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Books that changed your life

Ive made a book thread before but it wasnt successful. So please list any book that has changed your entire view on everything that may be able to help me as well.The book doesnt have to be buddhist, choose whatever. Id appreciate a description of the book and why I should read it. Thanks.
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Comments

  • Steve_BSteve_B Veteran Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran
    Amory Lovins , Soft Energy Path
    An overview of the "Negawatt Revolution" containing some profoundly important concepts, with relevance far outside the field of energy management. A dense slow read that left me breathless.
  • cptshrkcptshrk Explorer Explorer
    Hermann Hesse's work has change my perspective on life and pushed me to strive for a wholesome one.
    riverflowEvenThirdDaiva
  • ThePensumThePensum Explorer Explorer
    Schopenhauer.
    riverflow
  • SabreSabre Veteran Veteran
    image
    Invincible_summer
  • robotrobot Veteran Veteran
    edited October 2013
    In 1975 it was Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castenada.
    Somewhat more recently, the Five Houses of Zen, by Thomas Cleary
    how
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm
    The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
    The Spiritual Guide by Michael Molinos
    The Yogas and Other Works (a compendium of the talks of Swami Vivekananda)
    Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    and, not least, the New Testament and the teachings of BuddhA a and Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment
    riverflow
  • chariramacharirama Veteran Veteran
    Victor Wooten's "The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search For Growth Through Music" is a very good read. It is about letting go and finding and trusting your inner voice.

    Victor is a fantastic person and an amazing musician who has music and nature camps for kids in Texas. Part of his book describes some of the spiritual experiences the students have while they are there.

    Invincible_summer
  • Not much of a reader anymore ,too many other distractions ,.Thats why I feel like doing a Henry Thoreau But yes anything by Ajarn Brahm ,also many talks online ,and Joko Becks Everyday Zen is great though I wish it had changed me more .
  • ToshTosh Veteran Veteran
    The book called Alcoholics Anonymous but affectionately known as the Big Book. It's archaic, it uses the words, 'God, Creator, He, Father', it was written by middle class Americans, but if you're able to see past all that; it's very very good; very Buddhist even.

    The emphasis of the book is on 'action', not beliefs, and the emphasis on the 'actions' is the practise of compassion.
  • mindatriskmindatrisk Veteran Veteran
    Conversations with God was a pivotal one for me.
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    Briefly, off the top of my head... these books had a significant impact on my life in one way or another-- in roughly chronological order:

    Carl Sagan, Cosmos
    1982 - after seeing the TV series when I was 12. I still have much admiration for him, his sense of imagination AND his skepticism.

    Henry David Thoreau, Walden
    1985 - I first read Walden when I was 15. I return to it (and other writings of Thoreau) from time to time.

    Octavio Paz, Sunstone
    1993 - In my early 20s, on a whim, I read this book-length mystical poem aloud from cover to cover one night-- it was magical. The poem is one massive run on sentence which circles right back to the beginning, starting over again.

    Raymond Carver, "Cathedral" (the short story)
    1994 - My favorite Carver story which I read when in a creative writing workshop some 20 years ago. I can't even explain what happens at the end, except that it is so ordinary, yet so transcendently beautiful. I cry every time reading it.

    Laozi, Daodejing
    1995 - Stephen Mitchell's translation was the first I read, but I prefer Red Pine's. But my first copy was given to me as a gift by a good friend of mine who was a Greek Orthodox priest very much in love with the Daodejing. It was my first introduction to eastern thought (along with reading plenty of Alan Watts).

    Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    1998 (?) - My favorite Nietzsche book, very life-affirming. It wasn't what I was expecting at the time. Nietzsche is still one of my favorite writers.

    Fyodor Doestoevsky, Crime and Punishment
    2007 - I don't read much fiction, but this is the greatest novel I've ever read. The characters are so rich and vivid-- and sometimes contradictory in the way that human beings so often can be! It's interesting to see a protagonist who is at the same time the antagonist.

    Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Understanding
    2011 - Thay's brief commentary on the Heart Sutra. This is the book that finally helped make emptiness click for me.

    Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
    2011 - One of the best summaries of Mahayana practice. A great resource too!

    Seneca, Letters
    2012 - Definitely part of my "desert island" collection. Highly quotable and inspiring. Its because of his imperfections that only makes me admire Seneca all the more.

    Thich Nhat Hanh, For a Future to be Possible
    2013 - Thay's helpful book on the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

    The Lotus Sutra
    2013 - I like Gene Reeves' translation, but I also have Burton Watson's and I've gotten a few various commentaries on it. My favorite of the sutras. As much as I enjoy complex philosophical texts (and am less inclined toward fiction reading), the Lotus Sutra's boundless optimism expressed in parables speaks deeply to me. I can understand why this sutra is one of the most popular in Mahayana practice.
    Invincible_summerEvenThird
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric Veteran South east, UK Veteran
    edited October 2013
    The New Meditation Hand Book, Joyful Path of Good Fortune and Modern Buddhism volume 1 by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
    caz
  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran
    edited October 2013
    The Dark Tower by Stephen King, the series really helped me to open up my imagination
    JeffreymisterCope
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran
    bookworm said:

    The Dark Tower by Stephen King, the series really help me to open up my imagination

    Interesting perspective. Although I long ago tired of Stephen King, after reading everything he was putting out, the imagination aspect is so important. I see the same thing when I watch certain films, particularly those by Spielberg.

    riverflow
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    riverflow said:



    Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    1998 (?) - My favorite Nietzsche book, very life-affirming. It wasn't what I was expecting at the time.

    Ja, I'd add Also Sprach to my list of mind-enhancers, too. Nonetheless, I think we need leave that most amoral man behind. Kindness was not a calling-card for him, nor was nonjudgmental awareness. A powerful, evocative writer, though he was, it's mainly the surreal, illusion of the mountaintop that I recall from him: nothing genuine, nothing real or dear.
  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    bookworm said:

    The Dark Tower by Stephen King, the series really help me to open up my imagination

    Interesting perspective. Although I long ago tired of Stephen King, after reading everything he was putting out, the imagination aspect is so important. I see the same thing when I watch certain films, particularly those by Spielberg.

    Thanks Vinlyn and i agree the imagination aspect is important too it helped me to keep an open mind about things
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    Nirvana said:

    Ja, I'd add Also Sprach to my list of mind-enhancers, too. Nonetheless, I think we need leave that most amoral man behind. Kindness was not a calling-card for him, nor was nonjudgmental awareness. A powerful, evocative writer, though he was, it's mainly the surreal, illusion of the mountaintop that I recall from him: nothing genuine, nothing real or dear.

    I think considering the historical context in which Nietzsche wrote was incredibly important-- and atheists such as Dawkins or Dennett have nothing on him-- because Nietzsche's target wasn't God so much as it was metaphysics ("God" was his shorthand for metaphysics). His rhetoric can be offputting, but its just rhetoric. That's the tricky part of reading Nietzsche, and what makes him so thought provoking-- he was no mere ideologue and he can never be taken at face value.

    His observations on the dead end of metaphysics inherited from Plato are still very relevant-- and this mattered to him not merely to deconstruct Christianity, but to affirm life, to bring it BACK from the platonic ideal that had become part of western Christian thought-- and which had turned into a spiritual dead end. Of course, it could be argued that Nietzsche's alternative was a dead end too-- but his critique of the otherworldly ideal I think have much merit.

    As far as those who read him irresponsibly as a prop for their own nihilistic notions-- well, people have read the Bible just as irresponsibly too...
    Kundo
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    Well, Sir, you cannot take away from him the unearthing of the awesome Apollonian/Dionysian dialectic or poles in Western aesthetics. Nor could anyone else in his time quite write without any footnotes being needed. Speaking of footnotes, though, The Walter Kaufman translations are invaluable for those of us who haven't yet mastered German, in that they help communicate the genius of the content.
    riverflow
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    Yeah, it was through Kaufman that I finally got round to reading him. Amazing that it took much of his work in the 1950s (!!!!!) before Nietzsche's work was really examined in the US.
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran
    bookworm said:

    vinlyn said:

    bookworm said:

    The Dark Tower by Stephen King, the series really help me to open up my imagination

    Interesting perspective. Although I long ago tired of Stephen King, after reading everything he was putting out, the imagination aspect is so important. I see the same thing when I watch certain films, particularly those by Spielberg.

