Books to Reveal Reality
There might be a thousand books that I could list here, and a thousand others could be equally good choices. It really only takes one. But over the years there are a few handfuls that remain consistent as my anchors in reality.. the books and people that really solidified my beliefs and filled in the gaps in my knowledge. This was my journey towards understanding and awareness of what reality really is, and why we are here.
Science vs Religion vs Philosophy
In general, it can be said that humanity has struggled with at least three different ways of trying to understand reality, and has struggled to reconcile those different perspectives. Even within each discipline (science, religion, philosophy), there is endless disagreement. But the truth is… the reality is… that they can all be unified (to an extent). Certainly many perspectives are incorrect. And others were once correct and have been distorted and twisted over time. I won’t argue here, but I do explain in my blogpost on reality who is right, and who is wrong. This is just my personal book list.
In summary, Plato was right, Neils Bohr was right, ancient Chinese, Indian, and indigenous cultures were right; Einstein, Aristotle, Descartes, were wrong, and all religions are correct… if you distill them down to their common principles. Watch my short video on ‘reality‘ too.
Of course there are endless fine points to debate, but they are not really relevant to the big picture. The big picture is this: Everything is connected in a very holistic and indivisible way, and everything in our world is manifested from an ultimate ‘non-local’ reality that is incomprehensible… or from heaven or spirit or whatever word your belief system uses. Once you truly understand these things, you will have access to abilities that are beyond most beliefs. Science shows the way, but it must turn to philosophy and religion to understand it’s own implications.
- The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra. I have to start with this one, as Fritjof Capra was the first one to unite all my previous fragmented beliefs. I was already a science geek as a child, which lead me away from religion, and even questioning the existence of God at one point during my teen years. But I was also heavily into Eastern philosophies such as Taoism and Buddhism, and indigenous shamanistic practices. I was not able to reconcile the science, religion, and philosophy until I read this book when I was twenty one years old. It was absolutely profound and joyous for me, and introduced me to so many great thinkers. I was fortunate to be working with a physicist at the time, Lester, who introduced me to this book. This book is a tough read if you are not a science geek, but you don’t need to grasp the mathematics to grasp the narrative. From Fritjof Capra’s site: “Challenges much of conventional wisdom by demonstrating striking parallels between ancient mystical traditions and the discoveries of 20th century physics. Originally published by a small publisher with no budget for promotion, the book became an underground bestseller by word of mouth before it was picked up by a major American publishing house. Since then, The Tao of Physics has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages.“
- Perhaps an even better starting book, which is also a fantastic historical insight, is “Physics and Philosophy” by Werner Heisenberg. I believe that everyone should read Heinenberg’s book, as it is quite short and easy to read. Heisenberg is one of the main contributors to the original Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics, which remains the gold standard. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is one of the pillars upon which Quantum Physics was founded.
- A gentler introduction to many of the core concepts from the ‘Tao of Physics’ can be found in books like ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters” by Gary Zukav which I also loved, and the “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig; although that one is quite a different path to similar principles. I would save these for later reading.
- The Turning Point, by Fritjof Capra. This book is much easier to read than the Tao of Physics, and it is filled with optimism and hope, as it shows you that ‘The Turning Point’ in human awareness is upon us. It continues on the themes established in the Tao of Physics, but is much more accessible. This book reignited my passions for psychology, sociology, biology, and even economics, as it introduced me to new heroes in each of those fields. From Capra’s own website: “Expands focus to show how the revolution in modern physics foreshadows a similar revolution in many other sciences and a corresponding transformation of world views and values in society. In particular, he explores paradigm shifts in biology, medicine, psychology, and economics. The book has been published in 25 editions in 16 languages.“
- Uncommon Wisdom, by Fritjof Capra. This is arguably my favorite book ever, as the dialogues between many of my heroes and greatest influencers are beautifully presented in this book. From Capra’s website: “Describes dialogues and personal encounters between himself and the thinkers who helped shape the theme of The Turning Point.”
- Belonging to the Universe, by Fritjof Capra, Co-authored with Brother David Steindl-Rast. If everything is connected and holistic, how and why do you choose one path, one discipline, one worldview? I love how this book validates religion in the face of science, whether or not the ideologies are in perfect alignment. Capra uses his own personal family choices to highlight how and why he chose one religion while believing in many. “Explores parallels between new ways of thinking in science and Christian theology.”
