The best way to study the dharma is with the assistance of a well-trained, highly-accomplished, respectable teacher who has dedicated time and energy to learning the texts, practices, and art of beneficial discourse. Multiple excellent teachers offer a great span of understanding of how one might approach the dharma personally.
The best way to practice the dharma is to live its simple truths in your everyday life: harmlessness, compassion, bodhicitta, joy in the joy of others, mindfulness, and balance. These truths, in spirit and action, are also congruent with the heart of many pagan paths.
A combination of dharma study and commitment to learning from source material/qualified teachers, an actual, regular practice, and the daily choice to live in service to both the dharma and one's own pagan path are all that is required to be a dharma pagan. Below, please find some resources that may be helpful. This is by no means an exhaustive library, but rather a curated collection of texts and links we find inspiring and relevant. If you have resources to add, please don't hesitate to contact us and let us know.
Dharma pagans who are drawn to ritual, shamanism, folklore, and energy work will find beneficial teachings in Tibetan Buddhism, with some of its lineages employing a mixture of the Bön (shamanic) religion, regional indigenous practices of Tibet, and classical Indian Tantric Buddhism.
Vajrayana, or "The Diamond Vehicle" is one form of Tibetan Buddhism practiced widely in the west. It is a complex web of distinct-but-overlapping texts and practices. At certain points, lineages might share the same teacher or text at the root, but the practices that emerge from each line are uniquely flavored with local customs, additions, and details.
Tibetan Buddhism is a product and a producer of Tibetan culture. Monastic life prior to the occupation, rich in ritual, structure, and sacred arts, offered many Tibetans some formal education and opportunity for personal development. Individuals returning to secular society after monastic life would frequently carry their educational experiences back to their own villages and families, bringing practice into their daily lives rather than containing it in the monastic setting. Women's self-evolved practices outside of the monasteries also provided guidance to the secular practitioners, and women brought a great deal of what might be considered "witchcraft" into the mix by serving as living Dakinis. A strong householder movement with a wide variety of practice adaptations emerged from this organic system, including Dzogchen, which is a high-level Vajrayana body of teachings designed to introduce the practitioner to the primordial state. As dharma pagans, often practicing outside of the monastic setting, the householder paradigm works well.
Tibetan Buddhism helps the individual move beyond a sense of selfishness to centeredness in union with all, and to move beyond self-serving to serving the needs of others as the primary form of repairing negative karma and generating positive karma. Meditation, mantras, sacred gestures, color systems, elemental workings, and mythic characters are all employed in the ritual setting. Visualization is a key aspect as well, much like the techniques described in many modern Pagan and occult books. Practitioners of modern American Hoodoo and Neo-Paganism will likely resonate with several of the practices of Tibetan Buddhism due to their ritualistic nature.
The Dawn of Tantra, Herbet V. Guenther & Chogyam Trungpa
Enlightened Courage, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Dakini Power, Michaela Haas
Beyond Religion, HH IV Dalai Lama
Mother of the Buddhas, Lex Hixon
Double Goddess, Vicki Noble
Longing for Darkness, China Galland
The Sky Dancer Sangha hosts online weekly Dharma Pagan practices for Kuan Yin.
Dzogchen Practice in Everyday Life, the words of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Video Teachings of His Holiness IV Dalai Lama
Wild Mind Buddhist, an excellent resource for Westerners
Jnanasukha: home of Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo
Tara Mandala, home of Lama Tsultrim Allione
Khandro.net, Dakini Land
The Heart Sutra, a major work for contemplation and practice
The Ngakpa Tradition, an interview with Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche
Ligmincha International, home of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Zen literally means meditation in Japanese, from Chinese chán quietude, from Sanskrit dhyāna meditation, and it is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition. And like Tibetan Buddhism, traces lineage back to India.
Simplicity is often associated with Zen and is what people notice most unique comparatively to other schools of Buddhism. Zen practice is indeed simple, we sit in seated posture called zazen and meditate; but it is far from simple. This is becuase to "just sit" and therein lies the biggest challenge with Zen. Just sit. The purpose of Zen is to become fully present in this moment with what Zen master's call "No Mind". Mind being our greatest distraction. The older we get, the more our mind becomes the vehicle that roots us in suffering. The goal, in Zen is to free the mind of wandering thought, distraction, or concentration, and rather invite the stillness of simply present.
To do this, we approach zazen with Beginner's Mind, and the notion that as beginners we have never experienced "mind." The practice is just the practice, an engement or relearning how to be fully present, right here, right now. Perceive directly, without filtering perceptions through beliefs and preconceptions. In Zen, we dissolve into the eternal now, and realize that the Universe itself peers out through our eyes, hears through our ears, and breaths each breath. Unity beyond all conception. To quote the Zen sage Dogen, "If not now, then when?"
The Fruitful Darkness, Joan Halifax, PhD, Roshi
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi
Everyday Zen: Love and Work, Charlotte Joko Beck, MD, Roshi
Zen in the Art of Archery, Eugen Herrigel
There is this expression, 'the mat is your mirror'. When we come to our mat to practice yoga we bring ourselves, we bring our being and probably, we will do our yoga in the same way that we live and do the rest of our life. Hence, if we practice consciously, with awareness of ourselves, we can come to learn what we are like, how we act, how we react and therefore enable us to change our mind, change our way of being, transform our minds, which in turn will affect the way we live and are in our day to day lives. It is awareness then that makes Yoga a spiritual practice, without awareness, yoga is simply stretch exercise, a system of techniques of mental and physical discipline.
Looking at spiritual practice from the Buddhist point of view, yoga can be seen as part of a set of practices that we engage with, in order to work on ourselves and help others to work on themselves. It is worth remembering that yoga is just one of several approaches to practice along with our work, study, friendship, meditation and puja (devotional practices). For most of us we can see our yoga practice as complementary to our other spiritual practices.
Yoga was meant, as a method of spiritual practice. According to Patanjali, who first systematized Yoga in his Yoga sutras around 100/200 C.E, "The activity of Yoga is passionate and devoted self enquiry or reflection' and that 'Surrender (i.e. giving up) of the projections (mental defilements such as ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and self clinging), comes from the serenity of practice and practice is the implementation of stability and is well established through consistent, lengthy and judicious application".
Passionate Enlightenment, Miranda Shaw
Asanas: 708 Yoga Postures, Dharma Mittra
The Kundalini Yoga Experience: Bringing Body, Mind & Spirit Together, Dharma Singh Kalsa & Darryl O'Keefe
Dharma, Yoga, and You, a personal narrative
Universal Peace Through Dharma and Yoga, writings from Dharma and Yoga Fest
Hinduism, Sanatana Dharma, and Yoga, from the America Institute of Vedic Studies
Yoga and Ecology, from the American Institute of Vedic Studies
The History of Yoga From Ancient to Modern Times, from Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani
The History of Yoga in India, by David Twigg