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Top-Ten Beloved Books

This article was written in response to an invitation from Sandie Sedgbeer to participate in the “No B.S. Spiritual Book Club.”

It is a deep and meaningful process to revisit the most significant books of one’s life. For me, the process of creating my top-ten list of beloved books has revealed the infallible wholeness of the spiritual journey. Retracing my steps from one book to the next, I see now that a guiding intelligence has been at work all along, leading me to experiences and discoveries that would, over time, fill in more of the picture of who I am.

I began the process by listing book titles that came to mind and intuitively calibrating, for each one, both the level of its consciousness transmission and the extent of its influence on my journey. Using this data I arranged the titles in descending order, with the highest-calibrating books at the top. Over a period of several weeks, I added books, updated the calibrations, and reordered the list until a final set of ten had emerged.

Once the list was finalized, I started to re-read portions of the first book, God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose, in order to reconnect with the feeling of the words and the consciousness behind them. When I sensed that I had become the book sufficiently, I invited words to arise in my mind and fingertips with the intention of transmitting the essence of God Speaks and its impact on me over the years. During moments of pause, I calibrated each sentence, and all of the sentences together, then made adjustments until there was a sense of integrity, clarity, and settling.

Continuing with the experiment, I used the same method for the second book on the list, I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. I re-read sections until I became that book as well, and once again I invited words to flow, calibrated what I had written, and revised – at times adding words, at times chiseling away – until I felt the subtle sense of yes. With two transmissions on the page, I attuned to the new whole and made further adjustments, iteratively, until the two had synthesized into a joint transmission. I repeated the same procedure for each book on the list, until all ten books had their calibrated individual transmissions, and all ten together had their calibrated transmission.

Although it was not my intention to create such an elaborate protocol, by staying with the process for the better part of a week I discovered the following:

  1. One can become a book.
  2. A book is therefore a living entity of consciousness.
  3. Multiple books can be brought together in a way that synthesizes their transmissions into something of a higher order.
  4. It is possible to realize the Source of these books through becoming one with all of them as one.

Having merged into each of these books, and all of them as a whole, I see now that they are all expressions of one Great Work, written by the same Author. Moreover, this Author is who I truly am, deep down, and who each of us truly is.

I invite you to relax and receive the gifts of the ten beloved books presented below.

1. God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose
By Meher Baba

Soon after I began exploring and mapping realms and levels of consciousness, a friend recommended God Speaks. This book is the result of decades of enlightened investigation by Meher Baba into how reality works, and how the human soul evolves on the journey back to its source. The utterly unique feature of God Speaks is a set of detailed charts that portray the mechanisms of evolution from the perspective of an avatar. The book also offers a comprehensive explanation of how the “original whim” of God to know through experience initiates a process of involution into matter, and evolution through a multitude of incarnations, paths, planes, roles, and states to a state that is “Beyond” and yet ultimately enriched by the sum of human experience. In this profound and ultra-coherent cosmology, God takes a journey, or so it seems, and we are all divine incarnations along the way. Through the power and coherence of Meher Baba’s transmission, God Speaks activates deeper dimensions of the human being so that we might all come to realize the “I Am God” state in human form. When the student is ready, this book offers a clear pathway to God-realization.

2. I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
By Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sudhaker S. Dikshit (editor), Maurice Frydman (translator)

I Am That is a compilation of conversations between Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and his students, in which Nisargadatta speaks with a lucidity that is almost shocking in its depth and directness. The book offers a path of self-realization through repeatedly emphasizing the recognition that one can be neither the objects of perception nor any conceivable identity in the mind. The true self is beyond the mind altogether, and the way to realize this true self is through direct self-knowing rather than through activity, experience, or knowledge of things. From I Am That, I learned to peel away innumerable layers of experience, knowledge, and identity as a way to know directly what I am. Whilst God Speaks provides a path that builds up to God-realization, I Am That removes every illusion to reveal one’s true nature. As this book is also a transmission of enlightened consciousness, behind the words there is a kind of frequency that entrains the reader into an ever-more-awakened state. After reading both God Speaks and I Am That, one is guaranteed to have a richer appreciation of the approaches to spiritual realization.

