Studying Spiritualism and Buddhism: Introductory Reading List
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Studying Spiritualism and Buddhism: Introductory Reading List

Exploration of introductory Buddhist and spiritual texts.

I’ve been exploring Buddhism through my own perceptions for years now. I want to take a Factoid to look at some of the great works which have influenced my Buddhism. Not so much as to say these are the be-all and end-all of Buddhism.  There is an aspect to religions that can only be experienced by their monks.   I have never experienced more than a couple of meditation sessions with others. My experience is my own, very powerfully so, and my experience with texts.

First, I feel I must suggest reading Huston Smith’s ‘The World Religion’s’. Smith has a wonderful way of looking into the inner workings of religions. More specifically, he really hits the ‘spiritual’ aspects of the world’s religions. His presentation is a very objective look at extremely subjective experiences. I love to suggest this work, because I think we should learn about all religions in the effort to understand spirituality as a common denominator between us. Smith looks at Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Aboriginal religions.

The second book, which I’ve found most useful in my walk in spirituality, is The Dhammapada. The Dhammapada contains the sayings of the Buddha. It is full of meaningful statements that are used through memorization or perhaps simply mindfulness. I like to think of it as the ultimate book on Buddhism. I re-read it over and over again. To me, this work is calming and ever more useful on a personal journey; as it seems to speak to any and every situation we may encounter in life.

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere is a book I’ve only recently come to read. I feel it to be the ultimate ‘new-to-Buddhism’ book. I say this to point out that Buddhism centers around altering one's mind through meditation. The meditative processes most basic to Buddhism are those of compassion and insight. This work is detailed and very instructive in these areas. When I first took a Philosophy of World Religion course in school, this is the book I was looking for afterwards.

Further levels of meditation can be picked up in Stages of Meditation. This work is explication of the Kamalashila’s intermediate stages of meditation as commented on by the Dali Lama. It is a deep look into the more difficult levels of meditation. Looking not at maintaining the state of meditativeness, but in attaining Buddha-like levels of compassion in very deep meditative states. In all, this book is very deeply meditative and yet completely accessible to all beginners.

The Essential Ken Wilbur is a ‘new age’ look at meditation, mysticism and spirituality; despite being labeled as such, it contains very 'old' thoughts.  Transcending the Levels of Consciousness is very similar. Each work takes a look at the values of honing one’s mind through meditation. They look at reality in much the same way as Buddhism. Though they are not strictly Buddhist, they can be invaluable to someone who wishes to know more about the spirit of Buddhism and meditation.

Some of my similar works can be found in the following articles:

What is Buddhism? 

World Religions vs. Religion or Spirituality

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Rama Quotes

Great quotations on Buddhism, meditation, and mysticism by American-born zen master Rama, Dr. Frederick Lenz.