Inspiring Books for Beginners

A Conceptual Framework for Those Interested
in Theravada Buddhism and Meditation

We designed this book list to be read in this order and hope you benefit from it.

Essential Themes of Buddhist Lectures & A Buddhist’s Companion

by Ashin Thittila

Briefly, Buddhist Lectures offer a dignified view of how to alter our character in order to grow as a moral being and be able to take up mindfulness meditation. It also provides a comprehensive introduction to Theravada Buddhism.
(Free PDF download)

The Splendor of Enlightenment: A Life of the Buddha Part I and II

by Phra Khantipalo

This is a very well-thought out and touching presentation of the life of the Buddha. The author opens up a window into the distant past by introducing the events leading up to the birth of the Buddha-to-be and gives the reader a sense of the vast burden of existence.
(Mahamakut Rajavidyalaya Press, 1976)
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The 31 Planes of Existence

by Bhante Suvanno

Meditation master Bhante Suvanno introduces a rare conceptual view of how dying and living are tied into each other relentlessly.
(Free PDF download)

Great Disciples of the Buddha

by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker

These are biographies about some awe-inspiring beings that once were like you and me. They tell the stories of male and female monks, and male and female lay devotees of the Buddha—the best of the human crop.
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A Treasury of the Buddha’s Words
(Parts I, II, III)

by Phra Khantipalo
Phra Khantipalo makes the Buddha’s Middle Length Discourses more accessible to the beginning practitioner of insight meditation by distilling the essence of profound teachings and presenting them in clear, easy-to-read language.
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Straight From the Heart

by Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Nanasampanno
This Buddhist Meditation Master pierces through our ordinary understanding of our heart/mind. He illuminates how unclean and corrupt our everyday heart/mind is, and the urgent need to purify it before we can actually listen to it.
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An Unentangled Knowing: Lessons in Training the Mind

by Upasika Kee Nanayon

These teachings cut to the core of what it really means to correct and develop one’s moral behavior. This book will arouse urgency in those ready to take up the Buddha’s path in earnest and spur them on to practice Satipatthana Vipassana meditation.
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A Criterion of True Religion: Lord Buddha’s Discourse to the Kalama People

by Bhikkhu Khantipalo

This book puts into proper context what the Buddha meant by his advice to the Kalama people. This sutta has been widely misunderstood by intellectual minds and reinterpreted superficially to mean that one can question anything indiscriminately. The Buddha intended this discourse specifically for a group of people with very high moral character, and this discourse will only be helpful to those with very developed morality. Anyone who has practiced insight meditation in the West should read this book.
(Mahamakut Rajavidyalaya Press, 1986)

The State of Mind Called Beautiful

by Sayadaw U Pandita

And now, read this book before your meditation retreat!
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