Books I recommend Relevant to Topics Discussed on This Site

Philosophy / Psychology

For some philosophical classics (though difficult and/or dense):

  • Meditations 1-4 by Rene Descartes
  • Discourse on Metaphysics and other essays by G. W. Leibniz


David R. Hawkins is one of my favorites. Combining traditional religion, esoterics, and Eastern testimony with a western, scientific lens, I find his work appealing, truth relatable, and his frankness refreshing. Some, however take exception to his methods. He uses kinesiology to “test” truths. He believes in it. I haven’t researched it myself, but I like his metaphysical description of it. Still, many find it silly or “unscientific” or whatever. But you don’t need to get hung up on his outward qualifications to understand the inner truth he is speaking. Check it out, see if what he is saying resonates, ignore the rest if it bothers you. (Or, if it’s still too much, read Watts):

  • Letting Go by David R. Hawkins—an excellent introductory, but nonetheless complete, work (Power vs. Force is his official intro book, but I haven’t read it)
  • The Eye of the I by David R. Hawkins—a more advanced look at God
  • I by David R. Hawkins—his most advanced book on the nature of the True Reality


For Jung’s Major Works:

  • The Portable Jung by Joseph Cambell

For an excellent understanding, elucidation, and application of Carl Jung’s work—supplemental for those up to reading Jung himself, more than sufficient as a study by proxy—see the works of Robert A. Johnson. As practicing analyst for years himself, and a student of and acquaintance with Jung (see Heaven and Earth, his memoirs) his work is clear, personal, simple, and deeply moving. I highly recommend his work for anyone interested in psychology:

  • Balancing Heaven and Earth by Robert A. Johnson—memoirs
  • He by Robert A. Johnson—male psychology
  • We by Robert A. Johnson—romantic psychology
  • She by Robert A. Johnson—female psychology
  • Inner Work by Robert A. Johnson—dream interpretation and “active imagination”
  • Owning Your Own Shadow by Robert A. Johnson—on the shadow (a Jungian concept of the psyche)
  • Ecstasy by Robert A. Johnson—a study of the ecstatic experience and the role of ritual in our lives


A wonderful work by Eckhart Tolle—a world renowned spiritual leader. A must-read for any spiritually minded individual:

  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle


If you haven’t heard of Alan Watts and you are a spiritual individual, stop what you’re doing and check him out! From audio recordings (some on this site, many more on youtube) to books Alan Watts masters the art of expressing Eastern religion and philosophy through a modern Western lens. He is frank, jovial, and incredibly perceptive in his analysis of life. I highly recommend all of his works, though some do get a bit technical (such as Behold the Spirit).

  • Become What You Are by Alan Watts—a good book for introduction to his work without getting to philosophically cumbersome
  • The Book by Alan Watts—the ideal introduction; this was his “what I would want my kids to know” coming of age book
  • Behold The Spirit by Alan Watts—a study of mysticism or mystic symbolism in Christianity
  • The Joyous Cosmology by Alan Watts—his understanding of and experience with drugs in the 50’s/60’s
  • Does it Matter? by Alan Watts—similar to Become What You Are, but different discussion topics
  • The Supreme Identity by Alan Watts—the more strictly philosophically oriented version of Become What You Are (or, simply, “What You Are”)

I was recently given this book by David Deida and found it immensely refreshing and illuminating. An incredible text of psychology and spirituality focusing on the masculine and feminine energies of life. Unlike some spiritual books which play to a more "mundane" topic to gain applicability, this book is not lacking in the deepest of truths and is a fantastic tool for the modern world for growth and peace. I highly recommend Deida and am confident his other books would be just as valuable.

  • Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

For those not so versed in philosophy that any given authors work—no matter how introductory—seems daunting, but who would still like to explore the discourse, here are two great introductions to the common grounds of western philosophy as it stands. For those who intend to read my forthcoming Jnana Yoga and want a bit of an introduction, The Philosopher at the End of the Universe touches on nearly every topic that will be undertaken in my book.

  • Star Wars and Philosophy by Decker and Eberl—a look at philosophical questions as raised by Star Wars
  • The Philosopher at the End of the Universe by Mark Rowlands—a look at philosophy through Science Fiction movies (Matrix, Blade Runner, Terminator, etc.)

The works of the Transcendentalists lie somewhere between Religion and Philosophy (though, if each is done well, I hardly see a difference). (Most essays from the authors below can be found for free online.)

  • Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson edited by Stephen Whicher
  • Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Religion/Religious Studies

  • The Laozi (the Daodejing) or the Tao Te Ching translated by D.C. Lau or Wing-tsit Chan

There are many translated versions of the Daodejing. I am producing a commentary of my own based on Chan’s translation. You can even find free versions online. I like Chan’s best of what I’ve read, but it's isolated in a large volume “Sourcebook in Chinese Philosophy” and I’m not sure that it exists on its own. Lau’s version (the penguin classic version) is good as well. This has been an essential text of the East for over 2000 years and popular in the west ever since it began to be translated. Ancient, mystic poetry. Check it out.

  • Chuang Tzu translated by Yu-lan Fung

Along with the Daodejing, this is the other main text of the Daoist religion. This is another fantastic work of both philosophy and literature. I highly recommend this book for all. This is less poetry and more short story or narrative oriented (my book, The Diamond was largely inspired by this work).

  • Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal translated by Prabhavananda

The Upanishads are the definitive summations of the ancient and legendary Vedas—the sacred texts or teachings on which Hinduism and Yoga are founded. This work, translated exquisitely by Prabhavananda, is a must-read for any religious person. If you ever thought or heard that Hinduism was just a polytheistic, and essentially savage belief system, this book will show you that Hinduism is indeed monotheistic and that they worship the same God as the Abrahamic traditions (see Jnana Yoga for discussion).

  • The Essential Rumi tranlated by Coleman Barks

A beautiful and extensive collection of mystic poetry from the Sufi (that is, Islamic mystic) poet and religious scholar, Rumi. The Daodejing competes only in quality, Rumi is unmatched in quantity (of consistently high-quality).

  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translated by Satchidananda

Ever heard of Ashtanga yoga or eight-limbed yoga? Most westerners who are serious about the health and fitness craze will have studied what they call Ashtanga yoga—a series of poses for the most ambitious of so-called yogis; it seems like you must have eight limbs to get it right! But the real Ashtanga yoga came about when Patanjali set down the Yoga Sutras some couple thousand years ago. In this, original “eight-limbed” yoga only one of the eight limbs is Asanas—that is, posture practice (what most westerners think of as “yoga”). The total eight-limbs combined all the essential elements for achieving union (that’s what “yoga” means) with God. This is an eye opening read to all modern “yogis” who know only the exercises, and for philosophical and religious students of any discipline. Satchidananda gives an elegant commentary and addresses many key elements that are directly relevant to our lives today.

  • Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Read this book. Do it. I cannot say how powerful this book is. Steve Jobs made sure everyone who attended his funeral left with a copy of this book. George Harrison is also a strong proponent. There is a documentary of Yogananda’s life called “Awake”. It was on Netflix for a while, it may still be there. Watch it. The book is better, but the film is fantastic as well. READ THIS BOOK!!! if you want :)

  • The Holy Science by Sri Yukteswar

A study of Christian scripture as compatible with Yoga by Yogananda’s guru (teacher) Sri Yukteswar. Read Autobiography of a Yogi first, then if Yukteswar sound like the man, check out this book.

  • The Bhagavad Gita (alone or with commentary by Paramahansa Yogananda)

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the three epic poems which are the principal texts of Hinduism. The poem itself is beautiful and moving—Thoreau had a copy while he was staying at Walden. Yogananda’s commentary makes the spiritual implications and symbolism abundantly clear as well as relates the teachings to those in the Bible. The poem is about 90 stanzas or so, his commentary totals 1200 odd pages. So it’s a task if you go that route, but I enjoyed it. But get the Gita alone and still be greatly benefited.

  • The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin

An excellent relation of Buddhist philosophy and practice through the medium of Star Wars. (This one is much better, though they have different purposes, in my opinion than Philosophy and Star Wars.) Whether you are curious about Buddhism or are a seasoned practitioner who knows well the truth that every time you read an “introductory” Buddhist text you learn something new and profound, I highly recommend this book.

  • Life of the Buddha by Ashvagosha

A beautiful homage to that Jesus of the East, Siddhartha Gautama.

  • The Gospel of Thomas translated by Jean-Yves Leloup

Declared a heresy and banned from the Bible, the Gospel of Thomas survived hidden for centuries. It was found and authenticated in 1945, revealing a new perspective on the words of Jesus (Yeshua).

Science

  • The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

An enjoyable and relatable explanation of modern astro- and quantum physics. Greene is amicable and ingenious in expressing these fields which for so many are the quintessential “too smart for me” domains.

  • A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss

Krauss relates many of the same concepts as Greene, but goes a little further into the fringe thinking of modern physicists. He is also excellent at explaining complicated topics. The one drawback is: he is a complete ass. I had to set the book down for a year before coming back and finishing it because he couldn’t be bothered to stay on his topic of expertise and kept leveling blatantly hypocritical criticisms at religion (given the tenuous (no matter how sure he is of them) leading-edge theories he was in the midst of forwarding).

