May 20

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Top 14 Must-Read Books on Spirituality

By Robert Bencivenga

May 20, 2021


1. A simple, yet profound practice: Being Aware of Being Aware by Rupert Spira

Very few people experience the gift of actually being aware that they are aware. As Rubert Spira explains in his groundbreaking book on awareness: In most people’s lives, individuals are consumed by an unconscious flow — of thoughts, feelings, images, sights, smells, sensations, etc. As human beings, we’re so caught up with “doing” that we more often than not, do not consider our current awareness surrounding our “doing.” 

Early on in his life, English-born Spira was interested in the course and nature of reality, which later in life he transformed into his practice of the “direct path,” or spiritual self-inquiry. With his extensive study and dedication to the classical Advaita Vedanta tradition, Spira offers us this book: a collection of meditations on the fundamentals of non-duality. 

Through his retreats, Spira collected a plethora of knowledge and experience that he shares through Being Aware of Being Aware, bringing the reader the essence of what it means to be aware. Although on the surface, “being aware” seems to be a simple concept, upon digging deeper, Spira guides the reader towards contemplations that facilitate settling into the present moment and thus procuring an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and joy. 

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2. What is the most important thing to you? Love or maybe peace?: The Most Important Thing: Discovering Truth at the Heart of Life by Adyashanti

Have you ever wanted to move past your own inner narrative and connect with the truths that, at the base of all of life, move and inspire you? Esteemed spiritual teacher and esteemed author, American-born Adyashanti makes his teachings available through this compilation of writings, resulting from a life’s work of profound intimate discussions. 

The Most Important Thing will help you understand the search that we seem to all share for the supreme reality of self. By exploring Adyashanti’s many inspiring anecdotes and teachings, you will access a deeper comprehension of the “story” of your life, including the deep wisdom found in hidden surprises, narratives of past sadness, as well as connections with others and the environment. 

As Adyashanti says himself: “What is the most important thing to you? …I am talking about meaning as that which gives us a sense of vitality, aliveness, inspiration, calm and joy.” 

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3. Breaking through the barriers of awakening: The End of Your World by Adyashanti

American-born spiritual teacher and renowned author Adyashanti goes deep in The End of Your World — a book for those who are resolved to discover even more about enlightenment. Adyashanti not only discusses the peace and equanimity that come with enlightenment, but he also reflects gently upon the variety of challenges that often accompany awakening.

From an intellectual point of view, Adyashanti guides his readers through those so-called stuck phases on the path to enlightenment: feelings of superiority or self-righteousness; getting trapped in the process of transcendence. Spiritual perceptions and beliefs are challenged, as Adyashanti encourages his reader to become aware of the alleged “you” and its attachments. 

Along with the book, The End of Your World also offers a six-CD course on the reality of enlightenment and the total rewiring of your being — all part of what Adyashanti calls our journey into the infinite. 

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4. A breathtaking coffee-table collector’s item: The Perfection of Wisdom by R.C. Jamieson

If you love books for books’ sake, then you’ll love this publication. Beautiful full-color manuscript illustrations will delight you with ancient Sanskrit fascinating scenes, including Buddhas, bodhisattvas, gods and monks, all contemplating the wonders of enlightenment. 

Not only spectacularly dazzling for the eye, The Perfection of Wisdom shares insights into transcendence through extracts from an ancient sutra. A first-edition translation, this book offers readers descriptions of ancient Buddhist conceptions, such as the voidness of all things and the ideal of a bodhisattva. 

Through conversations among Buddhas, bodhisattvas, gods and monks, Jamieson leads us on a journey of Buddhist thought with the guiding wisdom and beauty of magnificent illustrations. 

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5. A unique illuminating look into a Yogi’s life: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

This world-renowned beloved firsthand account of the life experiences of a spiritual master has sold millions of copies. For those interested in yoga and spirituality — or even those simply intrigued by an alternate way of interpreting life — this book is a goldmine. 

