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Books on Spiritual Teachings
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Ekhart Tolle's message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle's clear writing, supportive voice, and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who's ever wondered what exactly "living in the now" means. Foremost, Tolle is a world-class teacher, able to explain complicated concepts in concrete language. More importantly, within a chapter of reading this book, readers are already holding the world in a different container--more conscious of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of their ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.
Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue
Neale Donald Walsch isn't claiming to be the Messiah of a new religion, just a frustrated man who sat down one day with pen in his hand and some tough questions in his heart. As he wrote his questions to God, he realized that God was answering them... directly... through Walsch's pen. The result, far from the apocalyptic predictions or cultic eccentricities you might expect, turns out to be matter-fact, in-your-face wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to yourself and your spirituality.
The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth
By melding love, science, and religion into a primer on personal growth, M. Scott Peck launched his highly successful writing and lecturing career with this book. Even to this day, Peck remains at the forefront of spiritual psychology as a result of The Road Less Traveled. In the era of I'm OK, You're OK, Peck was courageous enough to suggest that "life is difficult" and personal growth is a "complex, arduous and lifelong task." His willingness to expose his own life stories as well as to share the intimate stories of his anonymous therapy clients creates a compelling and heartfelt narrative.
The Sedona Method: Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success, Peace and Emotional Well-Being
The Sedona Method is a systematic "distillation" of the insights of a man named Lester Levenson who underwent a profound life change after being told he had only three weeks to live. Levenson defied the odds offered him by doctors, and lived another 40 years. The core of the Sedona Method is extemely simple: "Letting go" or "releasing" the feelings and emotions that arise around whatever issue is facing you, and are causing you to feel stuck.
A Course in Miracles
When Helen Schucman, a professor of medical psychology at Columbia University, began hearing an inner voice of rapid dictation (which she eventually identified as the voice of Jesus), she decided to start taking shorthand notes. Then, with the support and encouragement of a colleague, Schucman continued to assemble the teachings that came to her. The result is A Course in Miracles, a book that has spawned hundreds of study groups and an international following. Although some may find the teachings simplistic ("To heal is to make happy"), many are struck by the predominately compassionate and eloquent passages of this Christian-based interpretation of the Bible ("Whenever you deny a blessing to a brother you will feel deprived, because denial is as total as love"). Indeed, many of the teachings carry weight and certainly merit the acclaim and attention that this book has generated.
The Diamond in Your Pocket
The Diamond in Your Pocket, the first major book release from Gangaji, describes our ever-ending search to find fulfillment, which, paradoxically, already exists if we will only stop long enough to discover its true source. With The Diamond in Your Pocket, the American-born teacher who has influenced the lives of thousands through her retreats and public events helps us to reconcile the observations and questions that arise along the spiritual path. Like a precious gem, The Diamond in Your Pocket cuts through what is false, and illuminates what is true--a brilliant series of contemplations and insights you will want to hold dear and return to again and again. Gangaji shows us thought-by-thought how to stop the endless activity of our minds, and experience the brilliance and radiance of who we really are in every present moment.
Be as You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Godman has done a great service for those who want an introduction to the (conceptual) teaching of Ramana Maharshi, one of the great Hindu mystics and teachers of the last century. Ramana's recorded teachings are mostly conversations with a variety of people, whom he addressed on numerous topics from different levels of awareness according to each one's ability and understanding. The conversations then, read chronologically, seem disorganized, confusing and even contradictory. Godman has defragmented them, as it were, putting together continuous dialogs on each of twenty-one topics.
Freedom from the Known
Total Freedom is both an introduction to Krishnamurti and an essential, extensive collection. It includes selections from his early work to his later Krishnamurti to Himself: His Last Journal, and his valuable insight into the nature of the self, meditation, sex, love, and the mysteries of life and death. Revealing his core teachings in all their eloquence and power, these writings incite us to recognize the "Truth is a pathless land," to accept no spiritual authority--not even himself--and to think critically, that we may free our minds and see clearly on our own personal journey.
Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
Known simply as "The Work," Byron Katie's methods are clean and straightforward. The basis is a series of four questions addressed to your own lists of written assumptions. Whether you're angry with your boss, frustrated with your teen's behavior, or appalled at the state of the world's environment, Katie suggests you write down your most honest thoughts on the matter, and then begin the examination. Starting with, "Is it true?" and continuing with explorations of "Who would you be without that thought?" this method allows you to get through unhelpful preconceptions and find peace. An integral part of the process is "turning the thought around," and at first this can seem like you're simply blaming yourself for everything. Push a little harder, and you'll find a very responsible acceptance of reality, beyond questions of fault and blame.
Spiritual Books of Fiction
Way of the peaceful warrior: A basically true story
During his junior year at the University of California, Dan Millman first stumbled upon his mentor (nicknamed Socrates) at an all-night gas station. At the time, Millman hoped to become a world-champion gymnast. "To survive the lessons ahead, you're going to need far more energy than ever before," Socrates warned him that night. "You must cleanse your body of tension, free your mind of stagnant knowledge, and open your heart to the energy of true emotion." From there, the unpredictable Socrates proceeded to teach Millman the "way of the peaceful warrior." At first Socrates shattered every preconceived notion that Millman had about academics, athletics, and achievement. But eventually Millman stopped resisting the lessons, and began to try on a whole new ideology--one that valued being conscious over being smart, and strength in spirit over strength in body.
In a distant, timeless place, a mysterious prophet walks the sands. At the moment of his departure, he wishes to offer the people gifts but possesses nothing. The people gather round, each asks a question of the heart, and the man's wisdom is his gift. It is Gibran's gift to us, as well, for Gibran's prophet is rivaled in his wisdom only by the founders of the world's great religions. On the most basic topics--marriage, children, friendship, work, pleasure--his words have a power and lucidity that in another era would surely have provoked the description "divinely inspired." Free of dogma, free of power structures and metaphysics, consider these poetic, moving aphorisms a 20th-century supplement to all sacred traditions--as millions of other readers already have.
Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse's other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader's ear down to hear answers from the river.
The Celestine Prophecy
The saga begins when the unnamed middle-aged male narrator whimsically quits his nondescript life to track down an ancient Peruvian manuscript containing nine Insights that supposedly prophesy the modern emergence of New Age spirituality. South of the border, he encounters resistance from the Peruvian government and church authorities, who believe the document will undermine traditional family values. While dodging evil soldiers, paranoid priests and pseudoscientific researchers, our hero sequentially discovers all nine Insights during a series of chance encounters.
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
This inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America and seems poised to achieve the same prominence here. The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
"Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight--how to get from shore to food and back again," writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight." Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar. Ultimately this is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe, or neighborhood finds your ambition threatening.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit
It's like homemade chicken soup that warms the chill and heals the ill. This collection of 101 stories is based on the belief that true testimonies of goodness and loving transformations can nourish us to the bone and heal the cynicism in our hearts. Indeed, most every story seeps in deeply. It's hard not to shed a tear of gratitude, feeling thrilled to have been touched and soothed so easily. Some of the authors are famous, such as Dan Millman, who writes an exquisite vignette on "Courage," and Gloria Steinem, who writes of "The Royal Knights of Harlem." Many, however, have a short, simple story to tell about an event, a person, an everyday miracle that exemplifies the best of the human spirit.
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
Carlos Castaneda is an anthropologist from UCLA who in the 70's decided to give up academic career to do field work on the native plans of central american indian tribes of mexico and discovered a way of knowledge open to only the initiated few, shamanistic tribes who carried on a legacy for millenia. He was essentially tricked into that way of life by a warrior-sage named Juan Matus who over a period of nearly 20 years, allegedly drafted him into service of becoming a sorcerer, a warrior, a seer, and a man of knowledge. The book lays out a description of a world of heightened awareness and perception which is both all around us and yet nowhere in particular.
Autobiography of a Yogi
Yogananda's masterly storytelling epitomizes the Indian oral tradition with its wit, charm, and compassionate wisdom. The yogi begins by showing how his childhood experiences in turn-of-the-century India produced a spiritual youth in search of an enlightened teacher, continues with an account of his years of training in the hermitage of a revered master, and concludes with the highlights of a period, beginning in 1920, during which he lived and taught in America. Yogananda sensitively interprets not only his own spiritual evolution but also his relationship with elements of the West's spiritual tradition, such as the story of Adam and Eve, providing a penetrating look at the ultimate mysteries of human existence.
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