Reading time: 3 minutes
As the old saying goes, in life, “we’re standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us” and this is also true for spiritual growth. There’s a practice called Jnana (wisdom or knowledge) yoga, which is the practice of using the mind to inquire into its own nature and transcend its identifications with thoughts, and the ego. Soaking in the knowledge of wise and awakened people who’ve come before us in their spiritual journey’s, is one of the most effective ways to move towards a life with more meaning and innate peace, freedom and joy. Here’s 11 books that have and continue to change the lives of those who read them:
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz
This beautiful book was published in 1997 and sold 5.2 million copies, remaining on the New York Times Best Seller list for seven years. The author Don Miguel Ruiz was born in rural Mexico and shares ancient Toltec Wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. In it, he teaches practical wisdom that helps to free ourselves from the beliefs that create limitation and unhappiness in our lives. The four agreements are:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t make assumptions
3. Don’t take anything personally
4. Always do your best
Changing the lives and outlook of many people for the better and is said to be compulsory reading for anyone on a path to awakening.
The Baghavad Gita
Most yoga teachers you know will have read this ancient Hindu text that’s now recognized as the first book of yoga. It’s universal, timeless message is embedded in the narrative about two sets of cousins competing for the throne. The dialogue between Arjuna — the the leader of one side, who’s hesitant to battle against his family and friends — and Krishna, who’s message in a nutshell, is to let go of the fruits of one’s actions.
“When a man completely casts away, O Partha, all the desires of the mind, satisfied in the self alone by the self, then is he said to be one of steady wisdom. 56) He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after happiness, who has become free from affection, fear, and wrath, is indeed the muni of steady wisdom.”
The Untethered Soul
The remarkable author behind The Untethered Soul began his life much like Steve Jobs; seeking nothing but solitude before letting life take over and lead him to become the CEO of what’s known today as WebMD (among many other accomplishments following his awakening). The Untethered Soul quickly became a #1 New York Times Best Seller and teaches in clear terms how to tap into the traditions of mindfulness and meditation, how to let go of limiting habitual preoccupations of the mind.
Women Who Run with the Wolves
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Maya Angelou said of Clarissa’s work; “Everyone who can read should read this book” and it’s true, this book will truly make you think differently. Written by an American born poet, Jungian Psychoanalyst, and post-trauma recover specialist, Clarissa is also a cantadora or a ‘keeper of old stories.’ Clarissa uses these old folk stories to support her analysis of common elements of the human psyche, and help readers better understand themselves and heal.
Most people will likely have heard of Paulo Coehlo and the best-selling Brazilian author’s most famous book; The Alchemist, a journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago in search of an Egyptian treasure. Introducing many concepts relevant to life, this is a book about self-realisation and how everything you need in life is already with you.
Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
In his early life, Nepalese French writer and Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard earned his PHD in molecular genetics and went on to write about the intersection between science and spiritual philosophy like in his book, The Quantum and the Lotus. Dubbed ‘the happiest man in the world,’ after scoring significantly above average at a university experiment on happiness, Mattieau is a living example of the happiness that’s possible when we put our focus towards awakening the innate peace and stillness already within us.
Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change
American Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron, went through two divorces before being ordained a disciple of the legendary meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa. With a knack for making Buddhist concepts accessible and relevant to the modern individual, her book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change is a valuable source of wisdom to draw from, particularly during challenging times.
Sally Kempton was a New York journalist back in the 70’s, before experiencing a spiritual awakening, which diverted her path to a life of teaching meditation and tantric philosophy. Her book Awakening Shakti, teaches meditations that invokes different Hindu deities, to create deeper and more transformative experiences on the mat. Introducing the basics of tantric philosophy and the interplay of Shiva and Shakti in our lives, the book is a great introduction towards integrating more positive energies into our lives.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Drawing from a variety of spiritual traditions, The Power of Now is a potent text that brings all emotional problems back to our human tendency to over-identify with the mind. His antidote to this, is to practice continually bring the mind back into the present moment, instead of worrying about the past or future neither of which exist here and now.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Venerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love Parent and Lead
For the past 16 years, Brenee Brown has been studying courage, venerability, shame, and empathy and went on two write three #1 NY Times Best Sellers, one of which is her book Daring Greatly. Teaching the importance of keeping our heart open at all times, Brenee’s book has become one of the most important dialogues of our modern day, where people are re-learning to better connect with themselves and others to create happier lives.
The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship
Don Miguel Ruiz
Another classic by author Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love helps readers to remove the assumptions and beliefs that undermine love, and lead to drama in our relationships. Showing us how to heal from emotional wounds and recovering joy and freedom that we innately have, his book is a practical guide to better relationships.