  • The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake

“10 dogmas holding modern science back.” Written by an active and successful scientist. An excellent work, and an essential read for any science-minded individual.

  • Relativity by Albert Einstein (can find the non-mathematical, just philosophical verson)

Hey, give it a shot. Its Einstein, it’s hard, sure. But he revolutionized our modern thought. Worth a try I think at least. I have struggled through this 1.5 times. After reading it, however, reading Greene’s explanation of his theories made a ton of sense and helped a lot. So you can also just read Greene’s book and be okay, but if you want to see what you’ve got…

  • Now: The Physics of Time by Richard Muller

An interesting read which challenges the status quo in physics, offering a new theory of time. I don't particularly agree with the author's main conclusion (it is a scientific description of Process Philosophy, and treats time as an essential element of reality) but it is certainly worth a read for any interested in modern physics.

Novels

  • Kinship With All Life by Allen J Boone

A narrative about Boone’s extraordinary journey in coming to understand animals in a whole new way. The first and longest chapter about his encounter with the famous dog actor Strongheart (starred in White Fang and other movies) is so moving and heartwarming that it is worth buying the book to just read that. Any animal lover will appreciate this book. It is deceptively simple, though overtly challenging to our common beliefs, and touches the deepest of truths in our soul.

  • Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

An absolutely enthralling account of one gymnast-star’s experience at U.C. Berkley in the early 60’s. One of the most spiritually moving, yet fundamentally relatable books I have ever read. A must-read for any spiritually-minded individual.


Hermann Hesse’s Works: Hermann Hesse is just fantastic and is a must-read for the western spiritualist. Many may have read Siddhartha. If you have not, I would highly recommend it. But Demian is equally powerful and insightful, and is more relatable to the western audience who has yet to look eastward. That is, one takes Siddhartha wholly religiously and with the distance of a foreigner (though indeed it was written by a westerner), while one can take Demian merely psychologically and embrace its truths all the more readily because it relates to our modern western lifestyle. It also is profoundly important again today as it was written following World War I and Hesse could feel, and expressed in his work the tension and approach of World War II. The messages are quite relevant again in our war- and tension-ridden world today.

  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  • Demian by Hermann Hesse

  • Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

A good story, though Hesse prescribes it chiefly for the middle aged man and says it was one of his most misunderstood books. A bit of a gloomy read—the protagonist feels akin to Nietzsche—but one I recommend in the end for its inescapable truth and depth.

  • Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse

One of my favorites from Hesse, but not as widely relatable I think as Siddhartha and Demian. This book is set in the black-plague era and follows the life of two young boys who meet in a cloister. One is an artist and the other a thinker. (Incidentally, this and Demian are both excellent homages to the Divine Mother—something greatly needed in our society (see Jnana Yoga)).

  • The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

This book is an absolute masterpiece. It won Hesse the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946. I highly recommend this book; if you have read Siddhartha and/or Demian and liked Hesse's work, read this book!

  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Not exactly a novel, but a great read for any aspiring artist.

  • Lost Horizon by James Hilton

The first paperback ever published. Read it for this unique accolade if nothing else. But this book is profound and enthralling. It details an adventure in the far east leading to unforeseen revelations. A great adventure novel as well as a book of deep truth.

  • The Stones Cry Out by Hikaru Okuizumi

This book won Japan’s highest literary honor. It is a great story about an ex-soldier (WWII) who picks up the hobby of geology as a result of his horrific experience.

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Another spiritual classic. An easy and entertaining read. Simple, inspirational, profound. Definetely check out this book. This book inspired me to sit down and write something other than my philosophical treatise (Jnana Yoga), thus The Diamond was born.

  • Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce

Now, this book I recommend for a specific purpose and practice. For those of you like me (not sure how many of you there really are), who read primarily non-fiction and/or academic works of serious natures with specific arguments and agendas, this book is the perfect respite. Well, it's not a rest, it's a counter and a strong one. I recommend this book as a meditation exercise for all those out there who know they are too intellectual and need to recall their own inherent folly. This book is sophisticated, outdated, highly-intentional nonsense. People do try to figure it out. That would be playing into the scholar's ego. Forget that approach is my advice. Simply take the time to read nonsense. Remind yourself of the sillyness of your eruditive graspings, remind yourself of the word of God--that the presence of a book is testament to His presence, more readily than any "meanings" gleaned there in. Unwind the drive to understand, to go further--"stop at what is merely seen" as it says in the Visuddhimagga. There is nothing like a good healthy dose of nonsense. And here Joyce's floats with a pleasant lilting air that captures one's attention in the flow while eluding the understanding. Check it out.