Being Nobody, Going Nowhere

In this lucid classic, beloved teacher Ayya Khema introduces the reader to the essence of the Buddhist path. She addresses the how and why of meditation, providing a clear framework for understanding the nature of karma and rebirth and the entirety of the eightfold path. With specific, practical advice Ayya Khema illuminates the practices of compassion and sympathetic joy and offers forthright guidance in working with the hindrances that we all encounter in meditation. Few introductory books are both simple and profound. Being Nobody, Going Nowhere is both.

Be an Island

From the best-selling author of Being Nobody, Going Nowhere, Ayya Khema’s Be an Island guides us along the path of Buddhist meditation with direct and practical advice, giving us contemplative tools to develop a healthy sense of personal being. Be an Island is at once an introduction to the teachings of Buddhism and a rich continuation of Ayya Khema’s personal vision of Buddhist practice.

 

Available Truth

With his books Landscapes of Wonder and Longing for Certainty, the American monk Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano led readers down literary trails, providing enlightening glimpses of the natural world.

In Available Truth, he guides us further along the path. His unqualified embrace of the Buddha’s worldview—in intelligent and deeply thoughtful prose—distinguishes his work from many other Western Buddhist books. Along with reflections on mindfulness, impermanence, and the end of suffering, Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano is not afraid to delve into the topics of rebirth, karma, nonvirtue, and the roles of reasoned faith, ritual, and monasticism, revealing their continuing relevance for today’s seeker. His patient awareness of the workings of the mind and the natural world will enable readers to deepen both their practice and their lives.

Available Truth will surely stand the test of time as both sound teaching and elegant writing.

Abhidhamma Studies

The Abhidhamma, the third great division of early Buddhist teaching, expounds a revolutionary system of philosophical psychology rooted in the twin Buddhist insights of selflessness and dependent origination. In keeping with the liberative thrust of early Buddhism, this system organizes the entire spectrum of human consciousness around the two poles of Buddhist doctrine—bondage and liberation, Samsara and Nirvana—the starting point and the final goal. It thereby maps out, with remarkable rigour and precision, the inner landscape of the mind to be crossed through the practical work of Buddhist meditation.

In this book of groundbreaking essays, Venerable Nyanaponika Thera, one of our age’s foremost exponents of Theravada Buddhism, attempts to penetrate beneath the formidable face of the Abhidhamma and to make its principles intelligible to the thoughtful reader of today. His point of focus is the Consciousness Chapter of the Dhammasangani, the first treatise of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Basing his interpretation on the detailed list of mental factors that the Abhidhamma uses as a guide to psychological analysis, he launches into bold explorations in the multiple dimensions of conditionality, the nature of consciousness, the temporality of experience, and the psychological springs of spiritual transformation. Innovative and rich in insights, this book does not merely open up new avenues in the academic study of early Buddhism. By treating the Abhidhamma as a fountainhead of inspiration for philosophical and psychological inquiry, it demonstrates the continuing relevance of Buddhist thought to our most astute contemporary efforts to understand the elusive yet so intimate nature of the mind.

 

A Heart Full of Peace

As seen in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Also featured in Shambhala Sun, Tricycle, and Buddhadharma.

Love, compassion, and peace—these words are at the heart of all spiritual endeavors. Although we intuitively resonate with their meaning and value, for most of us, the challenge is how to embody what we know: how to transform these words into a vibrant, living practice. In these times of conflict and uncertainty, this transformation is far more than an abstract ideal; it is an urgent necessity. Peace in the world begins with us. This wonderfully appealing offering from one the most trusted elders of Buddhism in the West is a warm and engaging exploration of the ways we can cultivate and manifest peace as wise and skillful action in the world.

This charming book is illuminated throughout with lively, joyous, and sometimes even funny citations from a host of contemporary and ancient sources—from the poetry of W.S. Merwin and Galway Kinnell to the haiku of Issa and the great poet-monk Ryokan, from the luminous aspirations of Saint Francis of Assisi to the sage advice of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama.

Journey to Mindfulness

Bhante Gunaratana—Bhante G., as he is affectionately called—is one of the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the West.

This expanded anniversary edition of Journey to Mindfulness includes five new chapters in which Bhante G. reflects on the impact of the tsunami that struck his homeland in 2004 and his subsequent appearance on the Larry King Show, his brief experiment in ordaining nuns at his monastery, as well as intimate reflections on the loss of family members, and his own aging and infirmity. He provides an inspiring example of what it means to live a life in alignment with the Buddhadharma.

