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50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom From 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose

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50 Spiritual Classics captures the diversity of life journeys that span centuries, continents, spiritual traditions and secular beliefs: from the historical The Book of Chuang Tzu to modern insight from the Kabbalah, from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet to Eckhart Tolle's recent The Power of Now. The first and only bite-sized guide to the very best in spiritual writing, this o 50 Spiritual Classics captures the diversity of life journeys that span centuries, continents, spiritual traditions and secular beliefs: from the historical The Book of Chuang Tzu to modern insight from the Kabbalah, from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet to Eckhart Tolle's recent The Power of Now. The first and only bite-sized guide to the very best in spiritual writing, this one-of-a-kind collection includes personal memoirs and complelling biographies of such diverse figures as Gandhi, Malcolm X and Black Elk; Eastern philosophers and gurus including Krishnamurti, Yogananda, Chogyam Trungpa and Shunryu Suzuki; and Western saints and mystics such as St. Frances of Assisi, Hermann Hesse and Simone Weil. The last fifteen years have been a golden age in the genre of personal spitirual awakening, with names such as Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch and James Redfield breathing new life into the literature. 50 Spiritual Classics showcases these newer works alongside traditional classics such as St Augustine's Confessions and Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, and conveys the great variety of spiritual experience. In its commentaries of both the conventional classics as well as new writings destined to endure, 50 Spiritual Classics makes universal the human spiritual experience and will inspire spiritual seekers everywhere to begin their own adventure.


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50 Spiritual Classics captures the diversity of life journeys that span centuries, continents, spiritual traditions and secular beliefs: from the historical The Book of Chuang Tzu to modern insight from the Kabbalah, from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet to Eckhart Tolle's recent The Power of Now. The first and only bite-sized guide to the very best in spiritual writing, this o 50 Spiritual Classics captures the diversity of life journeys that span centuries, continents, spiritual traditions and secular beliefs: from the historical The Book of Chuang Tzu to modern insight from the Kabbalah, from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet to Eckhart Tolle's recent The Power of Now. The first and only bite-sized guide to the very best in spiritual writing, this one-of-a-kind collection includes personal memoirs and complelling biographies of such diverse figures as Gandhi, Malcolm X and Black Elk; Eastern philosophers and gurus including Krishnamurti, Yogananda, Chogyam Trungpa and Shunryu Suzuki; and Western saints and mystics such as St. Frances of Assisi, Hermann Hesse and Simone Weil. The last fifteen years have been a golden age in the genre of personal spitirual awakening, with names such as Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch and James Redfield breathing new life into the literature. 50 Spiritual Classics showcases these newer works alongside traditional classics such as St Augustine's Confessions and Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, and conveys the great variety of spiritual experience. In its commentaries of both the conventional classics as well as new writings destined to endure, 50 Spiritual Classics makes universal the human spiritual experience and will inspire spiritual seekers everywhere to begin their own adventure.

30 review for 50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom From 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Since I was in high school, one of my hobbies has been to read and study religious and spiritual writings from all over the world throughout history. I have not studied all religions nor do I plan to, for I am not drawn to all religions. I study religions that I am interested in and fascinated by for their traditions, history and to build my own faith. I am very knowledgeable about several major religions traditions as well as many minor ones. All that said, though I am very firm in my own beliefs Since I was in high school, one of my hobbies has been to read and study religious and spiritual writings from all over the world throughout history. I have not studied all religions nor do I plan to, for I am not drawn to all religions. I study religions that I am interested in and fascinated by for their traditions, history and to build my own faith. I am very knowledgeable about several major religions traditions as well as many minor ones. All that said, though I am very firm in my own beliefs, I am also very tolerant of other people and their beliefs. What you believe is none of my business. I say all this as an introduction to my review of this particular book so that the person who reads this review will understand where I am coming from. Basically, this book provides an okay general survey of world religions throughout time but this is not a book that I would recommend to a sincere religious seeker. I would not recommend this book to a sincere religious or spiritual seeker because I feel that some of the people and ideas included in this survey are not spiritual at all and this book claims to contain "50 Spiritual Classics." A basic dictionary definition of spiritual: "of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." I do not consider the so called "Harvard Psychedelic Club" (Timothy Leary, "Ram Dass" & Andrew Weil) to be spiritual whatsoever-- especially in light of the above definition. I do not consider LSD, "magic mushrooms," and the like to have anything to do with the soul, God or spiritual matters of any kind. Not only were these men given credence in this book but so were others who used drugs to "achieve self/ God realization" (aka self worship). This false belief that our culture promotes that "mind expansion" is real, can be achieved through narcotics and psychedelic drugs and that it has something to do with God and the soul has no place in a legitimate book on spirituality.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Gandhi and Mother Theresa are two famous people I had heard of, but never read any of their works. The author allows me to access some of their stories, without the need to source books. When I look at the other 48 names in the contents, I dip in and get a brief, but informative idea of the theorists views, giving me the choice to either follow up or not. If you are looking for an overview of 50 spiritual classics, this is the book to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Ferber

