our library

The Brooklyn Zen Center Library houses our collection of books, including introductions to Zen practice, the foundational teachings, primary sources, commentaries, and the teachings of historical and modern teachers.

Here, you’ll find the guidelines to using the library, a map of the organization of the library, the head teacher’s study guide and a reading list for progressive study.

Library hours are currently on standby, but feel free to use the library during our public programs

If you have any questions about the library or would like to volunteer to be a librarian, please contact us at info [at] brooklynzen [dot] org.

Library Guidelines

1. Library books may not generally be removed from BZC. Books may be read either in the library itself or in the main public area. For study discussion, or when library hours concur with dokusan, use the main public area for reading.

2. Please don’t reshelve books, but place them in the book return basket below the library altar.

3. BZC members may borrow only the books labeled with a large circular orange sticker on the binding. To borrow a book, submit a $20 deposit to the current librarian on duty during open library hours, which are posted on the library web page (above). Books are due back in three weeks in exchange for the deposit.

4. If you need books for a class or other special non-personal reason, still be sure to inform the librarian.


For a pdf version, click here.

BZC Library Map

Study Guidelines

Why Study?

1. To align the mind with the dharma, to align the mind toward awakening.

2. To inquire, memorize a section, sentence or paragraph you don’t understand. Use it as a koan by letting it sit on the back burner, allowing understanding to arise spontaneously.

3. To use the reading to illuminate the teachings in everyday life.

4. To give the discursive mind something to do.

5. To understand and appreciate the teachings.

6. To stop the mind by facing things it does not understand, allowing the mind to “not know”; to exhaust the energy of the conceptual mind.

7. To be with others in the sangha, studying together and enjoying the intellectual pursuit of the dharma.

8. To confirm insight that has arisen on its own, or to confirm obstructions and see that others have experienced those as well.

9. To challenge in two ways: to challenge what you understand, and to hone and deepen understanding.

Detailed Study List

Updated 20 April 2014.

These lists are only initial suggestions, but we have many more books on each topic. Please browse and find the one that speaks to you.

Notes on formatting:

Throughout this list, group headings are emboldened (e.g., Group One). Topical sections are underlined (e.g., The Five Hindrances). Names of books and works are generally italicized with the author’s name in parentheses after (e.g., Mindfulness (Joseph Goldstein)), except for sutras and works with a non-English title, which are in plain text with the original title in parentheses after (e.g., The Sutra on the Parable of the Saw (Kakacupama Sutta)). Other topics without specific references, and recommended authors without specific books, appear in plain text (e.g., Seven Factors of Awakening).


Group One (Return to the Basics)

Intro to Buddhism Section (Core)
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Suzuki-rōshi)
The Issue at Hand (Gil Fronsdal)
Wide Awake (Diana Winston)
The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Mindfulness Section (Core)
Mindfulness (Joseph Goldstein)
Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization (Analayo)
The Miracle of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Transformation and Healing (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Four Noble Truths Section (Core)
The Four Noble Truths (Ajahn Sumedho)
The Four Noble Truths (Dalai Lama)

Precepts Section (Core)
(Ten Specific Precepts)
Being Upright (Reb Anderson)
Waking up to What You Do (Diana Rizzetto)

Suzuki-rōshi and Katagiri-rōshi Sections (Core)

Group Two

More Precepts
(Vow, Taking Refuge, Three Jewels)
Returning to Silence (Katagiri-rōshi)
Precept Material in Core Section (Chögyam Trungpa)

Sutras and Commentaries:
1. The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)
2. The Finger-Snap (Aŋguttara-Nikāya Ch. 6)
3. The Kesaputtiya Suttas
4. The Meghiya Sutta from the Udana, and The Bahiya Sutta
5. The Sutra on the Parable of the Saw (Kakacupama Sutta)
6. The Elder Discourse (Theronamo Sutta, Agama Samyukta 1071)
7.  The Sutra on Knowing a Better Way to Live Alone (Bhaddekaratta Sutta)
8. Breath-Mindfulness Discourse (Anapanasati Sutta)
9. The Discourse on the Establishing of Mindfulness (Sattipathana Sutta)
10. On Right View (Kaccayanagotta Sutta)
11. The Simile of the Snake (Alagaddupama Sutta)
12. Two Kinds of Thought (Dvedhavitakka Sutta)
13. On Angulimala (Angulimala Sutta)
14. The Metta Sutta (Karaniya Metta Sutta)
15. Sutra on the Great Passing (Maha-parinibbana Sutta)

Modern Teachers
Darlene Cohen, Charlotte Joko Beck, Cheri Huber, Steve Hagen, Bernie Glassman, Maureen Stewart, Kōshō Uchiyama-rōshi, Toni Packer

Work Practice
Lou Richmond, Mark Lesser, Darlene Cohen.
The One Who is Not Busy (Darlene Cohen)

Platform Sutra (6th Ancestor Huineng)
Tenzokyokun (Dōgen)
Opening the Hand of Thought (Kōshō Uchiyama-rōshi)
Trust in the Heart Mind (Sheng-Yen)

The Five Hindrances
Unhindered: The Five Hindrances (Gil Fronsdal)

Three Marks of Existence (various books)
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche)

Chögyam Trungpa
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
The Path of Individual Liberation
The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion

Group Three

Sandōkai (Sekitō Kisen)
Heart Sutra and Commentaries

Abhidharma (selected topics)
Five Aggregates
Dependent Coarising
52 Mental Factors

Transmission of Light (Keizan Denkoroku)
The Hidden Lamp (Florence Caplow ed.)
The Meaning of Life (Dalai Lama)

Seven Factors of Awakening
Lives of Zen Teachers (various books)
Four Divine Abodes (brahmaviharas)

Some Dōgen
Discourse on the Practice of the Way (Bendōwa)
The Whole Works (Zenki)
General Recommendations for doing Zazen (Fukanzazengi)
Continuous Practice (Gyōji)

Dependent Coarising (in two ways)
Twelve Links
Causes and Conditions

Two Truths (in general, but not Nagarjuna yet)

Group Four

Trungpa, Pema Chödrön

Book of Serenity
Blue Cliff Record

Thirty Verses (Vasubandhu)
Hokyozanmai (Tōzan Ryōkai)
The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) (Buddhaghosa)
The Lotus Sutra

The Paramitas (Bodhisattva Section)
The Six Paramitas (Sheng Yen)

The Bodhisattva Way (Shantideva)
No Time to Lose (Pema Chödrön)
For the Benefit of All Beings (Dalai Lama)
The Four Activities of a Bodhisattva (Katagiri-rōshi)
The Bodhisattva’s Four Methods of Guidance (Dōgen)

Flower Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra)

Hua-yen Buddhism

Group Five

The Middle Way (Dalai Lama)

Dōgen’s Extensive Record (Dōgen)

More Dōgen (Shobogenzo)
Genjo Koan
The Time-Being (Uji)
Birth and Death (Shoji)
Mountains and Waters (Sansui-Kyo)
Everyday Activity (Kajo)
Painting of a Rice Cake (Gabyo)

Tozan’s Five Ranks (various books)
The Summary of the Great Vehicle (Asanga)
The Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness (Trungpa)

Eckart Tolle

Go have fun!