There are numerous books available on the subject of meditation and spiritual life, and volumes are being added daily by the New Age machine. Each religion and philosophy tends to proffer books that encourage meditation from its own particular perspective; it is therefore necessary to exercise some discrimination in one’s study, otherwise there is a risk of confusion with apparent contradictions in the many disparate systems competing for the reader’s attention. The following list is offered as a simple guide to books of wide appeal but is in no way intended as exclusive.
How to Know God (Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood)
A most lucid and informative commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and probably the best available book on the subject for beginners (available free from the Dhyana Centre for ‘Joy of Meditation’ students).
Raja Yoga (Swami Vivekananda)
A deeper look into the Yoga Sutras by a great yogi and spiritual master. The book consists of a commentary on the Sutras plus transcripts of some excellent lectures he gave on the topic of meditation.
The Science of Yoga (I.K. Taimni)
An in-depth study of the Yoga Sutras by a well-known theosophical teacher. Dr. Taimni also wrote profound commentaries on various yogic/Shaivite scriptures which are recommended for serious students.
Awareness (Anthony de Mello)
The quintessential work of a modern Christian master, published posthumously. Deep but humorous and very readable.
Open Mind, Open Heart (Thomas Keating)
This best-seller is one of the classic books on meditation in the Christian tradition, including ‘centering prayer’ and use of the Sacred Word.
Learn to Meditate (Dr. David Fontana)
A clear and concise introduction to meditation and its basic methods, including practical exercises and guidance.
The Meditator’s Handbook (Dr. David Fontana)
An excellent compendium of meditation techniques from various traditions around the world.
Passage Meditation (Eknath Easwaran)
A common-sense and often humorous introduction to meditation in daily life. Sri Easwaran also translated and commented on many of the world’s great scriptures and his works are amongst the finest of their type available.
Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (David Godman)
The best available introduction to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, covering a wide range of his philosophy and practice (including meditation); written by a leading authority on the subject.
Happiness and the Art of Being (Michael James)
A comprehensive and systematic guide to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, with emphasis on his well-known meditation technique Atma Vichara/Self-Enquiry. This book is an excellent follow-on to ‘Be As You Are’.
Autobiography of a Yogi (Paramahansa Yogananda)
A classic introduction to the Indian yogic tradition by a great modern master. For many, this has been a life-changing book. There are several follow-on books by Yogananda such as ‘Man’s Eternal Quest’ and ‘The Divine Romance’
God Talks with Arjuna (Paramahansa Yogananda)
Yogananda’s monumental commentary on the Bhagavad Gita which reveals the esoteric yogic side of this wonderful scripture. A stunning work and recommended for all serious students of yoga; likewise the ‘Second Coming of Christ’, Yogananda’s commentaries on the New Testament.
The Art and Science of Raja Yoga (Swami Kriyananda)
An integrated course covering postures, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga philosophy, affirmations, diet and more. A thorough and easy-to-follow introduction to the yogic life by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Ancient Wisdom for a New Age (Terry Hunt & Paul Benedict)
A modern introduction to the ‘wisdom teachings’. Recommended as the best available primer for theosophical students.
Meditation & Spiritual Life (Swami Yatiswarananda)
A full and detailed exposition of many aspects of the meditative life by a senior Swami of the Ramakrishna Order. This book is a goldmine for the sincere aspirant.
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Mahendranath Gupta)
The following two books, while not specifically about meditation, are recommended as powerful spiritual works in the modern idiom and although controversial to some, have “opened the eyes” of many earnest seekers:
- Conversations with God: Books 1 – 10 (Neale Donald Walsch)
- The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)