    Ahhhhh-mazing is perhaps the best way to describe this series. I am currently re-reading it and its amazing how these 50 spiritual classics can assist me in relating to anyone, and not just in some religious, spiritual sense. Yes, the format is not a novel but 10-12 minute vignettes (on my audio book series, extremely well narrated) but any and every kind of spirituality or NO SPIRITUALITY is available for the seeker. And these are sooooo diverse, from The Road to Mecca, to Black Elk Speaks, Car Ahhhhh-mazing is perhaps the best way to describe this series. I am currently re-reading it and its amazing how these 50 spiritual classics can assist me in relating to anyone, and not just in some religious, spiritual sense. Yes, the format is not a novel but 10-12 minute vignettes (on my audio book series, extremely well narrated) but any and every kind of spirituality or NO SPIRITUALITY is available for the seeker. And these are sooooo diverse, from The Road to Mecca, to Black Elk Speaks, Carlos Casteneda, Jonathon Livngston Seagull, to St Augustine's Confessions and Rick Warrens "The Purpose Driven Life." Just yesterday my sister asked me if I knew of the Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron. Though I'm ignorant of her vast body of writing, I was able to relate to her style and meditative process from number nine of the 50 classics and her book "The Places that Scare Us." Perhaps being a "Mirror" may be this series best asset, assisting the reader in delineating their own spirituality. And perhaps it's greatest gift is to know that ALL IS SPIRITUAL.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jayme

    This is a nice overview for those who are interested in books on spirituality. The author covers all the major religions with a heavy focus on modern New Age books. The author gives a basic summary of each book and autobiographical information which is perfect for my ADD. I also enjoyed the fact that the author describes the less-than-enlightened thinking of some of the authors.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wise Fool

    This is just a book filled with reviews of other books! Although the reviews are good. They are just a collection of reviews! personally I think spirituality is too personal for someone else to tell you what is good to read. A thing that touches one person, may not touch another. Hope you enjoy it if you get it!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Javatis Midget

    This book is a must read for anyone who's interested in spitituality. It opened my eyes to so many thing until I'm frustrated! I have a new respect for philosophy. There were 5 or 6 books that I'm going to read in the future because of this book! Very good book! This book is a must read for anyone who's interested in spitituality. It opened my eyes to so many thing until I'm frustrated! I have a new respect for philosophy. There were 5 or 6 books that I'm going to read in the future because of this book! Very good book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Hennigan

    If you have ever wondered what the spiritual best sellers of past and present decades have to teach you, 50 Spiritual Classics could provide the answers you are looking for. The third in a series by Tom Butler-Bowdon (considered an expert in personal development literature) 50 Spiritual Classics gives a fascinating glimpse at some of the great books that have stood the test of time. The works feature range from the lives of saints to autobiographies of modern inspirational leaders such as Gandhi a If you have ever wondered what the spiritual best sellers of past and present decades have to teach you, 50 Spiritual Classics could provide the answers you are looking for. The third in a series by Tom Butler-Bowdon (considered an expert in personal development literature) 50 Spiritual Classics gives a fascinating glimpse at some of the great books that have stood the test of time. The works feature range from the lives of saints to autobiographies of modern inspirational leaders such as Gandhi and Malcolm X. But the majority are books that pass on tips for living a more balanced life, one in tune with the Creator and creation. Mini biographies of each author whose work is featured give fascinating insights into some of the varied minds and personalities that have passed on their usually hard-won wisdom. Mother Teresa, Teresa of Avila, St Augustine, Black Elk and Ram Dass are just a few whose lives and/or teachings are delivered here in glimpses sufficient to whet the reader’s appetite for more. And this is the best thing about this sort of book – while not pushing its own self-help agenda, it suggests a variety of methods from which the reader may find one that rings true for them. In that case, the original work is probably as close as their local library.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Hargreaves

