This selection presents books that give excellent overviews of Tibetan Buddhism.

For beginners and those with beginner's mind.

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Books by Tibetan Teachers

Books by Western Teachers

Books by Tibetan Teachers

No Self No Problem (Anam Thubten Rinpoche, formerly Tulku Thubten Rinpoche)

Rinpoche's target is always the heart of the matter which he clarifies in simple words accessible to Western thinkers without any knowledge of or commitment to Buddhism….This book, based on talks given in 2005 and 2006 in Berkeley and Point Richmond, California, reflect Rinpoche's profound knowledge and insight into the human condition with clarity, humor and ruthless honesty. He shares his spiritual journey openly and honestly.                                                                                              

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Table of Contents


Bokar Rinpoche: Meditation Advice to Beginners

An inexhaustible source of inspiration, the teachings of Bokar Rinpoche help to train the mind and discover the subtle domain of meditation without losing one's way. His book consists of two sections: an approach to meditation and a detailed and informative manual. Bokar Rinpoche shows how suffering and happiness do not depend on external circumstances but on the mind itself. He offers ways to avoid suffering and develop happiness and peace using the practices of mental calming, superior insight, and mahamudra.

"Distracted by sense objects or by the succession of thoughts, our mind never remains stable in its own essence. Knowing how to maintain our mind it its own nature, as it is, without being distracted by either outer phenomena or inner thoughts, is precisely what we mean by meditation." --Bokar Rinpoche.

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Bokar Rinpoche: The Day of the Buddhist Practitioner

Giving up the ordinary activities of the mundane world to devote ourselves to spiritual practice alone would create an ideal condition for inner growth. This is possible for very few individuals. For the rest of us who must juggle work, family, friends, and deal with all kinds of emotions, a way to integrate our spiritual practice into daily like is much needed. Bokar Rinpoche gives us this guidance in a variety of situations so we can ground our spiritual practice in every moment of our ordinary life and become more mindful.

For all of us who must juggle work, family, friends, and deal with all kinds of emotions. This wonderful little book give practitioners an outline for meaningful practice moments throughout the day, including morning milestones, meal practice suggestions, and evening practices. Other chapter headings give guidance for using circumstances mindfully (happiness, suffering, illness, small occasions, television) and developing right conduct (the ten positive deeds and the ten negative deeds). An appendix lists a few important mantras (English phonetics only). There is also a short glossary and index. A treasure!

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Dalai Lama: Dalai Lama at Harvard: Lectures on the Buddhist Path to Peace (trans. and ed. by Jeffrey Hopkins)

"In 1981, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave an in-depth introduction to Buddhist theory and practice in a series of lectures at Harvard University. Using the foundational Buddhist topic of the Four Noble Truths, he covers a spectrum of topics such as: The Psychology of Cyclic Existence; Consciousness and Karma; Cessation and Buddha Nature; Paths and the Utilization of Bliss; Techniques for Meditation; Altruism; Valuing Enemies; Wisdom." Snow Lion

"The best teachings from the East are the ones given by the Dalai Lama."--Joseph Campbell


Dalai Lama: Path to Bliss (trans. by Geshe Thupten Jinpa)

"One of the most accessible of the traditional introductions to Tibetan Buddhism. Outlines systematic practices which cultivate our true inner potential, not assuming any prior experience on the part of the beginner, while providing rich material for the more advanced practitioner. " --Snow Lion

"Path to Bliss sets a new standard for accessibility and sheer pleasure of reading for translations from Tibetan." --Daniel Goleman, Parabola Magazine


Excellent Path to Enlightenment (by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche)

"In this book Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche explains a standard practice text composed by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892) on the Vajrayana preliminaries: taking refuge, generating the thought of achieving enlightenment for the sake of all beings, performing the meditation and recitation of Vajrasattva to remove hindrances on the path to enlightenment, offering the mandala to accumulate merit and wisdom, and developing proper reliance on a spiritual teacher.