To be able to have access to intimate knowledge from a yogi — it’s like reading the written words of the Buddha himself. In an easy-to-understand way, Autobiography of a Yogi delves deeply into the miracles, yogic teachings as well as the more modern teachings of Jesus Christ. Indian-born Paramahansa Yogananda was an early twentieth century esteemed yogi, monk and guru who introduced millions to the teaching of meditation and Kriya Yoga. 

In his autobiography, Yogananda discusses his encounters with saints and sages, his ten-year-long teacher training, as well as the 30 years that he taught in the United States. 

A powerful pillar to the New Age Movement in the West, the Autobiography of a Yogi impacted — and continues to impact — leaders in many fields, including yogis themselves, spiritual advisors, theologians and more. Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings and experiences, through beautiful and eloquent writing, will fully absorb you with its unforgettable stories about the mysteries of human existence.  

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6. A seeker’s inner progress: The Inner Promise by Sri Chinmoy

Through The Inner Promise, Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy offers inspiration to essentially help alter the face of the world. In the 1960s, Chinmoy established his first meditation center in Queens, NY, and continued to make himself fully available to the world through his writings, lectures and public meditations. The Inner Promise offers unparalleled insights into the spheres of mysticism and spirituality. 

For those seekers who aspire to self-transformation and a deep awareness of themself, An Inner Promise will be your guide. In this book, Chinmoy’s own words are spoken from a highly meditative state, all preceded by silence and peace. 

By taking in Chinmoy’s words and actually doing the opposite of passive reading — and instead embracing a conscious awareness while reading, readers will find that Chinmoy’s voice can be heard like music, with gentle spaces in between the sentences.

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7. Understanding things just as they are. Or just as they aren’t: The Art of Contemplation by Alan Watts

From the outside, one might believe that practicing meditators might not have powerful personalities, but as British author Alan Watts once stated: “Egoless people have very strong characters.” The Art of Contemplation is a testament to this, offering teachings on the benefits of inadvertently strengthening character by calming the mind, trying to still the monkey minds, to become more of a presence in our own bodies. 

Watts puts forth the idea that believing that we’re in control of our world is an illusion. As he states: “...[in] trying to harness technology... [for instance is an] objective as illusory as the ego which seeks it.” 

In unmasking the ego, as Watts has stated, we can thereby reveal “the splendor of our original face.” Tremendously timely today, The Art of Contemplation offers ways in which you can discover yourself inseparable from the world — through the subsiding of breath, via meditation and gentle contemplation, one can enter a state of basic awareness and thus a place of ritual enjoyment. 

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8. Two masters who will enrich your life: Miracle of Love by Ram Dass

Miracle of Love is an intimate look into the life of a great master and Hindu mystic, Neem Karoli Baba, the American guru and spiritual teacher Ram Dass. Through his own service to mankind, Ram Dass dedicated his life to sharing his spiritual teachings and reaching out with his dedication to paying deep attention to the present moment — mindfulness— as the greatest path to a meaningful life.

A compilation of stories from devotees of Neem Karoli Baba, Miracle of Love offers timeless teachings and testaments about love, struggles, and growth. 

Ram Dass also, of course, shares his own personal memories of his guru. From their initial meeting, Ram Dass felt his life had changed, so touched that he described human possibility as “an extraordinary integration of spirit and form.”

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9. A timeless path to wisdom and joy: The Door to Satisfaction by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, one of the most internationally renowned masters of Tibetan Buddhism, shares his experience with a life-changing discovery of an ancient text in a Himalayan cave. The text gave Rinpoche a true understanding of Dharma, the eternal and inherent nature of reality. 

The text, Opening the Door to Dharma, composed in the fifteenth century, so moved Rinpoche that he based his entire expanse of thought-training teachings on it — brought to you through his book The Door to Satisfaction. 

Rinpoche urges that through right action — actions filled with good intention — we can learn to cherish others, and thereby honor ourselves. 

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10. Insight into ego and limiting thought patterns: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Written as a traditional narrative, offering easy-to-understand anecdotes and teachings, A New Earth is a profound spiritual guide for a better way of life. Having inspired millions of readers through his previous book, The Power of Now, German-born Eckhart Tolle is widely recognized as a visionary spiritual teacher and popular author. 