“Like the stories of the wisest and kindest of grandfathers. A joy to read.”—Sylvia Boorstein, author of Pay Attention for Goodness’ Sake

“Tremendously inspiring. It both breaks down illusions and over-idealism about Buddhism and gives a vision of how to attain the highest in our lifetimes. An old, humble monk reflecting on his arrogant youth has invaluable lessons for all of us.”—Sumi Loundon, author of  Sitting Together

Inspirational, charming, and delightfully accessible—we are left with the image of a good man who has lived an extraordinary life, and that this kind of life is within reach of all of us.”—Branches of Light

“This plain-English look back at years of an a mixture of adversity, humility, and hard-won wisdom tells an engaging story that non-Buddhists can appreciate as well as Buddhists.”—Publishers Weekly

 

Manual of Insight

Manual of Insight is the magnum opus of Mahasi Sayadaw, one of the originators of the Vipassana movement that has swept through the Buddhist world over the last century. The manual presents a comprehensive overview of the practice of insight meditation, including the foundational aspects of ethical self-discipline, understanding the philosophical framework for the practice, and developing basic concentration and mindfulness. It culminates with an in-depth exploration of the various types of insight and spiritual fruits that the practice yields.

Authored by the master who brought insight meditation to the West and whose students include Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg, Manual of Insight is a veritable Bible for any practitioner of vipassana. 

Take the Introduction to the Manual of Insight online course with Steve Armstrong and Kamala Masters

Manual of Insight editor Steve Armstrong on the 10% Happier Podcast with Dan Harris

Translated by the Vipassanā Mettā Foundation Translation Committee.

  • Project Advisor—Sayadaw U Paṇḍita (Paṇḍitārāma Shwe Taung Gon Sasana Yeiktha, Yangon, Myanmar)
  • Managing Editor—Steve Armstrong
  • Translators
    • Hla Myint
    • Ariya Baumann
  • Abhidhamma and Pāḷi Research Consultants
    • Sayadaw U Janaka (Chanmyay Yeiktha, Yangon, Myanmar)
    • Sayadaw U Indaka (Chanmyay Myaing Meditation Center, Yangon, Myanmar)
    • Sayadaw U Sāgara (Chanmyay Myaing Study Monastery, Hmawbi, Myanmar)
    • Hla Myint (Myanmar and USA)
    • Akincano (Marc Weber) (Germany)
  • Pāḷi Quote Citations, Glossaries—Ven. Vīranāṇī
  • Abhidhamma Charts—Steve Armstrong
  • Editors
    • Ven. Vīranāṇī
    • Steve Armstrong
    • Ariya Baumann
    • Deborah Ratner Helzer
    • Kamala Masters

Funding provided by Vipassanā Mettā Foundation.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to freely distribute copies to Buddhist monastics, libraries, and meditation centers, and to support opportunities to practice the method outlined in the book.

For further information and to report errors, please visit www.mahasimanualofinsight.org

How to Be Sick (Second Edition)

In 2001, Toni Bernhard got sick and, to her and her partner’s bewilderment, stayed that way. As they faced the confusion, frustration, and despair of a life with sudden limitations—a life that was vastly different from the one they’d thought they’d have together—Toni had to learn how to be sick. In spite of her many physical and energetic restrictions (and sometimes, because of them), Toni learned how to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. This book reminds us that our own inner freedom is limitless, regardless of our external circumstances.

Updated with new insights and practices hard-won from Toni’s own ongoing life experience, this is a must-read for anyone who is—or who might one day be—sick.

Mahamudra

Lama Yeshe tells us that mahamudra is “the universal reality of emptiness, of nonduality” and its unique characteristic is its emphasis on meditation: “With mahamudra meditation there is no doctrine, no theology, no philosophy, no God, no Buddha. Mahamudra is only experience.”

He relies on the First Panchen Lama’s well-known Root Text of Genden Mahamudra, which in a few short pages provides the pith instructions for, first, overcoming distraction and resting in meditative stillness on the clarity of one’s own mind, and then by using a subtle wisdom, penetrating its ultimate nature, its emptiness.

As always, Lama Yeshe’s words are direct, funny, and incredibly encouraging. He gets us to go beyond ego’s addiction to a limited sense of self and to taste the lightness and expansiveness of our own true nature.

Crushing the Categories

The Vaidalyaprakarana provides a rare glimpse of the sophisticated philosophical exchange between Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools at an early stage and will be of interest to scholars of Buddhist thought, classical Indian Philosophy, and the history of Asian thought.

Belonging to a set of Nagarjuna’s philosophical works known as the yukti-corpus, the Vaidalyaprakarana is noteworthy for its close engagement with the Hindu philosophers. It refutes the sixteen categories of the Nyaya school, which formed the logical and epistemological framework for many of the debates between Buddhist and Hindu philosophers.

