Father | Seeker | Teacher | Healer | Writer |
The process for selecting my top spiritual books clearly revealed my core focus. I seek an understanding of the afterlife—what it looks and feels like, how souls grow and evolve there, and what leads them to incarnate to the physical plane on Earth.
But it’s not just seeking to understand the landscape of the spirit world—I’ve also been driven to connect to souls on the other side. Since my son, Jordan, died 12 years ago, I’ve looked for a spiritual bridge to reach him. I’ve tried Induced After Death Communication (Alan Botkin), life-between-lives hypnotic regressions (Michael Newton), and channeling (Ralph Metzner). Each pathway to spirit, in its own way, helped me connect to Jordan and learn some of what he knows in the spirit world.
The other books, I realize, have been the most influential for guiding my journey on Earth. “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment” and “A Theory of Everything” showed me that love and connection to all of consciousness is the central work of each life. While “Untethered Soul” helped develop a positive relationship to pain, the “Gratitude Project” has given me hope that I can find love and appreciation for EVERY experience of my life.
I realize that the books I chose have turned out to be guiding principles for my life, and have offered the pathway I needed to spirit.
MATTHEW MCKAY, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at the Wright Institute, cofounder of Haight Ashbury Psychological Services, founder of the Berkeley CBT Clinic, and cofounder of the Bay Area Trauma Recovery Clinic, which serves low-income clients.
Matt has authored and coauthored more than 40 books, including The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook and Seeking Jordan. The publisher of New Harbinger Publications, he lives in Berkeley, California.
My 10 Best
Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls
by Michael Newton
Michael Newton, a psychologist and hypnotherapist, stumbled on a way for using hypnotic regression to access the life between lives. He regressed 7,000 subjects before writing his first book. They were all naïve, knowing nothing about his findings regarding the afterlife. And yet they all reported substantially the same picture of our post-death experience: the landing place, the life review, the sessions with a council of elders, reuniting with a soul group, study of the Akashic record, and the place of life selection where the next incarnation is planned.
These books offered my first believable glimpse of the afterlife and lit a flame in me to learn more. As a psychologist and trained hypnotherapist, I learned Newton’s hypnosis protocol and have had the privilege of hearing many souls in trance describe their own experience of the afterlife.
Life Before Life by Jim Tucker and Children Who Remember Previous Lives by Ian Stevenson
Tucker, a protégé of Ian Stevenson, participated in a University of Virginia study of more than 3,000 children who spontaneously remembered past lives. These children were interviewed in countries all over the world, and in nearly a thousand cases the identity of the previous personality was discovered (solved). Children provided details of the life, death, and names of family members in their previous lives, despite residing in communities hundreds of miles away with no previous contact.
Tucker and Stevenson offer strong, quasi-scientific evidence for reincarnation and the likelihood that the same soul, over time, can reside in more than one body. I’ve conducted many past life regressions, the vividness of which have only deepened my belief in the accuracy of Stevenson’s and Tucker’s findings.
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment
by Thaddeus Golas
Thaddeus Golas did a lot of acid. But his little book is proof that much truth and wisdom can be found in altered states. The vibrational level of every conscious entity depends on the “decision to expand in love or withdraw from it,” to embrace experience or run from it. The slower your vibrations, the more easily damaged you become and the more pain you endure.
Golas taught that when we can love everything—especially the painful and unpleasant—we vibrate at higher levels. We become diffuse, so that the arrows of life pass harmlessly through us. “When you learn to love hell,” he said, “you will be in heaven.” Golas showed me the importance—if not the means—of loving every condition of existence. The book changed my life.
Induced After Death Communication
by Allan Botkin
Allan Botkin discovered a way to communicate to the dead by accident. A psychologist for the VA, he worked primarily with veterans suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The method of treatment was Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which he unintentionally modified with a man suffering traumatic grief for a nine-year-old girl (Le) he’d loved and planned to adopt in Vietnam. To Botkin’s surprise, the vet saw and heard Le, and received important messages from her.
Induced After Death Communication is a report of dozens of cases of this phenomenon. After my son died, I visited Botkin and experienced my own IADC, fully hearing Jordan’s voice. It softened the grief immeasurably to know he exists and that our love is undiminished by death. I have since initiated IADC with grieving clients, and witnessed their extraordinary encounters with deceased loved ones.
