At some point in our journey of life, some of us start questioning the validity of living the way we do. We become aware of being caught up in the cycle of struggle, unhappiness, anxiety, and constant seeking of some end or another, prompting us to seek a different way of living. For those interested in exploring a new way of living, we bring you five must-read books for a fresh, new start to the new year.
Born in 1895 in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, Jiddu Krishnamurti was chosen as the world teacher by the Theosophical Society. After being groomed for more than 15 years, he walked alone saying that ‘Truth is a pathless land’. For the next five decades till he died in 1986, he gave talks, held dialogues with eminent personalities as well as with people from different walks of life. He also wrote in a style unique to himself. There are over a hundred of his books and more than a thousand videos which explore the human condition. The Book of Life is a great way to ease into his teachings, with 365 quotations for each day of the year that shed light on themes of living that each one of us can relate to. Themes such as relationship, insecurity, success, ambition, sex, and love. Just the book to begin the new year with.
Ramana Maharshi’s story is a rare happening. He was 16, when he was suddenly and inexplicably gripped by the fear of death. Instead of seeking a release from the fear, he faced it head-on. His enquiry into who was really dying revealed the ultimate truth that who he was, was deathless. He then had a vision to go to Arunachala, the sacred mountain in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. He lived on and at the base of the mountain for the rest of his life until his death. People from all the over world came to rest in his powerful and serene presence as well as to seek answers to their questions on living. He taught the way of self-enquiry with a simple question, ‘Who am I?’ David Godman’s Be As You Are – The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi presents the teachings in a simple and direct way. In fact, David Godman’s introduction to every chapter in the book is as enlightening as the teachings themselves. If there is one book on Ramana Maharshi that you should read, it is this one.
In the 1970s, in a crowded locality of Girgaum, Bombay, holding forth in a small mezzanine floor, one of the great masters gave talks and answered questions from people who came from all over the world. Nisargadatta Maharaj was a pure advaitin like Ramana and Krishnamurti. He challenged the perspectives of anyone in a direct and hard-hitting manner. His teachings pointed out to one the one reality that is: That who we essentially are is that which pervades everything. He spoke in Marathi and his talks and question answers were translated by Maurice Frydman in English and were published as I Am That. It is a classic that is not to be missed.
A potter by profession, Rupert Spira is a living master who teaches the way of non-dualism or advaita out of Europe and the USA. He has the rare gift of language that communicates, very simply, complex non-dual understanding. His answers to specific questions from people seeking a way out of their suffering and pain are filled with compassion and a depth that is immediately healing. Being Aware of Being Aware is a compilation of guided meditations that he has given at retreats and meetings. It is a modern-day primer for those firmly on the inward-facing path.
Eckhart Tolle is a living spiritual master who, by his own admission, teaches a way that brings together what Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi taught. In 1977, at the age of 29, after long bouts of depression, he had an awakening and an inner transformation that dissolved the mind-made separate self. From then on he counseled and taught the way of a state of just ‘beingness’ and the power of Presence. In 1997, The Power of Now was published and after a recommendation by Oprah Winfrey, it became one of the most sought-after books on spirituality. For those seeking to heal their troubled life, this book will be an excellent guide.