Though I am not religious in the familiar sense, I love the magic of religious symbols and numbers. Twelve is the number of the apostles to Jesus Christ. I completed the over 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 40 days. I also turned 33 while walking and communing with other spiritually awakened folks. Given the wonder of the symbolic nature of most of my life, I figured it was apropos to name 12 books that you will want to read as you come into and through your spiritual awakening. (Big smile)
Whether you’re just beginning on this journey, or you’ve been on it for a minute and a half, these books are extraordinary reads for anyone who is wanting to awaken to more in their life than what they can see, hear, taste, smell and touch.
These books will give you insight into whatever it is that is arising in your awareness as you encounter new thoughts, new ideas and new principles. This list is not, by any means, an end-all/be-all. They are a starting point, and for some, only a jumping off point. They can spur further inquiry to continue on a path of wonder, curiosity, delight and extemporaneous connections with the magic of life.
Here they are…
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho… What I loved about this story immediately as I began reading it decades ago was that it was a story about a shepherd. As I’ve said, I love symbolism and the story of the shepherd leading the simplest of lives is one that I began to delight in as I began relinquishing the complexities of intellectual curiosity and began dawning my spiritual curiosity. This Brazilian author seems to tap into a whole world of wonder and grand adventure in a whirlwind of a read. Paulo Coelho’s story is one of love, unconditional and resolute, and where it can lead you when you surrender to a force greater than yourself. I love the adventurous spirit of this book, as the adventure is not only one of the world around us, but of the world within us as well. It is one of my all-time faves. I related (and still relate) whole-heartedly with the shepherd, his desire to know more, and his uncovered thirst for awakening to his true self. Brilliant book well-known around the world.
- The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran… This Persian poet and novel writer was vastly ahead of his time (maybe in sync with his time too – the book was first published in 1923). He writes like no other voice I’ve ever heard before, or after. I’ve referenced this book whenever I’ve needed to hear a voice that reckons with the smaller voices we hear so often today in social media with the greater voice of compassion, resilience and love. For me, this book is a lot more like a bible than a novel. It reads with great compassion, great humility, a great understanding of humanity and its foibles, and great depth of revelation about our journey here as humans. It is a beautifully written book that will surprise you as you read it, if you haven’t already.
- The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield… Everyone told me that this was a great book and I should read it. If you knew me back then, you’d know that that was the surest way to put me off a book (when I was younger, I was far more rebellious against the status quo). Alas, many years later, I’m glad I heeded their words. This book took me on a journey of great revelation about myself and my relationships with friends, but moreover, about my romantic relationships. Even today, I use bits and pieces of the journey I went on with this book in my own life everyday. It is a book about relationships, about love between a man and a woman (relatable to any sexual orientation as it’s about the yin and yang that exists within us all), about the energy we are as beings charged in an ever-expanding magnetic field, and so much more. LOVED IT!
- Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu… When I discovered this little gem, I was studying Tai Chi in a park in Santa Monica. My teacher proposed this little volume to each of her students as reading that would support our study of the martial art. This book – specifically, the translation by Stephen Mitchell – is astounding and astonishing. But I have yet to understand all of it. Yes, that’s right. I’ve read, reread, reread and reread this little book of less than 100 pages, and its meaning continues to unfold to me as I live life, and be human and eternal at the same time. Astonishing book that is hard to believe it was written by one man. Remarkable philosophy.
- The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz… Damn, I’m giving you the best of the best here. This is a great list. I’m stopping to acknowledge myself and celebrate how good this is. Okay, back to it… Don Miguel writes a little book that lists out four agreements that you can hold with yourself to live a magnificent and magnanimous life. His four agreements radically transformed my life, and his revelation that why everyone is so different in their perception of life is because we are each living in our own dream of life shifted my thinking into the beginning of mastery. I have since mastered my mind (not my brain, but the entity that contains my personality; you may call it an ego, I do not) and this book was my starting point. That’s big to say about this little book. However, I believe that this book emboldens anyone who reads it. It is easy to read and it is small but with in-depth writing into each agreement introduced.
- Conversations With God, Volumes 1-3 – Neale Donald Walsch… When Volume 1 of this book hit the shelves of bookstores, it caught on like wildfire. (Fyi, a bookstore is like a dinosaur that is still around but slowly being phased out of existence. I hold on to the ones still here tightly.) A tome that was somewhat “channeled” without the new agey-ness of saying it was a channeled text. Neale Donald Walsch kind of did what every one of us, who read the book, wanted to do. He spoke with God. He asked God questions, then put pen to paper and wrote down the answers he heard given to him. It was insightful, light, vibrant, and a delight to read. The next 2 Volumes weren’t as fresh as the first, but I awaited them with much excitement and anticipation created for me by the first book. They are a highly read volume of books for a reason.
- Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah – Richard Bach… Man, is this a magical book. The famed author who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull, published in 1970 and about which I had heard much, wrote this book seven years later. JLS was a famous book in the 70s, but I hadn’t even been born yet when that book first debuted and the themes of self-growth were wholly specific to an adult’s transformation. My high school teacher assigned the reading of Illusion, and I’m so glad she did. This book actually single-handedly made me a lover of books. Ah, I forgot about that. Yes, it did. Wow, that one book can do that. The message is about how one person can seize the magic of the world, and of life, and offer it willingly, wholeheartedly and selflessly to another. A great story of two men who are small aircraft pilots and end up discovering a great deal of themselves in each other while, of all things, barnstorming. An adventurous spirit here too.
- There’s A Spiritual Solution To Every Problem – Wayne Dyer… I’ve been writing this title for like the last 4 slots, but those other books were more significant in my spiritual development. This book, however, is a mainstay. A gift from my mother at a difficult time in my life, this book was a great stabilizer for me. Wayne Dyer was an Abraham-Hicks fan and he did an interview I watched after his death. He was a recovered alcoholic who had this way of putting big spiritual ideas into a context that multitudes could relate to. He was a journeyman, an everyman, and he has a special place in my heart for how he wrote like he was writing to me alone.
- Staying On The Path – Wayne Dyer… How did he make two slots on this list? There’s magic in being a journeyman. I hope I’m honoring it here. Okay, like I said about the above book, Wayne Dyer is a great stabilizer. I think it has to do with that he was a recovered alcoholic and he was a great believer in the 12-step program and that program requires you to think, and do, your recovery one day at a time. This book is that and more. It is a small book filled with quotes, one on each page. It’s the kind of book that you can pick up on a particularly challenging day, or in a moment of frustration, open it up and the words on that page will be perfect for whatever you are going through. I like this book for the continued journey, to take along the way and keep at hand, at your bedside, at your behest. It will illuminate the journey all along the way.
- Loving What Is – Byron Katie… Ah, bestill my beating heart. This woman and her effortless grace astound me. She has a way of making peace out of what was once chaos in your mind. I have benefited greatly, another huge shift in my thinking that furthered my quest for mastery of my mind, from her book, her work, and her effortless teaching. When I’m dealing with something particularly hard for me, like I was in my recovery from Clinical Depression, I am somehow reminded of her four questions. I find them and they anchor me. It is a blessing that I found her – another gift from my mother. Wink. Download of a brief distilled version of Byron Katie’s The Work from her book, Loving What Is…
- Dreams From My Father – Barack Obama… This book is a wonderful odyssey into a man’s journey to find his family’s roots. He searches for meaning in his life and for the two people who came together to give him life. It is a deep revelation about who he is and how he came to be who he is. I credit this book for revealing so much to me about who I am in relationship to my parents, and how this is so very important to my own spiritual evolution. Besides, I was intrigued to find out more about this man, who at the time was running for President of the United States. I found more than information about him. I found a window to myself. (Yeah, yeah. Feel it, let it wash over you. It’s okay. Sentimentality is just another part of this human experience. Ha!)
- Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert… My last book, and I’m honored to have it be the Grand Finale… This book helped my soul to be at ease with what I was going through at a time when I desperately needed to know that I was not alone. I recently recovered and healed my Clinical Depression, that has been chronic for me since the age of 12. Liz Gilbert’s book, far more than the movie, is a labor of love and transparency in her own Clinical Depression and her journey to reclaim her love of life and the fullness of her five senses in her yearlong adventure abroad. I almost don’t want to call it an adventure, because I don’t want to make light of the very real, the very dark period she was going through. But in the end, adventure is adventure. And what of making light of it? That’s what is required in order to recover from the heaviness of an illness that takes away your lightness, your verve, your being able to feel joy in any moment you want to. Eat Pray Love rounds out my list because it saved me from that traumatizing thought that often looms in our heads, “I’m the only one.” We are never the only one. After making the movie one of my favorites, I was surprised and delighted to find this book and the many gifts it gave me again and again as I read through it in a matter of days — only prolonging it by a matter of a week so that it wouldn’t end too soon. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book will give you life, and even if you haven’t experienced Depression, you’ve experienced some disappointment in life. It is my hope that it will speak to you through your experience.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make this difference with you. I am honored to share these books, gifts that have changed me, transformed me and forever illuminated my journey to me.
I wish you the best as you make your way, because you must make it on your own. Just remember, you are never alone. We are all here with you. And though we cannot go down every road you go, we’ll be standing here at the other end awaiting your stories of reflection and revelation with enthusiasm.
Be well. Go lightly.
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