A Theory of Everything
by Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber’s Theory of Everything explains the history and developmental trajectory of consciousness on earth through the lens of eight key memes. Evolving from the archaic-instinctual meme of mere survival into memes built on tribalism, righteousness, and rigid rules, toward memes based on science, achievement, and materialism to memes of community, knowledge, and “oneness.” Everything from political and economic issues to spiritual growth across generations is examined in the theory.
Most important for me has been the ability to recognize political parties and movements, social issues, and the beliefs and behavior of individuals in terms of a dominant meme, or level of consciousness.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer
Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul is a “just plain folks’” exploration of the deepest truths of human consciousness. Thoughts, which we take so seriously, and seem to reflect reality, are just manifestations of mind. They are merely ways we torture ourselves with dire predictions of the future, or judgments about past mistakes. They are a narrative explaining our lives while our actual experience is obscured by stories the mind creates. The answer is to strap into the “seat of awareness”—the actual “self,” whose only job is to observe. From that observing self we can watch sensory experience—what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. And out of that come our thoughts and feelings in reaction to all we experience—our narratives, our interpretations, and our pain. But we can live above all that in the seat of awareness, watching our mind and emotions. Untethered and free.
The Life Cycle of the Human Soul
by Ralph Metzner
Metzner’s concise little book (121 pages) is a departure from his more famous work using hallucinogens for spiritual growth (with Timothy Leary and Ram Dass). He examines pre-natal and birth-related trauma as a source of unconscious themes in adult life. Children in the womb, he argues, are acutely attuned to their mother’s sensations, emotions, and thoughts, as well as imprints from ancestral connections. Life is whatever we make it, but the next transition that interests Metzner is death. I have done his “Divination to Your Dying Day,” and it is an extraordinary preparation for one’s last hours and the dissolution of illusory boundaries between self and other, self and spirit.
The life-between-lives is the next stop on the cycle, and Metzner emphasizes our ability to make contact from earth with the afterlife. (As an aside, he taught me, in private communications, how to channel with my son, who had died, and those communications have turned into two channeled books.) Finally, Metzner examines the process souls go through in the choice to reincarnate. This is an extraordinary look at how we learn and grow as souls.
Lessons from the Light
by Kenneth Ring
Lessons from the Light taught me one thing that Raymond Moody’s Life After Life did not—that near-death experiences (NDE’s) promote profound changes in how we experience life and death. These include:
• deeper appreciation for life
• self-judgment replaced by self-acceptance
• increased concern for others
• a shift from material to communitarian and spiritual values
• a sense of life purpose
• losing the fear of death
• a profoundly reassuring picture of life after the last breath
The evidence that the soul survives the body is strong. NDE’s couldn’t happen unless soul consciousness continues after the brain is off-line or disabled. Kenneth Ring shows us what science was afraid to face: that the soul is not tied to the body.
The Gratitude Project
by Will Pye
The Gratitude Project taught me to live a radically grateful life, which means noticing and allowing every experience, and then appreciating that our consciousness was allowed to see this, feel this—no matter how hard it is to hold. “How is it that you are you,” Pye asks, “both self and awareness of self?” It is through us that the ever-expanding universe grows and knows itself; it is the lesson, from judgment to acceptance that we each are learning. “I am love and all is well” is the core meditation that moves me from the limited concerns of “I” to universal connection. Pain is everywhere. But to be grateful for every part of our awareness is to be fully alive. I have taken that truth in.
Handbook of the Afterlife
by Pamela Rae Heath and John Klimo
Health and Klimo’s book, based primarily on information gleaned from mediumship, channeling, and EMD’s is a compendium of what is “known” about the afterlife. I’m impressed with the extraordinary level of agreement from mediums and psychics from the late 1800’s on regarding the nature and specific aspects of life and spirit. I deliberately waited to read the book until after I’d finished channeling Voluminous Landscape of the Afterlife from my son, Jordan. I didn’t want the channeled messages to be “contaminated.” But when I did read Handbook of the Afterlife, it was with immense relief. It confirms and reinforces so much of what Jordan described to me; I could experience his unique voice added to this multitude of souls speaking from the other side.