There is excellent teaching available in English. This list offers just a beginning. Please remember that we read the dharma to guide our practice. Reading is not practice itself. Instead, it serves as a leavening agent for our practice.


Shunryu Suzuki. Zen Master Suzuki is one of the original Soto Zen teachers who came to America from Japan. He founded the San Francisco Zen Center which was the first Zen monastery in the United States.

Zen Mind Beginners Mind.  This timeless book was many practitioners’ first introduction to the written marrow of Zen. It is an excellent place to begin.

Not Always So. This is another excellent resource by Shunryu Suzuki..

Thich Nhat Hanh. “Thay” has been an extraordinary teacher for decades. He practiced engaged Buddhism in Vietnam during the Vietnam war and led a Buddhist peace delegation to try to end the war. His teachings are open-hearted and personal, and manifest a spirit of mindfulness. He has written over a hundred books. These are a few that give a clear introduction to his teaching:

Peace is Every Step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An introduction to the practice of meditation

No Mud, No Lotus: The art of transforming suffering

The Art of Living: Peace and freedom in the here and now

Uchiyama Kosho Roshi. Deceased Japanese Soto Zen Master and former Abbot of Antaiji Temple in Japan.

Opening the Hand of Thought. This is the best available book on the practice of Shikantaza, the Soto Zazen practice of “just sitting”.

From The Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment. This book presents a translation of and commentary on Zen Master Dogen’s “Instructions to the Cook”. It articulates how the wholehearted practice of the monastery cook completely manifests the mind of Buddha.

Shohaku Okamura. Student of Uchiyama Roshi and Abbott of the Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington, IN.

Living by Vow. This book offers the definitive English commentary on the core Soto Zen Sutras and clarifies many essential Zen teachings.

Charlotte Joko Beck. Founder of the San Diego Zen Center.

Nothing Special and Everyday Zen. These are two of Joko Beck’s well-known books, integrate western psychology with Zen teachings and address many contemporary issues practitioners face in a clear and direct way.

Taigen Dan Leighton. Soto Zen priest and Abbot of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago IL.

Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen and the spirit of creative inquiryThis book offers deep insights into Dogen’s major writings and relates the practice of zazen to writers such as Rumi, Mary Oliver and even Bob Dylan.

Zenshin Florence Kaplow & Reigetsu Susan Moon. Florence Kaplow is a Soto Zen priest, botanist, essayist and editor. Susan Moon is a lay teacher in the Everyday Zen Sangha, writer and editor.

The Hidden Lamp: Stories from 25 centuries of awakened women.This collection draws together koans about women in Buddhism and offers commentaries on them by current women Zen teachers.

Shundo Aoyama.  Zen master and Abbess of the Aichi Senmon Niso-do, a training temple for Soto Zen nuns in Nagoya, Japan.

Zen Seeds. This book is translated by Dai-En Bennage, Abbess Emerita of Mount Equity Zendo Jihoji. It offers a practical, warm and direct presentation of how to follow the Buddha’s teachings. 

Eido Frances Carney. Founder and guiding teacher of the Olympia Zen Center.

Zen Teachings in Challenging Times. This book, edited by Rev. Carney, offers insight from twenty-five Soto Zen women teachers about developing compassion to face and transform suffering and hardship. It includes a forward by Reverend Dai-En Bennage.

Jikyo Cheryl Wolfer. Soto Zen priest and Dharma successor of Frances Eido Carney at the Olympia Zen Center in Washington

The Eightfold Path. This book, edited by Rev. Wolfer, offers an in-depth presentation of each element of the foundational teaching of the Buddha (the Eightfold Path) by eight Soto Zen priests.


Many Zen centers have teachings available in podcast and MP3 format. You can access them through your podcast store or through the Center’s website.

Here are several:

San Francisco Zen Center

Upaya Zen Center              

Everyday Zen Podcast        

Village Zendo                       

Zen Nova Scotia