I hope to get book reviews out there for all of these some day, but in many cases that means re-reading books I read over a decade ago so it will take awhile (especially considering all the new things crowding my reading list lately). However, I realize that some readers may benefit from a few ideas on books that can help spark direction along the Spiritual Path so I am offering up a list of books that I have found particularly helpful. There are of course many more and if others want to post in comments adding to the list, please feel encouraged to do that – I am always interested in what other Path Walkers out there have found meaningful.
A couple of notes on the reading list (and spiritual path reading in general)
- Don’t feel obligated to read a book cover to cover. If your primary purpose for reading a particular book is for Spiritual Path direction – a single chapter in the book may provide you with everything you need. Some of the books on this list that I view as MOST critical to my Spiritual Path development, I’ve not read all the way through. I usually read until I’ve reached my fill of ideas on which to ruminate (or whatever I need – I always know when I’ve found it), I let the ideas percolate or inspire other reading / meditation / practical life application and then come back to the book later if I feel drawn to do so.
- Skip around. Especially if you felt drawn to a particular book, if the current chapter is not doing anything for you – skip to the next one. Open the book to a random page if you feel so inclined. Movement on the Spiritual Path is rarely linear – why should your spiritual reading have to be?
- I’ve tried to sort things by tradition to make the list easy to navigate, even though I didn’t follow it in any kind of order like this when reading. I’m not really interested in an armchair debate on the term ’science,’ so for books that I thought followed a more scientific type of tradition (vs. a faith tradition) I labeled them “Empirical / Humanist.”
- Some books / topics create ‘synergistic’ learning when read together – an example of this from early on my path was the combination of reading “Hero with a Thousand Faces” and “The Hero Within” (as you can imagine the books together were much more meaningful bc the combination set-up an inner / outer dichotomy that could be directly compared). Another example is reading the Upanisads or Samkara in concert with study in Astronomy (as I did) or Quantum Physics.
- Even if none of these books looks appealing, that’s okay – find your own reading direction. The methodology I typically use to find new spiritual path books is to walk through the library aisles with my eyes closed (very slowly, obviously, so as not to walk into bookcases 🙂 ) and let my energy / intuition direct me. I’ve always ended up with something really interesting… and of course, once you have a starting point, one book tends to lead to others, etc. Depending on your comfort level and ability to tune out outside sensory input – you may not need to close your eyes to do this exercise. I tend to get visually distracted by brightly colored book spines so closing my eyes does help me focus on listening to my inner guidance.
- This list may seem short considering it reflects about eighteen years of path walking. However, there are many more books not on this list that I’ve read that are not spiritual path related – or simply weren’t meaningful enough to include. Additionally, I just want to note that the spiritual path is not primarily about reading. Spiritual reading should mostly be used for direction; more like a map than a guidebook.
- You will probably notice that there are not a lot of books in the Buddhist or Qaballistic traditions. For Buddhism, although I took college courses in Buddhism and have at least looked at most of the major source text work out there, I simply couldn’t think of any books that had been meaningful to my spiritual path. Qabalah I don’t have any knowledge of whatsoever – although that may be changing soon if you look at my current reading list.
Christian / Western Tradition
- Lost Christianities – Bart Ehrman
- The Gnostic Gospels – Elaine Pagels
- Nag Hammadi Library – James M. Robinson
- Black Elk Speaks – Nicholas Black Elk / John G. Neihardt (Native American)
Indian Subcontinent / Hinduism
- A Source book in Indian Philosophy –
- Sarvapelli Radakrishnan
- Bhagavad Gita
Sufism / Islam
- The Sufis – Idries Shah
- Mystical Dimensions of Islam – Annemarie Schimmel
East Asian Tradition
- Dao de Jing – Lao Tze
- The Analects – Confucius
- Secret of the Golden Flower* – Wang Chongyang / Richard Wilhelm
- A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (read for a class that was pivotal on my Spiritual path) – Wing-Tsit Chan
Empirical / Humanist
- Hero with a thousand faces – Joseph Campbell
- The Hero Within – Carol S. Pearson
- Chaos – James Glieck
- Alchemical Studies – Carl Jung
- Dancing Wu-Li Masters – Gary Zukav
- Memories, Dreams, Reflections – Carl Jung
- Religions of Man – Huston Smith
- Trickster Makes this World – Lewis Hyde
- The Uses of Enchantment – Bruno Bettelheim
- The Dao of Physics – Fritjof Capra
- The Seat of the Soul – Gary Zukav
- Many Lives, Many Masters – Brian Weiss
- Miracles Happen – Brian Weiss
- Messages from the Masters – Brian Weiss
- Trust your Vibes – Sonia Choquette
- The Psychic Pathway – Sonia Choquette
- Hands of Light – Barbara Ann Brennan
- The Mystical Qabalah – Dion Fortune
- Psychology & Alchemy – Carl Jung Collected Works
- Cooked – Michael Pollan
- Real Alchemy – Robert Allen Bartlett
- Memories of the Afterlife – Michael Newton