    What an excellent book, having read the 50 Self Help Classics I was looking forward to reading this one, I was not disappointed. I am fortunate I have plenty of time being retired, but these types of books are always best to read over a long period of time. Read a chapter digest and then another later. Some of them I read on several occasions. I do admit I did not quite understand some of the logic and thoughts, but then that's what I want "something to think about and ponder". Try it you will e What an excellent book, having read the 50 Self Help Classics I was looking forward to reading this one, I was not disappointed. I am fortunate I have plenty of time being retired, but these types of books are always best to read over a long period of time. Read a chapter digest and then another later. Some of them I read on several occasions. I do admit I did not quite understand some of the logic and thoughts, but then that's what I want "something to think about and ponder". Try it you will enjoy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    J

    This was great. I've read a few of the books in this work, and I think they were described very well. What I really enjoyed was biographical information about each book's author. Essentially most spiritual works emphasis the same points: live simply, forgive, take time to reflect but live in the present, and reject materialism. I also read the 50 Psychology Classics by this author and liked it a lot. Both were very uplifting:) This was great. I've read a few of the books in this work, and I think they were described very well. What I really enjoyed was biographical information about each book's author. Essentially most spiritual works emphasis the same points: live simply, forgive, take time to reflect but live in the present, and reject materialism. I also read the 50 Psychology Classics by this author and liked it a lot. Both were very uplifting:)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam Boomer

    Tom Butler-Bowden has found a real niche for himself with these books. I read the 50 psychology classics and found it was a great advert for some of the best titles in the field, while still offering a fair amount of substance. This one was no different. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even as someone who's already read a fair few of the titles he summarises. Tom Butler-Bowden has found a real niche for himself with these books. I read the 50 psychology classics and found it was a great advert for some of the best titles in the field, while still offering a fair amount of substance. This one was no different. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even as someone who's already read a fair few of the titles he summarises.

  11. 4 out of 5

    G'angela

    I have been reading this book chapter by chapter for 1 year. The book contains small chapter reviews on 50 wonderful people who have made a difference in this world either by social justice or their contribution to spirituality/religion. I recommend this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    I thought this was going to be direct quotes or excerpts with the author expanding upon them, but it felt like one big rant. It was hard to follow and I could barely recognize which spiritual classic was being talked about at any one time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Muhamed

    This book contains more wisdom than one might hear in a lifetime. Read the book with the intention of finding the spiritual book that suits you and you will love the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kat Robey

    Love these! I learn about the books and their authors and watch my reading list grow!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tiago Faleiro

    I have read 50 Philosophy Classics, also by Tom Bowdon, which I really enjoyed. I was surprised to find there was an addition to spirituality as well. Given my interest in religion, I thought that would be valuable and put some trust into it based on my previous good experience with the philosophy edition. I was initially very disappointed that most of the books was modern books about spirituality. Many topics, like science, are things that are hard to go back in history in a way that is still re I have read 50 Philosophy Classics, also by Tom Bowdon, which I really enjoyed. I was surprised to find there was an addition to spirituality as well. Given my interest in religion, I thought that would be valuable and put some trust into it based on my previous good experience with the philosophy edition. I was initially very disappointed that most of the books was modern books about spirituality. Many topics, like science, are things that are hard to go back in history in a way that is still relevant. Spirituality, on the other hand, is in some way eternal, given by self-consciousness and our ability to think about our nature and how to think and act in the world. And given the very long history of religion and spirituality, I was almost offended at the absurdity that most of the books here were from the 20th century onwards. Even more so because I had a bias against more modern works, but I try to keep an open mind. I enjoyed it a lot more than expected after my initial disappointment. While I still think the modern emphasis is misplaced, there are some benefits. For one, it captures well the modern trend of spirituality. No matter how old the topic of spirituality is, we can't help but live in a culture that is influenced by its modern conception. And thus learning about it is beneficial even if you think it's completely misguided. Very much like the philosophy edition, I really enjoyed that I could learn about so many different books. It also makes it really easy to see common themes among many kinds of people and culture on how they conceptualize spirituality. For example, the importance of love, giving to others, not being egocentric, and being present in the moment. They all have different formulations and different narratives that symbolize it, but it's a very persistent pattern throughout. What I love about these types of books is because the content is so diverse that allows me to learn about topics that I would never go into on my own. In this case, what most allured me was books from religions that I know little about. I've read a fair bit on Christianity and Buddhism, but for example, I know close to nothing about Islam. I really enjoyed the writing of Ghazzali and his attempt to popularize Sufism and try to recover the decaying spirituality that he perceived in his region. My ignorance also extends to Judaism. Here the work of the theologian Abraham Heschel marked the most about the importance of the Sabbath, and how it tries to transform worship from being spatially located (mountains or totems) into being centred around time. There were several books that I don't think are very high-quality, and of course, those tend to be modern ones. Especially from "gurus" in the East that travelled to the West and gained incredible popularity, which was a virus-like phenomenon in the 20th century. Nevertheless, there were some modern works that were quite solid and deserving of great respect, such as Simone Weil's 'Waiting for God'. Likewise, even some more ancient spiritual works don't mean that they are that good. While some I consider great classics and incredibly valuable, such as Augustine's Confessions, some were disappointing. For example, Emanuel Swedenborg wrote in the 18th century and very popular. It influenced figures like Blake, Dostoevsky, Helen Keller, John Wesley, and Carl Jung. But while I don't deny that there is some insightful symbolism in his work, as the whole it honestly seemed like the ramblings of a schizophrenic. It's a great compilation, and while I think it emphasized modern works way too much, I still found it very enjoyable and valuable. The writing is excellent, and each book has a good summary of its themes and some minor information about the author. I liked that it was so culturally diverse and that the author wasn't afraid to deviate from typical standards. For instance, even Malcolm X is featured. While this may look bizarre, if you read the entry it will make some good sense and I really liked learning about how his spirituality informed his views and what he tried to achieve, especially later in life when he wasn't as radical. The book also achieves a good balance between not trying to exclusively cater to a more secularized version of spirituality but also having the edition intelligible for non-theists. He wasn't afraid of talking about God in very direct and traditional terms, but likewise, a lot of the works covered can be applied no matter your faith. It's a very solid edition and highly recommends it if you're interested in spirituality. As mentioned it does have a very modern take on it, but it's a flaw I'm willing to overlook for the overall benefit I got. I ended up with the same feeling as I did with his philosophy edition, I wish the book was twice as long!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rick Wilmot

