I have read many books over the years that
influenced my practice and my life. Here are a few
of the books that I found helpful as I embarked on
my Eastern path. Unlike my formal Western
training, most of my Eastern training has been
focused on experiential learning guided by a
trusted teacher. When I began my Eastern pursuits
in the 90's my tai chi teacher pointed out that
the journey can be lonely at times and suggested I
seek companionship in books. While I'm probably
not paraphrasing him correctly, I did often find a
lack of people around me able to understand what I
was experiencing or relate to my new
perspectives. Hence the books I found most helpful
were less about the techniques of any specific
Eastern practice and more about the journey.
Autobiography of a Yoga by Yogananda
The story of Yogananda and his experience coming
to the US. It's a very easy read and parts
resonated with me when I was coming to
understand the Eastern arts.
Zen in the Martial Arts by Hyams
Another easy read that speaks about a martial
artists' entry into the Eastern Arts.
Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda
I found this book (series) to be somewhat obtuse
and also very helpful for my journey. This is an
autobiography of a UCLA anthropology student
studying with a Native American Indian
sorcerer. It's one book in a series where the
student (Carlos Castaneda) describes his journey
to become a Native American Indian
Sorcerer. Critics claim he just went into the
desert and did drugs with his "teacher." While
others really believe in what he wrote and the
experience he describes. I see his journey as
consistent with my Eastern belief systems and I
found it helpful to read about Carlos' struggles
when I was beginning my practice.
Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era by
A book about a famous
samurai in Japan in 1600. Musashi is known for
his "Book of Five Rings" which I'm told is
commonly required reading in business
schools. As with Yogananda, Hyams, and Carlos I
found Musashi's journey inspiring, informative,
and helpful as I was trying to find my way and
make sense of my experiences.
Tao Te Ching by S Mitchell
lots of books on the Tao Te Ching, the foundation
of Taoism. This book I found particularly easy
to read and has helped to inform my world view.
Touching Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
found this book to be a good introduction to
Zen, which similarly informs both my spiritual
and emotional practice.
Light On Yoga by Iyengar
practices yoga outside of a class should have a
copy of this on hand.