Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

If you're new to the forum or new to Buddhism, this is the best place for your questions. Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Post Reply
joshua
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 5:20 am

Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by joshua » Wed May 13, 2020 10:11 pm

Hello,

I have been practicing Theravada Buddhism for approximately 10 years now, however I know very little about Mahayana and it's various schools and practices. I would like to learn more however I am unsure about the most appropriate place to begin. I am interested in some books about the history of Mahayana Buddhism and a general overview of it's schools, lineages, and practices. I realize much of this information is available via the web, however I would ask for book recommendations as I quite prefer a physical book. Many thanks in advance. :)

smcj
Posts: 7017
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by smcj » Wed May 13, 2020 11:56 pm

Are you looking for an overview or actual teachings?
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

Nicholas Weeks
Posts: 4124
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am
Location: California

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu May 14, 2020 12:19 am

joshua wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 10:11 pm
Hello,

I have been practicing Theravada Buddhism for approximately 10 years now, however I know very little about Mahayana and it's various schools and practices. I would like to learn more however I am unsure about the most appropriate place to begin. I am interested in some books about the history of Mahayana Buddhism and a general overview of it's schools, lineages, and practices. I realize much of this information is available via the web, however I would ask for book recommendations as I quite prefer a physical book. Many thanks in advance. :)
This one you will find a great help:

BUDDHISM One Teacher, Many Traditions
by the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron

Foreword by Bhante Gunaratana
May all seek, find or follow the Path of Buddhas.

joshua
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 5:20 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by joshua » Thu May 14, 2020 12:31 am

smcj wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 11:56 pm
Are you looking for an overview or actual teachings?
Both are fine. I am not necessarily interested in beginning a Mahayana oriented practice at this time. Nor am I necessarily opposed to it. I am satisfied with my current practice. However, I realize Buddhism is more than simply Theravada and I would like to understand what The Dhamma means to others. I hope that is a bit more clear.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Former staff member
Posts: 5149
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: AU

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 14, 2020 12:41 am

'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

joshua
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 5:20 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by joshua » Thu May 14, 2020 1:16 am

Thank you. I recall having the Rupert Gethin's book some years back, however I gave it a former co-worker of mine to keep. Thanks for jogging my memory. I may consider buying this again. The other 2 look great as well. :)

If anyone else has any more suggestions I would be delighted. My interest at this time is academic in nature. Currently, I fully intend to continue my practice in the Theravada style. This is what I am comfortable with at this time in my life. However, I also acknowledge there is more to Buddhism than Theravada, and I wish to understand other schools and practices as well.

User avatar
sangyey
Posts: 487
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:00 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by sangyey » Thu May 14, 2020 1:26 am

‘Essence of the Heart Sutra’ by HH Dalai Lama

avatamsaka3
Posts: 434
Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:11 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by avatamsaka3 » Thu May 14, 2020 2:11 am

My suggestion would be to pick a tradition you are interested in and research it using its own teachings. Peter Harvey's "Introduction to Buddhism" is a useful resource for gaining insight into a wide range of Buddhist traditions.. but the best thing really would be to pick something and read it on its own terms.

smcj
Posts: 7017
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by smcj » Thu May 14, 2020 3:39 am

However, I realize Buddhism is more than simply Theravada and I would like to understand what The Dhamma means to others. I hope that is a bit more clear.
“Indestructible Truth” by Reginald Ray was (maybe is?) used as the text for the Into to Buddhism 101 course at Naropa University. It’s written by one of Trungpa R’s main students but has none of T.R.’s jargon. Don’t think of it like a dry textbook. It’s quite readable. It what I wish was available when I started.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

joshua
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 5:20 am

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by joshua » Thu May 14, 2020 11:33 am

Thanks for all the great suggestions. This is plenty to get me started!

User avatar
Losal Samten
Posts: 1506
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:05 pm

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Losal Samten » Thu May 14, 2020 4:41 pm

Shantideva's Bodhisattvacarya (some people prefre the first edition with a blue cover, as it's more lyrical than the later red cover edition)
https://www.amazon.com/The-Way-of-Bodhi ... 07DTNBWG5/

Taranatha's Essence of Ambrosia is a superb collection of contemplations; first building from turning the mind away from worldly things, then on how to generate renunciation from samsara, and then on how to generate Mahayana bodhicitta.
https://www.amazon.com/Essence-Ambrosia ... 8186470379
I need to attain buddhahood. I therefore need to cultivate bodhicitta since it is the cause of buddhahood. The cause of bodhicitta is compassion. The cause of compassion is love. The cause of love is appreciation and gratefulness. The cause of appreciation is recognising all sentient beings have been my parents. I should meditate on developing these qualities in stages.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 7825
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Astus » Fri May 15, 2020 8:48 am

1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Wayfarer
Former staff member
Posts: 5149
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: AU

Re: Best books on general Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Fri May 15, 2020 10:28 am

That Westerhoff title looks terrific :thumbsup:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

Post Reply

Return to “Discovering Mahayana Buddhism”