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Alternative Culture Magazine

Cougar's Favorite Books:

Recommended Reading List


Books on Spirituality, Ancient and New Age

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SpiritWorld bookstore

A New Earth - Eckhardt Tolle - The Power of Now

Intelligence in Nature - Jeremy Narby - The Cosmic Serpent

The Wisdom of Yoga - Stephen Cope

Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire--Wade Davis
Powerful encounters with natural peoples and places around the globe, including a riveting chapter on Voudoun rites.

Shamanic Voices: A Survey of Visionary Narratives--Joan Halifax
Fascinating collection of first-hand accounts and interviews with aboriginal shamans from around the world. Most depend on psychoactive aids as they enter dream states and trances to heal their people. Most accounts also include stories of the shaman's own training and initiation, as well as the mythological context of their culture.

Layayoga: The Definitive Guide to the Chakras and Kundalini--Shyam Sundar Goswami
"Definitive" is right. This exhaustive and scholarly work is a compendium of ancient teachings viewed in the light of the western scientific search for the chakras in the physical body. It combines a common-sense and practical approach to spiritual discipline with a deep grasp of the principles involved. For the serious student of yoga.

The Web of Life: A New Understanding of Living Systems--Fritjof Capra
A challenging read but worth it, as Capra opens our perspective of living systems beyond conventional definitions, to include microscopic and macrocosmic patterns and processes of self-regulation and evolution.

The Tao of Chaos: Essence and the Enneagram--Stephen Wolinsky
Wolinsky examines the concept of chaos as it comes to us from quantum physics, compares it to a Taoist philosophy of emptiness, and then completes the picture in a novel way with the human dimension of psychology. The framework he uses for this last aspect is the Enneagram, the ancient Sufi system for classifying human personality types. Wolinsky has the rare insight to see the common element in all nine types: a fear of going back to, or a denial of the reality of, an original state of emptiness/fullness experienced in the womb. If we can manage to overcome this block with clear awareness, we can free ourselves from addictive distractions and come face to face with the underlying peace of the void, knowing our present unity with all creation.

The Camino--Shirley MacLaine
Shirley is flakey and homespun by turns, delving into Lemurian lore here, dealing with diarrhea under a chestnut tree there. An engaging and candid self-portrait of the famous actress as she sheds her layers of fame and becomes a pilgrim walking the historic trail to northwestern Spain.

My Best Self: Using the Enneagram to Free the Soul--Kathleen Hurley and Theodore Dobson
An original and in-depth use of the ancient personality system, the Enneagram, to aid modern readers in doing soul-work. The emphasis here is on seeing and recovering the energy of the repressed center to help balance the excesses of the dominant center. (The three centers of intelligence are the Creative, the Intellectual, and the Relational). One's "Original Wound" in early childhood can then be brought into active healing and can give us an avenue toward greater wholeness.

The Other Bible--Willis Barnstone, ed.
Over years of exploring various aspects of alternative spirituality, I've found bits and pieces to compare and synthesize, but I never saw them compiled in one handy reference book like this. If looking to original texts is your cup of tea, The Other Bible will surely help. Alternative--usually censored and repressed--scriptures of mainstream religions do exist; it's just a matter of keeping them alive.

Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy--Georg Feuerstein
... In all the welter of new age theories and out-of-this-world channelled knowledge, there is really nothing new, when we dig deep enough into the roots of ancient Vedic and Buddhist teachings. The Tantric path--so easily misrepresented in the popular Western view as mere sexual technique--is here illuminated as a spiritual tradition in the highest sense. Not for everyone, perhaps; but I think that's because the teaching is so pure, the Unity at its heart, so all-encompassing. How many of us are ready to go so far through and beyond the limited human scope, to identify with universal oneness, with the radiant interplay between matter and energy that makes up suns and our own enlivened cells? True, our kundalini energy is the way we are given to experience such dynamic force in its immediacy, and it happens that sexuality--when both primal and fully conscious--is the starter motor for that cosmic engine of procreativity.

