The Experience of Samadhi: An In-Depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation, by Richard Shankman

Richard Shankman’s valuable book The Experience of Samadhi lays out the main concepts surrounding the samadhi and the jhanas, then presents eight interviews on this subject with well known contemporary teachers. An excellent orientation.

The Buddha, by Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong’s lively and appreciative biography The Buddha was a New York Times best seller. Scholar, writer, and sometime journalist, Armstrong has also written fluently and sympathetically about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on ethical commitments and interpreting unfamiliar lifeways. In this book she offers a blend of early records and later legends as a biography of the founder of Buddhism.

The Sociology of Early Buddhism by Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett

Early Buddhism flourished amid buoyant economic conditions and cultural changes in north-eastern India from the fifth century BCE onwards. This book begins with the apparent inconsistency of Buddhism, a renunciant movement, surviving within a strong urban environment, and draws out some implications. In spite of the Buddhist ascetic imperative, the Buddha and his monks moved … Continue reading The Sociology of Early Buddhism by Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett