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Ma HuLiLi LeiLani
Choosing the 10 Best books which, at the moment, I consider to have had a significant impact on my spiritual growth has required a lot of thought. In part, this is because some of the titles that might fall into the spiritually lightweight category have actually been invaluable in my own development.
I learned much from books like The Secret, Zero Limits, and Access Consciousness, and I still encourage people to investigate the ideas presented as they borrow from Spiritual Laws or Truths in an accessible way. However, they all fall into a category which I think of as spiritual marketing. Marketing, advertising, and business in our society operate by creating a sense of lack and selling solutions which promise you more and better.
It is the continual striving for more and better, and the means to control our circumstances and environment, which are actually the cause of our dissatisfaction. It was the first book on my list, The Power of Now, that woke me up to this fact. In essence, my spiritual journey has been about learning to surrender to and fully accept the present moment. I have taught workshops on the Law of Attraction, and shared the teachings of Ho’oponopo, and whilst great fun, they all have an element of “when-then” thinking behind them. Crudely put, when I arrange my external universe, then I will be OK. I now operate in completely the opposite direction.
The books that made it to my 10 Best List attempt to avoid the trap of Spiritual Marketing.
My 10 Best
(In no order of suggested reading or importance)
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Any personal list of books that shifted my perceptions and stimulated new thoughts has to start with the first book that did that for me. At age 13 Aunt Erma handed me a book that, she said, “might open up a new world of ideas for you.” It was the first book to take me beyond the traditional religious ideas of my upbringing and, as importantly, it showed me that words can say far more than can actually be said in words, that they can come from another source, a more expansive place and can connect the reader to that source.
The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren
Avoiding both the tediousness of a psychological approach and the blurry spiritual/religious pitfalls of rising above or turning cheeks, this book is a true entrance to self-understanding. I suspect it is also a book that saves relationships and probably even lives – it is that good at providing a map for the emotional aspects of being human. It changed how I view emotion, how I explain myself to me and others, and it gave me real skills that led me into the hope and joy of the sometimes frightening, oftentimes perplexing, and occasionally downright messy business of emotion.
All Books by Alice Bailey
A disclaimer: the Alice A. Bailey books are not for everyone. Channeled by “The Tibetan” to Alice Bailey in the 1940s, this series of books is highly esoteric and the language is somewhat arcane. From the first chapters, however, I was opened to layers of subtle field remembrance. So much so that I ordered and devoured book after book from Ms. Bailey until I had read them all and I would say that they accomplished my awakening over a few months.
For many people though, the books are more like reading mechanics manuals when all you want to know is how to start and drive your new car. In fact, a friend once said to me (not knowing my connection to these books): “Anyone who claims to have read all the Alice Bailey books and understand them is a liar!” I remember my cheeks blushing with an odd sense of embarrassment; I didn’t reveal that I was one such person. These books catapulted me from timid traditionalist to awakened mystic, opening hidden repositories of knowledge within me from multiple lifetimes.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont
I’ve always felt that when I hear a deeply true human story I learn what it is to be a human being, and when I learn what it is to be a human being, I gain my own humanity. Anne Lamont is a writer whose gift is the humorous and brilliant sharing of the human condition from our shared pathologies and insecurities to our social anxieties, fears, and inner turmoils. She shares story in a way that makes me feel hopeful and at ease, she often assists me to moments of peace of mind, and she always makes me laugh and feel OK about not being OK in a world that isn’t OK either.
Bird by Bird is only one of her many books that deliver an extraordinary banquet of profound personal insights served up with compassion, humor, and truth told in a way that keeps one reading on and on with real delight.
Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot
Larry Dossey, M.D., refers to this book as “A wake-up call to wonder, an adventure of ideas.” It is. I devoured it in 1991 when first released and I’m reading it again because it reminds me of the malleability of all matter, including me. The publisher says it well: “Michael Talbot’s classic treatise on the latest frontiers of physics reveals a revolutionary theory of reality, explaining the paranormal abilities of the mind, the unsolved riddles of brain and body, and the true nature of the universe.”
The science is very accessible and fascinating and the writing is engaging, compelling and elegant. It shifts the mind from stuttering belief toward a true knowing of universal actualities. This is a book that delivers. (Note: the author died in 1992, only a year after this publication. It’s a testament to him and the book that it is still in print, still current, and remains a good seller nearly 30 years later.)
Radical Honesty, How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth by Brad Blanton
This is a book that challenges the silence and self-forfeiture we practice daily that robs us of our authentic self. It transforms relationships by giving you back the simple tools of truthful communication. This book came at a time when I was already reinventing how I communicated and it shifted that into high gear. I learned to recognize and free myself from layers of shared omissions and half-truths so that I could at last break free of the subtle, binding dishonesties we are trained to, and, like the Velveteen Rabbit, become “real” at last. An extraordinary new freedom of being is the reward.
The Convoluted Universe: Book One by Dolores Cannon
If you want an accelerated path for challenging preconceived ideas and shifting your world view, the books of hypnotherapist Dolores Cannon are an excellent choice. Her reports of thousands of client sessions offer dramatic revelations of past, future, and concurrent lives – told over the course of many books – giving compelling insights into one’s own possible existences before this life, in the afterlife, and life between lives as well. All of which give meaning to why we are here this time. Be aware ahead of time, however, that these books will challenge much of what you have chosen to believe.
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
This is the book that gave me back my childhood and helped me recognize the voice of the child I still am, who weaves in and out of my day, often ignored, sometimes abandoned but frequently irresistible in her persistent query, “Can you come out and play?” I’m rereading this wonderful novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winner author, her vivid memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. One reviewer says, “A rare treat, an autobiography you’ll want to read more than once… When she reawakens your own joy, you can’t help but be grateful.” Reawakens your joy… Yes, that’s just what this book does and, yes, I feel grateful.
Brain Pickings by Maria Popova
This is a blog, not a book, a weekly illustrated compilation of extraordinary quotes, snippets, and excerpts from the best thinkers and writers from anywhere, anytime. It’s narrated brilliantly by writer Maria Popova and is an undertaking so excellent and surprising and wonderful that it can elicit envy. The kind of envy that, while causing me feelings of totally self-reductive awe and the humility of knowing I am incapable of writing and producing to such a level of accomplished wonder, it nonetheless inspires me to do what I can, to try what I must, to live more, dare more, read more, think more, enjoy more… more, more, more! As if that weren’t enough, it never fails to uplift my day by redirecting my attention to the ever-present genius and hope and excellence that is and always has been part of humanity. This blog is a necessary relief from the temporary apparent chaos and gloom of present-day news. This weekly writing is a labor of love and an illuminating gift for mind and heart.
The Kryon Books by Lee Carroll
If you enjoy channeled material and have an interest in metaphysics, the many Kryon Books by Lee Carroll are a treasure trove of fascinating and valuable information. To be a good, clear, channeled source the person channeling must be a person of integrity and well advanced on their own spiritual path. Lee Carroll is such a person. The energetic being he channels, the Kryon, over nearly 30 years of channels has proven to be highly accurate, giving cutting edge metaphysical information extremely pertinent to these times. Carroll also has one of the best resource websites anywhere, with hundreds of freely available transcripts and recordings available from current and past channeling. You can start there and get an idea of whether the books or workshops are for you. I have often enjoyed all three, website, books and workshops.