Top 30 Best Zen Books For Beginners And Advancers 2023

Top 28 Best Zen Books of All Time Review 2020

You’re looking for the Best Zen Books to read? So this article is for you!

What is Zen? It is both something we’re our authentic character expressing itself moment by moment and something we perform a disciplined practice through which we could realize the delight of being. It’s not a belief system to which converts. There’s not any zen philosophy or dogma.

Zen is your direct experience of that which we may call the ultimate fact or the complete, yet it isn’t different from the normal, the comparative. This direct experience is our birthright. The practice of zazen meditation is a means of realizing the non-dualistic, lively, lively, and interconnected nature of life.

Top Rated Best Zen Books To Read

The History Of Zen Books

The history of zen books is a long and varied one. Zen books have been around for centuries, and their origins can be traced back to China and India. Zen books were first introduced to Japan in the 12th century by the Chinese monk Eisai. Eisai’s writings on zen Buddhism were instrumental in helping to spread the religion to the Japanese people.

Over the centuries, zen books have been written by many different authors from all over the world. These books cover a wide range of topics, including zen history, philosophy, and practice. Zen books have something to offer everyone, whether they are looking for guidance in their own lives or simply want to learn more about this fascinating religion.

Top Rated Best Zen Books Everyone Should Read

SaleBestseller No. 1
You Are Here: Discovering the...
2,832 Reviews
Bestseller No. 2
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:...
2,616 Reviews
SaleBestseller No. 3
Zen as F*ck (Zen as F*ck...
24,083 Reviews
SaleBestseller No. 4
The Way of Zen
2,301 Reviews
Bestseller No. 5
Zen: Zen For Beginners a...
1,211 Reviews
Bestseller No. 6
Zen and the Art of Happiness
1,481 Reviews

Here is a list of the best books on Zen Buddhism that Penn Book recommended for you:

Best Books For Zen Beginners: Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

“Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views.” — Shunryu Suzuki

In the years since its first book, Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind has grown into one of the excellent contemporary Zen classics, much cherished, considerably reread, and much advocated as the first book to be read on Zen.

The book of Shunryu Suzuki is practical and down to earth. Shunryu Suzuki introduces the fundamentals by the particulars of breathing and posture in zazen into the understanding of nonduality in a means that’s not just remarkably apparent but also resonates with all the joy of penetration from the initial to the previous page.

A student from America rewrote the transcripts, much in the same manner that Suzuki’s talks were rewritten for Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
2,618 Reviews

An Introduction to Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki

Among the world’s leading police on Zen Buddhism, D. T. Suzuki was the author of over a hundred functions on the topic in both Western and English and has been instrumental in bringing Zen’s teachings Buddhism into the interest of the Western world. Written in a lively, accessible, and simple fashion, this zen book is famous for serious students and laypersons.

Suzuki provides Zen’s entire vision, highlighting self-understanding and enlightenment via many systems of psychology, philosophy, and integrity. With a foreword by the famous psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung, this quantity was broadly acknowledged as a timeless introduction to the topic for several decades.

It provides, combined with Suzuki’s Essays and also Manual of Zen, a frame for living a balanced and fulfilled presence through Zen.

Take a look at our Best Books On Buddhism of All Time Review 2023 that both professionals and spiritual seekers can utilize to find out more about this historical heritage.

The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau

During explorations of the three pillars of Zen instruction, practice, and enlightenment Roshi Philip Kapleau presents an extensive summary of the discipline and history of Zen.

A recognized classic, this 35th anniversary edition features new illustrations and photos, in addition to a new afterword from Sensei Bodhin Kjolhede, that has triumphed Philip Kapleau as spiritual director of the Rochester Zen Center, among the earliest and strongest Zen centers in America.

Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck

Charlotte Joko Beck is among the hottest Zen teachers now teaching in the West. This superbly written book is a Zen guide to everyday living problems, love, relationships, work, anxiety, and distress. Beck explains how to maintain the current and live every moment to the full.