Clear, direct and personal, these instructions illuminate the heart of Vajrayana practice. Included here is the Tibetan text as well as the mantras and prayers commonly recited in conjunction with this practice." --Snow Lion


Gates to Buddhist Practice: Essential Teachings of a Tibetan Master (Chagdud Tulku) (revised edition)

In Gates to Buddhist Practice, His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche presents the traditional wisdom of the Vajrayana path. Since its original publication, Rinpoche has continued to teach widely and address the questions of sincere students grappling with the many challenges, concerns, and even skepticism encountered in genuine spiritual practice. These questions, as well as Rinpoche's incisive responses, form the basis of the material added to this revised edition. Rinpoche provides insight into formal meditation practice and demonstrates how spiritual truths can be of immediate help in our daily lives. Thus new readers will benefit from other students efforts to clarify their understanding with an authentic spiritual teacher.

"This is a rare book: a brilliant guide to the spiritual path by a master of outstanding qualities who has taught in the West now for many years. Simple yet profound, intimate and immediate, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche's words speak to us all. They show how, by bringing the light of wisdom and compassion into every corner of our lives, we can come to understand the mind and transform its emotions, and so discover the boundless freedom of our true nature." --Sogyal Rinpoche


Jamgon Kongtrul: Teacher-Student Relationship: A Translation of "The Explanation of the Master and Student Relationship, How to Follow the Master, and How to Teach and Listen to the Dharma (trans. by Ron Garry)

It is crucial for students of Vajrayana Buddhism to find an authentic wisdom teacher, and know how to properly rely upon that teacher in order to awaken to their buddha nature and thereby attain full enlightenment. As Buddhism is still relatively new in the West, one doesn't always know how to go about this essential task. Fortunately, the topic has never been more thoroughly explored, and the ideal relationship more clearly delineated, than by the unsurpassed tibetan teacher Jamgon Kongtrul in the tenth chapter of his monumental Buddhist encyclopedia, The Treasury of Knowledge.

Translated by Dr. Ron Garry, this essential text clearly lays out what credentials and qualities every student should look for in a wisdom teacher, why a wisdom teacher is necessary, and how the relationship between this teacher and disciple best develops once it is established. With chapters such as "How to Seek the Wisdom Teacher," "Why a Wisdom Teacher is Necessary," "Categories and Qualifications of the Master," and "How to Choose a Wisdom Teacher," this authoritative work places into the hands of every student all one needs to know to undertake the most fundamental and important step on the path: finding a qualified wisdom teacher.

This book also includes a teaching by Gyatrul Rinpoche that explains for Western students the critical importance of the teacher-student relationship in Buddhist practice.

"I highly recommend this book because it shows us in a clear and concise way how to create and nurture this relationship..." --from the foreward by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche


Jamgon Kongtrul: The Torch of Certainty (trans.by Judith Hanson with foreward by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche)

This translation of a fundamental tantric text reveals the richness and profundity of the great intellectual and contemplative traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.The text describes the four foundational practices that 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 book.

Three eminent contemporary Tibetan Buddhist masters -- Kalu Rinpoche, Deshung Rinpoche, and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche -- explain the significance of The Torch of Certainty for modern-day students and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.


Kalu Rinpoche: Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism: The Gem Ornament of Manifold Oral Instructions Which Benefits Each and Everyone Accordingly

Foundations presents the fundamental practices of this tradition in a clear and easily accessible manner. Beginning with an overview of the Buddhist path, Kalu Rinpoche goes on to explain the preliminary practices of taking refuge, prostrations, Dorje Sempa purification meditation, mandala practice, guru yoga and the guru-disciple relationship. He then discusses the vows of the lay person, the bodhisattva and the tantric practitioner. The book closes with a wonderful explanation of meditation both with and without an object and the key points of mahamudra meditation. Short glossary of terms with Tibetan transliteration included with English explanation.


Luminous Mind: The Way of the Buddha (Kalu Rinpoche)

Comparing Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche with Milarepa, the greatest meditation master Tibet has ever known, His Holiness the Dalai Lama extols the author of Luminous Mind as a "beacon of inspiration" for spiritual practitioners of all traditions. Noting that "there have been few like him before or since," His Holiness urges us to delve into this remarkable anthology of the late Kalu Rinpoche's essential instructions so that we may encounter "the full range of Buddhist practice from the basic analysis of the nature of the mind up to its ultimate refinement in the teachings of Mahamudra."

