The Book of Five Rings (1643) is one of the most insightful texts to have ever been written about the nature of confrontation. Penned by a wandering samurai in seventeenth-century Japan, it’s a timeless study of the mindset of the warrior – literal and figurative.
The Analects is a collection of twenty “books” that contain valuable quotes and sayings from the Chinese philosopher Confucius, as well as his disciples. These words of wisdom date back thousands of years, but they have remained remarkably relevant throughout the ages.
Tao Te Ching (circa 400 BC) is one of the foundational texts of Taoism, the enduring philosophical and religious movement that can be traced back to around the fourth century BC. Throughout the ages, its poetic wisdom continues to be relevant, inspirational, and timeless.
Sun Tzu and the Art of Business (1996) explains how ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu’s classic text The Art of War applies to the hyper-competitive environment of modern business. These blinks explore how business leaders can integrate Sun Tzu’s battle strategies into their own plans for market domination.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), using the allegory of a motorcycle road trip, guides you through one man’s questionings of the philosophical and metaphysical order of the world.
The Way of Zen (1957) is a classic work that lays out the historical origins and core principles of Zen Buddhism. Our world is changing at breakneck speed, and it often seems that the old rules cease to apply as soon as we’ve gotten used to them. The Eastern philosophy of Zen can help us find the mental stillness and the joy in uncertainty we desperately need.
Kaizen (2019) is a guide to the improvement philosophy known as kaizen, which encourages taking small steps to complete ambitious goals. Already well established in the world of business and sports, this method can also be applied to personal development. Using practical examples, this guide explains how to take a kaizen approach to setting goals that’ll improve health, relationships, money, and work.
The Art of Simple Living (2019) explores the little habits that will make a big difference in your daily life. It explains the teachings of Zen Buddhism and reveals how to put them into practice. Packed with useful tips, this is your how-to guide for a more tranquil life.
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (1998) explains core Buddhist teachings, including the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. It shows how to apply these practices to daily life to transform suffering into joy and heal the pain of others.
Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life (2007) takes you through each verse of the Tao Te Ching, the classic text related to the philosophical and spiritual traditions of Taoism. Drawing from different modern interpretations, the author draws out the fundamental teachings and suggests ways in which Taoism continues to be relevant and beneficial today.
The Four Noble Truths of Love (2018) brings ancient Buddhist wisdom out of the monastery and into the bedroom. By adapting the timeless insights taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago to the nature of love, it shines a light through the murky mess of modern romance.
In The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951), author Alan Watts discusses the paradoxical nature of modern life: we pursue goals and covet material goods that promise happiness, but which leave us feeling empty and more anxious than ever. As we indulge in unproductive thoughts about the future or the past, we tend to forget about what is most meaningful – the present moment.
How to Live a Good Life (2020), edited by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman, is an introduction to 15 philosophies for living our lives. Ranging from ancient ideologies, through the major religions, to contemporary schools of thought, 15 leading scholars enlighten us with the philosophies that guide their lives.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1978) is a classic text on yogic philosophy and practice. Written in ancient Sanskrit, it explains the core metaphysical, spiritual, psychological, moral, and ethical ideas of yoga. It also lays out the principles of how to practice yoga, so you can put those ideas into action and use them to achieve lasting happiness and inner peace.
On Having No Head (1961) is a one-of-a-kind classic of philosophy, spirituality, and mysticism. Combining empirical observations, mystical experiences, logical arguments, personal introspection, practical exercises, Zen Buddhism, and other Eastern spiritual traditions, its aim is to smash through the dualisms that lie beneath much of Western thought: subject and object, mind and body, self and non-self, internal and external world. In their place, the author contends that we can see ourselves and the world around us in a radically different way.
Karma (2021) is a crash course in karma. Filled with explanations, stories, and personal anecdotes, it dispels myths and common misperceptions about karma, explains the science and universality behind the concept, and presents practical tips on how to live a free and joyful life.
The Tao of Physics (1975) explores the relationship between the hard science of modern physics and the spiritual enlightenment of Eastern mysticism. These blinks lay out striking parallels between relativity theory and quantum theory on the one hand and Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism on the other.
The Earned Life (2022) poses a simple yet profound question: Why does a life of constant achievement often leave us feeling empty? The answer can be found in ancient Buddhist wisdom: it’s not meeting ambitious goals but rather working on meaningful goals that really brings fulfillment and happiness.
Destiny Disrupted (2009) tells history from an Islamic perspective. It begins before the emergence of Muhammad and Islam in the seventh century CE and ends with the decline of the Islamic empires in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. On this epic journey, Tamim Ansary describes the fascinating stories of great Muslim states, scholars and leaders – a perspective on history that is, unfortunately, widely unknown to most Westerners.
What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader (2019) explains how we've lost sight of some of the most important aspects of leadership, and it presents helpful philosophical perspectives to get us back on track. Drawing from both ancient and modern philosophy, the authors outline simple yet powerful approaches to rethinking strategy, management, and communication. And what’s even better is that these philosophical “hacks” aren’t just for CEOs. By using these thought experiments and insights, we can all flourish at work and outside of it.
Walden (1854) is the result of the two years Henry David Thoreau spent in the woods on the north shore of Walden Pond, a lake in Massachusetts. It is both a practical and philosophical account of how he sustained himself through farming and by building his own house, and what he learned about human nature by living a simpler life. Although it was a deeply personal experience, Thoreau’s approach to society teaches us how we, too, can approach the modern world.
Trying Not to Try (2014) is your guide to ancient Chinese philosophy. These blinks explain why you should allow life to manifest itself to you without forcing things to happen. They also introduce ways to live a less stressful life.
The Quiet Mind (1971) is the firsthand account of an American intelligence agent who traveled the Eastern world in search of inner peace. Throughout his remarkable life, author John. E. Coleman explored a wide breadth of spiritual paths, from Thai Buddhism to Zen to Quakerism. Ultimately, he found the greatest success with vipassana, a type of meditation he later imparted to his own students.
Sovereign Self (2020) explores the Vedas. Revealed over 5,000 years ago, these texts are a cornerstone of Hinduism, Buddhism, and countless other religious traditions in the Indian subcontinent. Packed with spiritual insights, the Vedas revolve around a single central question: How to live in accordance with the true nature of reality? As you’ll discover in these blinks, the answer begins by discovering your own, true self.
Living Presence (1992) explores how the teachings of the ancient Islamic practice of Sufism can act as a balm against our fractured, ego-driven age. Sufism teaches that an infinite spirit connects all life and that by becoming mindful of the here and now, we can glimpse this spirit in ourselves and others. Ultimately, in connecting to this presence we allow ourselves to become kinder, more intentional, and more alive. In short, more human.
Nine Lives (2009) is a study of spirituality and religion in contemporary India. Drawing on William Dalrymple’s in-depth interviews with religious practitioners, these blinks will whisk us from Tibet to Karnataka to Kerala and West Bengal as we explore four remarkable – and remarkably pious – lives. Along the way, we’ll unpack the social and historical context in which these believers’ faiths emerged and continue to be practiced.
Gemba Kaizen (1997) is an introduction to the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen, which revolutionizes working standards to reduce waste and increase efficiency at little cost. Author Masaaki Imai reveals the aspects of Kaizen that are crucial to building lean business strategies.