Buddhism and Literature

This section is still being developed. Edited by Kyle Garton-Gundling.

Introductions and readings on the following Buddhism and Literature topics are available through Oxford Bibliographies Online:

Abhidharma/Abhidhamma Literature


Avataṃsaka Sutra


Buddhism and the Beats

Buddhism and Modern Literature

Chan Literature

Chinese Āgamas


Dunhuang, Texts

History of the Buddhist Canon



Kyōgyōshinshō (Shinran)

Lotus Sūtra

Mahāvairocana Sūtra/Tantra


Oral and Literature Traditions

Pure Land Sūtras


Sugata Saurabha

Sutta (Pāli/Theravada Canon)

Tantric Literature

Tibetan Book of the Dead

Tibetan Buddhist Verse Literature


Visualization/Contemplation Sutras

Visuddhimagga (Buddhaghosa)



Literary Studies

Alpert, Avram. A Partial Enlightenment: What Modern Literature and Buddhism Can Teach Us About Living Well Without Perfection. Columbia University Press, 2021.

Garton-Gundling, Kyle. Enlightened Individualism: Buddhism and Hinduism in American Literature from the Beats to the Present. Ohio State University Press, 2019.

Humphries, Jefferson. Reading Emptiness: Buddhism and Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

Mitchell, Scott A. “Buddhism and the Beats.” Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism, edited by Richard Payne, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Normand, Lawrence, and Alison Winch, eds. Encountering Buddhism in Twentieth-Century British and American Literature. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.

Whalen-Bridge, John, and Gary Storhoff, eds. The Emergence of Buddhist American Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.

Whalen-Bridge, John, and Gary Storhoff, eds. Writing as Enlightenment: Buddhist American Literature in the Twenty-First Century. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011.

Religious Studies

Coleman, James. The New Buddhism. Oxford U Press, 2001.

McMahan, David L. “Mindfulness, Literature and the Affirmation of Ordinary Life.” The Making of Buddhist Modernism, by David L. McMahan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 215-240.

Prothero, Stephen R. The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott. Indiana University Press, 1996. 

Seager, Richard. Buddhism in America. Columbia U Press, 1999.

Tweed, Thomas. The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912. UNC Press, 1992.

Versluis, Arthur. American Gurus : From American Transcendentalism to New Age Religion. Oxford University Press, 2014.

—. American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions. Oxford University Press, 1994.

Other Resources

Buddhist Fiction Blog

A review of contemporary Buddhist fiction with links to books and related information.