    Thanks Vinlyn and i agree the imagination aspect is important too it helped me to keep an open mind about things
    Yes! I think it helps one in real life with out of the box thinking...which can lead to interesting insights.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 2013
    Jason said:
    Now that I have some more time, I can offer a few words about why I recommended these books.

    I recommended Food for the Heart and The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha because these two books really inspired me and are what got me interested in Theravada Buddhism, as well as exploring monastic life. Definitely changed me and the way I approached life.

    I recommended Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories because Dostoyevsky is one of my favourite authors and I love the way he delves into the depths of the human psyche — both the beautiful and the ugly — and doesn't shy away from what he sees. Notes From Underground in particular speaks to me in a way that no other piece of literature ever has, although it's hard to explain why. Probably because I have a lot in common with the 'Underground Man.'

    I recommended Meditations because this book not only introduced me to Stoic philosophy, but it prompted me to take my civic duties more seriously as well. It made me more aware of my role in the world and inspired me to emerge from my apolitical shell.

    I recommended Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist because it really opened my eyes about the history of the American labour movement and how little I knew about it. It also got me interested in learning more about socialism and prompted me to become more politically and socially active (i.e., not just filling out a ballot ever couple of years). Eugene Debs was an incredible person, and I think more people should know about him.

    I recommended Plato's dialogues because they're relatively easy to read for philosophical texts yet they still give you a lot to think about. I really enjoyed them and found them worth reading. In addition, Plato's arguably the foundation for most of Western philosophy, and I actually found a lot in common between Plato and the Buddha.

    I recommended The Brother's Karamazov because it's my favourite Dostoyevsky novel and it really touched me. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Last but not least, I recommended The Magic Mountain because I found it to be a rather thought-provoking book. It reminds me of The Brothers Karamazov in a way, particularly its deeply philosophical, political, and psychological themes, which are often explored through casual conversation and other mundane happenstances. It's also rather long and touches upon a host of topics, most of which I found intriguing. It also inspired this rambling nonsense.

    There are a lot more I could probably list, but these have definitely changed my views in some way.
    riverflowKundoYishai
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    I prefer comics or the film version, these days . . .
    Probably one of the most traumatic, dramatic comics was one I read depicting the horrors a young boy experienced after surviving Hiroshima and the aftermath. Can not remember the name. Terrible. Shocking.
    This might be it
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barefoot_Gen

    Books . . . probably the number of reads is a good indication . . . might be time for me to read the Tao Te Ching again . . .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching
  • banned_crabbanned_crab Veteran Veteran
    any other good ajahn brahmin books?
  • GuiGui Veteran Veteran
    The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
    riverflowInvincible_summer
  • hermitwinhermitwin Veteran Veteran
    the power of positive thinking
    by Norman Vincent peale .

    and giant steps by anthony robbins .
    Nirvana
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran
    hermitwin said:

    the power of positive thinking
    by Norman Vincent peale .

    Yes, he was excellent, and at one time I liked some of Robert Schuller's work, as well.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Hero With A Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

    Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness

    On the Road

    Nirvana
  • horseboneshorsebones Explorer Explorer
    edited October 2013
    When the chocolate runs out.
    It's a small book that doesn't look like much of a read, but it took me a long time to get through. It focuses on dealing with the spectrum of desire, and is laid out in bite sized paragraphs with even shorter summaries of the meaning. It's very hard to get past a section and its summary without spending a lot of time in contemplation. This is why it probably took me so long to get through.

    Chenrezig lord of love
    Explains deity worship/meditation in a very clear way, and does a great job in teaching why all beings should be shown love and compassion.