Each Moment is the Universe by Dainin Katagiri Roshi

It’s simple to regard time as a commodity we speak of rescue or paying it. We often regard it as an enemy, even once we believe it is slipping away before preparing for the time to become up.

The Zen view of time is radically different from this: timing isn’t something different from our own life; instead, our lifestyle is periodic. Know this, states Dainin Katagiri Roshi. Also, you’re able to live fully and openly right where you are in every moment.

Each Moment Is the Universe:...
104 Reviews

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

This lyrical, evocative, thought provoking diary of a man’s quest for truth and for himself has touched and changed a whole generation and is about to reach out into some brand new one. At its core, this story is so simple: a guy and his son take a motorcycle trip across America.

However, this isn’t a simple trip in any way, for around every corner, through mountain and desert, wind and rain, and searing heat and biting cold; their pilgrimage leads them into new vistas of both self-discovery and renewal.

The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is an elemental work that’s helped form and define the previous 25-years of American civilization. This special audio edition presents this experience in an exciting new way to the millions who’ve already taken this trip and would like to travel these roads again.

For many people who will find the first time that the wonders and challenges of a narrative will change how they feel and think about their own lives. Unique to sound, this edition features a new introduction from the writer.

Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, R. F. C. Hull, Daisetz T. Suzuki

The path to attaining Zen (a balance between the body and the mind) is closely explained by Professor Eugen Herrigel inside this classic account.

This book is the consequence of the writer’s six year pursuit to learn archery at Japanese contemporary masters’ hands. It’s a fair account of one person’s journey to complete devastation itself as well as the Western principle itself we use to establish ourselves.

Professor Herrigel imparts understanding from his adventures and guides the reader through spiritual and physical lessons in a very clear and informative manner.

Mastering archery isn’t the real key to attaining Zen. Also, this isn’t a sensible guide to archery. It’s more a guide to basic principles and studying and ideal for professionals and non-practitioners alike.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō

Despite constant attempts to decorate your house, do newspapers still collect like snowdrifts and clothing pile up just like a tangled jumble of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a completely new level, promising that if you properly energize and organize your house after, you will never need to take action.

Most approaches recommend a room by room or little by little approach, allowing one to pick away in the piles of things indefinitely. The KonMari Method, using its radical category by category system, results in lasting outcomes. In reality, not one of Kondo’s customers has lapsed (and that she has a three month waiting list).

With comprehensive advice for determining which things on your home spark pleasure (and that don’t), this global bestseller containing Tokyo’s new lifestyle phenomenon can allow you to clear your clutter and revel in the special magic of a clean home. And also the calm, inspired mindset it could inspire.

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

Within this gorgeous and lucid manual, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh presents gentle anecdotes and functional exercises as a way of studying the skills of mindfulness becoming alert and fully conscious. From washing the dishes to answering the telephone into peeling an orange, he also reminds us that each moment holds within it a chance to work toward larger self-understanding and peacefulness.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: A...
3,098 Reviews

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life composed by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Within this book, the author maps a very simple route for cultivating mindfulness in your own life. It speaks to people coming to meditation for the first time and to longtime professionals, anybody who cares intensely about regaining the freshness of her or his minutes.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Herman Hesse’s classic book has thrilled, motivated, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers. In this narrative of a rich Indian Brahmin, who casts a lifetime of privilege to look for spiritual fulfillment.

Hesse synthesizes disparate philosophies Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism right into a unique vision of life expressed through a person’s search for true significance.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps

After Zen Flesh, Zen Bones was printed in 1957; it became an immediate sensation with a whole generation of readers starting to experiment with Zen. Over time it has prompted major American Zen teachers, students, and professionals. Its prevalence is as large now as ever.

This is a book that delivers a group of accessible chief Zen sources to ensure readers can battle over the meaning of Zen for themselves. It comprises 101 Zen Stories, a collection of stories that recount Chinese and Japanese Zen teachers’ real experiences within over five decades.

