Powerful Spiritual Books: 10 Best Books on Spiritual Growth and Awakening

By PS EDITORS | Reviewed by VINEET KAUL


Books on spirituality and personal growth can nourish the soul and inspire the mind. As our list will reveal, spiritual books are not always about abstract philosophies or arcane theories. Many are full of techniques to find or cultivate inner calm in modern life.


The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is the best book on spirituality for beginners on our list. It's a short read but loaded with profound insights. No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh are excellent reads if you are curious or familiar with Zen and the principles Buddhism. Lastly, The Spirituality of Imperfection is our top pick for its fantastic curation of spiritual tales from different faiths and cultures. It doesn't instruct; it urges you to think.


We looked at spiritual books that can inspire and help you feel more connected, not just without yourself, but with the collective all-pervading consciousness. We also looked at actionable books on spirituality that teach habits to cultivate a positive outlook.


Here are the ten best books on spiritual growth and awakening to read in 2022.


Our Top Picks (Summary)

  1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

  2. No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh

  3. Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza

  4. Be Here Now by Ram Dass

  5. The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

  6. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

  7. The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

  8. Freedom from the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti

  9. The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

  10. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa

All these titles are time-tested, easily availbe, and well-reviewed by other readers. Most of these books are available for listening on Amazon Audible, too. Below we present the synopsis and reviews of our picks for the best books on spirituality to read in 2022.


1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz


One of the most simple and powerful spiritual books from a spiritual master.


Published in ’97, The Four Agreements instantly shot to fame, touted as one of the best practical guides to personal and spiritual growth. It sold over 9 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages. The book was featured twice on Oprah and reigned on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly a decade.



What is the book about?


Ruiz rummages through ancient Toltec wisdom to delineate a code of conduct and do away with suffering that is primarily caused by self-limiting beliefs. Here Toltec refers to an indigenous Mexican culture that existed over 1000 years ago. The Toltecs were great artists and warriors.


Don Miguel Ruiz was an apprentice Toltec shaman in his search for spiritual enlightenment. In this book, he talks about the three paths to spiritual enlightenment – Discipline, awareness, and death. It deals with the themes of recognizing reality as a dream, accepting it by developing awareness and forgiveness, and recognizing death as an inevitable outcome of life.


Why is the book is called The Four Agreements, you may ask. Well, it urges you to reshape your reality by eliminating damaging agreements, not forming new unwanted agreements, and creating spiritual growth capable of new agreements that eliminate suffering. The final agreement is to be your best, whatever it may be, to empower the other three agreements.


What do we think?


Don Miguel Ruiz is one of the most spiritually influential writers of our time. His neo-shamanic texts offer a wholly different flavor of spiritual growth and awakening. It’s a short and effective book with powerful quotes that stay with the reader for life. If you enjoy this book on spirituality, you can follow it up with the Fifth Agreement, which is a continuation of this book.


Related: The 12 Best Books on Breathing and Breathwork Techniques


2. The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama


One of the best books of spirituality for busybodies reeling under stressful situations.


Dalai Lama is one of the leading minds in the world of spirituality. For this book, he teams up with Dr. Howard Cutler, a psychiatrist, to explain Buddhist principles to a Western reader. It covers several facets of our being and ways to sidestep them to live a stress-free life.


What is the book about?


Every human yearns for happiness regardless of religion, race, gender, and socio-economic background. Our paths to seeking happiness diverge due to cultural differences. The Western perspective is happiness is attained by self-development, success, and other external events.


In this book, however, the Dalai Lama uses spiritual principles and a psychological hypothesis (hedonic adaption) to demonstrate why people fail to be happy. He explains why happiness is not outside us, a myopic thinking trap one can easily fall into.


Instead, this book on spirituality explains how long-term happiness is a byproduct of honing the inner-environment instead of placing the onus of joy or suffering on others. It also addresses ways to cultivate patience, compassion, and tolerance for people we hate or compete with.


What do we think?


The Art of Happiness is one of the best spiritual books for busybodies who direly need balance, if not a spiritual awakening. Despite being written by the Dalai Lama, this is an objective book that does not talk about religion. It merely explores happiness and suffering and how we amplify it later. It also has chapters on 'how to deal with anxiety' and healthy ways to navigate impatience, hatred, anger, and low self-esteem. All inevitable steps in our spiritual growth and awakening.


