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Recommended Reading

[Personal Growth]   [Philosophy]  

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Personal Growth

Personal growth is vital to becoming a fully actualised being, no matter what your spiritual path or other belief systems. The titles suggested here are all recommended for building on your path of self improvement, spirituality, and furthering your goals. They are separated into general reading and collections of daily readings

[General]   [Daily Readings]

Be Here Now by: Lama Foundation - Editor: Ram Dass
Ram Dass tells the story of his spiritual awakening and gives you the tools to take control of your life, featuring powerful guidance on yoga, meditation, and finding your true self.

Just ten years earlier, he was known as Professor Richard Alpert. He held appointments in four departments at Harvard University. He published books, drove a Mercedes and regularly vacationed in the Caribbean. By most societal standards, he had achieved great success. . . . And yet he couldn’t escape the feeling that something was missing.

Psilocybin and LSD changed that. During a period of experimentation, Alpert peeled away each layer of his identity, disassociating from himself as a professor, a social cosmopolite, and lastly, as a physical being. Fear turned into exaltation upon the realization that at his truest, he was just his inner-self: a luminous being that he could trust indefinitely and love infinitely.

And thus, a spiritual journey commenced. Alpert headed to India where his guru renamed him Baba Ram Dass - “servant of God.” He was introduced to mindful breathing exercises, hatha yoga, and Eastern philosophy. If he found himself reminiscing or planning, he was reminded to “Be Here Now.” He started upon the path of enlightenment (without drugs!), and has been journeying along it ever since.

Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life - by Rick Fields, et al
More than a thousand years ago a Chinese Zen Master wrote:
Magical Power, Marvelous Action!
Chopping Wood, Carrying Water...

The message is as true today as it was then: the greatest lessons and the profoundest heights of the spiritual path can be found in our everyday lives. It is the greatest challenge for people living in contemporary society to find the spiritual aspects of working in an office, store, or factory; balancing a checkbook; raising a family; or making a relationship work. How can we make all these daily activities a part of the path? How can we apply the insights of great spiritual traditions, and our own experience, to the way we live and develop?

This book is a guide - a handbook filled with information, advice, hints, stories, inspiration, encouragement, connections, warning, and cautions, for the inner journey as we live throughout our lives.

Chop Wood, Carry Water contains much ancient wisdom, but the emphasis is on contemporary perceptions. Many of our guides have been known to humanity for millennia: they are the world’s great spiritual teachers - Christ, the Buddha, Loa Tse, Confucius. Others are contemporary teacher and healers, widely recognized and respected. All offer ways to integrate the events, our focus on relationships and family, our struggle with technology, money, politics and more - into the quest for spiritual fulfillment.

Conversations With God - by: Neale Donald Walsch
Blasphemy! Heresy! Who does this man think he is, claiming to speak directly to God?! Jesus did it, Muhammad did it, the Jewish prophets did it, but none of their Gods had the sardonic wit or raw verve of Prophet Walsch's God. Neale Donald Walsch isn't claiming to be the Messiah of a new religion, just a frustrated man who sat down one day with pen in his hand and some tough questions in his heart. As he wrote his questions to God, he realized that God was answering them... directly... through Walsch's pen. The result, far from the apocalyptic predictions or cultic eccentricities you might expect, turns out to be matter-fact, in-your-face wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to yourself and your spirituality.
Also check out the The Conversations with God Foundation website. Good stuff to be found there!

Jonathan Livingston Seagull - by Richard Bach.
This is the story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules…people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves…people who know there’s more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than they ever dreamed.

Amazon.com Review
"Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight--how to get from shore to food and back again," writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight." Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar. Ultimately this is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe, or neighborhood finds your ambition threatening. (At one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock.) By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan gets the ultimate payoff: transcendence. Ultimately, he learns the meaning of love and kindness. The dreamy seagull photographs by Russell Munson provide just the right illustrations--although the overall packaging does seem a bit dated (keep in mind that it was first published in 1970). Nonetheless, this is a spirituality classic, and an especially engaging parable for adolescents.
~ Gail Hudson

Awakening the Buddha Within - by: Lama Surya Das
The radical and compelling message of Buddhism tells us that each of us has the wisdom, awareness, love, and power of the Buddha within; yet most of us are too often like sleeping Buddhas. In Awakening the Buddha Within, Surya Das shows how we can awaken to who we really are in order to lead a more compassionate, enlightened, and balanced life. It illuminates the guidelines and key principles embodied in the noble Eight-Fold Path and the traditional Three Enlightenment Trainings common to all schools of Buddhism:

Wisdom Training: Developing clear vision, insight, and inner understanding—seeing reality and ourselves as we really are.

Ethics Training: Cultivating virtue, self-discipline, and compassion in what we say and do.

Meditation Training: Practicing mindfulness, concentration, and awareness of the present moment.

