What books turn you on spiritually? I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours—your list. Heck, I’ll even expose myself first.
But before I do, I’ve got to thank Ron Gardner. He emailed me last month, saying:
I'm a long-time serious student of the Perennial Philosophy, and I want to commend you on "Return to the One." I derived both intellectual enjoyment and spiritual inspiration from reading it, and I plan on placing the book on the Recommended Spiritual Reading List that I'm in the process of putting together.
Well, that intrigued me. Both the praise of my book and Ron’s reading list. I asked him to send it to me when he was finished with it. Of course, a recommended reading list could never be finished by an avid reader, not until the final title was pried from his or her dead hands.
There’s always one more book.
So here’s Ron’s Recommended Spiritual Reading List as it stood in October.
I came up with my own list by asking myself a simple question: what books do I frequently turn to for inspiration? Not for information. Or intellectual stimulation. Or entertainment.
Rather, for uplift when I feel down. For getting centered again when I’m off kilter. For that burst of “Oh, yeah! Right on!” when I hear in someone else’s words what I should be speaking to myself, but am too lazy or irresolute to attend to my own inner voice.
Here’s my list. Bowing to tradition, I came up with ten books. That’s how many fingers are about to type out the titles. Seems fitting. They’re in the order I thought of them.
[Next day update: Must have grown another finger overnight. Had to add a D.T. Suzuki book to the end of the list.]
The Supreme Doctrine, by Hubert Benoit
Open Mind, Open Heart, by Thomas Keating
The Cloud of Unknowing, by Anonymous
Meister Eckhart: Selected Writings, trans. by Oliver Davies
Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, by Erich Fromm, D.T. Suzuki, Richard DeMartino
Talks With Ramana Maharshi, by Ramana
The Wisdom of Insecurity, by Alan Watts
The Book of Chuang Tzu, trans. by Martin Palmer
Taoist Meditation, by Thomas Cleary
The Tao of Zen, by Ray Grigg
The Zen Koan as a Means of Attaining Enlightenment, by D.T. Suzuki
If anyone wants to share his or her own favorite spiritual books, comment away. I’m always eager to help keep Amazon afloat. And I know others would be interested in your recommendations also.
Okay, I'll show you mine:
Dialogues with the Devil - Taylor Caldwell
Hitchhiker's Trilogy - Douglas Adams
Waldens Pond - Henry David Thoreau
Tao te Ching - Steven Mitchell
Sermons and Teachings - Meister Eckhart
God Emperor of Dune - Frank Herbert
Nag Hamadi Transcripts - various translators
Collected Writings - Florence Scovil Shinn
Chop Wood, Carry Water - Rick Fields
The Soul's Code - James Hillman
I had to omit several books that I technically read for personal insight & enjoyment (Vidal, Pratchett, Rumi, McKuen) and those that I turn to for specific mind-states (Aquinas, Crowley, Yates, Gawain) to access information.
I would add Johnathan Livingston Seagull, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, and The Tao of Pooh to the list since I turned to them constantly when I was younger and keep them around for old times sake.
Posted by: benandante | November 19, 2006 at 08:27 AM
Spiritual inspiration, that starts becoming a pretty broad range. In no particular order:
1. Infinite Way - Joel Goldsmith
2. Teachings of Bodhidharma - trans. Red Pine
3. Magick in Theory and Practice - Aleister Crowley
4. Triumph of the Sparrow - Shinkichi Takahashi
5. Goddesses, Ghosts and Demons, Collected Poems 790-816 - Li He
6. Selected Poems - Czeslaw Milosz
7. Te Tao Ching - trans. Robert G Heinricks
8. Li Po and Tu Fu - trans. Arthur Cooper
9. Chuang Tzu Basic Writings - trans. Burton Watson
10. Answer to Job - C. G. Jung
11. Fragments - Heraclitus
12. Knots - R. D. Laing
13. Yi Jing - Wu Jing-Nuan
14. Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast - Giordano Bruno
15. The Essential Rumi - Coleman Banks
Okay, that's more than ten, and I find I read poetry to feed my spirit. When I first think about spiritual inspiration, I think of the music I listen to, since I do not normally re-read books. These I go back to all the time, in whole and in part.
Posted by: Edward | November 19, 2006 at 09:04 AM
My list of books also exists. But I will do a better one by summarizing all my readings. This is the jist,pith,core,substance,sum,reduction or whatever you can call it, of my reading from all of these books. And this is also in a book, available freely from www.ramana-maharshi.org, by the name/title "Who Am I?"
by Ramana Maharshi. The particular line is this:
27. What is the difference between inquiry and meditation?
Inquiry consists in retaining the mind in the Self. Meditation consists in thinking that one's self is Brahman, existence-consciousness-bliss.
On reflection, after all my escapedes and adventures in this, I found that whenever one is in inquiry mode, one does not function as a thinking mechanism. Enquiry is characterized by any or all of the following words/processes, namely, unwinding,simplifying,deeper and deeper relaxing, giving up, not conceptualizing, being still, just be, surrender,childlike state,faith in the unknown, the father, etc.