Drawn from both his lucid writings and his eloquent oral presentations, this unprecedented book lays bare the full grandeur of Kalu Rinpoche's legacy. At the same time, the gentle words and playful stories of this master of meditation are filled with a depth of clarity and warmth that could only arise from a profound realization of both wisdom and compassion.

Includes a very useful glossary of terms in English, Tibetan (Wylie transliteration), and Sanskrit; a glossary of proper names; detailed index.


Kalu Rinpoche: Writings of Kalu Rinpoche (by Kenneth McLeod)

Rinpoche discusses the four thoughts which motivate religious practice; the qualities of the Three Jewels and the Practice of the Six Perfections are explained. Includes a short story entitled 'The Prince and the Stallion' which illustrates the magic-show nature of reality. Wonderful little book!


This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment (Khandro Rinpoche)

Using the traditional Tibetan Buddhist framework of the Four Reminders--the preciousness of human birth, the truth of impermanence, the reality of suffering, and the inescapability of karma--Khandro Rinpoche, a woman who is one of the most highly trained living Tibetan masters, explains how we all can better use this short life to pursue the spiritual path. With the use of contemplative exercises she focuses on how we can learn to see this life as a gift--and how, by achieving peace ourselves, we can bring a seed of happiness to other people.


Thrangu Rinpoche: Everyday Consciousness and Buddha-Awakening (trans. by Susanne Schefczyk)

This introduction to Buddhist Psychology supplies essential instructions for successful meditation practice. It sets forth the nature of mind and human potential and presents meditation practices that can powerfully influence and ultimately transform the mind into the purified mind of a buddha.

Rinpoche clearly describes how consciousnesses operate in everyday perception and how, at the time of Buddhahood, these same consciousnesses express the five primordial wisdoms of the five Buddha families.

"With characteristic cogency, clarity, and precision, Thrangu Rinpoche lays out the Buddhist description of mind, in both its conventional and tantric dimensions. Then he invites us further in, showing how these teachings give voice to the subtlety of meditation experience and can lead us to the profundity of the awakened state itself." --Reginald Ray, Professor, Naropa University


Four Ordinary Foundations of Buddhist Practice (Tib. tun mong gi ngon dro shi) (Thrangu Rinpoche, trans. by Ken and Katia Holmes)

During the fifth century of our era, a tremendous explosion of philosophical thought appeared on the earth. During this time, the Buddha began delivering a remarkable set of teachings. He taught that instead of relying on a god or on materialistic pursuits, one can attain true, permanent happiness by simply examining one's own mind.

When Tibet became a Buddhist nation beginning in the 8th century A.D., the great practitioners and learned scholars who came from India were faced with the problem of how to convey the Buddhist teachings to a large population of traders and farmers who for the most part were illiterate. The great Indian scholar Atisa brought the Four Foundations of Practice to Tibet in the 11th century. These four foundations are identical to the "four thoughts that turn the mind towards dharma" that were taught by the great meditator Gampopa. He elaborated on these, and these four thoughts have served to help thousands of students in Tibet to understand why they should begin dharma practice. Because these four thoughts are the basic reason for practicing dharma, they are said to be the four general foundations of Buddhist practice.

These foundations are general to all levels and all sects of Buddhism and can be contrasted to the four special foundations (Tib. Ngöndro) which are specific to Vajrayana Buddhism.

Includes beautiful reproductions of Tibetan calligraphic sayings, handwritten by Rinpoche, as chapter introductions. Also a short glossary, appendix of Tibetan terms, and index.


