My Favorite Books on Spirituality

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 12 December, 2015

Similar to many aspirants on the spiritual path, we have sought guidance from many masters and gurus and have attempted to assimilate and even express some of their divine teachings, In that respect we have all read great books on spirituality, attempting to digest and then teach from what we have absorbed.

And once again, as Spiritual Explorer, I again find myself because of my role as reviewer of these books, re-reading these books on spirituality again, once again reminded of those special nuggets of wisdom that have helped me and my fellow travelers on the path.

Together with the gratitude I feel in having these great books on spirituality available to me, I must admit that there is also being birthed a new desire to become in a fuller if not complete way, that wisdom I have but read and taught. It’s like the Tarot card, Judgment, which stands as the next to last card before “The World,” depicting final freedom and liberation. When you arrive inwardly at the Judgment card, for some it might now mean being able to share that wisdom you have learned about for many years. And in truth, as my interpretation reveals, you may choose to remain in this place for the duration of your life and many lifetimes thereafter, sharing the wisdom you have accrued. For those, the Judgment card represents a comfortable place to light on for a while. But the true aspirant does not wish to rest at that point but continues on seeking the final liberation where he becomes that when he has only spoke about.

For me however, at my ripe age, I think of Andrew Marvel’s opening line to his poem To His Coy Mistress, a poem talking about the futility of holding onto a life which always ends in death and ashes. “At my back I always hear Time’s Winged Chariot Drawing Near.” And in truth I hear that line reverberating in my consciousness now that I have attained a ripe age.

For me now as I read my lovely books on spirituality from these great teachers, I have begun to hear these teachers speaking more loudly now, asking me to be willing to step into their shoes and carry some of their wisdom rather than just being a purveyor of their words. I hear them asking me to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the path that I had started out those many years ago. Perhaps instead of speaking about love and compassion, I must become the love and compassion of which I speak.

Four great books on spirituality

With what I have stated in mind, I have chosen four great books on spirituality that are now compelling me to review them differently, and perhaps see them not only as an explanation of a possibility of being, but perhaps more as a call to action.

Realizing that we stand at different points in our place upon the path, perhaps as you read and re-read these books on spirituality, those of you who have already traversed a far distance along your path, will likewise notice that they also have begun to speak to you in a much more meaningful and deliberate way.

by Pema Chodron

In one of her books on spirituality, Pema Chodron speaks of using intention to keep us focused on the path and she calls that intention realizing our connection to all beings on the path. Since fear becomes our companion on the path, no matter how many distractions we follow, she asks how does one release fear and become connected to all humans. In this case she exhorts us to become warriors and not shy away from our difficult emotions. The path, she tells us, is not a singular path and we must stay connected to not only ourselves but to others. She says, “If you can practice even when you are distracted, you are well trained.”

What I hear: No longer can I use my fear or any one of my emotions as a stopping point or justification for not moving on. I also hear that this is not a path for my own enlightenment, but I must also carry the water for others.


by Chogyam Trungpa

This is one of the books on spirituality that actually reminds me of the path I have chosen. It is easy to think that one has accomplished many things along the path, not realizing it is still an expression of ego. This book on spirituality is a much needed book on spirituality to bring us to the points where we realize that as we proceed on the path, we are to drop our attachments and those pieces of self that we hold onto. This book, written brilliantly yet simply, conveys the truths we knew when perhaps we started out, but have forgotten when the ego has beckoned to us in many ways. This book on spirituality makes me feel I have forgotten so much; I am grateful to be reminded.

by Ramana Maharshi

My own favorite teacher has always been Ramana Maharshi. “Beyond what you think is what you are,” and this sums up the whole teaching of this great guru. In a much simpler way than perhaps Trungpa, he asks you to take a take a breath and remember. There is no practice for you to do or requirement to be abstinent or enter a hermitage. All that is required is that you just be. And perhaps say your mantra of Who am I? where the mere recitation of this simple mantra may dissolve all those affectations and attachments that obscure the Self.


By Thich Nhat Hanh

Like a cool breeze, I turn to this lightly written but deep book on mindfulness. His playful turn with words and depth of phrase in his unique books on spirituality open my heart to receive his wisdom:

“This is your own time. The spot where you sit is your own spot. It is on this very spot and in this very moment that you can become enlightened. You don’t have to sit beneath a special tree in a distant land. Practice like this for a few months, and you will begin to know a profound and renewing delight.”

Whomever you choose to follow is but a reflection of the divinity you seek to imbue. No one can tell you who or what you may worship. Your divinity is there to be tasted in its most peculiar and particular way by you. Just follow your inclination and your heart and you will be blessed. Namaste and greetings to all those who walk the path!

If you have a question about “books on spirituality,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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