4 Books That Paved My Path To Higher Consciousness
Ever since I was a high school student, I had dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Everyone in my family and my friend circle knew this. They always encouraged me for they saw in me clear dispositions of an achiever.
After entering college, my entrepreneurial tendencies came to life. I tried my hands at many businesses, succeeding once and then shutting everything off before the pandemic.
My three years of college had one focus — to have a startup, raise money, and have your name in Forbes. So strong was my resolve that I seldom went out with friends or family. My class attendance dropped every semester till it went to 0%.
In midst of “the hustle” I came across a handful of books that changed my outlook on life, one page at a time. I started thinking — “maybe there’s more to life than having a successful company!” (duh!).
To say that these books had a serious impact on my life would be an understatement. I’d often be on my way to a meeting, read one of these books on the train, and question why am I even doing everything I do.
Apparently, these books opened the gates to a new reality — a reality that I didn’t know existed. They made me realize the true purpose of life and form the foundation of everything I am today. It’s hard to fathom how books can produce profound changes in our lives, but clearly, they do.
Without further ado, here are the 4 books that paved the path to higher consciousness and made me realize what life is all about.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
I almost didn’t put this book here, but I had to. I’ll get to that, but first here’s a little about the book (if you don’t know already).
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was arguably the most powerful man of his time. Yet, unlike men of power, he was also a great philosopher. Meditations is a series of writings that were never meant for publication, but only for Aurelius.
The book gives us a deep insight into the challenging spiritual questions and exercises that he developed in his struggle to understand himself and the world. What seemed to him as a means of personal consolation laid the foundation for the Stoic philosophy to be admired by thinkers and doers for centuries to come.
Ryan Holiday read *Meditations *100 times in 10 years to become what Stephen Marche calls a “centireader.” I might’ve read the book 2 times cover-to-cover and kept coming back to it for inspiration. It served as a great primer on Stoic philosophy and ushered me to Seneca’s and Epictetus’s writings.
During my first couple of readings, I thought, “This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for. I’m diving deep into Stoicism.” It’s no joke, after all the book has inspired world-leaders for ages. I promised myself to apply the ideas in the book religiously. I made notes and wrote about Stoicism to deepen my own understanding.
Yet, something happened a few months later that opened my eyes to an even greater understanding. Something due to which I almost didn’t include this book in my list.
What happened? I picked up Autobiography of a Yogi.
Autobiography of a Yogi
This book is a spiritual classic by Paramahansa Yogananda, a fully liberated master that taught in the west. It has inspired countless spiritual seekers throughout the world for Yogananda said, “This book has my vibrations.”
I first heard about the book while reading Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson. Back then, I was more entrepreneurial than spiritual. In fact, I was so fascinated by Jobs himself that I read his biography 5 times in 2 years.
Soon after that, I learned three facts about his life related to Autobiography of a Yogi:
He first picked it up on his spiritual quest in India and read it every year since then. That amounts to 30+ readings.
It was the only book on his iPad
He gave the book to everyone at his funeral with the message “Actualize yourself.”
Steve’s image as a business tycoon in my mind was blurred by his deeply spiritual nature that I discovered after digging through the web. The desire to read AoY was implanted in my mind.
A few days later, while rummaging through an airport book store, I found Yogananda’s photo on the cover staring at me. For a person who’s attuned, it’s not difficult to feel the power flowing from his eyes — as if he’s gazing down the depths of your soul with Divine Love.
I bought the book without a single thought after that but didn’t read it until a few months later. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for the spiritual truths that the book has to offer.
This is the time I was still falling in love with Stoicism and prioritized it above any other book. Yet, when I read AoY, I couldn’t hold the firehose of spiritual understanding that was coming through. After every few minutes, I’d stare into the distance and think about one point for a long time before coming back to the text.
Going by that process, it took me quite some time to finish the book. But it ignited a fire inside that I couldn’t extinguish even if I wanted to. Above all the book is dripping with love for God.
To pick one lesson or takeaway from the book is like trying to fit the whole ocean in a small cup. You have to experience that for yourself. I can only tell you what happened after that.
Soon after finishing the book, I went online to search for centers teaching Kriya Yoga the primary technique of Self-Realization that Yogananda mentions in the book. It’s a confidential technique taught only after training of 10 months to a year.