    What a plant knows
    I'm currently reading this and also taking the online Coursera course. I find plants fascinating and this book does a really good job of explaining how they work right down to a cellular level. Understanding and connecting with nature (something plants are a big part of), helps you with your practice and your well-being.
  • Wisdom23Wisdom23 Veteran Veteran
    Oddly enough ' change your thoughts, change your life' Dr Wayne Dyer. This book is on Taoism rather than Buddhism but still a very enlightening read. O
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    Jeffrey said:

    The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

    Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness

    On the Road

    Anything by Kerouac. He even wrote a life of the Buddha: WAKE UP
    Jeffrey
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran Veteran
    Not a book, but last year i came across a Koan that completely spoke to me and changed my life..All my worries in life just melted away 'right there and then' and still to this day i feel a changed content happy man!

    The Koan was;

    Two sisters crossed the road, which is the older sister??

    I still smile whenever I read it!
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    zenmyste said:

    Not a book, but last year i came across a Koan that completely spoke to me and changed my life..All my worries in life just melted away 'right there and then' and still to this day i feel a changed content happy man!

    The Koan was;

    Two sisters crossed the road, which is the older sister??

    I still smile whenever I read it!

    Funny how that works, isn't it?

    I don't mean "ha-ha" funny, either.


  • ThePensumThePensum Explorer Explorer
    The Duty of Genius - Ray Monk. A biography of Wittgenstein.
    riverflow
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    I wrote a small book under my dervish name but I would recommend the writing, not the reading
    ISBN 1 85652 153 2

    I found the books of Idries Shah useful on the dervish path . . .
    Nowadays I prefer a large catalogue (to sit on)
    . . . come to think of it . . . on the head might help with deportment/posture . . . maybe I will try that :om:
    Dandelion
  • Zen Physics by David Darling
  • DharmaMcBumDharmaMcBum Spacebus Wheelman York, UK Veteran
    The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. A good look at someone moving from layman to a more in depth view of Buddhism. While walking through modern(ish) life and it's problems. If nothing else a really good story and way of writing. From my perspective anway.
    Jeffrey
  • DandelionDandelion Veteran London Veteran
    'The Land of Far Beyond', by Enid Blyton.

    Copied and posted from this site: http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/book-details.php?id=358 I quote "The Land of Far-Beyond is loosely modelled on John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678). Both are allegories, or narratives with a moral meaning. They revolve around a journey that is spiritual as well as physical — a journey from sin to salvation."

    It's very beautiful :)
  • rohitrohit Veteran Maharrashtra Veteran
    Rich Dad Poor Dad - by Robert Kiyosaki
  • DandelionDandelion Veteran London Veteran
    edited December 2013
    zenmyste said:

    Not a book, but last year i came across a Koan that completely spoke to me and changed my life..All my worries in life just melted away 'right there and then' and still to this day i feel a changed content happy man!

    The Koan was;

    Two sisters crossed the road, which is the older sister??

    I still smile whenever I read it!

    Arrrggghhh KOANS!!!!

    My head is going 'who knows, the older sister is the one that was born first, regardless of who crossed the road first' haha
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran Veteran
    My mind says "Why does it matter which is older? Oh, right, it doesn't."
    Dandelion
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    If you're ever feeling a bit sorry for yourself, this is a book which will put things into perspective:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cruel_Sea_(novel)
  • "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle
    "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran Veteran
    Self-Compassion - A Healthier Way Of Relating To Yourself by Kristin Neff. A book that teaches people to begin caring for themselves. This book was very transformative for me and my work. People do not seem to be aware how they treat themselves with contempt, and this, in turn makes them depressed, angry or self-destructive. It shakes you up and shows you that the lies we have been raised with are at the root of our own demise.
    MaryAnneDandelion
  • JosephWJosephW Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2014
    Buddha Walks Into A Bar and Dharma Road did it for me, I was convinced....

    No really though those are cool books but... the book that I read that I really enjoyed was

    TNH - The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

    He is a really good author, a very valuable book to me, $15 was a steal for a book that changed my life.
    Jeffrey
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