The Gateless Gate, the famed thirteenth century selection of Zen koans; Six Bulls, a twelfth century comment on the phases of consciousness is resulting in enlightenment; and Centering, a 4,000-year-old instructing from India that some consider being the origins of Zen.

What is Zen? by Alan Watts

In his definitive introduction to Zen, Alan Watts describes the ancient faith’s fundamentals and principles to Japanese Zen readers.

With a rare mix of lace and lucidity, he delves into Zen’s roots and background to describe what it means for the planet now with unbelievable clarity. Watts watched Zen as among the most prized gifts of Asia into the planet, and in The method of Zen, he provides this gift to subscribers everywhere.

What Is Zen?
83 Reviews

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

From the rush of modern life, we tend to drop contact with the serenity that’s offered in each moment. World renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of those very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. For him, a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back into our authentic selves.

Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the road to mindfulness the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and truth.

The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace Is Every Step includes commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes, and stories from Nhat Hanh’s experiences as a peace activist, educator, and community leader.

It begins where the reader is already is in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking part and shows how deep meditative presence is available today. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of their body and mind through conscious breathing, bringing immediate joy and peace.

Nhat Hanh also shows how to know about relationships with other people and the world around us, its beauty, and its pollution and injustices.

The deceptively simple practices of Peace Is Every Step encourage the reader to work for peace on earth because they continue to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the mindless into the mindful.

The Compass of Zen by Seung Sahn

The Compass of Zen is a simple, comprehensive, and often humorous demonstration of Zen’s basis by a contemporary Zen Master of considerable renown.

In his many years of teaching around the Earth, the Korean born Zen Master Seung Sahn has become known for his ability to cut into the core of Buddhist teaching in a means that’s very clear yet free of academic and esoteric language.

Inside this book, based mostly on his talks, he presents Buddhism and Zen’s basic teachings in a means that’s wonderfully accessible for novices.

Yet rich with stories, insights, and personal experiences, long-time meditation pupils will find it a source of inspiration and a source for research.

Taking the Path of Zen by Robert Aitken

There’s a fine art to presenting complex ideas with insight and simplicity, in a way that both manuals and inspires. Taking the Path of Zen Robert Aitken gifts the clinic, lifestyle, justification, and ideology of Zen Buddhism with striking clarity.

Zen’s basis is the practice of zazen or mediation, and Aitken Roshi insists that flows in the middle. He discusses proper breathing, posture, regular, teacher-student connections, and koan study, in addition to common problems and landmarks encountered in the process.

Through the book, the writer returns to zazen, offering additional information and much more innovative practices. The orientation extends into different religious attitudes and contains detailed discussions of the Three Treasures and the Ten Precepts of Zen Buddhism.

This book will function as orientation and manual for anybody who’s attracted to Zen’s ways, by the simply curious to the serious Zen pupil.

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh

Within this book, Thich Nhat Hanh, the famous Zen monk, writer, and meditation master, distills the basis of Buddhist thought and practice, highlighting the energy of mindfulness to change our own lives.

Mindfulness isn’t an evasion or an escape, he clarifies. This means being here, current, and complete living. It’s true liberty and with no freedom, there’s not any happiness.

According to a retreat that Thich Nhat Hanh headed for Westerners, this book supplies a selection of easy, effective techniques for cultivating mindfulness, such as breathing and walking, deep listening, and skillful address. You’re Here also offers advice on healing emotional pain and demonstrating real compassion and love in our relationships with other people.

Easy, warm, direct, and startlingly powerful, this book reveals the core of the Buddhist path and helps us reconnect with all the joy and wonder of being alive, irrespective of life’s changing conditions.

The Way of Zen by Alan W. Watts

In his definitive introduction to Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts describes the ancient faith’s fundamentals and principles to Japanese readers.