Breathing--Michael Sky
When it comes right down to it, what practice of spiritual, physical, or emotional healing is more central than breathing. From the ancient spiritual traditions to rebirthing and the new age, Michael Sky gives us a powerful insights into this most basic life function. From Buddha to LeBoyer, his sources are right on the mark, and through the clear, compelling writing--full of practical exercises we can do even as we read--we can more fully grasp, first hand, the importance of our first and every breath.

Maya Cosmogenesis 2012--John Major Jenkins
...This book is a challenge and a delight. Jenkins does a thorough job of scholarship in astronomy and mythology to solve long-standing puzzles about the Mayan view of the cosmos. Famous for their timekeeping, the Mayans now can be understood to have had a visionary grasp of the galactic year, the 26,000 year cycle of precession, and to have imbued it with the significance of religious meaning. Jenkins does not presume to lay out in concrete terms what the event of 2012 portends: but he does paint a clear picture of how celestial events will line up over ancient Mayan monuments, and how this display corresponds to the mythological tradition. With the additional influences of hallucinogenic substances, and the mystery of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, we are in the realm of speculation and imagination. Jenkins does his part well here, too; but ultimately we can only look to the winter solstice of 2012 with a sense of increased wonder and readiness for a transformation of consciousness. If nothing else, the turning of a new galactic year gives us a sign saying, "Now is a time of rebirth, of starting over. Are you ready to move forward with us, your mothering stars, into a new cycle, a new beginning?"

Madouc--Jack Vance
...concluding volume of the stellar Lyonesse trilogy. The headstrong young princess has an excuse: she's half fairy. Here's but a tiny jewel from this invented world of old Europe, a mere footnote in the marvelous text:


*Untranslatable: a fairy word signifying (1) passionate receptivity or involvement with each instant of life; (2) a kind of euphoria induced by close attention to unpredictable changes in the perceived surroundings as one instant metamorphoses into the next; a dedicated awareness to NOW; a sensitivity to the various elements of NOW. The concept of sklemik is relatively simple and quite bereft of mysticism or symbol.

Playing in the Zone: Exploring the Spiritual Dimensions of Sports--Andrew Cooper
...intriguing look at what makes top athletes tick, and how we more ordinary mortals can reach deeper to perform better

Breaking the Death Habit: The Science of Everlasting Life--Leonard Orr
The father of rebirthing pulls out all the stops in this tribute to Babaji, Jesus and the other immortal yogi masters. Down to earth prose reads easily--and there are simple practices outlined to enable anyone to join the ranks of the living for as long as we're having fun. For an early glimpse at the rebirthing movement Orr pioneered, see Rebirthing in the New Age, below.

The Power of Flow: Practical Ways to Transform Your Life with Meaningful Coincidence-Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundstrom
...A comprehensive primer on synchronicity and flow, with techniques and exercises to inspire us to give ourselves further to these currents of deliverance. Nothing new here, but a good job of covering what is, after all, the most important ground to walk on.

Liquid Light of Sex: Kundalini Rising at Mid-Life Crisis--Barbara Hand Clow
...Fills a fascinating niche between tantra and astrology, cover such topics as the chiron square and outer-planet transformation points. "The point of life on earth is growth and experience, not adult control of all realities."

Synchronicity: Science, Myth and the Trickster--Allan Combs and Mark Holland
...Wonderfully comprehensive survey of the intellectual currents surrounding synchronicity. Erudite yet readable. Covers physics, neuroscience, psychology, myth, divination, famous case histories.

The Mayan Oracle
...This western hemisphere answer to the I Ching has always told me what I most needed to hear, just when I most needed to hear it. My new favorite book of personal prophecy and just plain universal wisdom.

Read an excerpt from it - click here.

