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 “Let an intelligent person come to me, sincere, honest and straightforward; I shall instruct him and teach the doctrine so that on my instructions he would conduct himself in such a way that before long he would himself know and himself see...”  (Majjhima Nikaya, II, 44.)

The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya
Translated by Maurice Walshe

The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya
Tr. Bikkhu Nanamoli
Ed. Bikkhu Bodhi

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha
Tr. Bikkhu Bodhi

The Zen Teaching of
Huang Po on the Transmission of Mind

Translated by John Blofeld

The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion
Commentaries on the Diamond Sutra Translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathe! You Are Alive:
Sutra on the Full
Awareness of Breathing

Translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

Calm and Insight: A Buddhist Manual for Meditators
by Bhikkhu Khantipalo

Mindfulness in Plain English
by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana

The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron

Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory:  The Dharma of Natural Systems
by Joanna Macy

Buddhism Without Beliefs
by Stephen Batchelor

On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem
by Paul J. Griffiths

Digha Nikaya Self-Liberation
Majjhima Nikaya The Crystal and the Way of Light
Connected Discourses of the Buddha Dzogchen
The Zen Teaching of Huang Po The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind
The Diamond Sutra The Four Establishments of Mindfulness
Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing
Living in the Present
Calm and Insight
What the Buddha Taught
Mindfulness in Plain English
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Places that Scare You Boundless Healing
Mutual Causality
The Heart of Buddhist Meditation
Buddhism Without Beliefs
The Awakening of the West
On Being Mindless
Buddhism and the Mythology of Evil

Self-Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness
Tr. John Myrdhin Reynolds

The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen
by Namkhai Norbu

Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection
by the Dalai Lama

The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind
The Significance of the Sutra of Hui-Neng
by D. T. Suzuki

Transformation & Healing:
Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness

Translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

Our Appointment With Life: The Buddha’s Teaching on Living in the Present
Translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

What the Buddha Taught
Translation and commentary
by Walpola Rahula

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki
Ed. Trudy Dixon

Boundless Healing: Meditation Practices
to Enlighten the Mind
and the Body

by Tulku Thondup

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation: A Handbook of Mental Training
by Nyanaponika Thera

The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture
by Stephen Batchelor

Buddhism and the Mythology of Evil: A Study in Theravada Buddhism
by Trevor Ling

Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism, The Mahayana Context of the Gaudapadiya-Karika, by Richard King (State University of New York Press, New York: Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism1995).  I've been waiting for many years for a book that would trace the relationship between Vedanta and Buddhism, and Richard King has produced a balanced, scholarly study that is quite readable.  He has centered his thesis on an analysis of an early (pre-Shankara) Vedantic text, the Gaudapadiya-Karika (GK). He concludes that there are distinct Madhyamaka and Yogachara influences on the GK, and suggests the possibility that the GK in turn influenced the later Buddhist tathagatagharba philosophy. King carefully elucidates the similarities and differences between Vedantic and Buddhist thought, without slighting either tradition.  In the process he clarifies our understanding of the central doctrines of Buddhism--the emptiness of all dharmas, no-self, and the middle path--and likewise our understanding of the long tradition of eternalism and absolutism in the Vedantic teaching.  King provides copious footnotes, an excellent bibliography, and a running translation of the GK. The book was poorly proofed, as there are a number of typos, but they do not detract from the excellent scholarship displayed by Mr. King.

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Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism by Peter Masefield (Published by The Sri Lanka Institute of Traditional Studies, Colombo, 1987).This book should be read by anyone who is seriously interested in understanding early Buddhism.

One school of scholarly thought, represented in particular by J.N. Jayatilleke and David J. Kalupahana,  maintains that early Buddhists were strict empiricists.  This interpretation is very appealing to modern intellectuals in search of a spiritual home.  When I first encountered Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism I was a bit put off by the title and didn’t buy it.  The very thought of divine revelation being part of the Buddhist tradition was anathema to me. Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued, and I eventually did special-order it from Amazon.

Divine Revelation in Pali BuddhismMr. Masefield emphasizes that the technical language of Pali Buddhism, now 2000 years old, is still poorly understood and often incorrectly translated--the gist of his argument being that right view, the first step on the noble eightfold path, was only obtained by oral transmission directly from the Buddha himself.  Early Buddhists believed that the acquisition of right view "prevented the generation of any fresh kamma" and "brought to destruction the majority of all kamma previously generated."  Masefield argues that early Buddhism is essentially a religion of salvation through divine revelation.   Certainly Buddhism has changed continually over its 2500 years of existence, and human thought processes and the intellectual milieu 2500 years ago were quite different from our own. 

I cannot detail all the supporting quotations Dr. Masefield marshalls from the Pali Nikayas, but let me state that he makes his case very convincingly.  If his thesis does not jive with what most contemporary Buddhists teach about Buddhism, we must nevertheless give his argument the consideration due a serious Pali scholar .

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Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge by Kulatissa Nanda Jayatilleke (London:  George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1963) is a must-read for Buddhist scholars with an interest in  the origins of Buddhist thought.  Jayatilleke analyzes the philosophical background of Buddhism, both vedic and non-vedic, at great length, and then details the Buddhist response to all earlier philosophies, as well as to the acquisition of knowledge in general.  The last and most fascinating chapter is entitled "The Means and Limits of Knowledge," in which Jayatilleke speaks of empiricism in Buddhism and its limits when dealing with the ineffable.  In the final paragraph he says:  "The transempirical cannot be empirically described or understood...but it can be realized and attained."  Few other works cover the same ground, and the ones that do use this book as a reference.

I bought my copy of what appears to be a first edition, dated 1963, in a bookstore near Rice University, in Houston in 1970.  I didn't read it until 20 years later, and it was as good a read as I had always known it would be.  This book is out of print, but I have seen it recently on the used market.  I believe it has  been through at least one Indian edition.

Click here to buy a used copy from  aLibris.

A History of Buddhist Philosophy:  Continuities and Discontinuities by David J. Kalupahana (Honolulu:  University of Hawaii Press, 1992).  A thorough examination History of Buddhist Philosophyof the intracacies of Buddhist Philosophy, beginning with the Pali Nikayas, making a strenuous effort to understand precisely what the Buddha was saying, as recorded in these earliest sources, particularly in regard to non-substantiality and the middle way--avoiding the extremes of absolutism (both eternalism and nihilism).  It further traces the evolution of Buddhist thought through the analysis and classifications of the Abidhamma teachings, the Prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom) teachings, which deconstruct our normal modes of thought, Nagarjuna’s attempt to return Buddhism to its non-substantial philosophical roots, and on to the Lotus Sutra, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, Buddhaghosa, and finally to the Tantras and Ch’an or Zen.  The scope of the work is breathtaking.

A quote will give an idea of the tone of the book:  “If there were absolute certainty regarding the validity of the theory or belief or perspective, then holding it to be superior would be justified.  But our analysis of the Buddha’s epistemology and logic provided no evidence that he claimed such certainty; on the contrary, he was extremely critical of those who made such claims.”  (p. 237)

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