Reading List

This list is too much about which books helped me. New list here.

This list is in order of increasing difficulty/abstraction/trust required, therefore:

  1. if you find the ones at the top too easy/not radical enough, try something further down;
  2. if you find something unpalatable/unbelievable/nonsensical, try higher up the list.

For most people, I recommend starting with Loving What Is by Byron Katie.

1. For skeptics

  • The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates, PhD)
    Combines neuroscience with Buddhist concepts and practises - very well written.

2. For newbies

  • Buddha and his Friends by S. Dhammia & Susan Harmer
    A Tintin-like book depicting the life of Siddhartha Gautama
  • Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel
    Autobiographical account of a westerner teaching in Japan, who manages to persuade a zen master to train him
  • Loving What Is (or really anything) by Byron Katie
    I don’t know what to say, I love her so much. Byron Katie’s way has been the basis of my thinking for the last ~15 years. And she’s kind.
    More helpful for those who project outward (being mostly a self condemner I had to do the process in reverse for life changing effect).
  • Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton
    I think everyone (including Brad) can agree it’s a terrible book. More helpful for those who project inward.

3. The poetry of enlightened humans

  • Zen Flesh, Zen Bones compiled by Paul Reps
    Zen stories, Zen problems, Zen stages, Zen poetry. To me this little book is timeless. It was the first book about Buddhism I read, and its relevance seems unaffected by shifts in my understanding, practise and experience.
  • Anything by Hafiz
    Hafiz (a 14th-century Persian mystic) seems to see the world much as I do, but unlike me has perfected the art of kindness and has the eloquence to express it in equisitely beautiful poems.

4. The next level

The only books I still love/haven’t finished learning from…

  • The Disappearance of the Universe + sequels by Gary Renard
    This unremarkable guy Gary, opens his eyes one day after a meditation session to see two people sitting on his sofa, apparently having materialised out of thin air. Despite the strangeness he finds himself engaged in a conversation with them. And it is a fascinating conversation - the most interesting conversation I’ve ever read. At the end of the conversation they say they’ll be back, and then they disappear before his eyes. They visit him a total of 17 times and discuss many things and answer all his foolish questions. The book is mostly just a transcript of those conversations.
  • A Course in Miracles (no author)
    I’ve been a devoted student of ACIM since 2011. I don’t recommend it to anyone.
  • Anything by Kenneth Wapnick
    Ken is the greatest teacher of A Course in Miracles. I wholeheartedly agree with everything he says.

Honorable mentions

  • Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker - deeply affirming. Has helped me so much in looking at shame. Ineligible for the main list because of its specificity, but highly recommended for anyone who, like me, comes from a dysfunctional family.
    Makes all kinds of recovery possible.
  • A Field Guide to Earthlings by Ian Ford - an excellent exposition of the limitations of the ordinary mind, by and for autistic people
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle - a very simple, modern guide to spiritual enlightenment - not in the main list because he includes a lot ‘new age’ ideas, though perhaps it’s a necessary stepping stone - I certainly found it helpful
  • E.T. 101 by Zoev Jho - by and for incarnated extraterrestrials
  • No Time For Karma by Paxton Robey - kind of rambly ACIM-meets-new-age - has some useful concepts
  • David Hoffmeister (ACIM teacher) - what he says is correct, but I find him less incisive than Kenneth Wapnick
  • Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa - What I read of it was great, but I never finished, and I nolonger consider it essential.
  • Tara Singh (ACIM teacher/author) - He had me at “non-comercialised action”, talks like he’s not in a hurry. Haven’t delved deep into his work though.

Deliberate omissions

  • Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch - includes common misconceptions; if you’ve read this, try Spoken Miracles by Martha Lucía Espinosa
  • Marianne Williamson (ACIM teacher) - not teaching the same thing as Kenneth Wapnick
  • Robert Perry (ACIM teacher) - not teaching the same thing as Kenneth Wapnick

Ignorant omissions - additions suggested by others that I can’t recommend because I haven’t read them

  • I Am That by Sri Maharaj Nisargadatta - I know very little about this book but lots of people say it’s very good.
  • anything by Osho - based on my friend showing me an “Osho card” or two, I’d put it in the For newbies section
  • The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life by Emmet Fox - I’m so skeptical about anything based on the Bible, but apparently it can be a good preparation for Disappearance and the Course, especially for those with a Christian background - and I’d probably put it in the For newbies section
  • Julian of Norwich - another intermediate step for Christians. A fellow Course student says Julian of Norwich is about as close as you can get to ACIM’s thought system whilst staying within Christianity.
Forgive, and you will see this differently.