Nature lover | Journalist | Writer | Curious | Limitless
My selection of books and my entire work drives me to realize that we are not only meat and bones; we are also spiritual beings. In our materialistic world, every book that can take the materialistic reader and help them realize that they are spiritual beings who were alive before their birth and will survive death is a very important book. So, all the books that I have chosen are ones that really have been a comfort for me on this journey of realizing that we are spiritual beings on this materialistic planet.
It was easy for me to select the books. They are the books that came into my mind very recently during my last year of writing. I could have proposed 50 or a hundred books because fortunately, the libraries are full of these kinds of treasures.
STÉPHANE ALLIX is a journalist, former war correspondent, and founder of the Institute for Research on Extraordinary Experiences (INREES). He is the author of The Test: Incredible Proof of the Afterlife and the writer and director of the French television series Extraordinary Investigations (Enquêtes extraordinaires). His latest book is When I Was Someone Else – The Incredible True Story of Past Life Connection. He lives in France.
My 10 Best
Still Here: Embracing Aging Changing and Dying
by Ram Dass
I first discovered this book long ago when writing about life after death and the end of life. The writing of Ram Dass is precise, clear, and very simple. His work really offered me a way to understand this overwhelming period at the end of life.
I rediscovered Ram Dass after he passed away in December 2019. He is one of the most profound spiritual teachers that I ever read, and I had a deep love and admiration for this man.
The Way of the Shaman
by Michael Harner
I discovered this book long ago when I started to investigate traditional knowing about consciousness, life after death, and the spirit world. I found it had a clear and pragmatic approach to Shamanism, a simple technique of encountering and traveling in the spirit world. Unfortunately, Shamanism is made more complicated by the practitioners of different belief systems. Michael Harner and his organization, The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, identify the more common Shamanic practices found in all traditions and make them available for the general public, particularly in the western world. So The Way of the Shaman is one of the most interesting books if you want to get to the core of Shamanism.
In Love with the World
by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
In May 2019, I was in San Francisco doing some interviews and waiting for a plane. I went to the bookstore at the airport and discovered this book. I really liked the picture on the cover. The face of the author is really unusual for a high-ranking monk. He had long hair and a beard. He looked like a homeless guy. The book is half teaching and half his own story about his escape from his monastery.
I like the idea of a high-ranking rinpoche escaping his monastery and going back to the real teachings of his tradition. So, I bought the book and then something happened that was more important than merely reading the words. While I was reading the book, I was feeling the man, the person, and felt lit up inside by love.
The book is very simple. Every chapter tells a little bit of this monk’s journey and how he is trying to figure out how to live in this modern world which is hard when you don’t understand it because you have been living as a high-ranking Lama. Throughout, he explains his Buddhist teaching. He is in an intermediary state called bardo.
What I like most about the book is that his spiritual teaching is embedded in real life. I like when spirituality is grounded in the reality of matter and our world. To be a spiritual teacher when you don’t have any confrontation with the hardness of life is easy, but to be a spiritual teacher when you go in the mud, when you go into war, is much more valuable for me. This book for me is a very important spiritual book.
Journey To Ixtlan
by Carlos Castaneda
Reading Carlos Castaneda is like reading Yogananda—it is an invitation. You don’t know if this guy is real. I mean he is real, he was a student of Michael Harner. But you don’t know how real the experiences in his books are. Is his journey true? Did he discover a mystical world or the mysterious teaching of the mysterious Don Juan? Maybe he’s partly invented, maybe he’s partly a dream, maybe it is totally real. Or maybe it’s totally a fake. You just don’t know. But it is worth investigating, and it’s worth traveling.
Reading Carlos Castaneda really opened me up to the idea of taking a plane to Arizona or New Mexico and just leaving the road and walking in the mountains trying to meet those masters, those spiritual beings.
Castaneda, and all his books—particularly this one—are invitations to dream. I think that our imagination is similar to the unreal. Our brains, our imaginations, are a door to another realm. When you start to imagine your brain is working for just a little part of the time, then something else comes in, and this something else is you entering into another realm. Carlos Castaneda helps us to start to travel in our minds and other realms that can become real.
LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven by Christopher M. Bache
This is a very recent discovery. When I was in San Francisco I visited my old friend Kenneth Ring who was one of the pioneers in research on near-death experiences. When I was talking with Ken about LSD and consciousness, and alternate consciousness, he told me about Chris Bache, who I think was one of his students. and said that this book was really interesting. So, I bought it. I am also working with psychedelics. I found Chris Bache’s almost 73 experiences with very very high doses of LSD over the past twenty years fascinating and a kind of exploration of this altered state. He writes with a kind of precision and detail that I have not found elsewhere. Chris is a philosopher, so he had the kind of knowledge and background to put words on what are difficult experiences to describe. This book really helps me to understand my own experiences with LSD, Ayahuasca, and other psychedelics.
by Chögyam Trungpa
I discovered this book in in a little bookstore Dharamsala in India many years ago when I was working on the Tibetan Book of Dying, and found it very touching. I was in India to interview a Tibetan master, and I didn’t know anything about Chogyam. I was overwhelmed when reading it because it was by one of the great masters of Buddhism. When I came back to France, I discovered that this book was in the room of my brother Thomas who died in April 2001 in a car accident in Afghanistan. He was with me at the time, and his death changed my life because after his death, I stopped doing war journalism and journalism on drug trafficking, terrorism, and the Taliban, and I started investigating life after death and consciousness. To discover this Chögyam Trungpa book in my brother’s room was very moving, and it was one more link that I had with my brother.
Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
I don’t remember when I first read this book, which tells the story of Yogananda. It is a kind investigation, with very simple writing about his very extraordinary life. When I was reading it, I really wanted to go to India and investigate this story. Not to figure out if it was real or not real, as I guess it is rather like Carlos Castaneda’s books—an amazing story where you don’t know if it’s half-real or 20% real or 70% real. The question of its reality is not that important but it is a kind of invitation to travel to India and be in-between time, in-between realms. I really liked the book for that.
The Way of the Psychonaut
by Stanislav Grof
Stan is a someone that I really admire. He is a friend. I had a chance of meeting him back in 2008. His work, his life, everything that he has done, is kind of mind blowing. His work has the importance of Freud and Jung, but I think he is not recognized as yet for who he is. In The Way of the Psychonaut he is explaining his life, his journey and the base of all of his approach to everything transpersonal. And this book is a very very good introduction into his entire life, his importance for psychology in our world.
Passport to the Cosmos
by John E. Mack
John Mack is one of the most important people I have ever met. A couple of years after the death of my brother in 2001, I quit being a war correspondent and started investigating consciousness. One of the topics I was interested in was extraterrestrial life and UFOs. I am a skeptic. By a bizarre coincidence, I found one of John Mack’s books in a French library. The book was called Abduction. I was amazed to find that John was a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University who interested in people who claim to have been abducted by aliens.
After reading Abduction, I found out about Passport to the Cosmos. This book has a more spiritual approach to the abduction phenomena. I read Passport and I had the chance to travel to the US in September 2003 where I met John. Spending a week with John in his house in Cambridge was one of the most transformative weeks of my life. Because of his work John and the ideas expressed in his book Passport, I changed my way of thinking. I suddenly realized it was possible in a rational world to be interested rationally in an extraordinary subject like alien abduction, and
When facing an extraordinary experience like a near-death experience or alien abduction in our society, we have two positions: either we believe in it or we don’t believe. It’s as if we only have those two choices—is it true or not true? John helped me to find another way. We don’t need to decide if it’s real or not real. When you are a psychiatrist, and you have someone in your office who claims to have been abducted by aliens you are not there to decide if it’s real or not. You are there to help this guy who is suffering get through this experience. By listening without judgment, you can enter the reality of extraordinary experiences. John Mack’s approach really changed my life because he offered me tools as a journalist to rationally work on what seem to be irrational phenomena.
The Tibetan book of the Dead Edited by Graham Coleman with Thupten Jinpa by Terton Karma Lingpa
I mention this edition specifically because I found it in Dharamshala when I was working on the book, The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The book is about the bardo dodal, which is a very hard to understand Buddhist text. It is supposed to be recited in front of the dead person to address his spirit and explain what is happening to him while he is entering into the bardo state of death.
This edition respects the original text. It is not a modern translation or modern interpretation of the text. It is the real text with a lot of side texts and complementary Buddhist text to explain the importance of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The book describes what is happening in the hours preceding death and the hours and the days after death. It is mind-blowing. It was written in the 8th century and then disappeared. It reappeared some centuries later in the middle of Tibet. When you think of its modernity, its accuracy and its richness regarding the dying process, one understands why this book is so important today. It is why palliative care units or those working on consciousness around death use it.
It’s very helpful to understand the different psychological realms you enter in death and where you go in altered states of consciousness that is death. It is a key book, and it can help when there is change in your life, changing house, changing job, and of course, death, which is the major change in a long and eternal life.