books for spiritual growth

5 Recommended Books On The Self-Realization Path

There are many amazing books out there to assist on one’s spiritual journey, especially the self-realization path.  There are some books that I have read in the last couple of decades that have stayed with me in their impact.  Here are five of these books.

1. Who Am I? ~ Ramana Maharshi

ramana maharshiThis is the book if you are on an enlightenment or self-realization path, or called towards this.  With this simple self-enquiry question ‘Who am I?’ we can go into an experience of the core of who we are – which we will find is none of the things we think we are.  It’s beyond the thinking mind where we find the truth of who we are in the ultimate, eternal, infinite sense.

Excerpt: “If other thoughts rise, one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire, ‘To whom did they arise?’, it will be known ‘To me’. If one then enquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind (power of attention) will turn back to its source. By repeatedly practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases.”

2. Freedom From The Known ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

jiddu krishnamurtiFreedom From The Known is the first book I read after spiritual awakening that took things onto another, deeper level. It showed me the problem of thinking, thought and mind.  Krishnamurti demands self-reflection as you read, and this constant pointing the finger back at oneself eventually bears fruit.  The ego doesn’t want you to read this book but that’s why it’s a must!

Excerpt: “To find out actually what takes place when you die you must die. This isn’t a joke. You must die – not physically but psychologically, inwardly, die to the things you have cherished and to the things you are bitter about. If you have died to one of your pleasures, the smallest or the greatest, naturally, without any enforcement or argument, then you will know what it means to die. To die is to have a mind that is completely empty of itself, empty of its daily longing, pleasure; and agonies. Death is a renewal, a mutation, in which thought does not function at all because thought is old. When there is death there is something totally new. Freedom from the known is death, and then you are living.”

For the first chapter from Freedom From The Known please click the link.

3. Paul Brunton’s Notebooks

paul bruntonPaul Brunton’s notebooks (free) are a vast library of non-dual spiritual guidance and notes. I have found his words on ego and dark night of the soul particularly helpful at moments of need.

PB (as he liked to be called apparently) spent time with Ramana Maharshi, so is of that lineage – advaita vedanta / non-duality.  I find his works deep but most importantly, grounded.  To receive a daily Paul Brunton note in your inbox, sign up here.   PB is the one at the front of this photo holding the lead of the calf.

Excerpt: “One day he will feel utterly tired of the ego, will see how cunningly and insidiously it has penetrated all his activities, how even in supposedly spiritual or altruistic activities he was merely working for the ego. In this disgust with his earthly self, he will pray for liberation from it. He will see how it tricked him in the past, how all his years have been monopolized by its desires, how he sustained, fed, and cherished it even when he thought he was spiritualizing himself or serving others. Then he will pray fervently to be freed from it, he will seek eagerly to dis-identify himself and yearn ardently to be swallowed up in the nothingness of God.” – Notebook 357

4. The Road Less Travelled – M. Scott Peck

m scott peckI have read this book a couple of times (a rare feat it has to be said), the first time was many moons ago, long before I had come across the term spiritual awakening.  This book has sold over 10 million copies, changing the lives of people around the globe.  It appeals to people of all religions and beliefs.  It’s a classic in understanding psychology and the things that hold us back from being authentic and allowing vulnerability – essential if we are to really release the emotional hindrances we’re accumulated.  It’s not a book about self-realization as such, but it’s one that can help the body-mind heal and become lighter, so that the self-realization path can be moved along.

Excerpt: “Ego boundaries must be hardened before they can be softened. An identity must be established before it can be transcended. One must find one’s self before one can lose it…”

This quote is deep I feel – for so often people are evading having an identity; the relative self remains denied, so they cannot move onto the losing part.

5. The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle

This is a huge bestseller in the spiritual book market, and one which has reached further corners of the globe than perhaps any other in the spiritual category, selling millions of copies worldwide, and being translated into over 30 languages.  Eckhart Tolle, interestingly, is the only living author out of the five books in this post.

Excerpt: “Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”

Caveat:  When I see spiritual teachers (or any personal development type ‘guru’) becoming big business questions start to arise about whether they have maintained their authentic commitment to truth.  At the same time I say to myself – follow the message, not the messenger.  Regardless of such considerations, this book remains a great first step on the awakening path.


I could have selected many other books for the above short list, for example Nisargadatta Maharaja’s I AM THAT, Oshos’ books, Gurdjieff works and others.  But I think the above are worthy of a top 5 place in terms of impact.  For everyone different books will resonate, and at different times, but I hope these picks provide some inspiration and insights for you too.Namaste

Reena Gagneja
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