Reading is a very important practice. It is the greatest form of connection to ideas and thoughts formed miles, hours, and millennia before. Think about the words you’re reading now. Can you imagine what I am doing while I write this? Where am I writing this? What motivated me?
Reading is very important for self-development. It can change your life if you pick up the right kinds of books. If you apply the knowledge you gain from reading, you can make breakthroughs.
One of the most common attributes of highly successful people (Oprah, Gates, Gandhi) is that they all read. Incessantly. And books have changed my life, and that’s why I’d like to share my top 3 with you.
by Swami Rama
The Art Of Joyful Living is a wonderful book that encourages every human being to take responsibility for making their lives a happy experience. Once humans experience happiness, they can share it just by being. The book is a beacon of optimism. It changed how I looked at the world and I always go back to the book whenever I feel negative or down about myself or the world. I get inspired whenever I pick up this book. It almost feels like Swami Rama is speaking to me. He speaks philosophy to me in the most simple and understandable way. Swami Rama’s voice jumps out of the book and reminds me with love to be inspired in my duty. Here is my favorite excerpt from the book:
“Your culture teaches you to smile at others, but such smiles are only momentary and do not reflect your real feelings. Actually, there should be a perennial and real smile on your face all the time. To achieve that, you should have a clear concept of the meaning of life, and the philosophy of life. Then, you will start to live on a deeper level, and will begin to enjoy your life. When you understand your real responsibility in life, you’ll know that every human being is responsible to make his life happy, and then to emanate that happiness to others.”
-Swami Rama in The Art of Joyful Living
By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
My next favorite book is The Secret of the Yoga Sutra. This book was given to me as a gift by one of my favorite teachers and it has been a Godsend. It speaks directly to my soul. Right from the first chapter, I was hooked. Here’s what got my attention:
“Discovering who you are is life’s purpose. Fulfilling this purpose is life’s greatest achievement.”
Something inside of me shifted on its axis when I first read this. The intro to this book:
“Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is firmly rooted in the insight and experience of the sages: A human being is an island of excellence. We are born to excel. We are surrounded—from every direction and in every respect—by the intrinsic power and creativity of the Divine. Our core is Pure Consciousness; luminosity is our essential nature. Our most distinctive attribute is our ability to know our own essence—our own intrinsic divinity. Life is a priceless gift, for life endows us with everything we need to experience our grandeur. Discovering the intrinsic divinity at our core is the highest achievement; dying without experiencing it is the greatest loss.”
That got me going like nothing has before. I immediately fell in love with this incredible interpretation of the yoga sutra. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait does an incredible duty by translating Patanjali’s text in such a way that is both poetic and honest to the mission of the sutra. Students of yoga and philosophy can look to this text for all kinds of inspiration. This is a beautiful rendering of Sankhya Yoga, and it also does justice to the ideas of Ayurveda. I was fascinated by the discussion in the book. Whenever I teach my Yoga Immersions, I go back to this book and share the beautiful interpretations with my students. It is a great gift to give my students. Their eyes pop open when we are able to connect our modern lives with the way Pandit translates the Yoga Sutra. The dimensions of yoga open up while you read this book. It’s truly a roadmap to higher levels of consciousness and I recommend it to anyone that begins the journey into yoga and self-realization.
One of the other reasons why I love this book so much is because of how easy it is to read. So many of these “Sutra” books are too deep to follow. But PRT brings the ideas and philosophy down to a level that is easy to follow.
In his introduction, he ends,
“The message of Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra is simple and straightforward: Remove the veil of darkness and allow your intrinsic luminosity to illuminate both your inner and outer worlds. Be free here and now, and experience your everlasting, self-luminous joy. The goal of Yoga is nothing less than that. In this light, I present this commentary to you.”
by Swami Rama
My 3rd favorite book, which was very hard to decide on, is Living with the Himalayan Masters. This is a compilation of stories put together that elucidate the beauty of gurus and what we can learn on the spiritual path. It is a practical journey into what possibilities lie ahead on the yogic path. This is one of the spiritual classics of all time, in my opinion. Each page is filled with real experiences and blunt representations of the spiritual journey. This book inspired my own book. I knew I wanted to be honest about my journey because the honesty in this book was so inspiring. Every time I read a story from this book, I learn new things. I often use it in Yoga Immersions and the stories are great sounding boards for lessons we need in all of our lives. Sometimes, if I pick up the book at random and skip to a page, the story will be a perfect lesson for what I’m going through in my personal life. This is the sign of a truly powerful book.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it inspires mystical experiences. It reminds us that if we practice diligently, if we are humble in our experience, we can experience incredible miracles. Maybe the miracles are already around us, but we can notice them with clarity. This book has changed my life in this way. I’m inspired to practice hard. I’m inspired to follow in the footsteps of great Himalayan masters and unlock the secrets of the universe. I am inspired to share these mystical practices with my students and others who are hungry for a deeper and more meaningful human experience. Living with the Himalayan Masters is much more than a book, it is a virtual reality experience of immense magnitude. It is the epitome of a spiritual master’s journey.
I have listed 3 great books, my favorite as of now. I recommend you check them out. Whether you do or not, I recommend you diversify your reading. The more diverse your reading, the broader your perspective. Think about it. With a bigger and wider perspective, you are able to think bigger. Your ability to connect to more people increases. The neuroplasticity of your brain increases. You will inevitably be more inspired and you will live a much richer life.
Even though I wrote this book, I honestly love to read it. (Does that sound narcissistic? Probably) But honestly it is a good read. Don’t believe me? Check out the Amazon Reviews.
Thanks here have been a few accomplishments I am really proud of. One of them is in writing the story of my life, “Autobiography Of A Naked Yogi.”
As I was writing it, I was continuously amazed. Did these things really happen to me?
I remember thinking to myself as a child how ordinary my life was, that there was nothing spectacular about me. I saw myself as a regular kid growing up in a regular home, dreaming of a regular life. I’m not sure when I realized this wasn’t the case, that my existence was not going to be “normal.” Yet somewhere along the way it dawned on me: my life was to be different.
I believe in my heart and with every fiber of my being that each of us is extraordinary, here on earth to fulfill a unique purpose. All of us experience struggles, pain and sorrow–and hopefully joy in equal measure. What we do with it all–the good and the bad–becomes our story.
This story will truly inspire you to become more open to what the universe of infinite possibilities has in story for you.
What is your favorite book? I’d love to check it out.