Best Books on Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana is among the oldest styles of meditation in India. Defined as a way to perceive things according to through their very true nature, Vipassana was revived by Gotama Buddha nearly three thousand years ago and imparted the meditative technique as a universal treatment to a wide range of illnesses.

woman hand doing yoga

It’s not necessary to travel as far as India and other parts in Asia where Vipassana is taught and practiced to understand its fundamental principles. With the right book on Vipassana Meditation, you will have everything you need to start harnessing the power of this ancient method of meditation.

This review compares ten of the best books on Vipassana Meditation. Each book offers a distinctive approach in teaching Vipassana to readers and is also among the top reads recommended by both Vipassana practitioners and teachers alike. 

Top 10 Books on Vipassana Meditation

1. The Art of Living By Author William Heart

The Art of Living

An in-depth reading about the teachings of S.N. Goenka, created under his supervision and approval. The book is effective for people who practice meditation and those who don’t as well. This book was the first copy to be written in English that precisely depicts the way of Vipassana in full-length for the average reader. The book covers tales by Goenkaji and at the same time sheds light on numerous different questions made by readers which express a striking sense of his philosophy.

Pros:

The book reveals the Vipassana method -“the development of insight'”- which exemplifies the core of the philosophy of Buddha, bringing to light a particularly straightforward and useful course towards self-awareness that features only a few dogmas and at the same time offers superb results. The Vipassana method can effectively be used by any person regardless of his or her current level of knowledge and experience on the subject.

Cons:

The book is an opener to further courses which practices the method of Vipassana by Goenka. This method is not appreciated by many who practice yoga and meditation.

2. Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars By Jenny Phillips

Letters from the Dhamma Brothers

Through profound telegrams, dialogues, and tales, the Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars portrays the amazing influence that a life-altering retreat had on a band of prisoners held at a top-level maximum-security state penitentiary in Alabama, USA. The nearly 40 contributors of this first of its kind rigorous, quiet 10-day course conducted within the premises of a detention center – a lot of whom were sentenced to life without parole – describe the extent of their undergoing, the profundity of their knowledge of the principles and ways taught by Buddha obtained through personal experience, and their obstacles and achievements.

Pros:

This book demonstrates the ability of the human spirit to commit, self-examine, renew and have faith inside a miserable correction system and a more extensive belief that portrays prisoners as wicked and threatening human beings.

Cons:

The book is about rehabilitation through Vipassana. This topic remains debatable on approaches to criminal justice, particularly, whether to rehabilitate or punish criminals.

3. Satipathdha Sutta Discourses By S.N Goenka

Satipathdha Sutta Discourses

An abbreviated form of the teachings S.N. Goenka from a one-week meditation program on the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, throughout which Goenkaji recites and explains the sutta, providing life and inspirational significance to the main manuscript of the Buddha around meditative exercise.

Pros:

Satipathdha Sutta Discourses is primarily designed as a complementary book to people practicing the Satipatthana course as imparted by S.N. Goenka.

Cons:

The book is quite advanced because of plenty of extensive quotes written in Pali. At the same time, it fails to offer a well-defined clarification of the meditation technique that is portrayed in the sutta. However, if you are someone who has some experience with the practice as taught by S.N Goenka, the book will prove to be a superb source of information because of its mainly advanced elements.

4. An Ancient Path: Talks on Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka By Paul R. Fleischman

An Ancient Path

The discourses made by Dr. Paul Fleischman involving Vipassana meditation based on the teachings of S. N. Goenka deals with topics like mental well-being, being mindful, and nurturing a sense of peace from within.  An Ancient Path: Talks on Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N Goenka is a helpful primer to Vipassana meditation, and likewise an inspirational source of information for people who practice it at present.

Pros:

Fleischman offers a distinctive view and demonstration of meditation through a mentally healthful point of view even

Cons:

The points presented were repetitive. And it’s not necessary for you to be a mental health expert to take advantage of the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that the book offers.