With a rare mix of lace and lucidity, he delves into Zen’s roots and background to describe what it means for the planet now with unbelievable clarity. Watts watched Zen as among the most prized gifts of Asia into the planet, and in The method of Zen, he provides this gift to subscribers everywhere.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting book has inspired a devoted following around the globe. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert seeking a treasure buried in the Pyramids.

What starts as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of these treasures discovered inside. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

The Eight Gates of Zen: A Program of Zen Training by John Daido Loori

This accessible introduction to the philosophy and practice of Zen Buddhism includes a program of study which encompasses virtually every element of life.

The American Zen teacher John Daido Loori shows us who Zen practice must include meditation, the analysis of Zen literature and liturgy, and ethical and moral actions, but also needs to manifest in artistic, work and regular pursuits. This is one of the best zen meditation books for reading!

The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin by Norman Waddell

A fiery and profoundly energetic Zen teacher and performer, Hakuin (1685-1768) is credited to nearly single handedly revitalizing Japanese Zen following three hundred decades of decline. As a teacher, he put special focus on koan practice, inventing several new koans himself, including the famous what’s the sound of one hand clapping?

As an artist, Hakuin utilized calligraphy and painting to make visual Dharma teachings that powerfully express the character of enlightenment.

The text translated here provides a superb introduction to the work of the extraordinary teacher. Hakuin lays his vision of real Zen practice and teaching, condemning his contemporaries.

He held responsible for Zen’s decrease and encouraged his students to devote themselves to breaking the Zen barrier Included are reproductions of several of Hakuin’s best calligraphies and paintings.

The Essential Teachings of Zen...
9 Reviews

The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master by Dōgen

Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), the Soto School of Zen Buddhism, is one of the best spiritual, cultural, and literary geniuses of all Japan. Zen students analyzed his writings for centuries, especially his masterwork, Shobo Genzo, or Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.

Here is the first book to supply the fantastic master’s incisive wisdom in brief sections taken from the entire assortment of his voluminous works. The pithy and strong readings, organized according to the subject, provide an ideal introduction to Dogen and inspire religious training in people of all traditions.

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po by John Blofeld and Pei Hsiu

This complete translation of this first selection of sermons, dialogues, and anecdotes of Huang Po, the illustrious Chinese master of the Tang Dynasty, enables the Western reader to understand Zen from the first origin of the critical functions in its teachings.

It also supplies profound and frequently startling insights into the abundant treasures of Eastern thought. Nowhere is the use of paradox in Zen exemplified greater than in the instruction of Huang Po, who reveals how words can’t convey the expertise of intuitive knowledge that shows to a guy what he’s.

With these paradoxes’ support, beautifully and just presented within this group, Huang Po could place his disciples on the ideal path. In this manner, the Zen master contributes his listener into reality, often by one phrase designed to ruin his special demon of ignorance.

When Things Fall Apart by P. Chodron

There’s a real chance for happiness right within our reach, yet we usually miss it paradoxically while we’re caught up in efforts to escape pain and distress.

Drawn from traditional Buddhist wisdom, Pema Chödrön’s radical and compassionate advice for what to do if things fall apart in our lives goes against the grain of our everyday habits and expectations.

There’s simply one approach to enduring, which is of lasting benefit, Pema teaches, which entails moving toward debilitating scenarios with curiosity and friendliness, relaxing to the circumstance’s essential groundlessness. It’s there, in the middle of chaos, we can detect the truth and love which are indestructible.

The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler

Virtually every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He is the Dalai Lama, the religious and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman.

What is more, he will tell you that happiness is the aim of life, and, The very motion of our life is towards happiness. The way to get there’s always been the question. He has tried to answer it before, but he has never had the support of a psychologist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand.

Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to overcome day to day stress, insecurity, anger, and discouragement.

Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of riches, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.

An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life is another best zen book of The Dalai Lama.

