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Spirituality
Self Help Books

The words for breath and spirit or soul are the same in Hebrew (ruach); Greek (pneuma); Latin (anima) and Sanskrit (prana). Notions of the spirit and spirituality are thus infused into human life from the beginning. Human beings have sought to locate the divine on remote mountaintops, in sacred rivers, in the cosmos – and within.

The self help books which follow are excellent introductions to the variety of human spirituality. They include examples from various indigenous traditions; Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions; and modern philosophical and psychological approaches to spirituality.

A proper spirituality nourishes us in a deep place, provides a sense of meaning and purpose, and brings us home to ourselves as better persons. And what is a proper spirituality? You decide.

See also: Meditation; Positive Psychology; Tantra

Best Self Help Books on Spirituality

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James HollisThe Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle"These are the Spirituality self help books that I recommend most frequently."
David Yarian, Ph.D.







More Recommended Self Help Books on Spirituality

The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama and Howard CutlerThe Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

Psychiatrist Howard Cutler interviews the Dalai Lama and blends psychology with Buddhist meditations and stories. The Dalai Lama talks about how to defeat depression, anxiety, anger and jealousy through meditation. 2009, Riverhead; 10th Anniversary Edition 


The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004 by Philip Zaleski, ed.The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004
Philip Zaleski, ed.

The latest in an annual series that includes a mixture of essays and poetry: writers include Rick Bass on the moral necessity of wilderness, Natalie Goldberg on the Zen of writing, and other well-known writers such as Oliver Sacks and Mark Doty. Joseph Epstein’s essay begins: “Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.” This wide-ranging collection of contemporary spiritual reflection is a thought-provoking and poignant read. 2004, Houghton Mifflin


The Best Spiritual Writing 2010 by Philip Zaleski, ed.The Best Spiritual Writing 2010
Philip Zaleski, ed.

Editor Zaleski's selections range from poetry and short fiction to memoir and essay, hailing from a variety of authorial and cultural sources. Zaleski recognizes that spirituality can be defined almost infinitely, encompassing a vast range of belief and even nonbelief. Poems from the Atlantic or the New Yorker command attention in addition to longer treatises on The God of the Gaps and Buddhist enlightenment. John Updike sits next to Orthodox Judaism while the Dalai Lama spends the night in suburban New York. A Kazakh healer chats with Seamus Heaney, and secularization theory is next in line. 2010, Penguin


Care of the Soul by Thomas MooreCare of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
Thomas Moore

The internationally renowned former Catholic monk offers a philosophy for living that involves accepting one’s humanity rather than struggling to transcend it. By nurturing the soul in everyday life Moore shows how to cultivate dignity, peace and depth of character. 1994, Perennial


Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat HanhContemplative Prayer
Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh

Written close to the end of Merton’s life , this book is not so much a “how to” guide as it is a kind of contemplation of contemplation. Merton stresses that in meditation it is important to cultivate an attitude or an outlook: faith, openness, attention, reverence, expectation, supplication, trust and joy. Thich Nhat Hanh’s foreword relates his own meditation work to that of Merton’s. 1971, Image


The Complete Conversations with God by Neale donald WalschThe Complete Conversations with God
Neale Donald Walsch

Neale Walsch isn’t starting a new religion; he’s just a frustrated man who sat down one day with pen in hand and some tough questions in his heart. As he wrote his questions to God, he realized that God was answering them. The result turns out to be matter of fact, in your face wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to yourself and your spirituality. This Conversations with God trilogy brings together books 1, 2, and 3 of Walsch's bestselling works. 2005, Putnam


Creation Spirituality by Matthew FoxCreation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Matthew Fox

Fox challenges developed countries to become awe-inspired by the beauty of the universe and its gifts and to develop a reverence for our planet. He describes awe as a mystical response to creation and the first step toward transformation. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it. 1991, HarperSanFrancisco


Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam TrungpaCutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Chogyam Trungpa

This self help book exposes the dangerous and destructive method by which spirituality is typically approached: as something to be developed, learned through discipline or otherwise achieved. Trungpa outlines a more open, direct and yet more challenging way to experience Mind beyond the self through correct meditation: true liberation inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. 2002, Shambhala


The Essential Rumi by Coleman BarksThe Essential Rumi
Coleman Barks

These exquisite renderings of the thirteenth century Persian mystic’s words into American free verse capture all the “inner searching, the delicacy and simple groundedness” that characterize Rumi’s poetry while remaining faithful to the images, tone and spiritual message of the originals. 1997, Harper One


Finding Flow  by Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiFinding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

