Jump to content

What books have had a big impact on you in a spiritual way?


GreatDane
 Share

Recommended Posts

CLARIFICATION.  Doesn't have to be religious, can be nature-inspired.  ANY book that has inspired, made you look at things differently, in ANY sort of spiritual, non-material way.  For instance, books by Thoreau or Emerson could definitely fall into that category.  Can be non-fiction or fiction.

 

I have a lot.    JUST a few of them in no particular order:

 

Creative Visualization

Relax, You're Already Home

Buddhism Plain and Simple

 

FYI, I am not a traditionally-religious person, yet study religion and philosophy and take what I find of use.

 

I learned from Eastern and Western religions.  I have some strong leanings in both.

 

I also think Thoreau and Emerson are very spiritual.

 

Poetry I can also find can speak to my spirit.  William Blake, Lord Byron, E. E. Cummings.  Too many to name.

 

So what are some books that had an impact on you that affected you in any way YOU consider "spiritual"?  It's your definition of your spiritual.        

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I personally get a lot out of the Bible and its exegesis, and I also learned a lot from reading the Book of Mormon. Sacred Fragments by Rabbi Gillman helped me to really think critically about my understanding of the divine. I also really like Shusaku Endo’s A Life of Jesus, and Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ. Huge fan of Dion Fortune’s work—pretty much any and all of it.

 

Fiction that has helped me develop my faith/relationship with nature broadly speaking includes

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Silence by Shusaku Endo

The Pisces by Melissa Broder (if you’re into the secular-pagan nihilist ecstatic kinda thing)

 

Mary Oliver’s poetry speaks to me on the most sublime level that I have come across, as far as poetry goes 🙂 She is not flashy but she is very clear and humble in the face of nature.

 

I feel like I’ve got to be forgetting something but this is a topic I really like, so thank you for the thread, GreatDane!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your comment, vulprix!  Excellent choices IMO!  OH, HUGE fan of Alice Hoffman 🙂   Read all the books re the Owens sisters!  Love both prequels.  

 

FYI, I actually took the lessons as I had a Mormon roommate.  I was late teens.  Wasn't for me.

 

The Bible.  OK, that was a given to me, as in I kind of just automatically added it.   I grew up going to Sunday school.

 

I have a library of religious texts from so many religions, and, yes, have more than one copy of the Bible (I inherited a couple). 

 

I hope you continue to add any others you think of, vulprix.

 

Season of the Witch - Natasha Mostert

The Magus John Fowles  - first fictional book I read that had a psychological impact.  Don't know you would call it spiritual, but it made me think - I was about 17.    

 

     

Edited by GreatDane
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner influenced my ideas of witchcraft.

Sylvia Plath's Journals too. And some of Barbara Comyns's books, like The Vet's Daughter and The Juniper Tree.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most all of Mary Oliver's work as well as some by Sufi poets, such as Hafiz and Rumi.

Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart

Sharon Salzberg's books Faith and Lovingkindness.

Jack Korningfield's book The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace 

Bloomfield and Goldberg's Making Peace with God

Dhammapada

Tao te Ching

The Druidry Handbook by John Greer

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In no particular order:

 

Kate Atkinson:  Life After Life

The Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching

Emily Bronte:  Wuthering Heights and her poetry

William Blake:  Songs of Innocence and Experience, Proverbs of Hell

Shakespeare:  all of him

Keats: ditto

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and_it_spoke

Interesting and inspiring picks so far. And a good list of books to look into, to boot. 🙂

 

For me, a few immediately stick out:

 

'The Tao of Pooh' by Benjamin Hoff - I grew up and was raised Roman Catholic. Catholic school, mass every Sunday... and as a kid it really filled me up. The idea of God's love, of forgiveness, of kindness. But as I grew older, I began to see the hypocrisies in church teaching, and eventually in a lot of Christian thought. By the time I was 15 I was an avowed atheist. Until I read this book.

 

It was the first time I was introduced to a non-western religious perspective and it really hit home. It aligned much more closely with my ideas about divinity, about spirit and about what "god" is and could be. Simplistic and delightful to read. It also opened my eyes and mind, and led me to believe in there being something greater, something more again.

 

'The Bhagavad Gita', translated by Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood - Another non-western text that deeply affected my spiritual growth (at least, I hope it's growth). While it's addressing of caste and culture is best left on the page, what got me here was the way it talked about the soul, about atman... "there has never been a time you and I have not existed, and there will never be a time we cease to be". Paraphrasing there... It again opened my mind to the way we can perceive reality and even make peace with the material world via dharma (Hindu usage, not the Buddhist). And also how complex, elegant and conflicting one's dharma could be.