The Sanskrit original of the Vaidalyaprakarana long lost, the author translates the text from Tibetan, giving it an extensive analytical commentary. The aim is twofold: to investigate the interaction of the founder of the Madhyamika school with this influential school of Hindu thought; and to make sense of how Nagarjuna’s arguments that refute the Naiyayika categories are essential to the Madhyamika path in general.

Mindfulness and Insight

Discarding any striving or ambition to attain something, the refined guidance that Mahasi Sayadaw provides in this book will lead practitioners to systematically and gradually purify their minds of attachment, aversion, and delusion and to realize the successive stages of enlightenment, culminating in nibbana.

Mindfulness and Insight is an excerpt of two key chapters from the comprehensive, authoritative Manual of Insight, which expounds the doctrinal and practical aspects of mindfulness (satipatthana) and the development of insight knowledge (vipassana) up to and including the attainment of enlightenment (nibbana). In Manual of Insight, Mahasi Sayadaw acknowledged that these two chapters alone offer suitable guidance on our own journey of awakening by realizing path knowledge, fruition knowledge, and nibbana, particularly for those with little or no knowledge of the Pali scriptures.

Part 1, “The Development of Mindfulness,” offers comprehensive instructions for developing mindfulness based on the Buddha’s teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness, as outlined in the highly regarded Discourse on Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta).

Part 2, “Practical Instructions,” provides guidance in both the practices preliminary to undertaking insight meditation and in developing insight knowledge, ranging from initial practices to advanced levels of practice. Mahasi Sayadaw lays out in plain language what meditators are likely to experience through their practice and how they can come to understand those experiences on a spectrum of unfolding insights known as the progress of insight. This clear articulation sets Mahasi Sayadaw’s teachings apart from those of other modern Buddhist teachers.

Zen on the Trail

Evoking the writings of Gary Snyder, Bill Bryson, and Cheryl Strayed, Zen on the Trail explores the broad question of how to be outside in a meditative way. By directing our attention to how we hike as opposed to where we’re headed, Ives invites us to shift from ego-driven doing to spirit-filled being, and to explore the vast interconnection of ourselves and the natural world. Through this approach, we can wake up in the woods on nature’s own terms.

In erudite and elegant prose, Ives takes us on a journey we will not soon forget.

This book features a new prose poem by Gary Snyder.

Ecology, Ethics, and Interdependence

Engage with leading scientists, academics, ethicists, and activists, as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Karmapa, who gathered in Dharamsala, India, for the twenty-third Mind and Life conference to discuss arguably the most urgent questions facing humanity today:

  • What is happening to our planet?

  • What can we do about it?

  • How do we balance the concerns of people against the rights of animals and against the needs of an ecosystem?

  • What is the most skillful way to enact change?

  • And how do we fight on, even when our efforts seem to bear no fruit?

Inspiring, edifying, and transformative, this should be required reading for any citizen of the world.

Awakening Together

How can we connect our personal spiritual journeys with the larger course of our shared human experience? How do we compassionately and wisely navigate belonging and exclusion in our own hearts? And how can we embrace diverse identities and experiences within our spiritual communities, building sanghas that make good on the promise of liberation for everyone? 

If you aren’t sure how to start this work, Awakening Together is for you. If you’ve begun but aren’t sure what the next steps are, this book is for you. If you’re already engaged in this work, this book will remind you none of us do this work alone. Whether you find yourself at the center or at the margins of your community, whether you’re a community member or a community leader, this book is for you.

From the foreword by Jan Willis:

“Especially in times like these, fraught on every side with threats from racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and anti-queer bias, a welcoming and safe space for meditation practice is the most kind and compassionate thing we can create for each other. And yet, in Dharma settings, people [with marginalized identifies] feel, in Larry’s words, ‘unattended, unloved, unseen, and even harmed.’

Awakening Together provides us with a detailed, step-by-step blueprint of the hard work involved in creating and maintaining a diverse community and, in doing so, shows us how we can begin and continue to build an inclusive sangha.

If you are ready to commit to the idea that we, as a diverse group of Buddhists, ought to be able to awaken together, and to honor and share all of what and who we are in the process, then take up this book, Larry’s loving clarion call. Consciously, mindfully, read Awakening Together with openness and with joy.”

The Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra (vol 1) and The Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra (vol 2)

“If one knows the Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra, the Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra, and the Tantra Without Syllables, one will have command over the general meaning of the tantras, like a king who has command over his subjects.”—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle

The eleventh-century Seventeen Tantras are the most important texts in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Great Perfection. This boxed set provides two luminous translations. The first is the only complete English translation of the Self-Arisen Vidyā Tantra, which is the major commentary tantra on all aspects of the doctrine of the Great Perfection. The second, the Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra, outlines the structure of Dzogchen tantras in general and also provides a detailed outline of the Self-Arisen Vidyā Tantra.