    A fascinating book with insights from many people across the centuries. TB-B has a remarkable way of putting into a few words the gist of all of the books in this one. He seems to understand the thread running through all of these writers and their writings. I would recommend this book not to those searching for enlightenment but to those who have had glimpses of it and are looking for confirmation of their experience. From St. Augustine to Rick Warren the teaching is the same and the task, in th A fascinating book with insights from many people across the centuries. TB-B has a remarkable way of putting into a few words the gist of all of the books in this one. He seems to understand the thread running through all of these writers and their writings. I would recommend this book not to those searching for enlightenment but to those who have had glimpses of it and are looking for confirmation of their experience. From St. Augustine to Rick Warren the teaching is the same and the task, in the words of Castaneda, is to 'stop the internal dialogue'. I would have included Jung's 'Modern Man in Search of a Soul', but maybe that appears somewhere else in Mr. Butler-Bowden's work.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yochi

    I liked the format of this a lot. Got a good summery of books and ideas, some that that I'll never end up reading but now have an understanding on, and some got put on my want to read list. I wish my library had more of these "50 Great Classics" series. I may end up breaking down and buying that Philosophy one. I liked the format of this a lot. Got a good summery of books and ideas, some that that I'll never end up reading but now have an understanding on, and some got put on my want to read list. I wish my library had more of these "50 Great Classics" series. I may end up breaking down and buying that Philosophy one.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Lawson

    Not as good as his 50 Philosophy Classics, but still worth the time for all the new titles I found to add to my wish list. Even though a few of the selected works were laughable (at least when considered among a host of "classics"), I was pleased with the overall diversity of Butler's collection. Not as good as his 50 Philosophy Classics, but still worth the time for all the new titles I found to add to my wish list. Even though a few of the selected works were laughable (at least when considered among a host of "classics"), I was pleased with the overall diversity of Butler's collection.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Frederico Santos

    Uau, a Excellent approach to the spiritual side in each one of us. Read it once, will read it again soon and, even being personal opinion, strongly recomend. Expect a book with some critical report about other books.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    This is a book of reviews of 50 books. Although some of it was interesting with some of the biographical information there was not enough of a review to have me say I can't wait to read the book being reviewed. This is a book of reviews of 50 books. Although some of it was interesting with some of the biographical information there was not enough of a review to have me say I can't wait to read the book being reviewed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I loved this book. The only problem is that it made my reading list so much longer! This is a great exploration of spiritual writings from across centuries and across faiths and belief systems. I read a chapter a day as part of my daily contemplations.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Impressive survey although tales of people turning to Christianity were far too overrepresented. Would have also been good to have more secular explorations of spirituality such as Sam Harris' book Waking Up. Impressive survey although tales of people turning to Christianity were far too overrepresented. Would have also been good to have more secular explorations of spirituality such as Sam Harris' book Waking Up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shishir

