50 More Spiritual Classics
1.Adomnan of Iona Life of St Columba (7th century)
Celebrated biography with descriptions of early monastic life on the Scottish island of Iona.
2.St Anselm Proslogion (1077)
French cleric and philosopher’s presentation of arguments to prove the existence of God.
3.Ibn El-Arabi Bezels of Wisdom (12th century)
Known as Sheikh Akbar (the 'Greatest Master') in the Islamic world and 'Doctor Maximus' in the West, El-Arabi remains one of the great mystical philosophers. Written late in his life, this book reveals divine truths through the lives of the prophets.
4.Edwin Arnold The Light of Asia (1879)
Englishman’s poetic masterpiece on the life of Buddha.
5.Farid Ud-Din Attar The Conference of the Birds (12th century)
Sufi master's beautiful allegorical poem based around a bird that can lead others to salvation.
6.Mary Baker Eddy Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875)
Landmark work on healing from the founder of the Christian Science Church.
7.Benedict of Nursia Rule of St Benedict (515)
With this book Benedict formalized the daily life of monks, including spiritual exercises and physical work, settling the template for Western monastic life for centuries to come.
8.Helena Petrova Blavatsky Isis Unveiled (1877)
Huge work of esoteric wisdom by the Russian-born founder of the Theosophical Society.
9.Jakob Boehme Aurora (1612)
German mystic's influential meditations on the nature of man and God.
10.Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters and Papers From Prison (1953)
Covering the German pastor's arrest by the Gestapo in 1943 to his execution in 1945. Here he first raised his idea of 'religionless Christianity'.
11.Paul Brunton In Search of Secret India (1935)
Fascinating account of Indian travels by the English traveler and spiritual teacher, including his meeting with Ramana Maharishi at Arunachala.
12.Martin Buber I and Thou (1923)
Highly influential work laying a philosophical foundation for deeper communication with God and more meaningful human relationships.
13.John Bunyan Grace Abounding (1666)
Classic account of personal spiritual experience by the author of The Pilgrim's Progress.
14.The Cloud of Unknowing (14th century)
A foundational work of Christian contemplative prayer and achieving unity with the divine. The medieval author is still unknown.
15.Lama Surya Das Awakening The Buddha Within (1997) Perfect introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by an American who spent years as a monk. Enlightenment for the real world.
16.John Donne Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624)
Devotional work by the English metaphysical poet written in the midst of illness and following the deaths of close family.
17.Meister Eckhart Selected Writings The mystical pantheistic writings of this German Dominican priest (c.1260-1327) were too expansive for the Church of his time, but are loved by modern readers.
18.TS Eliot The Four Quartets (1944)
Four poems that reveal the depth of Eliot's spiritual understanding. He considered this his masterpiece.
19.Ralph Waldo Emerson Spiritual Laws (1841)
Essay from the great Transcendentalist on being in tune with the forces that move the universe.
20.Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline (1978)
Modern Christian classic which rediscovers the power of spiritual disciplines e.g. fasting, prayer, solitude, worship.
21.Emmet Fox The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life (1934)
Biblical interpretation of the New Thought type. Sometimes given to recovering addicts, it has transformed many lives.
22.Graham Greene The Power and the Glory (1940)
A 'whiskey priest' is on the run from a Mexican state that has outlawed religion. One of the great novels of the twentieth century.
23.Mahendranath Gupta Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (1942) 1000-page record of conversations with the great sage, considered by Indians to be a continuation of the line of Krishna and Buddha.
24.Michael Harner The Way of the Shaman (1980)
The book that created a wave of new interest in shamanistic religion, with the author both an anthropologist and a practicing shaman himself.
25.Hildegard of Bingen Scivias (1151)
First work of German Benedictine nun, composer, poet, artist, naturalist, preacher and mystic visionary, who in a male-dominated age advised kings and influenced popes.
26.Ernest Holmes Science of Mind (1938)
A 'science' of spirituality discussed in terms of mental and spiritual laws.
27.John of the Cross Dark Night of the Soul (16th century)
Famous work charting the loss of spiritual connection, by the Spanish mystic and friend of Teresa of Avila.