Thrangu Rinpoche: Practice of Tranquility and Insight: Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation

This is a practical guide to the two types of meditation that form the core of Buddhist spiritual practice. Tranquility meditation (shamatha in Sanskrit; Shinay in Tibetan) aims at stilling the mind, while insight meditation (vipanshyana in Sanskrit, lhaktong in Tibetan) produces "clear vision," or insight into the nature of all phenomena. With masterful scholarship and the ability to make subtle ideas easy to understand and apply in practice, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche explains this unified system of meditation for students both beginning and advanced. These teachings are based on the eighth chapter of the Treasury of Knowledge by the great 19th-century master Jamgon Kongtrul (see his works above). With Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary, this complete, encyclopedic work is now made accessible to Western students of meditation.


Turning Towards Liberation: The Four Reminders (Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche)

A treasure of a shirt pocket-sized book. Ponlop Rinpoche masterfully outlines the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind. This is excerpted from "The Chariot for Traveling the Noble Path" by Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje.


Words of My Perfect Teacher (Patrul Rinpoche, trans. Padmakara Translation Group; forewords by the Dalai Lama and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche)

For more than a century, The Words of My Perfect Teacher has served as a guide to the spiritual practices common to all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the classic commentary on the preliminary practices of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle of teachings -- the great spiritual treasure of the Nyingmapa school, the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The author, Patrul Rinpoche, makes his subject accessible through a wealth of stories, quotations, and references to everyday life. His sense of poetry and irony, and his warm, colloquial style infuse the texts with the atmosphere and vitality of an oral teaching.

This second, revised edition is the result of a detailed and painstaking comparison of the original Tibetan text with the English translation by the Padmakara Translation group. The new edition also includes translations of a postface written a century ago by the first Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche, and a new preface by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Extensive notes, glossary of English and Tibetan (Wylie transliteration) terms with definitions, short bibliography, index, and many beautiful line drawings.

See also Guide to The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Khenpo Ngawang Pelzang)


Guide to the Words of My Perfect Teacher (Khenpo Ngawang Pelzang)

This guide provides readers with essential background information for studying g and practicing with Patrul Rinpoche's'Words of My Perfect Teacher--the text that has, for more than a century served as the reliable sourcebook to the spiritual practices common to all the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. By offering chapter-by-chapter commentary on this renowned work, Khenpo Pelzing provides a fresh perspective on the role of the teacher, the stages of the path, the view of the Three Jewels, Madhyamika (the basis of transcendent wisdom), and much more.

"The definitive guide to Patrul Rinpoche's classic is now available in English, allowing English-speaking practitioners to deepen their study and understanding of this indispensable collection. This remarkable volume is an important step in the ongoing transmission of buddhadharma to the West."--Khandro Rinpoche, author of This Precious Life

See also Words of My Perfect Teacher

Books by Western Teachers

Beginner's Guide to Tibetan Buddhism: Notes from a Practitioner's Journey (Bruce Newman)

This book speaks powerfully and directly to the Western student who is working to integrate this incredibly vast tradition of Tibetan Buddhism into the realities of daily life. Drawing on his many years of practice and teaching, and using personal anecdotes, the author skillfully addresses obstacles, doubts, and confusions that every reader will recognize.

"Bruce Newman has been my close student for almost thirty years. I am confident that he will be able to share his insights with others and help them on the Buddhist Path." Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and meditation master.


Buddhism for Beginners (Thubten Chodron)

Buddhism for Beginners covers the most fundamental questions and issues that arise in the minds of modern Western individuals who are new to this tradition of practical spirituality. Written in clear and engaging language, this book presents the Buddhist approach to the fundamental issues and concerns of daily life. Thubten Chodron guides us through the basic tenets of Buddhism, encouraging and instructing us in how to live a more peaceful, mindful and satisfying life. She untangles our confusions and leads us through the most basic aspects of this rich, living spiritual tradition.

"This book is written for people wanting to understand Buddhist principles and how to integrate them into their lives...it will be of much benefit to its readers."--The Dalai Lama

"In answering the most basic questions, this book will help new practitioners dispel confusion and gain a realistic, down-to-earth approach to the Buddhist path...the perfect gift for family and friends who wish to understand one's engagement with Buddhism."--Alexander Berzin, author of Relating to a Spiritual Teacher and Developing Balanced Sensitivity


Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (John Powers)

This is the first comprehensive introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Beginning with a summary of the Indian Buddhism and how it eventually was brought to Tibet, it explores Tibetan Mahayana philosophy and tantric methods for personal transformation. The four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as Bon are explored in depth. This book is a systematic and wonderfully clear presentation of Tibetan Buddhist views and practices.

