Eight (Plus One) Inspirational Books To Awaken & Enrich Your Life

Jewels Of Wisdom Demonstrating The Tao That CAN Be Spoken

A great spiritual book can be the best of friends.

Friends Along The Path: Great Taoist & Other Spiritual Books

Like good friends, the following books have been a source of great inspiration, joy and support for me – offering guidance for my spiritual path, as well as for the more mundane aspects of living a meaningful human life. Several come from Taoist or Buddhist practitioners, and a couple from teachers who are decidedly nonsectarian in their approach.

Regardless of their particular affiliation (or lack thereof), each of these authors support a truly ecumenical approach to spiritual awakening – honoring equally the Masters of all of the world’s Wisdom Traditions. It is my great pleasure now to share them with you!

A Thousand Names For Joy by Byron Katie

After several years of a deep depression, Byron Katie woke up to the fact that she didn’t have to believe her thoughts. This marked the beginning of what would, in subsequent years, become “The Work” that she now offers to people worldwide, as a simple tool to overcome suffering. In A Thousand Names For Joy, we get to know Byron Katie via her spontaneous commentaries on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching (Daode Jing) – the main scripture of Taoism. Katie is a self-proclaimed “lover of what is” – and it is this simple yet profound, direct and wonder-filled approach to living that we’re introduced to in this lovely book.

Taoist Yoga & Sexual Energy by Eric Yudelove

One of the first of the Chinese Taoist Masters to teach in the U.S. was Mantak Chia - who subsequently founded the Universal-Tao Center, and has published dozens of books related to Taoist practice. One of Master Chia’s principle students is Eric Yudelove, who – in Taoist Yoga & Sexual Energy – has done a lovely job of presenting these teachings in an easily-accessible way.

This is an Inner Alchemy practice manual, organized into a series of lessons for cultivating the Three Treasures of Jing, Qi, and Shen. These practices will support you in experiencing your inner (energetic) body – a portal to the Divine.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Like Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle underwent a period of profound depression en route to his spiritual awakening. In the years immediately following this radical shift in consciousness, he spent much of his life engaged in what Taoism refers to as aimless wandering – moving through the world in a wholly spontaneous way, filled with a childlike wonder and playfulness, without agendas of any sort. At some point, people started to notice this man who seemed so effortlessly joyful, and brimming with energy. This began Mr. Tolle’s second “career” as a spiritual teacher. The Power Of Now offers the essence of his teaching.

A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth is just as fresh and inspiring as is The Power of Now. One of my favorite parts of this new book is the discussion on “enlightened action.” According to Mr. Tolle, inhabitants of the “new earth” will constantly be vibrating with one of three attitudes: (1) acceptance -- of situations which may not feel pleasing to us; (2) enjoyment -- of each and every moment, supporting a deep contentment and ongoing pleasure in our lives; and (3) enthusiasm -- a more focused, active and creative expression of our life-energy.

In this lovely book, we are offered a wealth of tools for inhabiting this "new world."

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mindby Shunryu Suzuki

It was twenty years ago that I first read this book. Five years later, when I picked it up again, it was as though I were reading a completely different book. Such is the power of a spiritual classic such as Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – it meets you where you are. As your capacity to listen deepens, so does the depth of its teaching. This book is a compilation of a series of talks given by Shunryu Suzuki, and the flavor is distinctly conversational. Here is the heart-advice offered by a Zen Master to his most intimate disciples – filled with gentle humor, kindness and clarity. Enjoy!

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda

A literary as well as a spiritual classic, this little book has sold millions of copies, and been translated into dozens of languages.

It’s the first-person rendering of the life of Paramahamsa Yogananda – one of the first of the great Indian Yogis to teach in the U.S. With eloquence and humor, Yogananda narrates beautifully the events of his quite extraordinary life. En route, we’re introduced to saints and yogis and avatars, offered scientific explanations for various miracles, and given privileged access to the innermost struggles and aspirations of a truly great Being.

It’s Up To You by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

The choice to align ourselves with reality, with sanity, is ours alone. Though a spiritual Master can offer support and guidance, it is each of us individually that must cultivate the kind of openness and effort that allows those blessings to actually assist us. This is one of the central teachings of It’s Up To You – a compilation of talks given by the Tibetan Master Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. For an introduction to the essential view of Buddhist practice, this little gem is second to none!

Truth Love Beauty by Francis Lucille

This book by Francis Lucille -- a contemporary Advaita teacher -- is a cornucopia of beautiful and insightful conversations around a variety of topics related to nondual spiritual inquiry. Chapter titles include: Playing Tennis with God, Before the Big Bang, The Law of Surprise, and Kiss the Mind Good Night. The question-and-answer formats lends an informal ease to the reading, inviting the reader to participate even more deeply in what is being ever-so-skillfully revealed.

All Else Is Bondage: Non-Volitional Living by Wei Wu Wei

Unlike the titles listed above, this book is not always (or even mostly) an easy read -- but well worth engaging with, for those serious about spiritual awakening. Wei Wu Wei has taken on the task of speaking the wisdom of the great Ch'an and Advaita Vedanta Masters, in the language of western philosophy, in a form which is at the same time highly experimental. As such, the book is organized into short vignettes – parables and stories reminiscent of Chuang Tzu.

The effect of the entire thing is very much like a Zen koan: you’re not really expected to “get it” conceptually. Instead, we’re invited to come back to this writing again and again, allowing it – over time – to dismantle the very conceptual structures that are the walls and bars of our prison. Though this isn’t easy work … all else is bondage!


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