3. No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh


No Thich Nhat Hanh, No Best Books on Spirituality!


Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most celebrated monks of modern spirituality. He has played a crucial role in bringing life-changing Zen ideas and Buddhist teachings to the West. He is known for advocating taking it slow, living in the present, and accepting suffering. We previously featured his book 'Breath, You're Alive' in our best books on breathing list.

What is in the book?


There are two parts to this book. The first section deals with suffering, and the second is a more actionable follow-up. The books starts with a discussion on the nature of suffering (the Mud) and how it relates to finding happiness (the Lotus).


Hanh uses powerful anecdotes to show how communication and compassion can transform suffering into happiness. He writes using simple language and real-world examples to present his well-structured ideas on the importance of mindfulness.


Like all his spiritual books, Hanh continues to complement his ideas with actionable techniques. The second section of this spiritual book has actionable practices like breathing exercises, meditations, mantras, and other techniques for everyday life.


What do we think?


No Mud No Lotus is a short read but transformative nonetheless. Hanh doesn’t weave yarns. His books are easy to grasp, engaging, and well-structured. Even after you’ve read this, it can be a quick go-to reminder of what is important, gently guiding your back to mindfulness and calm.


Related: The 5 Best Books to Learn Pranayama


4. The Spirituality of Imperfection


This is one of the best books on spirituality if you believe in powerful storytelling.


Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham teamed up to deliver one of the best and most insightful books on spirituality. They created a silo of wisdom that is easy and enjoyable to read for those who seek personal and spiritual growth. It’s a worthy candidate for book clubs, too.



What is the book about?


The book starts with a simple but hard-to-achieve suggestion – take the first step to spiritual growth by accepting exactly who you are in the present moment. Yet, we all know how hard it is to hold up a mirror to our mixed-up and imperfect selves.


We are imperfect, incomplete, and inherently paradoxical. But what is the best way to deal with our imperfections? Stories, lots of them. Ensuingly, this spiritual book employs 100+ compact stories from mythology, Christian parables, tales of Sufi saints, and other cultural traditions.


It also derives wisdom from the old wives' tales, Alcoholics Anonymous experiences, and Hasidic jewels. Every story has some hidden moral or epiphany, capable of creating an Ah-hah moment that can help you put aside your ego and enjoy the beauty of life, and all its imperfections, too.


What do we think?


Myths, folk songs, and stories were a crucial part of sense-making in ancient times. This book on spirituality attempts to revive that art with a smorgasbord of stories from different cultures. It is not didactic, telling you what to do, but uses the encoded messages of these stories to help you find your own way to deal with the imperfections within and flux outside.


5. The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts


One of those spiritual books that explains the inexplicable, while making it relevant, too.


Alan Watts, if you haven't already bumped into his talks on YouTube, is an articulate thinker with unfathomable depth. He was an expert in Indian, Chinese, and Zen religions and philosophies, best known for hosting a 1960's TV series called Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life. He has also written other best-selling spiritual books, most notably The Way of Zen.



What is the book about?


Watts talks about society's obsession with circular goals and their inability to take a moment to know what is truly worth knowing. He talks about accepting the impermanence of life, so insecurity becomes powerless as we stop lamenting the past or worrying about the future.


We particularly enjoyed the Chapters 'The Wisdom of the Body' and 'Creative Morality.' He writes with incredible clarity thanks to his ability to make ancient concepts relevant to today's "age of anxiety." But this is one of those spiritual books you read and absorb slowly. There are no actionable exercises, just an articulate understanding by a spiritual master.


What do we think?


Watts speaks to the importance of ‘now’ – the present moment – with simple terms but breathtaking insight. He calls Spirituality Asia's greatest gift to the world. His talks and books on the origins and meaning of these traditions are, perhaps, the greatest gift to the West.


6. Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza


A fascinating spiritual book with principles and practices for everyday life.


Becoming Supernatural, a New York Times Bestseller, is considered one of the best books on spirituality in the past decade. Rooted in spirituality, it's a self-help book to transcend conditioning and health challenges, with practical suggestions to reclaim your body and mind.