From the moment I stepped foot in my first meditation class, my life has flipped upside down. Kriya Yoga has transformed me in ways that are too difficult to express. It’s the single most effective tool that has propelled me to a higher state of consciousness.
After reading AoY, I found not only a philosophy but an understanding of reality, existence, and God. The spiritual wisdom of everything mentioned in the book is far greater than any philosophy that one can find. This is why, even though Stoicism was my first attraction, I left it for good in favor of higher teaching.
Conversations with God (Book 1–4)
Suppose you could ask God the most puzzling questions about existence — about love and faith, life and death, good and evil. Suppose God provided clear, understandable answers. Seems too good to be true?
It happened with Neale Donald Walsch. As he wrote a letter to God venting his frustrations during a low point in his life, he continued writing. And out came these extraordinary answers to his questions.
You may think of it as blasphemy. That’s fine. It takes an open mind and a desire for seeking truth to read this book. It’s more than what people can usually entertain.
Some may think that God doesn’t talk to normal people. That saints and sages have a monopoly over Him. In reality, God is talking to you right now. He is whispering. But we’re too engrossed in the loudness of our material reality to notice Him.
God is not a white-bearded man sitting in the clouds. He’s SatChitAnanda. And he “talks” through us using thoughts and feelings. He didn’t stop talking 2000 years ago. As the book says,
“I talk to everyone. All the time. The question is not to whom do I talk, but who listens?”
And then He continues,
“My most common form of communication is through feeling. Feeling is the language of the soul. “I also communicate with thought…. In addition to feelings and thoughts, I also use the vehicle of experience as a grand communicator. “And finally, when feelings and thoughts and experience all fail, I use words.”
All that I’ve learned about God makes me certain that such a thing could easily happen. That it’s no big deal God decided to choose a Neale as an instrument to get His thoughts out to the world. The sheer power behind the ideas in this book makes you wonder if all this can come from an imposter or a blasphemer.
The brilliance of this book comes from the fact that Neale is relatable beyond measure. He, like us, has life’s problems and asks them to God in the most candid manner. And when God replies, it’s that much more powerful.
From all the books on this list, this might be the best one to get started with. It will clear most doubts around everything that plagues our existence. The only requirement? An open mind and heart, limitless curiosity, and a desire to find Truth.
The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita
The essence of the Bhagavad Gita is written by Yogananda’s disciple, Swami Kriyananda. When Yogananda was writing his commentaries on the Gita, he needed help with editing. He told Kriyananda,
“I asked the Divine Mother whom I should take out with me with editing, and your face, Walter (previous name of Swami Kriyananda), appeared. To make extra sure, I asked Her twice more, and each time your face appeared. That’s why I am taking you.”
Kriyananda was the one chosen by his guru to edit his Gita commentaries. Many years later, Kriyananda reconciles his guru’s commentaries in the book The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.
One of the most fascinating things about this book is that Yogananda predicted millions will find God through these commentaries.
Another esoteric point of interest here is Yogananda (being a fully liberated soul) himself was Arjuna (a character in the Gita) in one of his previous incarnations. This makes it even more compelling to read.
I’m not a scholar or someone who’s read multiple commentaries on the Gita. But I can tell you with confidence that this book will help you understand the nature of our existence more than anything else.
Bhagavad Gita literally means “The song of the Lord” and Yogananda’s commentaries on the Gita help us hear the Melodies of the Divine with great vibrancy.
The Gita is a dialogue between the warrior-prince Arjuna and the god Krishna who is serving as his charioteer at the Battle of Kurukshetra fought between Arjuna’s family and allies (the Pandavas) and those of the prince Duryodhana and his family (the Kauravas) and their allies.
This dialogue is a timeless pool of wisdom in which you can bathe 100 times and still come out with a new insight every time. It beautifully explains the science of God-realisation and is one of the most prescriptive scriptures in the world.
If I ever read a book a hundred times, it’s going to be this one — for no other book contains the wisdom it does.
The wonderful thing about books is that you never know which one is going to change your life. You might just end up picking one that will disrupt your life and point you into the direction you were meant to be.
Rest assured, if you read these books (and *digest *them) they will uplift your consciousness and you’ll be one step closer to realizing your true potential.
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