With lively stories, meditations, and spiritual practices, Awakening the Buddha Within is an invaluable text for the novice and experienced student of Buddhism alike.

Norse Rede of Honor From "The Rites of Odin" - by Ed Fitch
Great words to live by, no matter what your path.

The ancient religion of Northern Europe was one of remarkable strength and power, as well as magic and beauty. Its adherents were themselves a solid and adventurous lot: the Norse, Slavs, Germans, ancient Russians, and of course, the Vikings.

The Rites of Odin is a complete sourcebook that brings the ancient values back to these turbulent times. What you read here is poetic and powerful, perfect for groups who have chose to follow the Old Ways, for families who wish to be unified by warm and close ceremonies, and for the solitary seeker.

The Rites of Odin puts forth the message, in rites, practice, and background lore, that you are uniquely important. You are in charge of your own destiny. The family and friends who constitute your "extended family" are also important: by working together and helping one another, all of you can prosper and be happy.

Siddartha - by Herman Hesse
Steeped in the tenets of psychoanalysis, Eastern philosophy, and mysticism, Siddhartha presents a strikingly original view of man and culture, and the arduous process of self-discovery that leads to reconciliation, harmony, and peace.

With parallels to the enlightenment of the historical Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, Hesse's Siddhartha is the story of a young Indian Brahmin's quest for the ultimate reality—nirvana. His quest takes him from the extremes of indulgent sensuality to the rigors of asceticism and self-denial. After encounters with wandering ascetics, the famous Buddha Gautama, known as the Enlightened One, and his Buddhist monks, a courtesan named Kamala, and a ferryman, he learns that wisdom cannot be taught — it must come from one's own experience and inner struggle.

Stranger in a Strange Land - by Robert A. Heinlein
Raised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind, and as he teaches them about grokking and water-sharing, he also inspires a transformation that will alter Earth’s inhabitants forever...

Notable Quotes:
"Democracy is a poor system; the only thing that can be said for it is that it’s eight times as good as any other method. Its worst fault is that its leaders reflect their constituents—a low level, but what can you expect?"

"My dear, I used to think I was serving humanity . . . and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it."

"Man is so built that he cannot imagine his own death. This leads to endless invention of religions."

The Art of Manliness - A GREAT website devoted to being a man (as opposed to just a male). Many of the articles are great for everyone to read, even though it is specifically directed to men.

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Daily Reading

Daily motivations, meditations, inspiration, etc. from various sources.
More suggestions for this section from different faiths, practices, etc. would be much appreciated!!

*To suggest a title/website for inclusion on this page, please click here and select "Website suggestion or feedback" from the dropdown menu.*

365 Tao - 365 Tao is a contemporary book of meditations on what it means to be wholly a part of the Taoist way, and thus to be completely in harmony with oneself and the surrounding world. Click here for online version.

Words to Live By: Short Readings of Daily Wisdom - Each reading is based on a quotation from one of the world's great philosophers, poets, saints, and sages. Augustine and Einstein, Emily Dickinson and Jalaladdin Rumi, Biblical verses, Buddhist sutras, Hasidic proverbs, and Hindu Upanishads can all be found here. Each quote is accompanied by a commentary from Easwaran, explaining how the wisdom of the ages can help us here and now. Click here for online version.

Thought for the Day - Hazelden Betty Ford's Thought for the Day offers daily meditations for people in recovery from or affected by addiction to substances or unhealthy behaviours. Browse daily passages from our most popular meditation books to find your inspiration today.

Daily Zen - Daily, inspirational quotes from Zen, Buddhist, and Taoist classics.

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Philosophical readings, in general can help us to analyse, shape, form, and examine our own values, ethics, morals, codes, beliefs, and views of the world. If our convictions cannot stand under the barrage of scrutiny - of questioning, deeply examining, and challenging them, they they must not be very worthy convictions.

Some of these philosophical works are couched in story form and, some more straightforward, but all are worth reading, IMO.

So far, there is not much listed here, but that will change in the foreseeable future, as I have more time to update and make additions to the website.

The Genealogy of Morals - by Friedrich Nietzsche
The first of the three essays in this book set up a contrast between what Nietzsche calls master morality and slave morality and shows how strength and action have often been replaced by passivity and nihilism. The next essay, looking into the origins of guilt and punishment, shows how the concept of justice was born--and how internalization of this concept led to the development of what people called the soul. The third essay dissects the meaning of ascetic ideals. It is not Nietzsche's intention to reject ascetic ideals, slave morality, or internalized values out of hand; his main concern is to show that culture and morality, rather than being eternal verities, are human-made.

The Art of War - by Sun Tzu
The Art of War is not only a strategic manual on war and on the techniques for being successful in battle. In this text, there is a deeper and more intimate path, which deals with the emotional sphere and more precisely with the management of personal conflicts in a proactive way which leads to personal growth.
The instructions contained in The Art of War should be taken as essential rules of deep wisdom as they are applicable to any aspect of reality.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values - by Robert M. Pirsig
A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live.