3. A Course in Miracles: The Text
By Dr. Helen Schucman (scribe)

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a channeled work that offers a highly effective path of nondual spirituality based on the power of forgiveness. At a time when my identities and ways of being had largely fallen to pieces, I purchased a volume of ACIM that combined the Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers into a hefty 1333-page tome. As my mind was reasonably intelligent, and also arrogant, I seemed to require this substantial body of wisdom, rigorous and relentless in its logic, to exhaust my mental processes, dissolve my judgments, and unify the shards of being as I surrendered repeatedly through forgiveness. ACIM was also one of the first channeled works I had read, and I delighted in both the beauty and the potency of the language. I found it helpful that the words and concepts had their roots in Christianity, and yet the Christian feel is a reason why ACIM will not be an on-ramp for everyone. Nevertheless, the teachings are fundamentally unitive, and as such ACIM can lead one into the mystical territory at the heart of all religions and spiritual paths.

4. A Course in Miracles: Workbook for Students
By Dr. Helen Schucman (scribe)

The Workbook for Students provides a rigorous 365-day journey for practicing the principles of A Course in Miracles. Students are encouraged to study one lesson each day for a whole year. Many students of “The Course” work through the lessons more than once, and some study the Workbook year after year. Somehow I knew that this was the way of liberation for me, and I devoted myself to a full year of spiritual study and practice. In retrospect I see that ACIM created a strong foundation for the journey that was still to come. At the end of the year I read, in the Epilogue, that “[t]his course is a beginning, not an end” and “[n]o more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them.” From that point on, an inner guide would be my companion on the path, and that has indeed been my experience. Although ACIM has receded over the years as my primary spiritual reference, whenever I open the book to reconnect with the teachings I am delighted by their clarity and thoroughness, and new insights are revealed. I have found the ACIM material to be an inexhaustible gift of the infinite.

5. Siddhartha
By Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha found me two years after I completed the Workbook for Students. By then I had read quite a few spiritual classics, but this book touched a deeper longing in my soul to go all the way on the journey of enlightenment. The overall consciousness transmission of this story is in the range of peace on the Hawkins Scale of Consciousness – at least as I calibrate such things – and peace was my prevailing experience while reading Siddhartha. At that point I was in one of my renunciation periods, and I related to the protagonist’s swings between solitude and engagement with the world. Although I knew the true nature of phenomena to be illusory, in my rejection of money and human foibles, for instance, I had yet to see the whole of my life and being as a beautiful, unique expression of divinity. That enlightenment comes after one embraces life in its totality is, for me, the profound teaching of Siddhartha. By the end of the book, the consciousness transmission has entered the enlightened range, and Siddhartha’s final awakening by the river is conveyed with a power that can lift ripe souls into that same territory.

6. The Experience of No-Self: A Contemplative Journey
By Bernadette Roberts

The Experience of No-Self came to my attention in a dharma talk by Adyashanti. What I love about this book are the detailed descriptions of the author’s mystical experiences of dissolving into the emptiness of existence and of the complete ending of self-consciousness, in which profound truths are revealed. Bernadette Roberts writes that she “came upon a permanent state in which there was no self, no higher self, true self, or anything that could be called a self” and discovered, experientially, that beyond union with God there is THAT which the personal self and the personal God both dissolve into – God beyond union, neither personal nor impersonal. Roberts’ discovery that what truly is abides beyond all notions of self, including the true self of union with God, strengthened my resolve to continue with my own radical investigations. Another aspect of The Experience of No-Self that continues to resonate deeply is the intimate connection between Roberts’ experiences and her immersions in the natural world. Though not the main focus of the book, one of my biggest takeaways is the great extent to which nature is a spiritual teacher that will carry us beyond ourselves and into the unknown splendor of our true nature.

