Books to Read
closed book “The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.”
— Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), The Hero as a Man of Letters
open book
Enlightenment Books: sacred road maps to direct us home...
Richard Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness Richard Maurice Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness (1991), Dutton, ISBN: 0140193375— I still remember the excitement upon discovering this book in the Cornell Library stacks as if I've found gold. Bucke's classic book on enlightenment was first published in 1901 and influenced William James to devote an entire chapter in his The Varieties of Religious Experience (1904). I used Bucke's book as a road map and began my spiritual quest. The taverns I would stop by on this journey were Balzac, Blake, Buddha, Christ, Dante, Lao Tzu, Mohammed, Pascal, Plato, Whitman, Wordsworth— spiritual mentors who offered a drink of the infinite and eternal. Suddenly I realized that our goal in life is enlightenment— not via the slow process of material evolution in horizontal time, but by spiritual revolution— a vertical mind ascent to eternity and cosmic consciousness. I thank Bucke for inspiring me to be more creative in doing biochemical research on proteins as well as writing and teaching poetry. Avg. Review (6): 5 stars
John White, What Is Enlightenment?, Spiritual Path John White (Editor), What Is Enlightenment?: Exploring the Goal of the Spiritual Path (1995), Paragon House, ISBN:1557787263— A well-known author and researcher in the field of consciousness and spiritual development, has gathered 16 of the world's most respected spiritual teachers, each of whom offers an answer to the fundamental question: “What is enlightenment?” These essays offer a comprehensive look at the ultimate state of human consciousness— the pinnacle of happiness, mental health, and understanding of reality— and further explore the psychological, intellectual, religious, cultural and practical aspects of enlightenment. Contributors include Sri Aurobindo, Richard Bucke, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, J. Krishnamurti, and Ken Wilber. Author's comment: “Enlightenment is the goal of all life. All history is driving us toward enlightenment. My book can help the reader to understand that in clear and simple terms, so that the subject doesn't seem to mystifying and esoteric. Enlightenment is about you at this very moment— how you're living, thinking, and being in the world.” Mind awakening! 5 stars
Arthur Osborne, Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge Arthur Osborne, Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge (1995), Samuel Weiser, ISBN: 0877280711— Ramana Maharshi is India's foremost sage of the 20th century. Introduced to the West by Paul Brunton in A Search in Secret India (1934), it inspired Somerset Maugham to visit Ramana in India and write The Razor's Edge. Osborne was a disciple of Ramana and this biography is the first of a major Indian sage by an Englishman. Written at first hand and told in faithful detail to the Western reader, this book gives a wonderful picture of spiritual life in India. The Yoga of Wisdom & Understanding as taught by Ramana does not demand withdrawal from the world. Instead the sage recommends self-inquiry: “Who am I?” to experience the Cosmic Self within us. Ramana is described as having been so radiant that he seemed to be like the sun. I enjoyed the sage's interaction with visitors from all walks of life, and his playfulness with children and animals. Witness the mind and action of a great sage.
Avg. Review (1): 5 stars.