In his research the author found that people were happiest when most absorbed in their actions, a state he termed “flow.” This self help book addresses how people can make choices in the here and now to increase their sense of joy and happiness. 1998, Basic Books


Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James HollisFinding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up
James Hollis

James Hollis states in this compelling self help book that the feeling that you've been living the wrong life, that you're lost and confused, is "an insurgency of the soul," which "overthrows the conscious conduct of our lives." This mental suffering presents an opportunity to embark on a journey transcending expectations foisted on us by others, such as parents, and to find true self knowledge. This book is a helpful guide to this journey. 2006, Gotham


The Four Agreements by Don Miguel RuizThe Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Don Miguel Ruiz

Shamanic teacher and healer Don Miguel Ruiz exposes self-limiting beliefs and presents a simple yet effective code of personal conduct. The four agreements are: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, always do your best. This is a memorable and wise little book. 1997, Amber-Allen Publishing


Going to Pieces without Falling Apart by Mark EpsteinGoing to Pieces without Falling Apart
Mark Epstein

For decades western psychology has promised fulfillment through building and strengthening the ego. We are taught that the ideal is a strong individuated self constructed and reinforced over a lifetime. But Buddhist psychiatrist Epstein shows us that happiness doesn’t come from any kind of acquisitiveness, be it material or psychological; happiness comes from letting go. Epstein shows how “the happiness that we seek depends on our ability to balance the ego’s need to do with our inherent capacity to be.”  1999, Broadway


How, Then, Shall We Live by Wayne MullerHow, Then, Shall We Live: Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of our Lives
Wayne Muller

The four “simple questions” Muller reflects upon are: Who am I?; What do I love?; How shall I live, knowing I will die?; and What is my gift to the family of the earth? With compassion and sensitivity he explores the nuances of these deep existential and spiritual concerns, offering exercises and practices to deepen the reader’s exploration. 1996, Bantam Dell


How to Be an Adult by David RichoHow to Be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration
David Richo

Using the metaphor of the hero’s journey, Richo says there are three primary challenges to attaining adulthood: fear, anger and guilt. The challenge of adult intimate relationship is that of maintaining personal boundaries while establishing appropriate intimacy with the Other. He outlines primary techniques of integration, including flexibility, befriending the Shadow, openness to the Self, and unconditional love. 1991, Paulist Press


Illuminata by Marianne WilliamsonIlluminata: Thoughts, Prayers, Rites of Passage
Marianne Williamson

According to this book, prayer “ . . . changes people at a cellular level, and with each one who changes, others are brought miraculously closer to enlightenment.” Marianne Williamson meditates on the nature of prayer in its collective power and offers actual prayers that address our hopes and struggles. We are reminded that the purpose of prayer is not to gain an object of desire, relief from problems or even discernable results: the purpose is to experience God. 1994, Random House


Infinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well by Robert ThurmanInfinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well
Robert Thurman

Thurman invites readers to recognize that our lives and even our moment-to-moment choices have eternal ramifications. He challenges students to understand that this is the path to freeing ourselves and the rest of the world from suffering. 2005, Riverhead Trade


Infinite PossibilitiesInfinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams (CD)
Mike Dooley

This audio series is filled with encouragement – to think and dream larger, to grow into the belief that dreams can be actualized. Not a “motivational” series, but a playful and philosophical approach to life which affirms that abundance, health and harmony are your birthright. Dooley addresses beliefs which nurture success and happiness, your emotions and how to understand them, and includes many tools and techniques for the art of living your dreams. 2009, Simon & Schuster Audio


Legacy of the Heart by Wayne MullerLegacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood
Wayne Muller

In this remarkable self help book, Dr. Muller suggests that our woundedness contains powerful resources for healing and spiritual growth. Written with compassion and insight, the book offers exercises and meditations to aid the healing process. 1993, Fireside


The 50 Greatest Self Help Books

 


Life of the Beloved by Henri NouwenLife of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World
Henri Nouwen

In an open letter to a troubled friend, Nouwen ponders significant questions: What is our place in the world in God’s eyes? How can we blend service and spiritual worship with the harshness of the everyday world? How can we, each imperfect and broken in our own way, feel beloved by the Almighty? This self help classic explains the spiritual life in terms the lay person can understand. 2002, Crossroad


Living Deeply by Schlitz, Vieten, AmorokLiving Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life
Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, Tina Amorok