What is the book about?


Being Supernatural is primarily about the potential within our minds and ways to harness that power. The book approaches spiritual awakening with a somewhat biological/scientific lens, getting into the underlying principles of health, hormones, relationships, and conditioning.


Joe Dispenza discusses the capacity of the mind and the power of thoughts. He approaches spiritual growth by eliminating the biological dangers of being tethered to the past. It will, he says, create stress hormones our bodies are addicted to, making it difficult to change our ways.


This “past-focused cycle” limits the power of our mind and eventually leads to anxiety, depression, and poor health. He also talks about the power of meditation to change our behavior, improve EQ, and access the full potential of our physical and spiritual prowess.


What do we think?


We’ve enjoyed Joe Dispenza’s writing, talks, and appearances on podcasts. We recommend this book because of its unique approach to spiritual books. It deconstructs spiritual growth using ideas from biology, brain functioning, and the relation of emotions to the autonomic nervous system, which can be a refreshing deviation if you only read books on spiritual philosophy.


7. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle


Another top-rated book from Tolle urging you to embrace the present moment.


Eckhart Tolle became one of the world's leading self-help authors with the release of 'The Power of Now.' It went on to become one of the best books on spirituality ever. After an eight-year hiatus, he followed it up with an equally brilliant (and successful) book called ‘Power of Now.’ It builds on his previous idea of achieving spiritual growth by living in the present.



What is the book about?


In A New Earth, Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness. The author explains the dangers of surrendering to involuntary mechanical habits and compulsive thinking.


Tolle discusses the fundamental aspects of personal happiness and how they are hooked to transcending the ego. He talks about our bio-centric and self-serving state of consciousness, which is antithetical to finding freedom and living in the now.


The biggest issue is most people are totally unaware of this, believing they deserve the suffering because it is inevitable. Tolle proposes countering this with the spiritual principles of enthusiasm and equanimity, or as the Zen say, don’t cherish one opinion over another.


What we think:


This book on spirituality is an inspiring salute to the present moment filled with freedom and abundance, if only we can stop relying on our ego. We picked A New Earth over the 'Power of Now' as it's more accessible to beginners. But both books are bestselling spiritual guides that have inspired millions of readers.


8. Be Here Now by Ram Dass


Inspiration, insights, and concrete exercises to get on the path of everyday spirituality.


Ram Dass is Dr. Richard Alpert – a Harvard scholar disillusioned with his successful intellectual life. After dabbling in consciousness-altering drugs, he still had no answers. He visited India and met Neem Karoli Baba, an enlightened person, who became his guru and named him Ram Dass.



What is the book about?


This book on spirituality is essentially Dr. Richard Alpert's encounter with the East, a Himalayan guru, the different paths to spiritual awakening, and the riches of Hinduism. The book is divided into four sections. The first section – The Journey – speaks to have a well-to-do intellectual from the West came to the East and became Ram Dass.


The second part (From Bindu to Ojas)) is spread over two sections and printed on brown paper. It is the most substantial section of this book, discussing individual calling, the 'heart cave,' the significance of surrender, and the joys of living in the moment.


The third part of the book uses cartoons, caricatures, psychedelic pictures, and quotes (in large prints) on spirituality and religion. The book's final section "Cookbook for A Sacred Life…" consists of suggestions, quotes, spiritual practices, and concrete examples.


What we think:


Ram Dass writes playfully and without a care for the world. This book is a unique, child-like account of this spiritual awakening. At the same time, it has some of the best insights into how a man searched, found, and experienced the bliss of the universe.


9. Freedom From the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti


One of the most compact and powerful spiritual books, best devoured chapter by chapter.


This book is a compilation of passages from his talks on various topics. "Freedom from the known," as the title suggests, helps us identify those known aspects that bind us and keep us imprisoned for life. If we can observe our life as it is, without any judgments or analysis, we can recognize how our past conditioning feeds our fears, desires, pleasures, and pains.



What is the book about?


If you’ve heard J Krishnamurti talk, you know he uses simple language, short sentences, and a lot of questions to reflect upon. His writing style is engaging with no didacticism but honest dialogue – urging you to reflect on every sentence and answer every question for yourself.