Malcolm Smith also offers a comprehensive introduction and two vital appendices: (1) a brief historical account and survey of the Seventeen Tantras and (2) an examination of the themes of the Seventeen Tantras, translated from the commentary to the String of Pearls Tantra. This is vital reading for any student of Dzogchen.

A Lullaby to Awaken the Heart

The Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra, one of the most famous and often-recited Dzogchen texts, is at once an entreaty by the primordial buddha, Samantabhadra, that all sentient beings recognize the nature of their minds and thus become buddhas, and also a wake-up call by our own buddha nature itself. This monumental text outlines the profound view of Dzogchen in a nutshell and, at the same time, provides clear instructions on how to discover the wisdom of a buddha in the very midst of afflictions.

In this volume, Karl Brunnhölzl offers translations of three versions of the Aspiration Prayer and accompanies them with translations of the commentaries by Jigmé Lingpa, the Fifteenth Karmapa, and Tsültrim Sangpo. He offers further contextualization with his rich annotation and appendices, which include additional translation from Jigmé Lingpa, Longchenpa, and Patrul Rinpoche. This comprehensive, comprehensible book illuminates this profound text and greatly furthers our understanding of Dzogchen—and of our own nature.

Zen Vows for Daily Life

Zen Vows for Daily Life is a collection of gathas, vows in verse form for daily practice, similar to prayers or affirmations for use at home, at work, and in the meditation hall itself. Reciting these poetic vows can help us be fully present in each moment and each activity of our lives. These gathas serve as gentle reminders to return again and again to our highest aspirations, with acceptance, joy, and compassion—for ourselves and all beings. Zen Vows for Daily Life will be a steadfast companion in keeping the reader inspired and committed on their spiritual path.

“Each act in a Buddhist monastery—washing up, putting on clothes, entering the Buddha hall, sitting down for meditation, getting up from meditation—receives its own Dharma poem. Events on pilgrimage—encountering a tree, a river, a bridge, a dignitary, a mendicant—likewise offer entries into truth. My purpose in this book is similar: to show how ordinary occurrences in our modern lay lives are in fact the Buddha’s own teachings—and also to show how we can involve ourselves accordingly in the practice of wisdom and compassion with family and friends, with everyone and everything.”—Robert Aitken, from the Preface

“In [Zen Vows for Daily Life], poetry and meditation always go together. Poetry is comprised of images and music, and images make the practice easy. Robert Aitken Roshi is a poet who deeply appreciates practicing with these gathas. He offers us many beautiful verses, sterling examples of this practice, that we can use to reflect more deeply on what we are doing. I am grateful to Aitken Roshi for offering us this beautiful book.”—from the Foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh

Ziji and the Very Scary Man

Ziji is a bouncy puppy who lives with the Anderson family: Mom, Dad, Jenny, and Baby Jack. He loves to play and chase balls in the park with Jenny and their friend Nico. Then one day, an angry man shouts at Ziji and scares him so much he never wants to go back to the park again. Can Nico show him how to calm his mind and face his fears?

Renowned meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche shows young children how following our breath can calm us down—and how practicing compassion shows us that even Very Scary Men can be frightened sometimes too.

A detailed appendix gives further guidance for parents.

Unbinding (paperback)

“We all want the freedom of sanity and peace, the undefended inclusiveness of love. We all want refuge in grace.”—Kathleen Dowling Singh, from her introduction to Unbinding

Unbinding is a spacious and sophisticated unfolding of one of Buddhism’s subtlest foundational teachings—the truth of dependent origination—offered in an utterly intimate voice. Kathleen Dowling Singh offers lyrical reflections on timeless truths and contemplative exercises accessible to anyone, opening the door of insight to all. Drawing on the language and teachings of Buddhism, Unbinding invites everyday mystics from all traditions—or none—to encounter the sacred and experience grace firsthand. Singh shows how illusions of ego obscure our true, unbounded nature and trap us in suffering—as she helps the reader move ever more deeply into living from gratitude, wisdom, and love.

Samatha, Jhana, and Vipassana

This step-by-step meditator’s guide walks the reader through practices that can hold the key to unlocking new levels of concentration and insight. A student of the famed Pa-Auk Monastery and a practicing psychiatrist, Jeon Hyun-soo, MD, PhD, uses these two paths to guide the reader to a new understanding of themselves and the world around them. Drawing both from Jeon’s own experience with Pa-Auk Sayadaw and from the words of the Buddha, this is an authentic and practical guide to samatha, materiality, mentality, dependent origination, and vipassana.