Arthur Osborne (Ed.), Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi (1997), Weiser, ISBN: 0877289077
David Godman (Ed.), Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (1991), Arkana, ISBN: 0140190627
Zen Master Keizan, Thomas Cleary, Transmission of Light: Zen in the Art of Enlightenment Zen Master Keizan, Thomas Cleary (Translator), Transmission of Light: Zen in the Art of Enlightenment (1998), North Point Press, ISBN: 0865474338— This is the first complete modern translation of the classic Denkoroku by one of the premier translators of Buddhist and Taoist texts. This book tells you how to arrive at the epiphanic Zen awakening known as satori. Attributed to the 13th-century Zen Master Keizan (1268-1325), this book is one of three essential koan texts used by Zen students. Techniques for reaching the enlightening experience of satori are revealed through 53 short tales about awakenings of successive generations of masters, beginning with Shakyamuni Buddha and ending with the 12th-century Zen Master Ejo, dharma heir to Dogen. Cleary's learned introduction discusses the Zen teaching of awakening the dormant potency of the mind and establishes the context for Transmission of Light within the Zen canon. According to Zen Master Keizan, everyone has this hidden endowment. This inspiring text shows how the deliberately cultivated, genuine experience of satori transcends time, history, culture, race, gender, and personality. Avg. Review (1): 5 stars
Nisker, Buddha's Nature Wes Nisker, Buddha's Nature: Evolution As a Practical Guide to Enlightenment (1998), Bantam Books, ISBN: 0553106015— “So how do you become more enlightened? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall— practice” is one of my favorite quotes from this illuminating book. Nisker says that meditation teaches us that we are human. He suggests that our spiritual journey toward self-realization in the plural. Instead of asking “Who am I?” we should be asking “Who are we?” Our inquiry “then becomes a community koan, a joint millennial project... In this evolutionary sport, we are all on the same team.” This is precisely the Boddhisattva's vow: those enlightened beings who do not take their reward of eternal Buddhahood unless all the sentient beings on earth are also enlightened. Based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Nisker propels us on an extraordinary journey through our entire biological and psychological heritage. Here is a practical program from a renowned meditation teacher for gaining a greater understanding of our true place in the cosmos as well as invaluable insight into the origin of attachment, desire, emotion, thought, and consciousness itself. These practices do not require a belief in Buddhism or any religious concept. Instead they offer a spiritual and scientific path to personal freedom and peace of mind. A joyful book to read. Avg. Review (6): 5 stars
Subramuniyaswami, Merging with Siva Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Merging with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Metaphysics (1999), Himalayan Academy, ISBN: 0945497741— This 1408-page book weighs three pounds, but the content is priceless. The author gave a talk at Cornell in 1970 when I was starting out on my spiritual quest. I learned that he was a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet in his younger days, and went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1947 when he was 20, and was enlightened by Yogaswami. When I saw him recently, he looked like Moses with his long flowing white hair and beard. This book is a treasury of Subramuniyaswami's 50 years of yogic realizations and personal teachings. It is arranged in 365 daily lessons that are illuminating and insightful. Here's Lesson 342 on enlightenment: “having once attained a breakthrough of light within the head, wisdom tells us, remain wise and do not allow these experiences to strengthen the external ego. Become more humble. Become more self-effacing. Become more loving and understanding... The admonition is: once enlightened, stay enlightened.” This book has a 113-page glossary, 65-page index, 10-page charts on Vedic cosmology, 21 chakras, and 36 categories of existence. There is also a handy key to 37 astral colors that aids you in seeing auras around people and within yourself. You'll also find 22 testimonials from gurus and spiritual leaders raving about the wisdom in this book. Learn from a living enlightened master. Avg. Review (3): 5 stars
Helen Palmer, Inner Knowing: Consciousness, Creativity, Insight, Intuition Helen Palmer (Editor), Inner Knowing: Consciousness, Creativity, Insight, Intuition (1998), Tarcher/Putnam, ISBN: 0874779367— The human mind has the capability to function at significantly high levels of perception, creativeness, and intuitiveness. Everyone has at one time in his life experienced a sense of mindful clarity that led to a Eureka! moment. Helen Palmer, author of The Enneagram, has compiled an anthology that explore such abilities and illustrate how they can be developed. Essays on exercising the mind, synchronicity, experiencing flow, communication between the conscious and subconscious, using active imagination, listening to the body's feedback, and witnessing psychic displays of walking on fire, clairvoyance, and similar phenomena make up this enlightening, thought-provoking, and fascinating anthology. Contributors include: Bruno Bettelheim, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Sylvia Boorstein, Pema Chodron, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Betty Edwards, Erich Fromm, Daniel Goleman, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, Jack Kornfield, J. Krishnamurti, Philip Novak, Charles Tart, Montague Ullman, Frances Vaughan, Mark Waldman, and Roger Walsh. Inner Knowing offers us confidence in ourselves as we reawaken subtle senses while learning to trust and utilize new ways of perceiving, knowing, and living. 5 stars

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