If like me, you’ve had difficulty grasping the irrational, other-worldly terms used by knowledgeable people speaking about spiritual and mystical matters, you may find these titles helpful in re-arranging your little grey cells.
While I do not believe spirituality can be learned from books, I have had the grateful experience of my mind being opened to spiritual practices — like prayer and meditation — through books that led me farther along the road to enlightenment.
Here are five titles significant to my quest for answers.
- The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts Really important when I became disillusioned with university teaching. It opened my eyes to other ways of thinking about the truth.
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl Really helpful in seeing the meaning of life and your personal path. Dr. Frankl was a survivor of Nazi death camps, and the original title of this book was “From Death Camp to Existentialism.” A highly useful psychological handbook.
- Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Amazing study of the way religious people experience their faith. It is a classic study James did as director of the psychology department at Harvard University. It’s not been exceeded in depth and breadth since, and has been in print for over a hundred of years. It is as though James wrote it yesterday. Very readable.
- Mysticism: A Study in the nature and development of Man’s spiritual consciousness by Evelyn Underhill. A big, fascinating study of the literature of the mystics, mostly Western, though it does include Jewish and Muslim adepts as well. In print for a hundred years and still selling well. Be sure to get the Dover edition, as others are incomplete and difficult to read.
- The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley. This, too, has become a classic by the famous English author. It is an anthology of short passages taken from traditional Eastern texts and the writings of Western mystics with short connecting commentaries. It was an influence to Nobel Physicist Erwin Schrodinger in helping him grasp quantum physics and play his role as a founder.