People often ask us what books to begin reading about Tibetan Buddhism. There are now thousands of excellent books in English that discuss all aspects of Mahayana and Vajrayana philosophy and practice. We have complied a list of books that may be particularly useful.
*Most of these books may be purchased through Snow Lion Publications
Buddhism for Begninners by Tubten Chodron
Buddhism for Beginners answers the fundamental questions and issues that arise in the minds of modern Western individuals who are new to this tradition of practical spirituality.
Entering The Path: Outer and Inner Refuge by the Dzogchen Ponlop, Rinpoche
Described are the two forms of refuge: going for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha in their external forms as separate from oneself; we go for inner refuge to the fundamental nature of our own mind, which is indivisible from the jewel of the Buddha. Our fundamental state of mind is totally awake, totally in the state of fully awakened heart.
How to Meditate a Practical Guide by Kathleen McDonald
Contains a wealth advice on many proven techniques: from simple breathing and mindfulness exercises to deity visualizations--a whole spectrum of useful exercises in one book!
Introduction to Tantra : A Vision of Totality by Lama Yeshe
Explains how to use desire skilfully to break down our distorted and deeply entrenched way of seeing things. By learning to use pleasure correctly, we awaken our powerful inner potential. He explains tantric meditation methods and outlines the entire tantric path. "No one has summarized the essence of tantra as well."--Religious Studies Review
Kindness, Clarity and Insight by the Dalai Lama
This best-selling book contains teachings for Western audiences during His Holiness' tours of North America. He covers a wide variety of spiritual and human concerns in a practical and direct manner with his characteristic warmth, wit and perception.
Reflections on a Mountain Lake by Ani Tenzin Palmo
This collection of Dharma teachings by Tenzin Palmo addresses issues of common concern to Buddhist practitioners from all traditions.
The Heart of Compassion: Practical Approach to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama
This book carefully balances philosophical concepts with a very practical, day-by-day approach to living a spiritual life. Anyone reading this book will come away richer for the experience, regardless of your own spiritual or religious background.
Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up by Alan Wallace
A straightforward primer on the essentials of Buddhism as practiced in Tibet. The book is the result of a lecture series introducing the practice of Buddhism to the general public.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
Excellent teachings by one of the West's foremost Buddhist writers, a Nova Scotian nun, on using our greatest struggles and challenges as catapults for growth.
Wisdom Energy by Lama Yeshe
This compelling introduction discusses the meaning and purpose of meditation, the causes of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, why deluded and unwanted states of mind arise, and how to overcome them.
Books on Basic Buddhist Philosophy
The Four Noble Truths by Ven. Lobsang Gyatso
After his enlightenment, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths--the foundation and essence of all forms of Buddhism. The first truth diagnoses the nature of our existential illnesses. The second explores their causes and conditions. The third shows that the causes of suffering can be removed. The fourth includes the many paths Buddhism offers to realize that goal.
Three Principal Aspects of the Path by Geshe Sonam Rinchen
The wish for freedom, altruistic intention, and the wisdom of emptiness constitute the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment. The essential prerequisite is a strong wish for freedom. But to know how to attain freedom and cut the root of cyclic existence, it is necessary to have the correct understanding of reality.
The Six Perfections by Geshe Sonam Rinchen
trans. and ed. by Ruth Sonam
The Six Perfections of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, enthusiastic effort, concentration, and wisdom are practiced by Bodhisattvas who have the supreme intention of attaining enlightenment for the sake of others. These six are perfections because they give rise to complete enlightenment.
Indestructable Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism by Reginald Ray
This is a thorough introduction to Tibetan Buddhism that emphasizes the Kagyu and Nyingma points of view. Ray presents complex and sophisticated teachings and practices in non-technical language.
Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet by Reginald Ray
A comprehensive introduction to the Tantric practices and traditions of Tibetan Buddhism from the point of view of American practitioner Reginald Ray
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa
Translated by Khenpo Könchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche.
A master work of Tibetan Buddhism--providing the complete foundation for study and practice--from beginning to Buddhahood.
The Torch of Certainty by Jamgon Kongtrul
This translation of an important and fundamental Tantric text reveals the richness and profundity of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The text describes the Four Foundation Practices which all practitioners of Vajrayana Buddhism must complete. The nature of impermanence, the effects of karma, the development of an enlightened attitude, and devotion to the guru are among the subjects treated in this volume.
The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche
Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group.
Extensive, foundational survey of Tibetan Buddhism by great Nyigma Lama Patrul Rinpoche.
Other Books We Like
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa
Walking the spiritual path properly is a subtle process. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthing our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This is an enlightening tour of common spiritual self-deceptions.
Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs of Tibet's Beloved Saint, Milarepa
Translated by Lama Kunga Rinpoche & Brian Cutillo.
Anthology of Milarepa's poetry.
The Life of Milarepa by Lobsang Lhalungpa
The most beloved story of the Tibetan people. It presents the quest for spiritual perfection, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great saint. It is also a powerful and graphic tale, full of magic, disaster, feuds, and humor.
The Way of the Bodhisattva: A Translation of the Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva
Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group.
Bodhisattvas renounce nirvana and vow to work for the welfare of all beings. This pivotal work outlines the path that bodhisattvas should follow as they seek to teach others the path to nirvana. It contains moral instruction and meditation exercises for bodhisattvas to practice as they engage in their work.
Women of Wisdom by Tsultrim Allione
Women of Wisdom explores and celebrates the spiritual potential of all women, as exemplified by the lives of six Tibetan female mystics. These stories of great women who have achieved full illumination, overcoming cultural prejudices and a host of other problems which male practitioners do not encounter, offer a wealth of inspiration to everyone on the spiritual path.