Thoughts on reading spiritual books



Thoughts on reading books about spirituality:

1. Get beyond the words

The words of any spiritual writing are not the truth or the reality itself, rather they point in its direction. There's a well-know axiom: "When pointing at the moon don't confuse your finger with the moon." Any spiritual book is a pointer to something beyond itself. Embrace the truth and reality it points to and make it your own, however that looks for you.

2. Don't worship the author

In the institutional church world there is "clergy" and "laity" – two distinct classes of people based on their perceived level of spiritual authority. It's often the same deal when it comes to our interaction with spiritual books. We often put the writers on a pedestal and practically create a new religion out of their personality and writings. Doing this perpetuates the disease that stunts everyone's spiritual development. No spiritual teacher or guru has an inside track or an advantage in experiencing spiritual truth. Yes of course we all have something to teach and learn from each other, and of course it is useful to learn from those who have wisdom and experiences to share. However, this is a far cry from the way we make authors and teachers into spiritual rock stars.

3. Diversify your spiritual input

Even as an author myself, I realize that words have limitations in facilitating spiritual experiences. Reading is often a cerebral activity – digesting words, sentences, concepts and explanations. Spiritual reality is the spontaneous, direct and unmediated experience of the way things really are – yourself and the oneness you are part of. Words can point us toward it, but so can the experience of nature and music, and deep human connection. When it comes to exploring your own spirituality, here are a few worthwhile questions to ask yourself:

What makes you come alive? What satisfies you most deeply? What fills you up? What brings you joy? What centers you?

What need in the world moves you to action?

What hardship and suffering in the world weighs heave on your heart?

What injustice in the world makes you angry?

What is a source of delight and pleasure for you? What areas, fields, or subjects are you interested in exploring? What makes you feel connected to yourself? What forms of self-expression are the most gratifying? What would your sense of adventure tell you to do? What way of being in the world resonates most deeply with your heart? Where does your sense of curiosity take you? How are you most compelled to aid the liberation of others? Where in life are you inspired to be a tangible expression of love, acceptance, and compassion? What nurtures a greater love for yourself and others?

These kinds of questions can help you identify other avenues of enriching your spiritual life.

4. Be an engaged reader

Just because something appears in a book from whatever cherished spiritual teacher or author doesn’t mean it is your truth to embrace. Be an independent and free-thinker, even as you read spiritual books. We should read any book with a willingness to question what we read and throw it up against our own personal experience and intuition. We evolve in our spiritual journey and we shouldn’t allow the beliefs or teachings of any spiritual teacher, author or guru limit us or define our spiritual boundaries. You will often find it to be true that a particular author or set of teachings may be useful for a season, but then you move past them or to a different place. Nothing wrong with that.

5. Don’t be lulled into the concept of “spiritual books”

All of life and all that can be known has a spiritual component to it. It’s all connected and interrelated. Consider the possibility of taking a season off from reading “spiritual books,” and consider exploring other areas and subjects of interest in your reading. Recently I have been reading books related to history and the natural sciences and they have been very beneficial in my growth and development. Go deeper into the heart of the world and explore new things.


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