I started off this year depressed, unemployed with no prospects, dumped, and fresh to New York with no money and none of my stuff, living with a freak of a dude who told me he wanted our apartment to be a sanctuary but kicked off my first night there setting off fireworks inside. Then came the boxes of weapons on a daily basis. As I watched countless knives and beat-down batons join the arsenal of guns, ninja stars, machetes, lead pipes, and bats with screws driven in, my sense of feeling safe in the world declined rapidly. Depressed and terrified, I turned ever more to meditation and self-exploration, and did a bunch of soul-searching that ultimately built my trust in the universe that all will be good and sane and calm and fantastic. And it was. OK, that's really heavy and I'm sure this makes me a wimp but fuck it, here are the top ten books I read that set everything dandy in my mind and in my life.
Anastasia by Vladimir Megre
This is Book One in the Ringing Cedars series, an epic first-person, supposedly true account of a dolt-brain Russian merchant who awakens to the Truths of life. He wasn’t a seeker; he was chosen, and as most such people tend to be, he’s full of doubt and disbelief as a forest nymph named Anastasia begins to teach him about the telepathic healing and protective powers of ancient cedar trees, how to properly garden by connecting your Life Force with that of a seed, and the limitless capabilities of one’s omniscient ray. I’m simplifying here, mostly because this wasn’t an excellent read—actually, it couldn’t be more horribly written. But in 2007, after one of many awful arguments with my then-girlfriend, I took off on a road trip to nowhere in particular, pulled over in a Podunk town, rifled through someone’s trash, and found a tiny little ceramic creamer with Mount Rushmore on one side and cedar pinecones on the other. It meant nothing to me at the time—was just a vessel for spare change. That Christmas my uncle gave me a Ringing Cedar pendant and later gave me the book. I liked all the synchronicity so I was able to look past the awful descriptions of Vladimir fucking and impregnating a fair maiden who lives naked in the forest and depends solely on nature for survival and got a lot out of the book’s big lessons. As a result of this book, I try to send out psychic loving rays to anonymous damsels I feel are certainly in distress. Also, this whole series inspired my cousin in Sedona to start an edible garden, which expanded so rapidly she opened a now wildly popular raw food restaurant as its outlet.
Energize Your Heart: In 4 Dimensions by Purim and Susanna Bair
Though kind of crappily written, this gives simple instructions how to explore the physical and energetic capacity of your heart and fill it with light using pretty simple breathing techniques. When I feel low, I can sense where the deficiency occurs and pump it right back up.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I just read this a couple days ago at my aunt and uncle’s inn way up in the remote wilds of Vermont. A cousin was talking about a Christian spiritual book she was reading, a word-of-mouth bestseller called The Shack that sounded like a real bummer, and I was wishing I’d brought a similar book with me. I went down to the library, ran my hand along the tops of books, and randomly picked one out without looking. I’d chosen The Alchemist, the only spiritual book in the room, and also the book a friend had talked to me about just a few days prior. Kind of spectacular. So yeah, it’s a super simple allegory about belief and faith in one’s own personal journey, and yeah, it’s kinda corny, but obviously it came into my life for a reason so I read it. And I liked it.
Rainbow Bridge Visualization
This sweet, out-of-print, black-and-white picture book shows how to tap into your own fixed design (chakra center) and then interconnect it within a meditation group and affix the whole thing into the golden net of sacred geometry that guides the universe.
Handbook for a New Paradigm
This one starts out seeming like a paranoid's dream, all conspiracy theory about the forces of darkness orchestrating a theater of evil. And then it all starts to make terrifying sense, considering it was written before any of its predictions actually happened. I won't ruin it, but read it and see if you don't start believing there's an insidious force trying to block us off from the Godhead. And then see if you don't start putting into action the book's suggestions, and see if your life isn't at least 38% better. You can read the whole thing here. I recommend you go slow.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
I'm not trying to make a joke by including this in the list. I love the book's theories about time and dreaming big and fulfilling one's own destiny and just being cool with the fact that you were born a giant freak. Jellybean Bonanza, come find me!
The Purpose of Your Life by Carol Adrienne
A friend and I started a little spiritual book reading club/swap. This is the one she gave me first, with the disclaimer that yes it is cheesy and yes Oprah raved about it and yes it ties into the Celestine Prophecy, but wow did it give her some direction in life and we'll build up to more serious reading as we go along. I'll be honest and say I haven't totally finished it, and also that I don't think I've quite nailed my Statement of Intent regarding my Life's Purpose, but I like how aggressive and westernized the whole thing is about figuring out what the fuck you're doing with yourself.
Q.B.L. by Frater Achad
A VERY SERIOUS book of magickal treatises on the Qabalah that uses a lot of ALL CAPS to SPECIFY MAJOR POINTS.
Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron
Doesn't this cover look intensely depressing? Shit, I've seen suicide prevention pamphlets with more uplifting imagery. But awesomely, even though this is a Buddhist book about how suffering is implicit in the life experience, it's a very calming read. This is the first Buddhist book I've made all the way through. It's not preachy or overly precious about giving up all your worldly possessions. It made me feel like I could deal with my own bullshit as it comes up and not judge myself and just chill the fuck out about everything. Nice.
The God Book by Prem Raja Baba
OK, this is by far the most intense of the bunch. It's a 56-page contract with yourself stating that you are a God who is a hundred percent in charge of your own existence and can make up any rules you like to govern yourself as long as it doesn't interfere with any other God's personal laws or commands. Any entity who doesn't recognize this can GO FUCK OFF. So, I started doing this and suddenly all the people in my life who disrespected me started getting in car crashes and trying to kill themselves. Seriously. It scared the shit out of me. So I put it down and didn't go all the way through with it, but I at least made it to Law #18: "It is prohibited for me to have anything else other than perfect health and a perfect body. It is mandated that my body always experiences perfect health and be the exact weight and dimensions I specify consciously" and Law #29: "It is prohibited for others to judge me or perceive me as 'good,' 'bad,' 'right,' or 'wrong.'" Basically, I don't have to work out and no one will hate me for it. JK, this book is amazing but if you're gonna track this chestnut down be prepared for some very real consequences.