Living Deeply focuses on common elements of transformation across a variety of religious, spiritual, scientific, academic, and cultural traditions, while affirming and supporting the diversity of each approach. Opportunities to actively engage in your own transformation and that of our world are woven into the fabric of your everyday life. Learning more about the terrain of consciousness transformation can not only give you a map, but can help you become the cartographer of your own transformative journey. Weaving together cutting-edge science with wisdom from teachers of the world's transformative traditions this self help book explores how people experience deep shifts in their consciousness, and how those shifts can lead to healing and wholeness. 2008, Noetic Book / New Harbinger Publications


Lovingkindness by Sharon SalzbergLovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
Sharon Salzberg

Salzberg focuses on the Buddhist meditation practice that emphasizes feelings of love, happiness and compassion and offers practical guidance in performing this type of meditation. 2002, Shambhala

 

The 50 Greatest Self Help Books

 


Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor FranklMan's Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl

This self help book is one of the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The first part is a deeply moving personal essay about Frankl’s imprisonment in Auschwitz for five years and his struggle to find reasons to live. The second part of the book describes the therapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences. He believed that man’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. A classic self help book which is fascinating and powerful. 2006, Beacon PressThe 50 Greatest Self Help Books

 


New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas MertonNew Seeds of Contemplation
Thomas Merton

In this twentieth-century classic on the contemplative life, Merton wonderfully combines a disciplined and deeply learned intellect with the lyrical passion of the poet. It invites the reader to “cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.” 2007, New Directions


Notes from the Universe by Mike DooleyNotes from the Universe
Mike Dooley

An unusual self help book, made up of brief passages written by “The Universe” (God) to remind readers that they have indeed been given dominion over all things. Unconventional, humorous, deeply insightful. 2007, Atria Books / Beyond Words 


A Path with Heart by Jack KornfieldA Path with Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
Jack Kornfield

Since 1974, Kornfield has been teaching Westerners how to integrate Eastern teaching into their daily lives. Through generous story-telling and unmitigated warmth, Kornfield presents this excellent guidebook on living with attentiveness, meditation and compassion. 1993, Bantam


Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne LamottPlan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
Anne Lamott

"On my forty-ninth birthday, I decided that all of life was hopeless, and I would eat myself to death." So begins Anne Lamott's newest book in which she reflects on the state of the country and the state of her nerves and recounts with wonder and great good humor the surprising presence of God's love in her life. 2005, Riverhead

Pick of the Month Self Help BookThis book was a Pick of the Month Self Help Book! Read David's full Book Review.

 


The Power of Now by Eckhart TolleThe Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Eckhart Tolle

Tolle’s message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. He shares ideas about personal integration with uncommon eloquence and a deep understanding of the human condition. A spiritual self help guidebook that has the potential to inspire the reader to live more fully in the present. 1999, New World Library

The 50 Greatest Self Help Books

 


Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart TollePracticing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations and Exercises from the Power of Now
Eckhart Tolle

This manual makes an excellent self help companion guide to Tolle’s The Power of Now and is rich in exercises and meditations to help readers get out of their minds so they can live more peacefully in their bodies. 2001, New World Library


Renewing the Covenant by Leonora LeetRenewing the Covenant: A Kabbalistic Guide to Jewish Spirituality
Leonora Leet

Leet synthesizes historical, textual and linguistic analysis with Kabbalistic meditation. She distills the essence of the most basic Jewish customs – Sabbath observance and ritual prayer – and recovers early Jewish meditative practices. 1999, Inner Traditions


The Road Less Traveled by Scott PeckThe Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
Scott Peck

With seven million copies in print, this classic primer on personal growth suggests that life is difficult and that personal growth is a complex, arduous and life-long task. This self help book guides readers gently through the hard and often painful process of change toward a higher level of self-understanding. 2003, Touchstone

The 50 Greatest Self Help Books

 


Sabbath by Wayne MullerSabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives
Wayne Muller

We have lost the necessary rhythm of life: the balance between work and rest. Consequently, we may feel exhausted and deprived in the midst of great abundance. Muller talks in the book about how the tradition of Sabbath created an oasis of sacred time within a life of unceasing labor and shows us how in these harried times to create a special time of rest, delight and renewal. 2000, Bantam


Sacred Practices for Conscious Living by Nancy NapierSacred Practices for Conscious Living
Nancy Napier

The author describes a worldview focused on the blending of spiritual and material realities and believes that we are co-creators of the life we experience. This self help book weaves together several themes – experiencing a sense of meaning in life, being aware of the sacred nature of all beings, understanding that everything that exists is part of the full expression of life, learning to be aware in the present moment, and embracing suffering as an inescapable part of the unpredictability and challenge of everyday life. 1997, Norton


Sacred Therapy by Estelle FrankelSacred Therapy: Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wholeness
Estelle Frankel