    A brief overview on some spiritual thinkers. Little disappointing on some of the choices of thinkers

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frazer

    An effective introduction and quick overview of select works. It would perhaps be unfair to the author to expect much more, but this does not explore any of those in great depth.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Had some useful information but didn't seem like it was worth buying Had some useful information but didn't seem like it was worth buying

  26. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    50 Spiritual Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon This is a very interesting, useful book. There’s one good advice: When you wake up, place a half-smile on your face, keep it even (or especially) when you feel angry, upset. Keep it throughout the day. Another spiritual suggestion: Do things slowly This wisdom is from a book of Tolstoy, which I had read before this other classic: What is the most important time? Now! Who is the most important person? The person with whom you are…Now! What is the most important 50 Spiritual Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon This is a very interesting, useful book. There’s one good advice: When you wake up, place a half-smile on your face, keep it even (or especially) when you feel angry, upset. Keep it throughout the day. Another spiritual suggestion: Do things slowly This wisdom is from a book of Tolstoy, which I had read before this other classic: What is the most important time? Now! Who is the most important person? The person with whom you are…Now! What is the most important thing to do? – The thing you do…Now! This author has written 50 Psychology Classics, which I have read and appreciate it, 50 Prosperity Classics- which I have started and 50 Self Help Classics. From the books listed and described in 50 Spiritual Classics, some I have read: The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis- I enjoyed and had fun listening to the tape which I borrowed from the British Council, audio book read by the Monty Python star…I have also read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, but I am starting to read it again. On the list we find The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham, one of my favorite authors. I have started reading The Razor’s Edge and have read many, if not most of the short stories and Human Bondage by Maugham. The Doors of Perception, from the same 50 Spiritual Classics, seems to be very enticing. Tom Butler-Bowdon had a very good idea to write about these classics, Spiritual, Psychology, Self-Help and Prosperity- and I look forward to read the two I have not completed yet and discover as many as I can and feel attracted to, from those 200 books listed in the Butler-Bowden Classics.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Minotaur Mangum

    Now here's a dubious spiritual melange: start with a base of World Classics (St. Augustine, Chuang Tzu), stir in a heavy dose of hippy-dipping (Ram Dass, Carlos Castaneda), and top it off with a dash of good old Christian Reaction (C.S. Lewis, Rick Warren). This is America, folks. Religion is a la carte and all-you-can-eat. But uh, it's a close-out sale, so enjoy it while it lasts. Now here's a dubious spiritual melange: start with a base of World Classics (St. Augustine, Chuang Tzu), stir in a heavy dose of hippy-dipping (Ram Dass, Carlos Castaneda), and top it off with a dash of good old Christian Reaction (C.S. Lewis, Rick Warren). This is America, folks. Religion is a la carte and all-you-can-eat. But uh, it's a close-out sale, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I am loving this book, at first I thought it reproduced a chapter or two from each author's original books; but NO the Butler-Bowdon makes a 2-3 page commentary of each book and he is right to the point! It introduces you to some of the best literature of inner discovery. I am loving this book, at first I thought it reproduced a chapter or two from each author's original books; but NO the Butler-Bowdon makes a 2-3 page commentary of each book and he is right to the point! It introduces you to some of the best literature of inner discovery.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David “Skip” Everling

    "Wisdom for Dummies", in that it contains A) summaries of great spiritual works and insight while B) giving equal time to questionably influential contemporary authors with flimsy ideologies and dummy adherents. Then again, it's not always easy to disambiguate the two. "Wisdom for Dummies", in that it contains A) summaries of great spiritual works and insight while B) giving equal time to questionably influential contemporary authors with flimsy ideologies and dummy adherents. Then again, it's not always easy to disambiguate the two.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Marie

    Nobody's perfect but then these people who created these inspirational stories have gone from the baddest ones to the most divine ones by serving God and their neighbors after realizing how good life should be treated. Will always go back to this book for inspiration. Twas nice compilation! :) Nobody's perfect but then these people who created these inspirational stories have gone from the baddest ones to the most divine ones by serving God and their neighbors after realizing how good life should be treated. Will always go back to this book for inspiration. Twas nice compilation! :)

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