Study Spiritual Texts

Practice of the Week
Study Spiritual Texts

Category: This is one of the Three "Core" or "Base" Daily Practices (along with Journal and Meditate)

You can learn a lot by reading. Certain texts are helpful guides for developing spiritual wisdom.

Select worthy texts of “wisdom literature.” The scriptures of any of the world’s religions are wonderful:
  • the Dao De Jing
  • the Bhagavad Gita, and 
  • the Hebrew Bible's books of PsalmsEcclesiastes, or Proverbs 
for instance.

Aside from the canonical scriptures of established traditions, there are many works of wisdom and insight. Here is an essentially random sampling of just a few of the sort of books I have in mind, in no particular order:

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
Pema Chodron, The Places that Scare You
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First and Second Series
Stephen Levine, A Gradual Awakening
Ram Dass, Be Here Now
Jaris Jay Masters, Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Henry David Thoreau, Collected Essays and Poems
St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul
Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Awakening of Intelligence
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi
Sharon Salzberg, A Heart as Wide as the World: Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness
Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior
Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step
Jon Kabat Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
Howard Cutler and Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
Julian of Norwich, Showings
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Carlos Castenada, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within
Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Dalai Lama, An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess
Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
Rabindranath Tagore, The Religion of Man
Kazuaki Tanahashi (ed. & trans.), Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen

Many more could be mentioned. Choose works that resonate with you, that will coach you in the ways of wise and loving peace in a way that makes sense to you.

Since spiritual deepening is never completed, maintaining a regular, ongoing discipline of study is the important thing here. Set aside 15 minutes a day for reading and reflection on your choice of wisdom literature.

There is a truth/awareness/experience beyond words. The books, of course, are all full of words. But, in combination with practices of silence, regular and continuing spiritual study can give us the words to help free ourselves from the grip of words -- the concepts to help us see through concepts.

Study of a spiritual text enlists your cognitive capacity to assist your spiritual. We live through our days full of ideas and concepts -- and most of them are connected to some form of judgment, some form of not wanting things to be as they are. Wisdom literature helps give us some concepts that can nudge some of those other concepts a little bit into the background more often.

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