Hasidic master Menachem Mendel taught, "there is nothing more whole than a broken heart." This fascinating book uses Biblical, Hasidic, Talmudic and Kabbalistic traditions to teach that healing begins with brokenness and leads to transformation, whole-heartedness, and renewal. 2005, Shambhala


Sadhana: The Realization of Life by Rabindranath TagoreSadhana: The Realization of Life
Rabindranath Tagore

This self help book is an excellent primer on classical Hinduism, beautifully conveying the loveliness of the vocal cadences of ancient Sanskrit (in translation). Sadhana is an enduring classic of world spiritual literature for its directness, simplicity and beauty of expression. Tagore's Sadhana delivers the message of the human connection to universal transcendence in hauntingly beautiful English prose. 1942, Kessinger Publishing


Seven Doors to Islam by John RenardSeven Doors to Islam: Spirituality and the Religious Life of Muslims
John Renard

This self help book is a comprehensive tour of the exuberant landscape of Muslim religious life, past and present. Spanning the breadth of Islamic civilization from Morocco to Indonesia, Renard demonstrates how Muslims have used the literary and visual arts in all their richness and diversity to communicate the central role of spirituality in the Islamic tradition. 1996, University of California Press


The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas MertonThe Seven Storey Mountain
Thomas Merton

In this powerful spiritual autobiography, Merton traces his conversion from atheism to Catholicism to a year he spent in Rome in which he visited the many ancient churches in the city. He visited a different church each day only to find that he was converted by the churches of Rome. In this book, he describes his early doubts, his conversion and his decision to take life vows as a Trappist Monk. 1999, Harcourt


Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam TrungpaShambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior
Chogyam Trungpa

This deceptively simple self help book can alter your life. Trungpa teaches how to live an honorable life without violence. He uses examples from everyday life, showing how one can make a difference in the world by changing simple habits. 2009, Shambhala


There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne DyerThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
Wayne Dyer

Drawing from various spiritual traditions, especially from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, Dyer helps us unplug from the material world and awaken to the divine within. Dyer offers specific practical applications for everyday problems, including affirmations, writing exercises and guided meditations. 2003, Perennial Currents


Toward a Psychology of Awakening by John WelwoodToward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation
John Welwood

This thoughtful self help work by long-time psychotherapist and Buddhist practitioner Welwood adds much to the emerging conversation about the path of development which embraces both personal psychology and the deeper reaches of the human spirit. Psychotherapists and spiritual seekers alike will be enriched by this book. 2002, Shambhala


The Untethered Soul by Michael SingerThe Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
Michael A. Singer

In The Untethered Soul, spiritual teacher Michael Singer explores the question of who we are and arrives at the conclusion that our identity is to be found in our consciousness, the fact of our ability to observe ourselves and the world around us. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization. 2007, New Harbinger Publications / Noetic Books


The Way of the Body Prayer Path by Barnaby BarrattThe Way of the Body Prayer Path: Erotic Freedom and Spiritual Enlightenment
Barnaby Barratt

Dr. Barratt creates a modern synthesis of sexuality and spirituality, drawing on the ancient traditions of Tantra and the insights of modern psychoanalysis. This generous and uplifting self help book celebrates the interweaving of sex and spirit into one Holy Spirit. 2004, Xlibris Corporation


When All You Ever Wanted Isn't Enough by Harold KushnerWhen All You Ever Wanted Isn't Enough: The Search for a Life that Matters
Harold Kushner

In this rabbi’s sympathetic and readable guide, discontented people can find reasons to banish doubts on whether living is worthwhile. The author argues that the fear of uselessness is humanity’s ancient enemy. Citing the book of Ecclesiastes, Kushner delivers “a useful spiritual survival manual” and guides us to a heightened sense of joy, purpose, and meaning. 2002, Fireside


When Things Fall Apart by Pema ChodronWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Pema Chodron

In the postscript to her self help book, the author says, “We live in difficult times. One senses a possibility they may get worse.” Her book is filled with useful advice about how Buddhism helps persons to cope with pain, fear and anxiety. She offers good news: there is a fundamental happiness readily available to each one of us, no matter how difficult things seem to be. 2000, Shambhala


Your Sacred Self by Wayne DyerYour Sacred Self: Making the Decision to Be Free
Wayne Dyer

Dyer offers strategies for freeing oneself from the tyranny of ego and getting back in touch with the sacred self. He invites us to live each day with a greater sense of peace and fulfillment. This self help book describes a three-step program to help us understand our place in the world and develop a sense of satisfaction with ourselves and with others. 2001, Quill


Spirituality Self Help Resources