Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”: A Practitioner’s Guide for Liberation

In this book, Ben Connelly shows the power of integrating early Buddhist psychology with the Mahayana emphasis on collective liberation. You’ll discover how wisdom from fourth-century India can be harnessed to heal and transform systems of harm within ourselves and our communities.

The three natures (svabhavas)—the imaginary, dependent, and complete, realized natures—are inherent aspects of all phenomena. The imaginary nature of things is what we think they are. Their dependent nature is that they appear to arise from countless conditions. The complete, realized nature is that they aren’t as we imagine them to be: things that can be grasped or pushed away. The three natures form the backbone of Yogacara philosophy, and by showing us how to see beyond our preconceived notions of ourselves and others, beyond the things that we’re convinced are “true,” they open up a path to personal and communal healing.

Dive into this empowering approach to freedom from suffering, from harmful personal and social patterns, and to finding peace and joyfulness in the present.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Vasubandhus-Three-Natures-Practitioners-Liberation/dp/1614297533

Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara: A Practitioner’s Guide

In this down-to-earth book, Ben Connelly sure-handedly guides us through the intricacies of Yogacara and the richness of the “Thirty Verses.” Dedicating a chapter of the book to each line of the poem, he lets us thoroughly lose ourselves in its depths. His warm and wise voice unpacks and contextualizes its wisdom, showing us how we can apply its ancient insights to our own modern lives, to create a life of engaged peace, harmony, compassion, and joy.

In fourth-century India one of the great geniuses of Buddhism, Vasubandhu, sought to reconcile the diverse ideas and forms of Buddhism practiced at the time and demonstrate how they could be effectively integrated into a single system. This was the Yogacara movement, and it continues to have great influence in modern Tibetan and Zen Buddhism. “Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only,” or “Trimshika,” is the most concise, comprehensive, and accessible work by this revered figure.

Vasubandhu’s “Thirty Verses” lay out a path of practice that integrates the most powerful of Buddhism’s psychological and mystical possibilities: Early Buddhism’s practices for shedding afflictive emotional habit and the Mahayana emphasis on shedding divisive concepts, the path of individual liberation and the path of freeing all beings, the path to nirvana and the path of enlightenment as the very ground of being right now. Although Yogacara has a reputation for being extremely complex, the “Thirty Verses” distills the principles of these traditions to their most practical forms, and this book follows that sense of focus; it goes to the heart of the matter—how do we alleviate suffering through shedding our emotional knots and our sense of alienation?

This is a great introduction to a philosophy, a master, and a work whose influence reverberates throughout modern Buddhism. 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Vasubandhus-Yogacara-Practitioners-Guide/dp/1614292841

Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology

Based on the fifty verses on the nature of consciousness taken from the great fifth-century Buddhist master Vasubandhu and the teachings of the Avatamsaka Sutra, Thich Nhat Hanh focuses on the direct experience of recognizing, embracing, and looking deeply into the nature of our feelings and perceptions.

Presenting the basic teachings of Buddhist applied psychology, Understanding Our Mind shows us how our mind is like a field, where every kind of seed is planted—seeds of suffering, anger, happiness, and peace. The quality of our life depends on the quality of the seeds in our mind. If we know how to water seeds of joy and transform seeds of suffering, then understanding, love, and compassion will flower. Vietnamese Zen Master Thuong Chieu said, “When we understand how our mind works, the practice becomes easy.”

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Our-Mind-Buddhist-Psychology/dp/1888375302