Updated as of 2/17/2017…
Books are great teachers. Ultimately, though, on the spiritual journey, we have to forget everything we’ve learned – at least that is what Sri Ramakrishna says. “There will come a time when you must forget all you have learned.” So what is the point of books, then?
An intellectual understanding of the spiritual reality which we aspire to realize and know through direct experience is valuable. It is much easier to find something when we know what it looks like. When we know the qualities of what we’re looking for, the chances of us finding it increase.
The teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Huang Po, Dr. David R. Hawkins, and all the great sages who have ever lived – all testify to the same truth. Words can only poke at the truth, and the words can lead us to the experience that goes beyond words.
Ultimately, the intellect is a block to higher realizations – so by no means rely on it. The intellect has certainly served mankind well, yet it can also hold us back from surrendering to the truth of Love and Divinity. The intellect can advance on the journey, but at some point it needs to be let go for the revelation of higher realization and awareness.
That being said, the words, books, and ideas that I would most highly recommend that have most profoundly and most recently elevated my experience of life include:
- The New Testament, as well as Psalms and Proverbs
- The Dhammapada
- I am That; Transcriptions of talks given by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
- Who am I?; the work of Sri Ramana Maharshi
- The Golden Present and To Know Your Self; transcriptions of talks by Sri Swami Satchidananda
- Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga; the work of Swami Vivekananda
- The work of Dr. David R. Hawkins, including Power vs. Force, The Eye of the I from which Nothing is Hidden, I: Reality and Subjectivity, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness, Truth vs. Falsehood, Discovery of the Presence of God: Devotional Nonduality, Healing and Recovery, and Reality, Spirituality, and Modern Man
To reiterate, my primary spiritual teachers have been Jesus, the Buddha, Krishna, and most recently I’ve been steeping the consciousness in the words and works of Sri Swami Satchidananda (living at the Satchidananda Ashram) and Dr. David R. Hawkins.
The work of Dr. David R. Hawkins has possibly had the most profound impact of all on my life. The great value of his work is that he identifies legitimate spiritual teachers and texts. At Satchidananda Ashram, Yogaville, there is a great spiritual library. I used to walk into the library and feel so overwhelmed because I had a desire to basically read every book and didn’t quite know where to start. Thankfully, the work of Dr. Hawkins clarified much of this. He confirms the level of consciousness of teachers and texts from all traditions around the world, and with the willingness to surrender to the truth of what he offers, it is easy to surrender to the study of the teachings and teachers who calibrate in the levels of enlightenment rather than dilly dally with every Joe Schmoe who thinks they know something.
That being said, rather than reading these words, I’d like to direct you to the work of Dr. Hawkins, or Jesus, or Buddha…etc., the teachings of fully realized spiritual teachers who knew the truth via direct experience. I’ve had some great breakthroughs in this lifetime and feel like a significant amount of spiritual evolution has occurred up to this point ,but not yet into the realm of full enlightenment…God Willing someday 😉
Thankfully, too, Dr. Hawkins says the most important part of the whole journey is simply to be on the path. Whether enlightenment happens in this lifetime or the next or whenever isn’t really up to us so much. Just to be on the path is already the greatest gift, and being on the path serves all humanity and all life. He also says you don’t need to read all the spiritual texts. Instead, if you just pick one spiritual practice, like forgiveness or kindness, and just practice it at all times, in all circumstances, no matter what, that will take you to the goal. So, don’t get caught up in the idea that you must read the work of every enlightened being to become enlightened. Just focus on your own spiritual practice, and more and more be consciously practicing every moment, and the truth will reveal itself. “Take little steps, daily, and soon you will be doing things that months back you would have dreamt impossible,” so says Sri Swami Satchidananda. Baby steps is the way. There is no rush. Just stay steadily on the path, with sincerity, remembering that spiritual work serves all humanity and is fulfilling in and of itself. The work is essentially becoming more and more loving, unconditionally, toward all creation, which also returns greater and greater happiness. As our awareness of Infinite Love increases, so does the joy of our own experience. Love is its own reward 🙂
By all means, keep it simple and practice, practice, practice. Daily, moment-to-moment, as much as you can. Even just sporadically throughout the day if you were to ask the question, “What serves the Highest Good? How can I best serve the Highest Good?” or “Who am I? What am I?” you will find yourself making great progress and your consciousness elevating.
Perhaps the best advice I have to offer on the subject of books is…get yourself a copy of Truth vs. Falsehood by Dr. David R. Hawkins. Familiarize yourself with the scale of consciousness. And then reference the pages in the chapter on spiritual truth where he calibrates the level of consciousness of various teachers and spiritual texts. Pick one teacher who calibrates above 600 (the level of enlightenment) and immerse yourself in whatever writings of theirs that are available. Maybe they even have video or audio clips available if they are modern spiritual teachers, like Dr. David R. Hawkins or Sri Swami Satchidananda. Learn from that one teacher fully, trust completely what the teacher says, and seek to confirm the teachings through your direct experience in meditation and every day life.
Also, in Truth vs. Falsehood, you may find references to music that calibrates very high (like classic music, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, etc.) and movies that calibrate high (The Big Blue, The Pacific, etc.). Exposing yourself regularly to such uplifting media may also serve you well on the journey. Become aware that everything has a level of consciousness, and the more we expose ourselves to that which calibrates at a high level, the more we become like that. So as best you can, immerse yourself in loving thoughts, and immerse your thoughts in the words of great spiritual teachers like Jesus and Buddha, and listen to classical music! Beauty and Love will reveal themselves as the Reality.