"The most substantive and comprehensive introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture. This engaging book is both thorough and accessible." --David Curtis, executive director of the Tibetan Language Institute

"The vitality of Tibetan Buddhism in exile has exceeded anything anyone could have predicted; hence the need of a book that presents its history, doctrines, lineages, practices, and tantric essence in a comprehensive and cogent overview. John Powers's Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism does this!" --Prof. Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions


Open Heart, Clear Mind (by Ven. Thupten Chodron Rinpoche)

This introduction to the Buddhist world-view by Thubten Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, focuses on the practical application of Buddhist psychology to modern life. In a straightforward style and with warmth and humor, she sets forth the fundamental points of the path taught by the Buddha for transforming habitual attitudes and realizing our full human potential.

"Will help many on the path of meditation and in dealing with the challenges of everyday life." --Thich Nhat Hanh


Taming the Mind (Thubten Chodron)

We all wish to gain greater understanding of ourselves. This ideal follow-up to the author's extremely popular Buddhism for Beginners explains in clear an simple language the essence of Buddhist philosophy and psychology, together with practical tools for its immediate implementation in our daily lives.

We all want to have good relationships with others. Chodron offers practical techniques to help us gain a more spacious perspective on relationships, whether they be between lovers, parent and child, employer and employee, friends, or spiritual teacher and student. Guidelines are given for how to practice, freeing ourselves from habitually blaming others for our problems and learning to be on the spot and take responsibility for our lives. This book describes how our mind/heart, not the external world, is the ultimate source of our happiness. We learn how to look at people and situations in an entirely new light. The book concludes with a discussion of common misconceptions about Buddhism.

The author's down-to-earth language and examples invite us to not only engage the material, but to implement it in our own lives. The author's open-minded approach makes this book suitable for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

"Ven. Thubten Chodron is someone whose life embodies the virtues of kindness, simplicity and a clarity of vision which lie at the heart of the Buddha's teaching. It is these perennial qualities that shine through her writings and touch the hearts of readers all over the world." Thubten Jinpa, translator for H.H. the Dalai Lama.


The Four Noble Truths: The Four Immeasurables. By H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche

75-min. DVD. The enormous range of teachings to be found within Tibetan Buddhism can be summarized by the Four Noble Truths, which the Buddha expounded shortly after his enlightenment. The Four Immeasurables help us cultivate loving kindness, compassion, equanimity and empathetic joy. Comprehensive talks on these topics were given by Situ Rinpoche during the week of his 50th birthday celebration. Has 2nd audio tracks with Mandarin translation. Overseas customers: these DVDs are in NTSC format and will not work on PAL DVD players.


Ngondro: Karma Kagyu Preliminaries. By the 17th Karmapa, H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, et al.

Excellent DVD featuring Ngondro teachings as well as useful practice loops that can work like a personal coach for each of the foundational practices. Step-by-step instructions, complete sadhanas, and commentaries by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Tai Situ, and Lama Karma Wangdu, plus an aspiration prayer by the 17th Karmapa. Includes Tibetan transliteration and English translation. 70-min. DVD. Overseas customers: these DVDs are in NTSC format and will not work on PAL DVD players.


Three Teachings by Karmapa (Bodhicitta, the Guru/Student Relationship, and Shinay/Lhaktong) by the 17th Karmapa

This 97-minute DVD features H.H. 17th Karmapa speaking in 2003 on bodhicitta, the guru/student relationship, and shinay and lhagtong meditations. These are the first video teachings by His Holiness to be released publicly. Much of the proceeds go to H. H. Karmapa. Overseas customers: these DVDs are in NTSC format and will not work on PAL DVD players.

Browse these other subjects which may be of interest

Beginning Language Materials | Books about Tibetan Teachers
Art of Tibet | Books About Tara
Buddhism in Daily Life


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