For the last year and a half I’ve kept up a goal of reading a book every week, or every two weeks, or occasionally a month, depending on how many pages the book has, but usually it takes me a week to read a book of around 150-200 pages. I can honestly say that this long-term goal has greatly impacted me, even in such a short time. Reading is really an amazing thing. The more I read, the more I learn, the more I understand that I barely know anything at all. Before I started this goal, I thought reading was not that useful, that it was better just to live in the moment all the time and learn from experience. Although this is true to a certain extent, everything in life requires balance, and too many people live their lives completely ignorant of many important things that could greatly enrich their life experience. The more books I read, the more topics I want to research, the more books are added on to my list of books yet to read. So far most of my reading has been restricted to the areas of philosophy and spirituality. I do plan to read on many different topics, more secular topics, eventually, but I started out just reading what interests me the most, which is understanding the spiritual nature of the universe, of the world, of life. I haven’t read the Bhagavad Gita, yet a few years ago before I even began this reading goal I did listen to an audio version of ‘The Bhagavad Gita: As It Is.’ The profound wisdom I was able to recognize in it really inspired me to investigate more into Eastern beliefs. I have studied quite a bit about Hinduism and Buddhism, more specifically Advaita Vedanta, and am currently on page 656 of the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda as a result of my initial encounter with The Gita. The works of Swami Vivekananda are a continuous reading for me, along with the Bible and all the Buddhist sutras as well. Vedanta philosophy details very clearly our intimate connection with God and with the whole world, it reminds us that God is the very life within us. I’m not anywhere near ready to settle into any religion or tradition however, and am more interested in investigating the different ways in which the true mystics of all religions really stressed the same message of harmony. Some great books I’ve read regarding this are Nisargadatta Maharaj’s ‘I Am That’, and Rupert Spira’s ‘Being Aware of Being Awareg Aware of Being Aware’. Some other very insightful texts I’ve read are The Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of The Buddha, and the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu’s classic work on Taoism. This is another interesting area of study, and some interesting books on Taoism are Richard Wilhelm’s translation of The Secret of The Golden Flower, with commentary by Jung, and also Mantak Chia’s “Cultivating Male Sexual Energy.” There is another book by Chia which deals specifically with cultivating female sexual energy. I haven’t read it yet but will do so for sure, since the male book definitely opened my mind to a brand new concept. The book talks about how the male sperm, holding life within it in some sense, contains so many things which are beneficial to our physical and mental health, and it also has a spiritual dimension. The energy from the sperm, according to Chia, can be transmuted and guided upwards through the different energy centers of the body. He mentions that this can lead to mystical experiences of unity, as well as intense pleasure for both parties involved, after a prolonged period of love-making without ejaculation. This book has definitely added some extra motivation for me to completely quit watching porn and masturbating. It’s been quite a while since I engaged in either, and I’m super happy to say that, since now sex is something which focuses solely and completely on my wife. Now, speaking of Jung, I haven’t read much of his work, although I do want to get into it. The only book I read from him was ‘Man and His Symbols’, a look at the symbols and the archetypal patterns which rule our subconscious mind, and which are manifested within dreams, and beneath the surface of our everyday lives, in our decisions, in our preferences. This learning definitely put into perspective for me just how much of what we think, say, or do, could be unconscious. We don’t even know the next thought we will think. I feel like psychedelics are a great tool to connect with one’s subconscious, and some great books I’d recommend anyone to read before embarking on their first psychedelic voyage are James Fadiman’s ‘The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide’, Albert Hofmann’s ‘LSD: My Problem Child’, Aldous Huxley’s ‘The Doors of Perception’, and Ram Dass’ ‘Be Here Now.’ The first three books I mentioned are exclusively on psychedelics, but ‘Be Here Now’ is one man’s journey from Harvard psychologist Richard Alpert, to psychedelic pioneer, to spiritual guru who would go on to give thousands of lectures around the work as well as to write many more books. ‘Be Here Now’ is a gem, an honest look into one person’s life, and into questions which we all ask ourselves. A recommended read for anyone, in my opinion. Apart from this, one audio book which I really enjoy by Ram Dass, recorded in his own calm and soothing voice, is ‘The Journey of Awakening.’ Every once in a while I listen to this audio, especially when I’m tripping. It does a great job of guiding one to a state of pure awareness, seeing all of one’s thoughts and emotions as separate, as if they will not break us, because they cannot shake what we truly are. There are too many great books I’ve read recently to mention all of them on this one post, but I just thought I’d mention a few here in case anyone is interested in reading some new books. Currently I’m reading Aldous Huxley’s ‘Island’. I’m only about 30 pages in but I’m enjoying it so far for sure, just as I enjoyed ‘Brave New World.’ I haven’t read any other books by Huxley, apart from the aforementioned ‘The Doors of Perception’, but I do plan to continue reading his books since his literary genius has become obvious to me even from the few books I’ve read by him. Soon I’ll be putting up reviews, or just summaries, or personal thoughts on a lot of the books I’ve been reading, for those who are interested. Until then, stay positive, friends! Find something to read, learn something new or just get lost in an exciting and thought-provoking story in a distant universe! There’s a lot to gain and nothing to lose from it.
To be continued tomorrow, on Day 9.
~ Rebel Spirit