I was invited to be part of Sandie Sedgbeer’s “The No B.S. Spiritual Book Club” (https://www.sedgbeer.com/the-no-bs-book-club/)which she started, largely out of frustration. Here’s what she says:
“Have you noticed that the more mainstream spirituality becomes, the more challenging it is to identify the books, teachers, seminars, and workshops that provide the best value for your time, attention, and money?
“As a journalist, author, editor, Talk TV/Radio host, and 13-times book judge, I’ve consumed literally thousands of books. Every day, new titles cross my desk and new pitches fill my inbox. And frankly, I’m concerned by how lacking in substance much of it is. There’s a worrying trend toward “marshmallow spirituality” hyped-up by persuasive big-budget promotional campaigns. It’s frustrating to see the really good stuff getting submerged beneath the heaps of rehashed and often diluted material now flooding the market.”
So Sandie set out to feature authors who were writing the good stuff, the classic stuff. I am thrilled to be on her list. She advocates writers who can help others bust preconceptions, shift their perception, and stretch their spiritual muscles by finding new ideas, discoveries, and breakthroughs in quantum science, metaphysics, esoteric studies, alternative health and medicine, human potential and spiritual evolution. So here is my list of 10 Influential Books.
These books were highly instrumental in helping me wake up and develop greater wisdom and compassion. They are in no particular order. The common elements in these — and all the books I’ve integrated into myself over the years — are a quality of deep honesty, resonance with higher truth, and a succinct, personal, direct writing style. Since I began writing my own books, I admit I’ve not read much from contemporaries. The snippets I’ve read from people like Eckhart Tolle or Terry Tempest Williams or Jon Kabat Zinn, to name a few, are deeply soul-satisfying.
Seth Speaks, The Seth Material, etc. by Jane Roberts
A number of the Jane Roberts/Seth books opened and expanded my mind as I was first realizing that my passion lay in the spiritual realms and not just the physical. I loved the concepts Seth described: the oversoul, the nature of the self and higher self, the All That Is, how evolution functions. . . This view touched me deeply. I wasn’t drawn to religion but Seth’s philosophy and description of patterns of consciousness felt just right — a higher, more inclusive understanding of universal truths — and the energy of it really woke me up and motivated me!
Initiation, by Elizabeth Haich
I had been fascinated by Taylor Caldwell’s and Joan Grant’s novels about past lives — the “Far Memory” books — but Initiation hit me square in the gut. Haich describes her insights into the subtle workings of karma, reincarnation, and spiritual development as she recalls in great detail her memory of past life initiation into the mystical teachings of ancient Egypt. As I read it, I was there; I “knew” everything she was describing. And it stirred in me a great desire to recall my own previous experiences and be able to integrate them into my present life.
The Emerald Tablets of Thoth the Atlantean, translated by Dr. M. Doreal
In my early awakening years, I was given a variety of esoteric and metaphysical books filled with ancient teachings. I received the original translations of the Emerald Tablets as splotchy photocopies before the popular versions of the book ever came out. The rhythm of the writing and its power drew me in and patterned or re-patterned me as I read the words. Though I wasn’t sure what it all meant at the time, once again, I “knew” it. I would only have to read a section to become recentered and have the feeling of being much more vast than I’d ever considered possible. This has remained true throughout the years whenever I pick up the book again. It’s as though it’s encoded and transmits much inner knowledge through its sound and rhythm.
The Starseed Transmissions, Return of the Bird Tribes, and The Third Millenium, by Ken Carey
This is a rare series of prophetic books that describes in straight-forward, clear language what is happening and going to happen on the earth. Again, the resonance of the truth in Carey’s direct translation of his spiritual transmissions affected me and aligned me. Here was a simple man, living away from the crazy masses, in touch with nature, who was an extremely clear channel. That inspired me to develop myself to the same degree. His writings still hold up and are pristine and gorgeous.
The Carlos Castaneda series: The Teachings of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan, etc.
Oh, my gosh! Where to start on these! I’ve probably read them all three times. Perhaps I was integrating my shaman lives while I absorbed these, but the books contain so many subtle teachings about energy and consciousness, male and female ways of learning, and the various levels of awareness. Wow! The writing style has directness, humor, lack of pretension, and an enigmatic, surprising quality that conveyed the information straight to my body.
