We are told so often in our lives that the quest is more important than the destination. “Life is a journey,” after all. But we hear these words so often that this piece of wisdom can become meaningless. Our cynicism takes over and any lofty insights that might be gleaned from such a phrase are lost.
But the truth is, life is a journey. We pick up pieces of knowledge as we go and hopefully we’re able to find some meaning along the path.
These pieces of knowledge can come in all shapes and sizes, from inspiring teachers to profound works of art. For many people who find themselves on a spiritual journey, books can be a great guide.
But there are so many tomes purporting to hold the true secrets to life and spirituality that it can be extremely difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff – to use another cliche. So, with that in mind, here’s a primer on some of the best reads about spiritual journeys to help inspire the novice seekers of the world.
Life of Pi is a philosophical treatise wrapped in an adventure story. Author Yann Martel tells the story of “Pi” Patel, an Indian Tamil boy who, after a shipwreck, is stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
As Pi struggles to survive, an uneasy truce is struck with the tiger. All the while, Martel explores questions about truth, subjectivity, and growth through adversity.
In the summer of 2006, the book’s author traveled to a Shambhala-like secret valley deep in the Himalayan Mountains. There, he lived with a reclusive group who continue to practice some of the planet’s oldest spiritual truths.
Himadra takes us on a journey of one-in-a-lifetime experiences and conversations in a chronological account of his visit. In doing so, he provides insight into a body of knowledge that has long thought to have been lost to this world.
This modern-day Socratic dialogue comes in the form of a conversation between the 14th Dalai Lama and psychiatrist Howard Cutler. Cutler’s writing not only delves into the Dalai Lama’s thoughts but provides important cultural and location context for their conversations.
The Dalai Lama’s philosophy circles around the idea that the purpose of life is happiness, which can be achieved – at least in part – through careful training of the heart and mind.
This 2006 memoir follows the author as she sets out to explore the world following her divorce.
The book serves as a meditation on the balance between worldly pleasures, spiritual devotion, and purpose in life. Gilbert’s book follows the spiritual journey of someone in deep pain as they journey toward understanding and love. This book has resonated with readers, remaining on the New York Times Best Seller List for 187 weeks. It was eventually made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.