The Tao of Pooh - by Benjamin Hoff
The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world's great Taoist masters isn't Chinese, or a venerable philosopher, but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is.
And that's a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists.

Tao of Jeet Kune Do - By Bruce Lee
A book of philosophy, "disguised" as a martial arts manual.
Compiled from Bruce Lee's notes and essays and originally published in 1975, Tao of Jeet Kune Do is the best-selling martial arts book in the world.
This iconic work explains the science and philosophy behind jeet kune do - the art Lee invented - and includes hundreds of Lee's illustrations. Topics include Zen and enlightenment, kicking, striking, grappling, and footwork.
With introductions by Linda Lee and editor Gilbert Johnson, Tao of Jeet Kune Do is essential reading for any practitioner and offers a brief glimpse into the mind of one of the world's greatest martial artists.

1984 - by George Orwell
"1984" is a dystopian novel written by George Orwell, published in 1949. It portrays a totalitarian regime led by the Party and its leader, Big Brother, in the fictional superstate of Oceania. The story follows the protagonist, Winston Smith, as he rebels against the oppressive surveillance, propaganda, and thought control enforced by the Party.

The novel explores themes such as government surveillance, propaganda, censorship, and the dangers of totalitarianism. It also introduces concepts such as Newspeak, a language designed to eliminate free thought and dissent, and Doublethink, the act of simultaneously accepting two contradictory beliefs as correct.

"1984" has had a significant impact on literature and popular culture, and many of its concepts and phrases, such as "Big Brother is watching you" and "thoughtcrime," have become part of the English language lexicon to describe authoritarian practices and surveillance.

Animal Farm - by George Orwell
Overworked, mistreated animals on a farm revolt and take control over it. They set out to create an ideal space brimming with the ideas of progress, justice, and equality only to result in an equally problematic environment. This makes the backdrop of one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, this book chronicles the evolution from revolution against tyranny to totalitarianism just as terrible. An allegory on the Soviet regime, Animal Farm was banned in the Eastern bloc and is one of the great political works of the 20th Century.

Brave New World - by Aldous Huxley
Step into the chilling world of "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley's dystopian masterpiece that will leave you questioning the very fabric of society. In this gripping tale, Huxley paints a vivid and unsettling portrait of a future where individuality is eradicated, and humanity is ensnared in a web of control and manipulation.

Immerse yourself in a world where science reigns supreme, and human lives are manufactured and conditioned from birth. In this tightly controlled society, citizens are assigned to specific social classes, their destinies predetermined. Happiness is mandatory, achieved through the mind-altering effects of the ubiquitous drug, "soma," which suppresses emotions and ensures docility.

Join Bernard Marx, an outsider who dares to question the suffocating conformity and shallow contentment of this brave new world. Witness his fateful encounter with John the Savage, a man raised outside the confines of this controlled existence. As John grapples with the distorted reality surrounding him, he becomes a symbol of rebellion and the struggle for individuality in a world stripped of humanity.

"Brave New World" delves into profound themes, exploring the perils of a totalitarian regime, the erosion of personal identity, the dehumanization of society, and the consequences of sacrificing truth for comfort. Huxley's evocative prose and visionary narrative will transport you to a future that is at once mesmerizing and terrifying, leaving an indelible mark on your consciousness.

This timeless classic continues to captivate readers with its profound warnings about the dangers of sacrificing freedom for the illusion of happiness. It challenges us to ponder the true cost of progress and the fragile nature of our humanity in an increasingly complex world.

Prepare to embark on a thought-provoking journey that will linger in your mind long after you turn the final page. "Brave New World" beckons you to question the very essence of what it means to be human and serves as a stark reminder of the importance of preserving our individuality, our freedom, and our truth. Open the book, and dare to confront the unsettling future that awaits within.

Brave New World Revisited - by Aldous Huxley
Written almost thirty years after the publication of Aldous Huxley’s groundbreaking dystopian novel, Brave New World Revisited compares the “future” of 1958 with his vision of it from the early 1930s. Touching on subjects as diverse as world population, drugs, subliminal suggestion, and totalitarianism, these timeless essays provide a fascinating look at ideas of early science fiction in the context of the real world.

Anthem - by Ayn Rand
Anthem is a novella by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. This dystopian fiction was written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in the UK. The story takes place at an undesignated future date when mankind has entered another Dark Age. Technological advancement is now carefully planned and the concept of individuality has been eliminated.

Equality 7-2521, a 21-year-old man, rebels by doing secret scientific research. He commits several transgressions. But his activity is discovered. He flees into the wilderness with the girl he loves and both plan to establish a new society based on rediscovered individualism.

The plot of the novella revolves around this young man who exclusively uses plural pronouns such as ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘they’ to refer to himself and others. The girl he meets is Liberty 5-3000, a 17-year-old Peasant girl who works in the fields.

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