritual traditions have been read by the writer and have been incorporated as the key learnings.

The essence of the Dhammapada is exceptionally explained in this book. If you wish to understand the fundamental as well as Indian philosophy of Buddhism, then this is the best pick for you.

The key teachings in this book are inclusive of the following topics:

  • Truth of suffering
  • The reason for suffering
  • Eightfold path

The book also consists of some impressive and great quotes.

You can buy this book here.

5. The Suttanipata 

The Suttanipata An Ancient Collection of the Buddha's Discourses Together with Its Commentaries (The Teachings of the Buddha)

Author: Bhikkhu Bodhi
Last Published: 2017
Publisher: Wisdom Publications

Description

The Suttanipata implies a group of discourses. It is simply an amalgamation of the most famous suttas of the Pali Canon. They are mostly represented in the form of verses as well as mixed with prose. There are various discourses that describe the life of the illumined sage, Muni. He wanders homelessly, away from worldly distractions.

Some of the most ancient parts of the Pali canon are Atthakavagga and the Parayanavagga. They are mentioned in an elaborated way in the last two chapters. Each sutta is explained by the help of a verse in the commentary, the Paramatthajotika.

The book also consists of some clear poetry composed beautifully. There are a total of five chapters that consist of impressively rich material in detail regarding Buddhism.

Various commentaries have been remarkably translated and the author has added his own analysis in the chapters as well. Overall the Pali text has been excellently curated by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

You can buy this book here.

6. Luminous Essence: A Guide to The Guhyagarbha

Luminous Essence A Guide to the Guhyagarbha Tantra

Author: Jamgon Mipham
Last Published: 2009
Publisher: Snow Lion

Description

The book is a remarkable compilation of seminal tantric scripture. This text is primarily a central scripture in Tibetan Buddhism. It is an exceptional guide for tantric practitioners. There is a detailed commentary related to the Guhyagarbha Tantra.

There are several teachings of Buddha explained in a phenomenal way. It simply impacts the reader in a positive way. This book is invaluable and delivers great benefits to people practicing Maha yoga or Anuyoga tantra.

The greatest teachings of Buddhism is to develop and transform one’s nature not by doing something great but by simply discarding the habitual veils of ignorance.

You can buy this book here.

7. Wisdom of Buddha: The Samdhinirmocana Sutra

The Wisdom of Buddha Samdhinirmocana Mahayana Sutra (Tibetan Translation Series)

Author: John Powers
Last Published: 1995
Publisher: Dharma Publishing U.S

Description

This book is an informational resource that has a basic understanding of Mahayana Buddhism. There is a detailed explanation about practicing yoga by maintaining body postures. In addition, it also teaches about breathing exercises and meditation to bring clarity to your mind and body.

The text composed by the writer is extremely clear and easy to understand. By understanding the chapters depicted in the book an individual leads to the foundational Yogacara text.

There are ample important points that showcase the wisdom of Buddha in the real sense. The path to enlightenment is described in the form of questions and answers that will give you a clear understanding of the concept.

The book is filled up with interesting points for a seeker of knowledge about Buddhism. If you wish to explore the same, You can buy this book here.

8. Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism

Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism

Author: Rebecca McClen Novick
Last Published: 1999
Publisher: Crossing Press

Description

The meaning of Buddhist in Tibetan is ‘insider’. It implies an individual who finds peace within themselves instead of worldly distractions. The core teaching of Buddhism is that the cause of every suffering is our own thought process. Whatever we reap in our minds, so shall we see in our real life.

Rebecca has concisely described the history of Buddhism and the important teachings of Buddha such as:

  • Karma
  • Wheel of Life
  • Four Noble Truths
  • Path of Bodhisattva

All these teachings help us to understand Tibetan Buddhism meticulously both as a philosophy and as a religion. More importantly, it tells us the ways through which we can experience the world in a better way and live a satisfying life.

As Buddhism is a difficult religion to understand in some cases but this book justifies the teachings and the learnings of Buddha in a very easy way.

If you wish to explore the same and learn something unique about Buddhism, You can buy this book here.

9. The Bodhicaryavatara

The Bodhicaryavatara (Oxford World's Classics)

Author: Santideva, Kate Crosby
Last Published: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Description

It was written in the eighth century AD and became an extremely famous account of Buddhism. The basic foundation of the body Bodhicaryavatara is to save the individuals from suffering and become a Buddha. Any being who has such a desire is called Bodhi Sattva.

This precious account is still used by many Buddhist teachers to understand various aspects of Buddhism and teach.

Santideva consists of various aspects of Buddhism that inspire millions of people.

The English translations are accurate and easy to understand, even the complicated concepts. Moreover, the poetic quality of the chapters is remarkable and valuable.

There are several helpful appendices that would provide more clarity regarding topics. To understand and explore more regarding the topic, You can buy this book here.

10. Therigatha

Therigatha - Poems of the First Buddhist Women (Murty Classical Library of India) 3

Author: Charles Hallisey
Last Published: 2015
Publisher: Harvard University Press

Description

It is an accumulation of poems in the Pali language by the first Buddhist women. Such women were the senior women in the Buddhist women’s society as they bore some remarkable religious achievements. The poems were written in their own writing and filled with personal ways of expression.

The beautiful depiction of the lives of women in ancient Indian society gives a glimpse of their life.

There were lots of hardships but they broke all the barriers and stepped ahead in life. All the chapters entailed in the book describe the teachings and learnings of Buddha in that period.

To explore more, You can buy this book here.

Conclusion

Buddhism is one of the world’s largest religions and is followed by millions all across the globe. The followers of Buddhism believe that human life should be inclusive of spiritual learning, meditation, good behavior, and physical labor that helps to achieve enlightenment.

If you are a curious learner, then you must explore more about this beautiful religion and its teachings.

In this article, we presented to you the 10 best Buddhist books available along with their detailed explanation. We hope that this information assists you in the best way possible.

Keep learning, keep exploring!

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Anamika Kalwan

I am a logophile who loves to write. With an experience of 3+ years, I have passionately contributed my expertise and knowledge to create content in the field of Technical and E-learning based Content Writing. I aim to deliver my absolute best and add value to my organization through my skill set.

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