For example prayer = stopping of conceptualization and being in that mode (=prayerfulness) etc.
Thus, Self Enquiry will result in the false ego reach a state of true being by annihilating itself; when this happens all questions stop as the ego that knows another has become one with the answer, like a lost person who finds his way back home by enquiring, becomes silent on reaching home.
Posted by: murali | November 19, 2006 at 03:17 PM
The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.
The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be spiritual or peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be spiritual or peaceful if we destroy Nature.
Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.
Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.
Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.
If there are no gaps there is no emotion.
Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.
When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.
There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.
People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.
Man becomes machine.
A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.
A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.
A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.
FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.
SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.
A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.
A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.
To read the complete article please follow either of these links :
Posted by: sushil_yadav | November 19, 2006 at 08:47 PM
This is a scary, mechanistic Philip K Dick meets Steven King world view. I simply am not "buying" the notion that "Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking." So the subsequent globe-encompassing damage purported to result from such a phenomenon must have another cause.
I am not disputing that "Our Minds cannot be spiritual or peaceful if we destroy Nature." Our minds are as natural as deer scat.
Read James Hillman's "Emotion: A Comprehensive Phenomenology of Theories and Their Meanings for Therapy."
Posted by: Edward | November 20, 2006 at 06:59 AM
Brian asked, "What books turn you on Spiritually?" Finally, something different to chat about.
I belong to the, "I don't Know" club.
Again, what did we decide the definition for Spiritually is? I forgot. Is Spirituality something Spiritual? Or, is Spirituality something Intellectual?
I think we talked about the process of "Turning On" to Spirituality. Again, could someone repeat that discussion for me?
Are books the only path to "Turning On?"
Again, I have a membership in the "I don't Know" club. Folks, my membership expires on December 31, 2006.
Does anyone have a copy of the 2007 Renewal forms? I wonder, should I renew or do something different?
Posted by: Roger | November 20, 2006 at 08:59 AM
Maybe the question can be phrased this way:
Can you name more than one book in which you found information that you used as a basis for asking questions about the condition of your own soul?
For purposes of the chat, let "soul" refer to the place where you hide from the scary things.
Posted by: Edward | November 20, 2006 at 12:45 PM
Listed are a few books that come to mind:
Pipe Threading Made Simple – Donald M. Dopit
Demonology for Dummies – Fredrick L. Fangorian
Encyclopedia of Female Belly Dancing (Pictorial) Vols. 1 & 2
Foundation Repair for Beginners – Samuel T. Slabbman
Posted by: Roger | November 21, 2006 at 06:04 AM
Chuang-Tzu - A.C. Graham translation (not as readable as Burton Watson, but philosophically more astute)
Daodejing, "Making This Life Significant": Philosophical Translation, Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall (though I still use the D.C. Lau translation as well)
Job (King James Version)
Ecclesiastes (various translations)
Master Yunmen: From the Record of the Chan Teacher "Gate of the Clouds", trans. Urs App
I and Thou, Martin Buber
Tales of the Hasidim, Martin Buber
God in Search of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel
Idries Shah, The Way of the Sufi
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Duino Elegies, Rilke - trans. by Edward Snow (and the other Snow translations of Rilke: Book of Images, New Poems, Uncollected Poems)
Poems of Paul Celan - trans. by Michael Hamburger
The Book of Light, Lucille Clifton
Riffs & Reciprocities, Stephen Dunn
Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Belknap Press variorum edition
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake
Passing Through, Stanley Kunitz
(I could go on, but these are the favorites that come most readily to mind)
Posted by: Dave | December 02, 2006 at 05:56 PM
I am new to this website and this is my first post. I thought it might be fun to throw my "Top 10 Inspirational Works" into the fray. Being as I am currently a stay-at-home, homeschooling Dad for three kids age 7 and under, I fondly remember the times when I could sit down and read a book...accordingly, a couple of the items on my list are short, pithy articles or lists themselves. Here goes, in no particular order:
1. Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell trans.)
2. The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot
3. The Ascent of Humanity, by Charles Eisenstein
4. I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, by Maharaj and Maurice Frydman
5. Healing, Living and Being (Audiobook), by Mitchell May
6. The Universal One, by Walter Russell
7. Cleansing the Doors of Perception (article), by Georg Feuerstein (online at http://www.yoga-age.com/articles/kundalini.html)
8. 12 Hallmarks of the Spiritually Advanced Being (article), channeled inforamtion online at http://www.healpastlives.com/future/rule/ruadvanc.htm
9. The Fifteen Major Tests of the Spiritual Path (list), by Dr. Joshua David Stone, online at http://modernawakening.com/awake/index.php/spiritual/34-spiritual/64-the-fifteen-major-tests-of-the-spiritual-path.html
10. Setting Your Heart on Fire: Seven Initiations to Liberate Your Life, by Raphael Cushnir
There are more, of course, but these items are towards the top of what keeps me going.
Posted by: Jim | November 19, 2008 at 05:41 PM