The following five books comprise of the essential 30 Challenges to Enlightenment book collection. The first three you must read as part of the challenge Zen Scholar, and the following two we consider masterpieces of eastern philosophy, Buddhism, meditation, and enlightenment.
If you have extra room on your bookshelves, check out our entire 30 Challenges to Enlightenment library, where you’ll all fifty books referenced in the guidebook.
Nietzsche and Zen: Self Overcoming Without a Self by André van der Braak
“In Nietzsche and Zen: Self-Overcoming Without a Self, André van der Braak engages Nietzsche in a dialogue with four representatives of the Buddhist Zen tradition . . . In doing so, he reveals Nietzsche’s thought as a philosophy of continuous self-overcoming, in which even the notion of ‘self’ has been overcome.”
The Way of Zen by Alan Watts
“In his definitive introduction to Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts explains the principles and practices of this ancient religion to Western readers. With a rare combination of freshness and lucidity, he delves into the origins and history of Zen to explain what it means for the world today with incredible clarity. Watts saw Zen as ‘one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world,’ and in The Way of Zen he gives this gift to readers everywhere.”
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa
“(Trungpa’s)… incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for nearly thirty years, and remains fresh as ever today.”
Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation by Larry Rosenberg
“Freedom from suffering is not only possible, but the means for achieving it are immediately within our grasp—literally as close to us as our own breath . . . In this book, Larry Rosenberg brings this timeless meditation method to life. Using the insights gained from his many years of practice and teaching, he makes insight meditation practice accessible to modern practitioners.”
“This book teaches us how to awaken our basic goodness and connect with others, to accept ourselves and others complete with faults and imperfections, and to stay in the present moment by seeing through the strategies of ego that cause us to resist life as it is.”
We recommend using a fine-tipped ballpoint pen to check off the challenges.
“The Pilot EasyTouch Retractable Ball Point Pen offers a unique look and feel. The form-fitting rubber grip provides exceptional comfort and makes writing a breeze. These handy retractable ball point pens have refillable revolutionary ink that is quick-drying so it won’t smear when wet, ensuring the safety of your document. There is no cap to lose, so you not only have a quality ball point pen, but a convenient one that you can confidently rely on for writing perfection. They are great for students, office workers or anyone who writes a lot.”
“Meditation should not be interrupted by aching bones and sore muscles. Our meditation bolsters are just the right balance of firmness and pliability, tightly packed with buckwheat hulls for proper firmness yet soft enough to conform to your body’s needs. Meditation bolsters provide you with a boost up from hard floors, thus relieving stress from your hips, knees and ankles. No more numb limbs and no more constantly adjusting your position. Bolsters also help to properly align and support your spine. Maintaining proper posture helps ease your mind and allows your energy to flow freely and smoothly. Let Peace Yoga keep you rooted in comfort so your mind and spirit can truly soar.”
“Zabutons are rectangular cushions often used under a zafu cushion to provide comfort and support to assist you in your sitting practice. Zabutons also make a very versatile yoga prop, and can be used to assist you in shoulder stand or even as a bolster when folded in half! Our 100% Cotton Zabuton Meditation Cushion is 36” long by 28” wide by 3” tall and comes in classic colors.”
“Enso, which means circle in Japanese, symbolizes enlightenment, elegance, and the universe. Traditionally, the enso is painted with a single clockwise brushstroke, beginning and ending at the bottom. The central display feature of the Enso Clock is the painted circle that surrounds the screen and is gradually brushed onscreen as the timer progresses. This way, the user can glance at the Enso and see the relative amount of time that has elapsed, eliminating the distraction of focusing on the exact numerical time that remains.”