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The Dhammapada

The Sayings of Buddha

A core text of Buddhism, The Dhammapada literally means something along the lines of "the path of truth and righteousness" and is packed with wisdom. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at some central tenets of Buddhism (like the Four Noble Truths, nirvana, and the eightfold path) and soak up some Buddha mojo on how to rock our wisest lives.

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The Way of the Bodhisattva

The Way of the Bodhisattva is one of the classics of Buddhism that teaches us the key elements of the Bodhisattva—one who has dedicated his or her life to serving the world and releasing all sentient beings from suffering. In this Note, we’ll check out the importance of cultivating bodhichitta (an “awakened mind”) and how we can do it. (Hint: It’s all about “diligence in virtuous ways”! :)

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Everyday Zen

Love and Work

Charlotte Joko Beck was the founder and former head teacher at the Zen Center in San Diego. I bought this book 10 years ago but it wasn’t until Eleanor recently pulled it off the shelf and dropped it on the ground that I picked it up and read it. (Very Zen, eh? lol) The book is a collection of edited talks Joko gave at her Zen center. It was published in 1989 when she was 82. (She passed away at 94 in 2011.) Fun fact: Joko started practicing Zen at 48. She went on to become an influential figure in the American Zen movement, founding her own approach called Ordinary Mind. So… If you feel a little “behind” in any aspect of your life, take heart! :) The book is packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites with some practical wisdom we can apply to our lives TODAY.

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Buddhism Day by Day

Wisdom for Modern Life

Buddhism Day by Day is a collection of thoughts from Daisaku Ikeda, the leader of Nichiren Buddhism and one of the most respected Buddhist philosophers alive whose work has inspired millions around the world. It’s a very ENGAGED form of Buddhism that I love. Big Ideas we explore include: True enlightenment, making a vow, the real optimism, repaying debts of gratitude, nourishing our soul and how to measure our true worth.

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Beyond Religion

Ethics for a Whole World

I got this book after Ray Dalio strongly recommended it in Principles. It’s always a joy to read the words of a wise master. The Dalai Lama’s incredible thoughtfulness, humility, and grounded wisdom is inspiring. Big Ideas we explore include how to rethink secularism and create an ethics for a whole world, moving from knowing to doing, emotions (helpful or not vs. feel good or bad), contentment (material vs. mental), plus some meditation tips.

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Mindfulness

An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World

Mark Williams is one of the world's leading authorities on applying mindfulness to cognitive therapy. In this great book, he teams up with Danny Penman to help us find peace in a frantic world. In the Note, we explore the what and why and how of cultivating our mindfulness. And, bonus, we get our raisin mind rockin'!

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When Things Fall Apart

Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist teacher and prolific author with an incredibly strong, yet compassionate and grounded perspective. This book is all about facing challenging times with courage as we lean into our fears and grow. We'll explore a bunch of Big Ideas on everything from why we should meditate to how long the process of actualizing takes (roughly the rest of our lives :)!

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The Places that Scare You

A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

We've all got places that scare us and in her great book, Pema Chodrön helps us shine a compassionate light on them. We'll explore some Brilliant Ideas including the fact that being mad at someone and holding a grudge is kinda like eating rat poisoning thinking you're going to hurt the rat. Not so much. We'll also look at idiot compassion and the practice of rejoicing in others' good fortune and other wonderfulness.

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Buddha’s Brain

The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom

Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and meditation teacher and this book delivers on its sub-title, delivering a practical look at the neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom. It’s packed with Big Ideas on the science of how our brains work and he shares a broad range of various practices and guided meditations to help us re-wire our brains. Good stuff.

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No Mud, No Lotus

The Art of Transforming Suffering

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s leading Buddhist monks. He is a true master and it’s a joy to connect with his powerful wisdom. I picked this book off the shelf after fires nearly burned down our town. It felt like a good time to remind myself of the fact that the good life is not—and cannot be—exclusively “good” times. Want a beautiful lotus flower? Embrace the mud. No mud, no lotus. Want a wonderful, flourishing life? Embrace the challenges. No challenges, no flourishing. Big Ideas we explore include: suffering goes with happiness, lotus flowers don’t grow in marble, feed the good stuff, the first thing to do when suffering strikes (breathe!), billions of funerals/b-days every day, the two arrows, and why the Buddha meditated after becoming the Buddha.

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Fear

Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

A Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh is, essentially, a living saint. In this great little book, Nhat Hanh delivers his essential wisdom on how to navigate the storms of life with more grace and poise as we cultivate fearlessness/nonfear. Big Ideas range from breathing in the moment, reflecting on interbeingness (= huge), and enhancing our energy of mindfulness and concentration.

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Peace Is Every Step

The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

A humble Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most revered spiritual leaders on the planet. This book is a collection of wisdom from his talks and private conversations and is packed with peaceful wisdom. In the Note, we’ll explore Big Ideas ranging from the importance of our breath and what he calls “mouth yoga” (aka smiling :) to how we can practice engaged mindfulness.

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Silence

The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master and one of the world's leading spiritual teachers. In this great book he teaches us how to access the power of quiet in a noisy world. Big Ideas include bringing awareness to the "Four Nutriments" we consume, tuning in to the right radio station in our minds and creating an island of self.

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The Buddha in Your Mirror

Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self

Looking for the Buddha? Cruise on over to your mirror and you'll find him (or her). YOU are the Buddha and this book shows us how to realize that fact and live from that awareness. Big Ideas range from rockin' your swan legs and cleaning your face to become who you are truly are.

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The Miracle of Mindfulness

An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

Written in 1975, The Miracle of Mindfulness is one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s earliest books. It was originally written as a long letter to one of his main staff members in South Vietnam—encouraging him during very challenging times to continue their work of “engaged Buddhism.” It’s beautifully written and packed with wisdom. Big Ideas we explore include what qualifies as a miracle (hint: it’s ALL a miracle), choosing to sit or stand but avoiding the wobble, how to balance on top of a bamboo pole and three questions to ponder.