Something in this Book is True--Bob Frissell
...A student of Leonard Orr and Drunvalo Melchizidek, Frissell follows his cult classic Nothing in this Book is True...with this patchwork sequel. His laziness is apparent here as he throws together correspondence aimlessly tacked with personal anectdotes, tapes of conversation, workshop notes, quotes from other writers. Still, it's profound and well written in terms of explaining key and interlinked concepts and fields of thought. And all about the most important things to write about these days: earth changes, soul changes, dealing with our emotions. Whether we call them our emotional body or our shit, we have--it seems to be the consensus among the helping professions--to wade through it to get relief from it. Frissell does engage us with a personable presentation of heady stuff, core stuff of contemporary and ancient wisdom. Who cares if it's mostly second-hand? We thank Frissell for doing his homework for us, keeping up with the hottest trends, and putting it all together in a good read that we can find, to be honest, difficult to put down. Keywords you might find here include: spiritual, psychological, self-help, new-age, personal development, neurolinguistic programming, prosperity consciousness, rebirthing breathing, conscious breathing, present time, now, Be Here Now, perfection of all that is, vajrayana, flow, timelessness, quantum theory, parapsychology, holographic principle, chaos theory, fractal geometry, unity consciousness, universal mind, flower of life, forgiveness, integration, transformation, original joy?

Rebirthing in the New Age--Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray
...A classic by the founders of a worldwide movement of breath therapy, prosperity consciousness, release from parental disapproval, and belief in physical immortality. Told with vivid personal recollection and searing, experienced insight.

Focusing--Eugene Gendlin
...A no-nonsense, step-by-step approach for contacting a "felt sense" of emotion and its causes in present time.

The Way of the Lover: The Awakening and Embodiment of the Full Human--Robert Augustus Masters
...This book is written to knock socks off at every point, and to keep them off. The spiritual heat is on: can you handle the fire?

Jewel in the Lotus: The Sexual Path to Higher Consciousness--Sunyata Saraswati and Bodhi Avinasha
...A complete yet readable course in Tantric practice and Kriya Yoga: the best I've seen on the subject. Accompanies a set of 3 videos.

Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook--Ram Dass
...A compendium of spiritual practices and approaches to truthful living. No one could have done it better than the author of Be Here Now.

The Last Self Help Book Before Getting Results--Jerome Lund
...the simplest, most effective and liberating approach to self-help I've seen, redefining "spiritual" in sensible and practical terms ("universal mind and power") and empowering us with our connection to it.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times--Pema Chodron
...Buddhist nun brings teachings to everyday language and life; when things are tough, we can embrace the opportunity to get real. Every sentence strikes to the heart of truth.

Crow Dog: Four Generations of Sioux Medicine Men--Leonard Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes
...from Wounded Knee I to Wounded Knee II. First-hand stories of one family integral to native struggles for survival, with lessons for us all.

Time and the Art of Living--Robert Grudin ambitious topic: handled with mastery, grace, and great insight

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at MIT--C.D.B. Bryan
...spiritual? Maybe not; but you'll be sleeping watchfully after reading this

Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream--Jay Stevens
...traces the pschedelic movement's origins, peaks and crash: an expert view

The Five Tibetans­-Christopher S. Kilham concise book on yoga and meditation I've seen

Nothing in This Book is True, But it's Exactly How Things Are­-Bob Frissell
...rewrites the definition of out-there to include what's in-here. This book satisfies the left-brain's wish to know; for the right-brain sequel, see Something in this Book is True, above.

The interesting thing about Nothing is, there's a lot about aliens and so on which does strain credulity. But there's also a strong core of chapters in that book about "sacred geometry" which is undeniably, graphically true to our left-brain brand of knowing. From that core you can believe whatever you like about the rest--and in this book it's all there laid out in plain view.

For a pricier but more original handling of all this material, you can go to Bob Frissell's mentor Drunvalo Melchezedek. Drunvalo has a new book out called The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life.

Neurospeak­-Robert Masters
...exercises to enhance body-mind awareness

Hyperspace­-Michio Kaku almost understandable tour of the higher physics

Warriors of the Rainbow--Willoya and Brown
...The original retold legend that inspired Greenpeacers

Legend of the Rainbow Warriors­-McFadden
...priceless interviews with native elders and visionaries

Providence­-Daniel Quinn
...behind the scenes of Ishmael; Quinn's own spiritual odyssey

The Quickening­-Stuart Wilde
...irreverent guide to spiritual freethinking

Emerson: The Mind on Fire­-Robert Richardson
...complete biography by one who knows Emerson inside and out

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