The Mind of the Cells, by Satprem and Sri Aurobindo: The Adventure of Consciousness, by Satprem
Satprem was a kind of secretary to The Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s “spiritual partner.” He followed her around taking notes as she described her process of diving into her body to experience how the cells respond to fear, and to love. Her poetic and precise descriptions of her direct experience are powerful. As she cleared fear from her body, she reached a point where her cells panicked because they didn’t have a set of instructions to live by — their old habit of contraction and caution — and she often fainted or blanked out. As she began to reinforce love and compassion as the new mode of living, the cells adapted and life became frictionless. The life force flowed without restriction, the soul became fully embodied. Her path to discover a new way to be human required immense patience and discipline, and she was able to paint a “tactile picture” of the divine feminine path into enlightenment — the path down and in, not up and out.
Satprem’s masterwork on Sri Aurobindo is a powerful, equal, free-standing, companion piece to the Mother’s great work. In it, Aurobindo says, “They must enter into the last finite if they want to reach the last infinite.” This book is rich with inspiration and guidance about experiencing the divinity in matter and “the plunge of light into its own shadow” to find the overmind — his word for cosmic consciousness without the loss of the individual. All Satprem’s books are precious — what a service he performed for humanity!
I Am That, by Sri Nisargadatta
I am not particularly drawn to gurus, but Nisargadatta was an amazing person. This book is a compilation of dialogues he had with students and seekers, and what impresses me is the simplicity of his words (almost to the point of seeming ordinary) that simultaneously reach to the heart of any issue, beyond the messiness of the mind. There are no extraneous words, and his language actually carries the vibration of what he’s describing. When I felt that, I realized I wanted to be able to write like that. This book is full to the brim with single sentences of inspiring and actionable advice — any one of which will transform you if you practice it.
Awakened Imagination, The Power of Awareness, The Neville Reader, etc. by Neville Goddard
I’m so glad I discovered this man. He was an articulate teacher of the philosophy called New Thought, working primarily between the late 1930s and his death in 1972. His many books teach us the nuances of working with perception — mental, emotional, and physical — in the present moment. He says, “However much you seem to be living in a material world, you are actually living in a world of imagination.” Learning to perceive in alignment with universal principles is so key to our path out of the limited mind, back to our enlightened selves, and Neville (his preferred nom de plume) made an art-form of “mental science.” He also helped interpret passages from the Bible in a way that moved beyond the literal interpretation to reveal the inner, deeper, spiritual, universal, experiential, energy-and-consciousness function.
Evolution’s End, The Biology of Transcendence, Crack in the Cosmic Egg, etc. by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Joe Pearce wrote an amazing array of books about child and human development and spiritual transcendence, merging his knowledge of physics, biology, psychology, and spiritual growth to help us develop our non-ordinary consciousness. He emphasized the integration of Mind and Heart to speed our evolution, upgrade our biology, and increase our mystical experience. And, he explained how nature governs over an intelligent unfolding of our life, which to me is deeply reassuring. I love his books because they merge the worlds and help us find personal and societal unity. He was an original thinker who was intellectual and brilliant and had also had many paranormal experiences. His body of work is reality-altering.
The Great Initiates, by Edouard Schuré
This is not a popular book but it remains on my bookshelf as an important reference. How were the lives of the spiritual masters — those who shaped world thought — modeled? How did they come into their wisdom? What difficulties did they overcome and what challenges of their particular day and age did they both use and rise beyond? How did they work with energy, with language? In this time when so many think they’ve discovered spiritual truth, it’s good to remind ourselves of those who walked the path before us and did the hard work. They made it easier for us to rediscover essential wisdom and integrate it.
I also want to mention a few other authors who affected me: David Spangler, Barbara Hand Clow, Zecharia Sitchin, Lyall Watson, Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, Michael Brown, Helen Schucman (The Course in Miracles), Erich Fromm, Chogyam Trungpa, Rainer Maria Rilke, Alan Watts, and and and. . . I am grateful to all the clear-minded, beautiful writers who shared themselves so authentically.