Tolle’s profound yet simple teachings focus on the magnitude and power of presence. In A New Earth, Tolle expands upon these ideas to illustrate how we can overcome our ego-based mindset to discover inner peace, happiness and experience significantly less suffering.

The information and teachings in A New Earth are straightforward, mind-boggling, poignant and deeply practical — you may want to read the book several times to actually grasp the subtle, yet keenly profound, knowledge. This book will definitely change your life for the better. 

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11. Without compassion and love, humanity can’t survive: Compassion in Action by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush

This classic guide offers an in-depth understanding of compassion in action — understanding that everything is happening exactly as it should. Compassion in Action is a combined effort from two of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers, American-born Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. 

As one of the world’s most renowned and celebrated spiritual leaders, yogis and authors, Ram Dass became known for his saying, “Be here now” — also the name of one of his most famous books. Mirabai Bush, a spiritual teacher and author, is one of the people who brought Buddhism to the West from India in the 1970s. 

Compassion in Action is a collaboration between these two greats to bring knowledge and expertise to those interested in relieving suffering in the world. On a path to self-fulfillment and transcendence, an important step is that of helping others. Ram Dass and Bush explain that by identifying our own useful talents, we can find practical opportunities to assist humanity, as well as our own communities. 

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12. Short and simple, yet beautiful and sublime: True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

Renowned Zen master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh presents the quintessential guide to loving, as described by the Buddhist tradition. In this beautifully written book, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh offers insights into the connection between inner peace and peace on earth. 

Hanh describes the four pillars of love as loving-kindness, compassion, joy and freedom — all described with a gentle directness and simplicity that allow for real love to flourish. True Love encourages the incorporation of these four key aspects of love into our daily lives through meditation, presence and awareness. 

This treasure of a book — just over 100 pages long — will take up a huge, warm space in your heart. True Love is recommended reading for anyone who loves or who would like to learn how to love. 

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13. Recognizing and penetrating our own states of being: I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Known as one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was a Hindu guru and world-renowned author. His book I Am That offers an English translation of a collection of his non-dualistic teachings — looked upon by many as a modern spiritual classic.

I Am That is considered Maharaj’s masterpiece, and a book revered by Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer and Adyashanti. Like so many other spiritual teachers, Maharaj’s greatest motivation was the end of suffering. This book will illustrate the ways in which people can understand their true nature and timeless states of being. 

Through Maharaj’s eloquent words, we can learn to find answers to some of life’s most important questions, such as, Who am I? For enlightened seekers and those desirous for a glimpse of self-realization, I Am That will not disappoint. 

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14. A dive into the occult: The Kybalion by Three Initiates

The “Three Initiates” who penned The Kybalion chose to remain anonymous, which adds to the general feeling of mystery that surrounds this book. The Kybalion explores the ancient mysteries and knowledge of Hermetic wisdom, a type of esoteric philosophy relating to the mystical and alchemical writings in the first three centuries.

The Kybalion offers a statement of the “Truth” to resolve any discrepancies surrounding occult knowledge. In the last few centuries, this book has proved widely influential in New Age circles. 

Explore the seven Hermetic principles, and gain an insight into those interested in the Secret Doctrines. As so little has actually been written about this subject, the latest edition of The Kybalion offers a new introduction by celebrated American scholar of mystic traditions Richard Smoley. 

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To learn more, download my Free Ebook “3 Steps to Feel Great Right Now Regardless of Your Circumstances.” Get started mastering your mind and transforming your thinking.


Robert Bencivenga

About the author

I’ll be your guide on this journey.

I want to make sure you don’t wake up one day feeling your life has passed you by, and you haven’t lived your best life to its fullest!

I’ve studied ancient eastern spiritual philosophies, transformational psychology, and brain science for over 40 years. 

I developed simple practices that you can use anytime and anywhere, to help you create the life you deserve.

I share practical tools and insights, so you can live a life of your own choosing, regardless of your circumstances....

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