Cool Spirituality-Related Books
Sad to say, but there are few books out there that I can recommend.
C.S. Lewis. One particularly recommendable set are C.S.
Lewis' books on Christianity. The insights he has seem particularly
interesting to "the thinking man or woman," a tribute to his
intelligence, intuition, and reasoning skills. The Screwtape
Letters and The Great Divorce are great. His other books
are also enlightening, minus certain small aspects that seem more
dogma than rational thinking. Almost everything of his overflows with
humor, light, and incredible insight. (Nope, I don't agree with
everything he says, but I enjoy most of it anyway.) Unlike many other
authors, I find his writing got better the older he got!
Stephen Covey. A great book and cassette is The Seven
Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. (The audio
cassette version is better than the book in my opinion: more
succinct.) It's not at all related to the psychic realm, but it
conveys a lot of what I think is truth. For instance, it mentions the
progression from dependence, to independence, to interdependence ---
which is in some ways more profound than one might think. Covey also
teaches a return to principles, instead of the quick-fix "technique"
craze of modern society. The book, like Saint Francis, advocates
"Seek first to understand, rather than be understood." Excellent!
Aikido Books. Other good books may be found in the martial
arts' Aikido section. Look for titles by Will Reed, Dobson and
Miller, Koichi Tohei, Morihei Ueshiba, and my friend C.M. Shifflett
that concern aikido's philosophy (which is founded on the belief that
harmony and peace are the correct paths to take). Some other martial
arts also share the same philosophy, but I'm not qualified to
recommend their texts.
Religions of the World by Huston Smith. At times
almost too lenient (in my opinion), this book is a wonderfully
understanding and compassionate look at some of the major religions
of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism,
and Christianity. It sees the good in all and brings that to the
Prayer Can Change Your Life, William Parker and
Elaine St. Johns -- how to pray, how some types of prayer can be
ineffective. Used to be available from Guideposts. Try Amazon.com.
Guideposts magazine is
an overall great publication, as are books by its co-founder, Norman
Vincent Peale. A fine example is The Power of Positive
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and
Benjamin Zander. Includes "wow!" stories of taking a higher path and
letting the inner spirit soar free. Benjamin Zander exudes enthusiasm
for life and music.
One of these days I need to get Tom (Tom's of Maine) Chappell's
Other really helpful books:
You can read these works and see if you can find a common thread among
them, a common "feel," a common message.
- Logotherapy philosophy by Victor Frankl, a concentration camp
survivor who hypothesizes that people need to look for meaning
within their lives.
- Booker T. Washington's autobiography
is not specifically about spiritualism, but fairly shines with
- Harriet: The Moses of Her People by Sarah H. Bradford (or other books on Harriet Tubman), who was deeply religious.
- Also, try reading some of the speeches by Sojourner
Truth, who "heard voices" and was "called."
- Uncle Tom's
Cabin was also written by a woman who was supposedly spiritually
- I also liked many parts of Hellen Keller's autobiography.
Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words: available free
online and free in print; well worth reading.
- The Alcoholics Anonymous' Big Book is fascinating reading that depicts the power of spirituality put into practice. Available free online and also available in print form.
Speaking of a common message and a good "feel," here are some very
good spiritual (sometimes inadvertently) books that just happen to also
be about animals:
A number of Near-Death Experiences cross the spectrum from Catholic to
Mormon to New Age to Buddhist! Two that I found most compelling and
(IMHO) evidencing good fruit are both categorizable as "Christian";
they are Embraced by
the Light (Eadie) and Return from Tomorrow
(Dr. Ritchie). Also, I've enjoyed Howard Storm's NDE book and Sandra
Rogers' NDE book as well.
- So That Others May Live: Caroline Hebard and Her
Search-and-Rescue Dogs by Hank Whittemore and Caroline Hebard
- The Dog Who Rescues Cats: The True Story of Ginny Philip
Gonzalez and Leonore Fleischer
- Out of Harm's Way Terri Crisp and Samantha Glen. Stories
of rescuing animals, and the rewards (and costs) of dedication and
- The Man Who Listens to Horses ... Horse Sense for
People, and Shy Boy by Monty Roberts. Roberts seems
particularly profound when he speaks of the pain we have inflicted on
others (animal and human), and how the cycle of abuse might be
overcome through understanding, compassion, and discipline. Embodies
again the principles of "Seek first to understand" and the aikido
principle of harmony. Looks not just at the good, but also the ugly.
(Note: there is controversy about the veracity of some of what
Roberts writes; however, there is no doubt his horse techniques
are gentle and effective.)
- When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Susan
McCarthy and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson) and in a similar vein,
Parrot's Lament (Eugene Linden). Both contain a huge number of
fascinating anecdotes about animals' abilities to think, feel, lie,
cheat, innovate, play games, love, and grieve.
- BIRD TALK magazine, when I last read it some years ago,
used to regularly contain readers' stories about how pet birds and
their human companions have enriched each others' lives... sometimes
- (See also my Spiritual Up-Links page for
other (non-book) resources.)
Much spiritual information can be gleaned by carefully reading and
comparing various books in all sorts of fields. It's absolutely vital
to remain objective when reading these books in a research capacity,
as some of them contain material that may lead one seriously astray
(not that I can say which is which). Some fields to look into:
Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism (such as the Bhagavad-gita
text, concerning Krisna's teachings), non-standard Christian gospels,
Mormon texts, Muslim texts, New Age texts, Wiccan texts, and general
occult texts (including books on reincarnation, past-life regression,
and near death experiences). Go out on the WWW and read the hard-line
religious sites. Notice how they all sound sort of similar, no matter
which religion is concerned.
As you read, you'll probably find most texts demanding that you
believe a particular thing that might be markedly or very subtely
different from what all the other texts say. Instead of believing any
one of the texts, you might try looking at each one closely and
saying, "Where does this lead me? What is the author's attitude?
Does the information lead to obvious self-improvement and a subtly
bigger ego? Does it lead to utter, blind dependence on someone else?
Does it justify hatred of others? Or does it lead to caring and
self-discipline, and real humility? What do these books have in
common? What makes each different?" Remember that there are spirits
out there who are "wolves in sheeps' clothing"; not even that which
sounds good on the surface can necessarily be trusted. Look
Finally, here are two last plugs for online material promoted
elsewhere on this site: