5 Books I Wish Everyone on Earth Would Read.

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“Books fall open, you fall in.” ~ David T.W. McCord

These five books have each inspired me with their goodness, practicality and readability. Of course, I could probably come up with a list like this every few months, made up of completely different books. But these are the ones asking to be shared today, so without further ado…

My fellow earthlings, please read, enjoy and absorb the wisdom and teachings available in one or all of these fabulous volumes:

1. The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The charismatic Tibetan Buddhist master who introduced the teachings to so many young Americans in the 1970s (including Pema Chodron and Waylon’s mom, among many others) has an uncanny way of explaining esoteric Eastern concepts to our busy busy Western minds. In this book, he details the styles of imprisonment that make us think we are free and outlines instructions for sitting meditation, from simply working with emotions to more advanced tantric techniques.

2. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts

From the preface: “This book explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo—our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East—in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.”

3. SelfDesign: Unfolding Our Infinite Wisdom Within by Brett Cameron with River Meyer

Get ready for some major paradigm shifting. This concise book explains the concept behind the creation of a natural learning community in Vancouver over the past 20 years. As a professional school teacher for the past eight years, I’d become quite disillusioned with traditional schooling, grades, behavior management, curriculum and instruction—all of it. SelfDesign is the idea that we are each lifelong learners and the best way to learn is by studying what we want, when we want to. It gives concrete models and examples of how this system (similar to Waldorf and Montessori, yet perhaps even better and more comprehensive) works to transform the lives of all humans: students learners, teachers mentors and everyone.

4. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chodron

When I first saw this title about a year ago, I proudly thought, “Thanks anyway; I already know how to meditate!” A few months later I came to my senses and read it. Like all of Ani Pema’s books, it offers clear, concise, friendly and direct wisdom. There are so many ways to meditate. This excellent, user-friendly guide details techniques including working with sensations, emotions, thoughts and more. Definitely a great one to reference and reread regularly.

5. Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

When I see titles on happiness, I tend to look the other way. After all, the pursuit of happiness is a myth, right? Happiness cannot be pursued or pinned down. However, I’m so grateful that I broke my own rule by reading this gem of a book, which I finally finished after months of slowly savoring its contents. Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has thoroughly researched happiness, what it really means, what it is not, and how to practice it. So delectable!

What book or books do you wish everybody would read and put into practice?


Relephant reads!

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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr

Bonus, Waylon’s list:

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a yogi, writer and teacher. Hers is the mind behind Yoga Freedom. Hailing from Austin, Texas, her home base since 2012 has been Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands where she lives with her husband, daughter and fur family. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has also self-published several inspiring books. Michelle’s practice style incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma/Buddhist teachings, pranayama/breathwork, yin, mindfulness, chakra balancing, mantra and meditation. Go on retreat with Michelle in Guatemala!


19 Responses to “5 Books I Wish Everyone on Earth Would Read.”

  1. Tim Pieraccini says:

    The one book I would unhesitatingly recommend to everybody is The Key – and the Name of the Key is Willingness by Cheri Huber. Completely down to earth, beautifully practical – a guide to realising that the spiritual and the everyday are one and the same.

  2. Daffnee says:

    I would add Ishmael by Daniel Fischer to this list. But great list!

  3. David Anderson says:

    I have read thousands of books. Perhaps my all time favorite is : The Delusion of Being Human

  4. Megan Arce says:

    Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a great read. It's definitely easy to understand and everybody CAN read it. 🙂

  5. eric says:

    SelfDesign is a great book, How to Meditate looks interesting to me!
    Great list…

  6. Katie says:

    I looked on Amazon for self design and google and can't find the book available for purchase anywhere what gives? All of these sound amazing thank you I am definitly thirsty for knowledge on this topic

  7. Andrew says:

    Good looking list, Michelle. I recently read “On the Taboo..” and found it challenging and exhilarating reading. I was seriously made to consider what I am and my place in this universe.

    Another book to recommend is “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Funny and insightful.

  8. Nancy says:

    I've read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran too many times to count, and I understand more with each round. I buy them used and redistribute to all I know =)

  9. Anni Cariad says:

    How strange and serendipitous – I received a copy of Alan Watt’s, ‘The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’ in the post today! I read it years ago and lost it, so re-ordered it. Can’t wait to get lost in it again!

  10. Maunagarjana says:

    "Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution" by Ken Wilber

    "Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind" by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer

    "Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience" by Pim Van Lommel

    "Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens" by John Mack

    "Journey Of Souls" by Michael Newton

    "The Day After Roswell" by Col. Philip J. Corso

  11. kattacruz says:

    "Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion" by Grey Levoy

    "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer

    "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron

    "Art and Soul: Notes on Creating" by Audrey Flack

    "Happy Yoga" by Steve Ross

    "Care of the Soul" by Thomas Moore

    "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama

  12. Jim Whitman says:

    My all time favorite book? Impossible to choose but I can start with Atlas Shrugged. Everyone, particularly liberals, should understand the consequences of trying to level the playing field of life. Can't be done, has been tried too many times, and always fails. Capitalism is the only produced that succeeds.

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