 

'Revelations of Divine Love' by Julian of Norwich - "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." This book was deeply moving. Not only does it have the honor of being the first book known to have been written by a woman in the English language, but it ties together in a Christian perspective what so appeals to my about Eastern faiths - the mutability and absoluteness of divine love. Here, addressing Jesus as our Mother, calling god both the mother and father of us all - It pushes away the literalness and text bound teaching of other church thinkers of the time, and instead basks in the glow of oneness in love. To be honest, I don't believe in miracles - but it has to be a miracle that this amazing book written by a woman in the 14th century survived to now, and survived some of the darkest periods of Christendom.

Edited by and_it_spoke
Edited because I type like a baboon.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a child those books whose illustrations, detailed and full, created whole worlds teaming with life had a strong effect on me. They fostered a lifelong interest in, or enjoyment of, the hidden, the small and the hard to detect. Perhaps this is where my love of painters like Bruegel, Jan van Eyck and Hieronymus Bosch comes from.

 

600px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tow

 

Also, through the Gnome books of Wil Huygen, I became entranced by the idea of entire worlds lying hidden just beneath the everyday. 

 

0201b2583dd1955e9e41a665b4aafa25.jpg

 

Similarly, fairy stories and the likes of Kipling gave me a penchant for the fantastical. 

 

More recently, I found both Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Italo Calvino's Collected Cosmicomics extremely moving in their own, quite different, ways. These poems too: Song of Being a Child by Peter Handke, and Edwin Muir's Transfiguration

Edited by devin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

and_it_spoke
57 minutes ago, devin said:

Also, through the Gnome books of Wil Huygen, I became entranced by the idea of entire worlds lying hidden just beneath the everyday. 

 

 

Oh wow! Same here... Just seeing that photo I'm transported to being child, curled up looking at all of those pictures and losing my self in that world. Even some of the more unsettling aspects. 

 

Book review - Gnomes - IMELDA GREEN'S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, and_it_spoke said:

Oh wow! Same here... Just seeing that photo I'm transported to being child, curled up looking at all of those pictures and losing my self in that world. Even some of the more unsettling aspects. 

 

Ah, you see, we're proof that Richard Dawkins is right when he says people shouldn't indulge their children with fairy stories.... 'çause it makes for mushy brained adults! Q.E.D.

Edited by devin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, devin said:

 

Ah, you see, we're proof that Richard Dawkins is right when he says people shouldn't indulge their children with fairy stories.... 'çause it makes for mushy brained adults! Q.E.D.

 

LOL. I'm not above a deep dive into Tasha Tudor's art when things are a little TOO edgy. She really did have the old fashioned things you see in the pictures. She had a little farm cottage and she wore long dresses and headscarves. She had Corgis. too. Her illustrations for The Tinderbox showed the Princess sleeping on the back of a giant Corgi with "eyes like saucers." I wish I could find an image to post. I was near-obsessed with it when I was little.

I guess I'll have to use this to turn everyones' brain to mush. Behold!:

00.JPG.a36d4e825dda8a4c9a3e0f65d0e6228e.JPG

 

I'm a little surprised that her art has never been used for a deck. Surely it's occurred to people, I suspect it's difficult or impossible to license the images.
I prefer the deck not existing to a bad deck, though. Don't ruin Tasha!

OK, back on topic.

This book takes some difficult concepts and makes them very clear. It explains that it's not if things exist, it's how they exist.

 

https://smile.amazon.com/Tara-Feminine-Divine-Bokar-Rinpoche/dp/1930164009/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3OAS9RF226YM6&dchild=1&keywords=tara+the+feminine+divine+by+bokar+rinpoche&qid=1625085717&sprefix=tara+feminine+divine%2Caps%2C248&sr=8-1


 

Edited by katrinka
Link to comment
Share on other sites

and_it_spoke
2 hours ago, devin said:

çause it makes for mushy brained adults!

 

Helps new ideas land safely, says I.

 

🙂

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dawkins is one of those people who will say something profound and quotable, and turn around and say something harebrained.

I'm sure people like Einstein, Hawking, etc. heard fairy tales when they were kids.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The ones that occurred to me immediately are The Color Purple and A Separate Peace.  Regarding the first, I remember why.  Regarding the second, I'm a little vague.  I will reread it pronto!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, Grandma said:

The ones that occurred to me immediately are The Color Purple and A Separate Peace.  Regarding the first, I remember why.  Regarding the second, I'm a little vague.  I will reread it pronto!

 

I’m currently reading The Color Purple for the first time 🙂 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, vulprix said:

I’m currently reading The Color Purple for the first time

I'm so glad to hear that!  How far have you gotten and what do you think?  The movie is one of the few which is actually as good as the book, so you may want to watch it when you have finished reading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ShadowMoon

Probably not spiritual or divine journey, but this is the book that brought about a shift in my perception of choices, acceptance of sexualities, and above all, it made me unlearn all that I thought I had learnt (brainwashed). 
 

Shikhandi by Devdutt Pattanaik 

 

I’ve read ALL his books since then. And coming from a conservative patriarchal society, his books are empowering… I’ve started questioning rather than blindly obeying. 