One of the best passages in the book is about resetting our being by embracing the newness of each day. It talks about allowing the past to die gracefully. Our inability to accept this 'dying of everything' makes us mechanical creatures who never fully experience love or freedom.


Another passage discusses how conflict is created when we measure ourselves against something or someone. Relationships become two images of people rather than a union of two human beings. This creates inward friction that sucks out most of our energy.

The book urges us to create self-awareness by creating a clear, sensitive mind with discipline and using it to objectively observe ourselves. Instead of reflecting on who we are, we focus our energy on what we want to be. We do this not only to ourselves but to others as well. He talks about the dangers of changing things or people from what is to what you think should be.


What we think:


'Freedom from the Known' packs a lot of wisdom in a handful of pages. The book advocates self-study and observation to connect with our inner seat of experience. It's not a breezy read that percolates but a spiritual guide you return to often to take bite-size chunks to mull over.


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10. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa.


A book on spirituality that stirs up the pot with uncomfortable ideas.


Cutting through Spiritual Materialism is a collection of lectures in the 1970s given by Chogyam Trungpa, a key figure in popularizing Buddhism in the West. It addresses the biggest obstacle to spiritual growth and awakening. The book is theoretical but has practical ramifications, particularly how to approach spirituality and avoid the pitfalls.



What is the book about?


Trungpa came up with the powerful term ‘Spiritual Materialism’ to explain how the ‘Ego’ creates an illusion of existence and solidity to co-opt spirituality. This tendency is deeply embedded in our nature and proclivity to reject impermanence, which is an uncomfortable thought.


Unfortunately, this ‘spiritual materialism’ takes many forms that hamstring spiritual growth.

The Spiritual materialist uses literature, analysis, meditation, and other practices to shape self-awareness. Trungpa states awareness is a flux that can be experienced when we stop trying to control it. Simply put, stop manipulating your internal and external environment.


He talks about meditation for the dissolution of the ego, not as a war against metaphorical chains or mechanical habits. If you pit the Ego against Consciousness, you create a stronger sense of identity. Success only comes to those who surrender, achieve stillness and attain clarity.


What do we think?


This book is not for beginners, but for those who love reading and can tackle complex, esoteric, and controversial subjects in the realm of spirituality. The core message here is very different from other spiritual books. Trungpa says there is no difference between 'I' and "not I." Enlightenment (or Buddhahood) is an ego-less state that contains neither. It's fairly hit-or-miss but worth reading to broaden your perspective, even if you refute Tungpa’s ideas.


Methodology and Selection Criteria


There are thousands of titles when it comes to spiritual books, and we cannot (unfortunately) read them all. Yet, we were keen to only feature books we could review first-hand, rather than a random slathering of top-rated spirituality books that never graced our bookshelf.


Having read hundreds of books on spirituality collectively, our team of writers and editors collaborated to narrow the list down to 10 spiritual books, hoping to add more titles and make this an ongoing series. Most of these spiritual books bring to the surface the wisdom of Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism, Christianity, and Eastern Spirituality. But we also included self-help books focused on non-religious principles for personal growth. Turns out our top picks are best sellers and feature thousands of glowing reviews on e-commerce platforms, too.


FAQ


Where do I start with spiritual books?


You can also consider books by Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, and Dalai Lama as they are known to explain their ideas with simple terms and well-structured content. Don’t dive into terse or abstract writing early on as it may put you off the subject.


What are the best books on spirituality for beginners?


‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, ‘The Book of Joy’ by Dalai Lama, ‘The Four Agreements ‘ by Don Miguel Ruiz, and ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A. Singer are some of the best books on spirituality for beginners. They are longstanding bestsellers with profound but easy-to-grasp content.


Are books on spirituality religious?


Spirituality is not the same as religion. Spirituality is an individual practice, mostly to do with attaining clarity, inner peace, and self-realization. Religion. on the other hand, is an organized set of practices and beliefs, followed by a group or community.


Who at the most famous spiritual authors?


Authors like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Paulo Coelho, Richard Rohr, Thich Nhat Hahn, Rhonda Byrne, and Osho have written several best-selling books on spirituality and self-help. They are famous for writing one or more best-selling books on spiritual growth and awakening.


In Conclusion


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