7. The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding
By Longchen Rabjam

The approaches to true nature are many and varied. For some, the pinnacle path includes the teachings of Longchenpa, a 14th century manifestation of wisdom whose works are revered for their clarity and directness. The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding is the final book in The Seven Treasuries of Longchenpa, and it is one of the most delicious, and most potent, treatises of enlightened mind that I have encountered. On the first page, Longchenpa goes straight to the heart of the matter, stating that “the consummate meaning of the heart essence is that of ineffability, openness, spontaneous presence, and oneness.” Thereupon he begins to unfold with exactitude each of these qualities and their implications, leading one to the decisive experience of their meaning. The language is utterly pristine, poetic, and skillful. In my experience, The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding operates simultaneously on two levels: with great precision, the words surgically free the reader from the tangle of mental concepts while the direct transmission infusing the words opens a “trap door” to awakeness. Stay with this book, allow the profound meanings to be revealed, and you will be rewarded.

8. The Autobiography of a Yogi
By Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda is one of the most important spiritual figures of the 20th century. His work bridged East and West, and introduced millions to meditation and the path of self-realization. Yogananda’s autobiography recounts a life filled with mystical encounters and remarkable accomplishments. To read it is to enter a world in which miracles are ordinary occurrences and communion with the Divine follows naturally from the principles of yogic sciences. The book is also replete with extraordinary instances of people who bilocate, levitate, live without food or sleep, or demonstrate resurrection. I was inspired, and humbled, to discover that such abilities and possibilities truly exist in the world. And yet these intimations of a greater reality are secondary: The real objective is union with God, and this possibility is available to all. The Autobiography of a Yogi introduces a method, Kriya Yoga, that steadily opens the practitioner to the limitless being that transcends mortality. Through Yogananda, Kriya Yoga emerged from secrecy as a gift to humanity, to support our upliftment from patterns of self-destruction into the light of self-realization. The Autobiography of a Yogi is a magical read, an empowering revelation, and a treasure for the ages.

9. The Way of Mastery ~ Part III: The Way of Knowing
By Shanti Christo Foundation

The Way of Mastery is a series of three volumes channeled from Jeshua. There are essential resonances between these books and A Course in Miracles, which is channeled from Jesus. In my experience, The Way of Mastery takes one further into the enlightenment process. In The Way of Knowing, Jeshua offers “the very rock bottom, most fundamental core” in Lesson 33: There Is Only God and You Are That. He poses the question, “Would you be willing to simply be God?” and follows up with “There is only God. [Y]ou have received information only from your Self—God. … Jeshua ben Joseph has been a guise, a disguise, chosen of me, to present myself to you because you have required it.” Thereafter this teaching acknowledges its own limitation and offers an invitation: “[T]he final step, beyond even The Way of Knowing, is to release resistance to creation itself, and learn to show up as God in individuated form.” To live our true nature, in original playfulness as the ultimate One, we “simply give up being identified as a separate self still struggling to know the truth.” The Way of Mastery will lead us toward this end, to the very threshold of recognizing ourselves to be the ultimate reality.

10. Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior
By David R. Hawkins

Power vs. Force is in some ways the most pivotal book that I have read. The thesis is that there is a method for knowing the degree of truth of any idea, substance, or system, and we can choose to live according to what calibrates most highly. This discovery opens a path by which we can become more conscious and support the awakening of many others. The book shares a framework for understanding consciousness – the Hawkins Scale of Consciousness – which describes the levels of consciousness that humans tend to express. Applying a form of kinesiology to yes-no questions, Dr. Hawkins discovered that many people are capable of calibrating these levels with accuracy. Once enough people are using their ability to discern truth and live with greater awareness, the stage is set for a radical reinvention of human society. The most significant contribution of Power vs. Force to my life is that it inspired me to discover “Resonance Mapping,” which is the method I use for calibrating truth and consciousness. I have cultivated the discipline of calibrating nearly every decision for truth and the selecting only the options that calibrate most highly. The outcome, for me, has been a profound experience of flow and a clear, joyful spiritual unfoldment. In my heart I know that this is a possibility for each and every one of us. Power vs. Force provides a means by which we can choose higher consciousness and, together, create an enlightened world.

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