Reading List for People Interested in Koan Zen by Rachel Boughton Roshi

One evening I brought a bag of books to the Zen center and gave a talk about PZI’s relationship to the Buddhist tradition as a koan school, and some of the things I’ve enjoyed reading that seem to be related. Here they are, by category, including some I forgot about the first time around.

Disclaimer: This list does not include many other books that are also very good. Either I’m just not thinking of them right now, or they wouldn’t fit in my bag.

Koan Books:

The Gateless Gate, aka The Gateless Barrier, aka The Mumonkan. There are many translations, all interesting.

The Blue Cliff Record, translated by Thomas Cleary and J.C. Cleary (Shambhala 2005). There will soon be a published translation by Tarrant and Sutherland, as well.

The Book of Serenity: One Hundred Zen Dialogues, translated by Thomas Cleary (Shambhala 2005)

Entangling Vines: A Classic Collection of Zen Koans, translated by Thomas Yuhō Kirchner (Wisdom 2013)

collected teachings of Rinzai (Lin-Chi), especially the lovely translation by Irmgard Schloegl. There are also others.

Records of the Transmission of the Lamp, by Daoyuan and Yang Yi. A compilation of Buddhist biographies, teaching and transmission stories.

The Iron Flute: 100 Zen Koans, by Nyogen Senzaki and Ruth Strout McCandless (Tuttle 1961 or 2011).

The Warrior Koans, by Trevor Leggett

     And many others, including the records of various teachers, including Zhaou Zhou.

Books on the History of Buddhism

The Buddhist Tradition by de Bary

Chan Buddhism by Peter Hershock

Wake Up by Jack Kerouac

How the Swans came to the Lake by Rick Fields

Crooked Cucumber by David Chadwick

Street Zen by David Schneider

Teachings by PZI teachers and other teachers we admire

Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life,  by John Tarrant

The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life, by John Tarrant

Upside Down Zen: Finding the Marvelous in the Ordinary, by Susan Murphy

Stoep Zen: A Zen Life in South Africa, by Antony Osler

I Opened the Gate, Laughing: An Inner Journey, by Mayumi Oda

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Meditation in Action and other titles by Chogyam Trungpa

The Zen Koan as a Means of Attaining Enlightenment, by DT Suzuki

Zen Flesh Zen Bones, by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki

Zen and the Birds of Appetite, by Thomas Merton

Loving What Is, by Byron Katie

Books About Women and Buddhism

Buddhist Women on the Edge: Contemporary Perspectives from the Western Frontier, by Marianne Dresser

Women of Wisdom, by Tsultrim Allione

Women of the Way: Discovering 2500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom, by Sallie Tisdale

The Politics of Women’s Spirituality, by Charlene Spretnak

The Hidden Lamp, edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon (Wisdom 2013). Personal essays and commentaries on koans by women from various Buddhist traditions.

Poetry – Where to start? Start anywhere…

Kay Ryan, Anna Swir, Elizabeth Bishop, Wislawa Szymborska, William Stafford, Anne Carson, Jane Hirshfield, Czeslaw Milosz, Tomas Transtromer, Eavan Boland, John Keats, Marianne Moore…

The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson and Issa, translated by Robert Hass (Ecco 1995)

What Book!? Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop, an anthology of modern “Zen” poets edited by Gary Gach (Parallax 1998)

Science and Philosophy and Creativity (a very limited and random sampling)

Consciousness by Susan Blackmore

Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde

Original sources (and there are many others too)

The Heart Sutra, translated by Red Pine (Counterpoint 2005)

The Dhammapada, various translations. It’s hard to find a good one.  Try Thomas Byron or Gil Fronsdal.

The Tao te Ching, translated by Steven Mitchel

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