Like a Dream, Like a Fantasy: The Zen Teachings and Translations of Nyogen Senzaki, edited by Eido Shimano.

As D.T. Just as D.T. introduced the West to Zen philosophy to Suzuki, Nyogen Senzaki helped introduce Zen practice to the West. He was the first great Japanese meditation master who fully immersed himself in American life.

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home: A Memoir

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home A Memoir

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home: A Memoir is a book about the author’s experience of coming out as transgender. The author, C. M. Farley, chronicles their journey of self-discovery and acceptance, as well as the challenges they faced along the way.

The book is an intimate and honest account of Farley’s life, from their early years growing up in a small town in Maine, to their decision to transition in their twenties. Farley candidly discusses the struggles and triumphs of their journey, including their relationships with family and friends, their work life, and their own mental health.

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home is a powerful and inspiring story of one person’s journey to find their true self. It is a must-read for anyone who is struggling with their own identity, or for anyone who wants to better understand the transgender experience.

Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don’t

Just Sit A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don’t

Just Sit is a book about meditation for people who know they should meditate but don’t. The book is divided into three parts: an introduction to meditation, a guide to getting started, and a section on common problems people have with meditation.

In the introduction, the author, Sukey Novak, talks about the benefits of meditation and how it can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase focus and concentration. She also dispel some common myths about meditation, such as that it is only for religious people or that it is difficult to learn.

The second part of the book provides practical advice for getting started with meditation. Novak covers everything from finding a comfortable place to sit to choosing a mantra or affirmation to focus on. She also includes a list of common excuses people use for not meditating, and how to overcome them.

The third section of the book addresses some of the most common problems people have with meditation, such as falling asleep, mind wandering, and feeling restless. For each problem, Novak offers practical solutions that can help make meditation a more successful and enjoyable experience.

Whether you’re new to meditation or have been practicing for years, Just Sit is a helpful guide that can offer insights and guidance on how to get the most out of your practice.

Zen For Everyday Life by Buddhaimonia (Matt Valentine)

Zen For Everyday Life by Buddhaimonia (Matt Valentine)

Buddhaimonia’s book, Zen For Everyday Life, is a great guide for those who want to live a more peaceful and stress-free life. The book covers various topics such as meditation, mindfulness, and other techniques that can help you live a more zen lifestyle.

Buddhaimonia provides readers with practical tips and advice that can be easily implemented into one’s everyday life. One of the things I appreciate most about the book is that it is not overly philosophical or religious – Buddhaimonia simply presents the information in a down-to-earth manner that is easy to understand and follow.

If you are looking for a book that will help you live a more peaceful and content life, I highly recommend Zen For Everyday Life.

The Daily Zen Journal

The Daily Zen Journal is a daily journal that helps people to live a more zen life. The journal provides a space for people to reflect on their day and to set intentions for the future. The journal also includes quotes and advice from zen masters to help people live a more mindful and peaceful life.

FAQs About Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism

What is Zen Buddhism?

Zen Buddhism is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes meditation and intuition over intellectual study. It is known for its unique approach to teaching, which often includes paradoxical statements or koans meant to challenge the student’s preconceptions.

Where did Zen Buddhism originate?

Zen Buddhism originated in China during the Tang Dynasty, though it did not gain widespread popularity until it was introduced to Japan in the 12th century.

Who were the most important figures in the development of Zen Buddhism?

The most important figures in the development of Zen Buddhism include Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen school; Hui-Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen; and Dogen, the founder of the Soto school of Zen.

What are the key principles of Zen Buddhism?

The key principles of Zen Buddhism include the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the doctrine of emptiness.

What are the main practices of Zen Buddhism?

The main practices of Zen Buddhism include meditation, mindfulness, and ethical living.


After reading these zen books, it’s clear that they can provide a lot of wisdom and advice for living a more peaceful and fulfilling life. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to live a better life, then be sure to check out these zen books.

Happy reading with the best Zen Buddhism books!

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