- Morphic Resonance, by Rupert Sheldrake. His work was ridiculed when it emerged about forty years ago, and remains controversial. Yet, then, as now, it rings true to me, and has become increasingly important as Quantum Physics sheds more light on it. Perhaps the greatest biological discovery of our time, or all time. The evidence continues to prove his work is indeed profound.
- The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton. He has a lot of great books, but this is one of the shortest and most concise ways to get a very simple and powerful point across: You are what you believe. From Lipton’s website: “He shows that our beliefs, true or false, positive or negative, affect genetic activity and actually alter our genetic code. Dr. Lipton’s profoundly hopeful work, being hailed as one of the major breakthroughs in the New Sciences, shows how we can retrain our consciousness to create healthy beliefs, and by doing so create a profoundly positive effect on our bodies and our lives.“
- The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness, by Stanislav Grof. I fell in love with his work, and psychology and sociology, when Fritjof Capra introduced me to him in the books above. His work continues to illuminate decades later.
- The Emotion Code, by Dr. Bradley Nelson. This book is a manual to help you tap into some powerful tools… to tap into your subconscious. It is both new and unique, and yet founded on techniques that are ancient and proven. The book reveals so much, so I would rather leave it to the reader to discover.
- The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu. You can read an interpretation this ancient Chinese book in PDF online here. While not the sole influence, this is the book that Taoism essentially emerged from. The book is very short, and is essentially a book of mental exercises, paradoxes, koans, etc., that will push your rational mind beyond the limits of rational thinking. It is not a book to be read through, but rather a reference to be used again and again and again. It embodies the famous ‘Yin Yang‘ symbol, and vice versa.
- The I-Ching. Also known as The Book of Changes. Like ‘The Tao Te Ching,’ this is more of a tool, and is actually considered the only true oracle; a tool for divination. Spending some time to study this book can be quite revealing… not for divining the future, but rather for understanding the nature of reality. Realize that this book has been relevant for thousands of years, and how it reveals probability as a core aspect of our reality (which contradicts the Western deterministic world view). Perhaps the greatest irony and teaching of this book is the paradox that divination is futile.
- The Bhagavad Gita, Siddhattha, and other books about Buddha, Krishna, etc. are very insightful, if they suit your taste. There are many great Hindu and Buddhist texts that can help you on your journey.
- I would read almost any book on Shamanism, Zen, or even Yoga… except for much of the modern stuff that tends to drift away from the core teachings. There are too many fractures of beliefs and dogma that tend to get in the way; however, the bottom line is that these disciplines rose out of similar beliefs, and developed practices to try to keep us rooted in those beliefs. There are endless paths that lead to the same goals.
- And how about the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and so many other great Western religious texts? They are all trying to take you to the same understanding as the other books above… the understanding that there is a reality beyond your senses… beyond the physical domain of time and space.
I’m going to break up my book list into two sections. The above section really is about helping you understand what the ultimate reality is. The list below applies those same concepts and truths to our ‘local reality’ in some unexpected ways… to show us how other layers of reality that you may have overlooked…
- Lord Acton. Not a book, but a huge body of work, from which there are too many great quotes that one should be aware of. A hundred years after his death, his words continue to ring true: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority”
- Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher. A world renowned economist in his time, he had the courage and wisdom to refute the very economic practices he was often a facilitator of; and he did so with profound impact in his seminal work “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.” There is a second book…
- Small is STILL Beautiful, by Joseph Pearce – and that book is much easier to read. It is a followup written twenty five years later by another author, and it sort of like reading a case study that confirms everything Schumacher said. You could actually read that book first, as it is not a sequel or expansion. It should be noted that this second book was written with approval by E. F. Schumacher’s daughter.
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Dr. Weston A. Price. This is nothing less than the Holy Grail of nutrition. Simple and yet profound, it will open your eyes to the reality of wellness, disease, diet, and the human condition.
Which book shall I list next? Keep an eye on this post, because I will add some more over time. It is just difficult for me to decide which books I should include!