5. Meditation Now: Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom

Meditation Now Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom

The world famous Vipassana meditation lecturer S. N. Goenka explains the very teachings of Buddha in this assembly of lessons, articles, and personal dialogues. This book offers awareness among the most powerful modern-day Buddhist experts and describes Vipassana and the way in which he utilizes it to attain internal peace and follow a happy, productive life. Covered within the book are texts of the latest lectures made at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at the Millennium World Peace Summit as well and a recently unpublished talk led by Alan AtKisson, previous editor of the In-Context magazine.

Pros:

The book outlines the transformative approach of Vipassana by Goenka. It serves as a guide to the practice for beginners and advanced yogis alike. It also serves as a reference or reading book for those who are interested in the topic of meditation and Vipassana.

Cons:

The book is a starter for a ten-day course on Vipassana by Goenka. Others may not appreciate the practice in actual.

6. Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book By Daniel M. Ingram

Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha

Writer Daniel M. Ingram postulates that enlightenment is a realistic possibility and contends that meditation is a means to examine the truth. Nevertheless, Ingram maintains that enlightenment is something that we can achieve, the moment we depart from our imaginary ideas regarding it, and if we understand how to utilize meditation as a means to examine reality instead of considering it as a chance to flounder on self-regarding mental noise.

Pros:

The author demonstrates precisely the distinction between two Vipassana meditations: one based on concentration and the other from insight. In the comparison, Ingram offers illustrative practices, and most importantly he imparts thorough charts of every state of mind we will possibly run into, and each stage you need to cope with as you move past accurately defined sets of insight.

Cons:

It won’t be hard to become intimidated, at the start, by the author’s guarantee and comfort in the advanced stages of consciousness, although Ingram constantly sounds as extremely humble and sympathetic as a teacher needs to be to practitioners who are open to pledging themselves to its principles and teachings.

7. Manual of Vipassana Meditation By U Ko Lay

Manual of Vipassana Meditation

The Manual of Vipassana Meditation is essentially an interpretation of the Dhammacakka Sutta and the Greater Satipatthana Sutta. The Manual of Vipassana Meditation covers interpretations of the three most vital Sutta by the Buddha and notaries regarding them. The first two dissertations of Buddha and Satipatthana Sutta are covered in the book as well.

Pros:

The three discourses are extremely vital when we are talking about practicing meditation. It is an imperative book if you have undergone some type of Theravada Buddhist meditation and have a desire to achieve some powerful ideas on the ways Buddha himself taught meditation.

Cons:

It derives knowledge from the Satipatthana on the possible ways mindfulness can be used by our senses although it will not clearly undergo the actual method of Vipassana that is utilized in Vipassana retreats. Nonetheless, it still remains a great book for people who are ready to take their first 10-day Vipassana retreat.

8. Awareness Itself by AF Jotiko

Awareness Itself

Ajahn Fuang Jotiko was a dedicated pupil of the teachings of Ajaan Lee. Following Lee’s passing, Ajahn Fuang carried on at Wat Asokaram, the lively monastery of Ajaan Lee situated close to Bangkok. Awareness Itself is an accumulation of the lessons taught by Ajahn Fuang Jotiko which are gathered and translated by his pupil Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Pros:

The book outlines short stories and responses that offer powerful messages.

Cons:

The stories and responses are too short for some to offer profound and in-depth explanations of the topic.

9. The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield (Goodreads Author)

The Wise Heart

This book, among the foremost spiritual educators of modern age, provides the most available and enlightening guide to the reformation psychology of Buddhism that has been published in the West. As opposed to the medical nature of the majority of psychological and psychiatric studies in the West, The Wise Heart offers a revelation of the glowing human nobility and a useful way of bringing it into fruition.

Pros:

If you are a mediator or mental health professional, regardless if you are a Buddhist or not, this book provides a remarkable expedition from the origins of consciousness towards the optimal manifestation of human potential.

Cons:

The book is written in a very academic manner which others may not find interesting.

10. Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization By Anālayo

Satipatthana The Direct Path to Realization

This book caters what has been, for an extensive time, an evident hole in the study of Early Buddhism, providing readers an in-depth view of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, the Buddhist discourse which serves as the foundation of meditative training. Through careful attention to detail, Ven. Anālayo organizes the suttas of the Pāli canon, works of contemporary learning, and the lessons of modern-day meditation gurus to create the powerful repercussions of this book, which is especially precise on what is true and perfect for present-day pupils of the Dharma.

Pros:

His study is the fusion of the separate independence of a learned scholar and the involved affection of someone who practices meditation and considers it as a way of living rather than a simple topic to mentally digest on. This is guaranteed to provide great value to those who wish to study Early Buddhism as well as those who are determined to learn the practice of meditation.

Cons:

The content offers knowledgeable information, while debatable, on the topic. But the book, however, gives minimal advice on the practice. The digital copy has a poor presentation.

The Best Books on Vipassana Meditation: Specifications

Book Author/Publisher Format Availability Specifications Price
The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka by William Hart

 

Amazon Digital Services LLC Kindle 178 pages

325 KB

English

$5.38
Harper San Francisco

(August 4, 2009)

Paperback 178 pages

Unabridged

English

$12.78
Audio/Cassette 15 languages

4 cassettes

5 hours

$129.95
Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars by Jeremy Phillips

 

Pariyatti Publishing (September 1, 2008) Paperback 240 pages

English

6”x0.8”x9”

11.2 oz

$12.05
Satipathdha Sutta Discourses by S.N. Goenka

 

Pariyatti Publishing (July 1, 2015) Paperback 143 pages

English

5.8”x0.5”x8.8”

12.6 oz

Used:

$5.47

 

New:

$10.65

An Ancient Path: Talks on Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka by Paul R Fleischman MD

 

Amazon Digital Services LLC

 

Kindle 186 pages

689 KB

English

$5.38
Pariyatti Publishing

(January 1, 2009)

Paperback 192 pages

English

5.5”x0.5”x8.5”

8.8 oz

Used:

$6.00

 

New:

$10.95

Meditation Now: Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom by S.N. Goenka

 

 

Amazon Digital Services LLC

 

Kindle 120 pages

522 KB

English

$5.38
Pariyatti Publishing

(September 1, 2003)

Paperback 128 pages

English

5.5”x0.4”x8.5”

7 oz

$9.44
Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book By Daniel M. Ingram

 

Aeon Books Ltd

(December 2, 2008)

 

Kindle Amazon Digital Services LLC

408 pages

1314 KB

English

$21.99
Paperback 408 pages

English

5.5 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches

1.3 lbs

Used:

$37.98

 

New:

$49.58 – $199.42

Manual of Vipassana Meditation by U Ko Kay

 

Vipassana Research Institute

(February 1, 2011)

Paperback 200 pages

English

10 x 6 x 0.3 inches

9.6 ounces

Used:

$3.45

 

New:

$9.95

Awareness Itself by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko

 

P. Samphan Panich Ltd

(1993)

Paperback 77 pages

English

8 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches

9.6 oz

Used:

$7.99

The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield Amazon Digital Services LLC

Kindle 450 pages

4069 KB

English

$1.99
Bantam

(April 29, 2008)

Hardcover 448 pages

English

6.5”x1.4”x9.5”

1.6 lbs

$48.85
Bantam

(April 29, 2008)

Paperback 448 pages

English

6.1”x0.9”x9.2”

1 lbs

$16.00
Sounds True; Unabridged edition (November 1, 2009) Preloaded Audio Digital Player Playaway Adult Nonfiction

English

5.2”x0.8”x7.2”

6.4 oz

$64.99
Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization By Anālayo

 

Windhorse Publications

(August 1, 2004)

Paperback

 

336 pages

English

6.2”x0.7”x9.2”

1.3 lbs

Used:

$12.18

 

New:

$26.93

Conclusion

These 10 books are the best references for Vipassana. However, you should take note that these books offer a guide to Vipassana. At the end of the day, you are your own master. You decide on whether these books are appropriate to apply and practice to attain the happy and contented life that you seek.