It’s also worth noting some of the books that have made a significant impact on me. The books I recommend most often.
Journey of Souls, Michael Newton
I discovered this book when I was living in the US in the late 90s and have just re-read it for a discussion group. It describes what happens to us between death and birth—a fascinating narrative drawn from case studies of people in deep hypnosis.
This wasn’t the first book on reincarnation I’d read, but was by far the most reassuring. Growing up in England, I had adopted the Judeo-Christian idea that we live once and are then judged to have won or lost the game. The punishment: paradise or damnation. It’s a lot of pressure for someone like me.
What Journey of Souls gave me was an authoritative account of what really happens when we die. Here, I read some things I had previously thought and others that resonated with “truth”. It was a great relief to learn that I can completely mess up my life without any disastrous consequences. Far from opening the door to a life of hedonistic or cruel behaviour, the effect on me was to take the performance anxiety away and let me put this life in the context of a long and positive journey.
There are other major lessons here, such as the news that you choose your family, friends, life challenges and a whole lot more. Michael’s second book, Destiny of souls, is also worth reading.
Children’s past lives, Carol Bowman
Many years ago, I saw this documentary about an Indian boy who remembered a recent past life. While trying to find it, I came across Carol’s book, which contains his and other stories.
When we incarnate on this planet, we agree to forget everything we know as spirit (I’ve seen this called conscious amnesia). This is to help us work on the issues we have decided to focus on, for our own spiritual development. Sometimes, however, children remember previous incarnations enough to talk about them. Carol’s book describes a number of these cases and I found it credible.
Her second book, Return from heaven, describes cases where people incarnate back into the same biological family. It confirms some of what is described in Journey of Souls and, if you’re like me, you will never allow the expression “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family” to go without comment again. (If only mentally.)
Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch
I came across Book 1 in the late 90s. After reading a few pages, I hit something that made me put it down quickly (I was triggered, in today’s language). Two weeks later, I picked it up again and read it from cover to cover. It changed my outlook on life positively and completely.
If you haven’t heard of it, this is a dialogue between Neale and God, often in question and answer format. I find it credible. I love it. I have bought it and given it away many times and consider it one of the most influential books I have ever read.
As with Journey of Souls, I found it a relief to read what I had only thought before. The whole series of books (a trilogy that kept going), covers a huge range of subjects about life on this planet. It is a book I had been waiting for—a contemporary piece of spiritual literature from God as She is today, rather than as He was thousands of years ago. It evolves. We are part of that evolution. It makes little sense to treat old reference books as gospel. (In fact, all reference books can be dismissed as soon as written or read. Consciousness evolves that quickly.)
Book 2 was, for me, equally wonderful.
Autobiography of a yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda
Skipping 20 years, during which I had a Big Relationship and children, the next book to blow my head off was this.
Written during the first part of the 20th Century, the book tells the story of Yogananda, from his slightly ethereal childhood to his mission to bring yoga to the West. The chief effect it had on me was to remind me that miracles happen. That we do, indeed, live in a world where there is more going on than meets the eye.
I have only read it once so far, but it awoke a part of me that had been dormant for 30 years. The part of me that was excited by the charismatic Christianity I dabbled with in my late teens. Nothing less than a connection with God. Not the God of stained glass windows and painted ceilings. The God who is so big that everything is contained within It.
To illustrate, I’ll use something I remember from Conversations with God. The most satisfying description of the Big Bang I have come across so far. From memory, God says this: Before there was the universe, there was just Me. But in order to experience what it was to be Me, I divided Myself and, in one part of Me, I created the universe.
Mind blown? Mine was.
One of the many remarkable passages in Autobiography is where Yogananda describes an encounter with his guru, after his guru had died. His guru tells him that he has stopped incarnating on Earth and has, instead, gone to the next level of planet. From memory again, it seems that Earth is a place where we present ourselves with a series of challenges to overcome (this takes hundreds of human lifetimes—each). When we graduate, we go to a more advanced level of planet and the evolutionary process continues. We all get there. That is our journey.
If you feel disheartened by this, it’s because you haven’t fully grasped that this is an experience we have chosen. Willingly. Excitedly. Joyously.
The power of now, Eckhart Tolle
I was given this book at the same time as Autobiography, and it has had the greatest impact of any book I have ever read. I immediately bought other copies and gave them to people who are important to me. (They remain unread. But that’s OK. Once you read and understand this book, everything is OK.)
I don’t know if you need to be in crisis to get the most out of this book. You tell me. Many people will think it says nothing, or that it’s gibberish. And that’s fine. They will understand when they are ready. I would love everyone to read it, understand it (and the following, brilliant book, A New Earth), and join together to start repairing this planet from the damage our species has inflicted on it over the last few thousand years. But that just shows my impatience.
There are many, many more books I’d like to bring to your attention. The Magus of Strovolos, The Prophet, Siddhartha, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, the Tao Te Ching and more. You will find the ones you need when you need them. And as always, feel free to add your own books of significance in the comments section…