28.Julian of Norwich Showings (14th century)
English anchoress's beautiful expression of divine communion, also known as 'Revelations of Divine Love'.
29.Thomas á Kempis The Imitation of Christ (15th century)
Much-loved Christian devotional work by a German cleric.
30.Jack Kerouac The Dharma Bums (1958)
Result of the Beat writer's exploration into Zen Buddhism, published a year after On The Road.
31.Gopi Krishna Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man(1970)
Fascinating self-told account of a householder's experience of the awakening of the 'serpent power', or kundalini energy, and its effects on his life.
32.Ramana Maharishi The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharishi
This famed South Indian holy man (d. 1950) emphasized self-knowledge as the means to enlightenment.
33.Abraham Maslow Religions, Values and Peak Experiences(1964)
The great psychologist's insightful foray into spiritual experience. Builds upon William James.
34.Thomas Merton The Seven Storey Mountain (1946)
Best-selling autobiography of Merton's transformation from American campus intellectual to Trappist monk, with growing interest in Eastern spirituality.
35.PD Ouspensky In Search of the Miraculous (1950)
Russian mathematician's popularization of the thinking of GI Gurdjieff.
36.Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers)
Ancient Jewish wisdom and sayings included as a part of the Mishnah, or body of oral law.
37.Plotinus Enneads (3rd century)
One of the great minds of the classical era, Plotinus combined Platonic ideas with the primeval notion of the oneness of the universe. Appreciated by early Christians and Renaissance thinkers.
38.Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (1957)
The spirit of Zen in a small book, including stories, koans, pictures; influential in the 1960s and still treasured.
39.Sogyal Rinpoche The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (1992)
Elaboration on the original Tibetan Book of the Dead that provides an inspiringly positive understanding of death.
40.Jalaludin Rumi Mathnavi (Couplets of Inner Meaning) (13th century)
The Persian poet's masterpiece; literature designed for spiritual awakening.
41.Anne-Marie Schimmel Mystical Dimensions of Islam (1975)
Schimmel, who died in 2003 aged 80, devoted her life to furthering understanding of Islam; this book confirmed her as an authority on Islamic mysticism and poetry.
42.Gershom Scholem Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1941)
The first real scholarly study of Kabbalah from an academic perspective, which sparked the revival of public interest in the field.
43.Rabindranath Tagore Gitanjali (1913)
Beautiful spiritual verse by the Nobel prize-winning Bengali mystic and polymath.
44.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin The Phenomenon of Man (1955)
French Jesuit and paleontologist's sweeping view of the spiritual evolution of humankind. See 50 Self-Help Classics.
45.St Therese of Lisieux The Story of a Soul (1898)
Popular account of the French saint's life with its theme of simple trust in God.
46.Paul Tillich The Courage To Be (1952)
Landmark philosophical work dealing with existential questions of finding meaning in modern life, and man's need for awareness of an ultimate Reality. Tillich was a German-born theologian who emigrated to the US after opposing the Nazis.
47.JRR Tolkien The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)
Good and evil do battle in Tolkien's alternative universe.
48.Evelyn Underhill Mysticism (1911)
Classic study of the subject by the English poet and mystic.
49.Alan Watts The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951)
How to live with full acceptance of the absence of security in life, from a Western master of Eastern religion.
50.The Way of a Pilgrim (19th century)
Classic of Russian spirituality that follows the path of a pilgrim who has lost his family and learns the art of constant prayer. The book's 'Jesus prayer' is featured in JD Salinger's Franny and Zooey.
Source: Tom Butler-Bowdon 50 Spiritual Classics: 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose (London & Boston: Nicholas Brealey)
"What an uplifting journey I had reading 50 Spiritual Classics! If you only ever read one spiritual book, let is be this one. Tom Butler-Bowdon's insightful and inspirational commentaries cover an amazing range of ideas and writings. I predict that 50 Spiritual Classics will become a classic in itself."
Susan Jeffers PhD, author of
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and Embracing Uncertainty
"A kaleidoscope of inspiration ...insightful commentaries on each classic and biographical information on the authors. A unique overview of spirituality."