 

I read that first book expecting a modern approach to “Hinduism”. Instead it led to years of research into debunking every conservative opinion that I was led to believe is the holy truth and that being a girl or even gender neutral is just equivalent to a curse. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within meant a lot when I read it. There was a book by Australian monk Ajahn Brahm, called 'Opening the Door of Your Heart' that made a lot of Buddhist philosophy more real and accessible to me.  

 

Robert Graves, The White Goddess. That book really connected me to my roots when I was a young student.  Joseph Campbell, Masks of God  (I think).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and_it_spoke

@ShadowMoon, I think what you described is incredibly spiritual. When you live your life in a box, seeing a crack of light through the seam of the lid can be life altering. Even simple awareness of more than what's outside of your personal box has potential to transform every aspect of your spiritual being, and can set you on a path to connecting with the divine in any one of many different forms.

 

I will try and check out his work!

 

8 hours ago, archimedea said:

Joseph Campbell, Masks of God  (I think)

 

OHMYGOD(S) these four volumes are amazing! The way they can hone in on universal themes while still gracefully acknowledging the nuances of the societies that made them (Völkergedanken) is a really neat trick that Campbell does, and I think is a good refutation to those who think that he focusses on the universal to the detriment of the cultural. A deeper dive than The Hero's Journey but, I think sadly, much less known.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, Grandma said:

I'm so glad to hear that!  How far have you gotten and what do you think?  The movie is one of the few which is actually as good as the book, so you may want to watch it when you have finished reading.

I would love to see the movie 🙂 

 

I am about 1/4 through, and very intrigued so far. I feel like I have ideas of where the pieces may fall due to hearsay/its popularity, but I can’t wait until real changes start rolling through. Now that Shug is around, I know things will start to get more and more real. The pacing and the characters are excellent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Making a list of some you've all mentioned I haven't read.  OMG Bodhiseed, HOW could I have forgotten to mention the Tao?  Thanks for that one.  I've read and reread so many times.

 

Love the mention of books with pix.  My favorite when I was about 8 was The Golden Book of Fairy Tales.  LOVED the art, still do.  It felt magical to me.

 

I hope peeps keep adding their choices as they think of them.  Helps me add to my reading list 🙂

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi All.

Just two of the books,i read (DEEPAK CHOPRA Life After Death/the book of Answers) and ( SYLVIA BROWNE life on the other side).

very good books to read.😉

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FallenAngel

This is a great thread. I feel I've disconnected from spirituality for a good while. I'm not sure what happened, but I want to reconnect.

 

I really enjoyed the Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet. I read it many years ago, and could probably do with a re-read.

 

Not necessarily 'spiritual' per se, but Viktor Frankl's 'Man's Search for Meaning' really impressed upon me the strength of the human spirit and the ability to gain meaning from such an awful situation.

 

A few years ago one of my clients (I'm a Psychologist by profession) gifted me 'The Bhagavad Gita' as a parting gift. We sometimes talked about spirituality in our sessions. To my shame, I've never made the time to read it. So, I really need to do that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome thread!

The Celestine Prophesy - James Redfield (way back in the 90's) along with the subsequent books.

Shirley McLaine books, e.g. Out on a Limb (again way back in the 90s)
Letting Go  - Dr David Hawkins (learned about the scale of consciousness)

Between Life & Death - Dolores Canon

The Bible (which I will read again one day, but in a completely different way to what I did back in my youth)
Past Lives, Present Dreams - Denise Linn (although I think the title has changed now, to Past Lives, Present Miracles)

I'm sure I'm missing some key books here, but these are off the top of my head

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Collected Letters of Alan Watts had quite an effect on me. Particularly his writings dealing with Christianity as a form of high non-dualism. Some may not realise this, but Watts was an ordained Episcopalian/Anglican for a while. Reading through his correspondences led me to realise that the man had a lot more depth than I'd previously given him credit for.

 

I also found René Guénon indispensable in fostering my gloomy spiritual outlook.

 

In the realm of art, aesthetics and spirituality: Wendell Berry, Ananda Coomaraswamy and C.S. Lewis.

 

See, I'm trying to come across as intelligent. 

 

17 hours ago, FallenAngel said:

Not necessarily 'spiritual' per se, but Viktor Frankl's 'Man's Search for Meaning' really impressed upon me the strength of the human spirit and the ability to gain meaning from such an awful situation.

 

I love that book. I cannot for the life of me understand why some accuse the man of fostering apathy toward injustice, personal and social.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.

Our Forum host is raising their prices, so every little bit helps!

 

Guests

Thank you for paying us a visit!

Please consider joining and the Google Ads will vanish.

 

Registered Members

The only ads you will see are those run by your fellow readers, who so kindly support our forum.

Please consider turning off AdBlock so their contribution isn't in vain!