I hope this has been helpful. The intention is to serve the Highest Good, whatever that may be.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
I have read several books that have radically shifted my perception of the world, all of the best. Here is a list of some of my favorite books that I highly recommend. If you’d ever like to talk about any of them, please let me know! Love talking about books and the wisdom they contain. 🙂
The list begins with the first book I read when I feel that I began to grow significantly as a person, and progresses sequentially as I’ve continued my education. Each book has influenced me in its own way.
Life’s Greatest Lessons by Hal Urban (Goldmine!)
Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (Conversational pieces galore)
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (A wise, wise, man that Stephen Covey. Be in Peace.)
The Greatest Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer (Who was the first President of the United States?)
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (This man was brilliant and gave an invaluable gift to mankind when he wrote this gem.)
More Sex is Safer Sex by Steven Landsburg (Ha – don’t worry! – it is actually more about economics than it is sex.)
What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter (Sounds a bit crazy maybe? It’s okay though, because the author has a PhD.)
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (Tip…tip…meditation will tip…)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (“I’m a real, slam-bang, honest to goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I’m a bona fide supraman.” Gotta love that Yossarian.)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Amazing insight into some truths of human nature and how we judge each other without truly knowing the other.)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Read this in one night and a morning – it is epic!!!)
The Game by Neil Strauss (…just read it. Especially if you’re a guy and would like to learn more about women. A grain of salt, of course, is necessary.)
Dreamer by Charles Johnson (Agape!!!)
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (Animals communicate, sometimes a lot better than we do.)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Language is fun.)
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (Legendary man, legendary story. A holocaust survivor finds great strength in the power of his own mind to shape his reality. We can all learn from his wisdom.)
Autobiography of Ben Franklin (Another heroic individual. Don’t quite agree with some of his philosophy, as he actually uses ‘reason’ to finagle his way out of vegetarianism, but overall – quite the example of what one man can do with persistence.)
Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes (Mind-blowing, illuminating, so true…to put it into practice is a whole other ball game, but at least exposing oneself to the loving ideas expressed in this book can help everyone along the path.)
77 Mental Toughness Secrets by Steve Siebold (Legendary wisdom in this one. Great ways to put the wisdom into practice, too. Just a lesson a day will keep you busy for months! Before you begin though, you must first answer the question: What is your vision?)
Sai Baba Gita by Sai Baba (Love it. Ancient wisdom that leads to heightened awareness of the Divinity that pervades our reality. Especially helpful for anyone looking for another kind of spiritual outlet.)
The Power of NOW by Ekhart Tolle (Talkin’ about the moment…right…about…NOW! It is all we ever have…)
Portable World Bible by Various Heroes of History (A great book that ties together different religious traditions and demonstrates how all the religions revolve around a few basic principles. Love, Peace, Joy, Spiritual Riches over Material Possessions, ya know? 😉 )
Language in Thought & Action by S.I. Hayakawa (Language gets even more fun! Helps us understand how and why we communicate. Hayakawa almost transforms language into a tangible object. A very insightful read!)
Truth in Comedy by Charles Halpern, Del Close, and Kim Johnson (This book has some great improvisational games and a new outlook on humor.)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Someone Sweeeeet (Hooray for courtly virtue! Knights of the Round Table – unite!)
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (This man is very strong in his faith and shares invaluable wisdom in this book.)
Healing Yourself 101 by Markus Rothkranz (Interesting health tips. A bit intense, but it does a good job of reminding us how important health is. Eat to live, don’t live to eat!)
Gandhi The Man: How One Man Changed Himself to Change The World by Eknath Easwaran (Ummm..I love this book, and more importantly – Gandhi’s message. In so many ways, this is my favorite book.)
Book of Virtues for Young People by William Bennett (Great collection of stories, poetry, and lessons of history that can inspire us all to greater achievement and goodness!)
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Epic story containing many life truths.)
Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes (We should all engage in this sort of thinking. Challenge assumptions and critically think about what is real and what we really know!)
Reverence for Life by Albert Schweitzer (This short essay is made of pure gold!)
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (Goldmine! This man has a fantastic perspective on life and committed himself to talking with successful people, learning what makes them successful, and synthesizing the wisdom to share it with others.)
Perfection of Yoga by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Yoga is much more than most of us think…)
The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelho (Follow your heart! We are all here for a unique and special purpose, and it is our responsibility to connect with our mission and pursue it faithfully. Trust in your enthusiasm!)
Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard Wegemer (Thomas More is definitely a model worthy of emulation and one of my primary role models. The way he stood by his convictions — so powerful! We could all benefit from learning of his story and digging deep within ourselves to find that passion that is worth the sacrifice.)
2012: The Transformation from the Love of Power to the Power of Love by Robert Roskind. Optimism always 🙂
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. Interpret the title literally and see what happens!
Power vs. Force by Dr. David Hawkins. Yep, choosing to Love and to see the good in all is one of the best choices we can makes. Align with the higher principles!
Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Bucke. This book is awesome. Beyond words. As is the experience of Cosmic Consciousness, hehe. Seriously though, Oneness!