The 16 Best Books on Spiritual Enlightenment (2020)

Stack of the best books on spiritual enlightenment, with bust of Buddha behind.

Best Spiritual Books for Your Journey to Spiritual Enlightenment

Learning about spirituality is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It helps you to free yourself from the shackles of a monotonous and mediocre existence into a flourishing, compassionate, fulfilling life full of love.

But spirituality is not a subject that you can tackle by yourself.

Studying spirituality means devouring all the books on the subject you can potentially find. This list below is of the absolute best spiritual books you can read in 2020.

What is Spirituality

Christina Puchalski, MD, says that spirituality is the “aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”

Often, spirituality is about freeing yourself from society’s harsh judgments and your own limiting beliefs. Spirituality can help you understand the world, understand yourself, and develop compassion for everyone around you.

And spirituality is a human concept and is studied around the world, and I do believe that it’s important to consume spiritual literature from a variety of places around the world to offer different perspectives (and yet, it’s amazing how similar many of the concepts are).

Many people find connectedness to their environment by meditating, through giving to charity, writing, art, or by learning about themselves.

Personally, I love learning as much as I can about the history of spirituality and religions, psychology, emotions, and science. Through my own spiritual journey, I find that I desire peace and balance, both for myself and for others.

As a frequent consumer of spiritualistic literature, I also find it important to read books that allow to discover how you feel, not tell you how to feel. One side effect of these discoveries may provide “relief from so much unhappiness” (The Power of Meditation).

Whether you’re looking for best spiritual books for beginners, best books on meditation and spiritual, books like Untethered Soul (on this list!), or the best books on religion and spirituality, you’ll find something on this list to get you started!

What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

Spiritual enlightenment is a difficult concept to define. In essence, spiritual enlightenment or “spiritual awakening” is defined by a consistent awareness of the world, emotions, and motivations. And in this profound understanding, you feel nothing but love in return.

Sri Avinash describes this feeling as a complete lack of being disturbed by anything. When the things that used to upset or irk you, no longer do, because you’ve reached a higher level of understanding, this is how you have reached spiritual enlightenment.

(By the way, in the Buddhist tradition, the word “love” literally means “understanding”.)

How to choose between these best books for Spiritual Enlightenment

There are 16 books in this list, and they are all different areas or subgenres, including general (for beginners), meditation-focused, religion-focused, and advanced studies. Even within those different topics, the readers of these books might have different needs.

Start by brainstorming a list of what you’re looking to get from the book you read (this is especially important if you are a beginner!) Are you:

  • hoping for inner peace?
  • looking for a more fulfilling life?
  • want to try meditation?
  • hoping to learn more about religions?
  • want to further your spiritual development?
  • looking for nirvana?

These are going to make a difference as to what book you decide to pick up.

Next, continue by reading through the descriptions of the best spiritual books and see what matches your particular needs. You may have a book that resonates with you.

Check out the Amazon descriptions and reviews. There were books that I excluded from this list based on reviews that mentioned close-mindedness from the author. Similarly, there may be a review or description that turns you off.

Narrow your list down and dive in.

There’s no wrong way to pick a book, but go with your intuition–it won’t steer you wrong!

Are you ready to start your spiritual journey toward spiritual enlightenment? Let’s start reading, shall we?!

Best Spiritual Books for Beginners

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams, Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra is a spiritual guru and has been featured on Oprah… chances are, you know him already! He’s an author and alternative healing advocate.

Feeling connected to our environment, slowing down, and observing our own energy can help us reach our true potential. Chopra encourages you to practice defenselessness, letting go of attachments, allowing your money to flow, and making conscious life choices, among others when seeking spiritual enlightenment.

The great thing, he shares with us, is that our spiritual enlightenment can manifest as happiness, success, and living your best life.

Where in the World: Indian-American
Best Part: Excellent first introduction to spirituality

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz

Toltec were people who lived in Mexico before the Aztecs, and they had many teachings on spirituality. The Four Agreements focuses on applying their ideas to our modern lives to reach our own dreams and breaking free of the societal norms that push us (and our dreams) down.

This book is simplistic and can be a little repetitive, but can you blame the authors? They are attempting to help adults break free of their limiting beliefs imposed on us by society, which has been shaping us into submission since we are born.

Learn about the 4 Agreements that you make with yourself to break free from the societal dream. I won’t share what the 4 Agreements are, but believe me, you’ll reach a higher state of self and enlightened spirituality by reading this book!

Where in the World: Mexico
Best Part: For those who wish to free themselves of the constraints and expectations of society

READ MORE:
Embrace the Simple Joys in Life and Learn to Be Present

New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle

I had read Tolle’s Power of Now a long time ago and followed it with A New Earth.

A New Earth presents the possibility that, for the first time in our planet’s history, we can lead billions of people to their spiritual journeys. He implores us to look at the current state of humanity, but also look at our potential for change. The potential is there for an overwhelming shift in consciousness to help us make a more peaceful, balanced, loving world.

As a writer, Tolle presents his concepts in a simple and easy manner. In the book, he helps lead you, the reader, to your own shift in consciousness. Unlike some self-improvement books, Tolle does not offer tasks for the reader to complete, but instead talks in terms of each person exploring their own inner and outer worlds to discover their own life’s purpose.

Where in the World: Germany
Best Part: Allows for reader exploration

The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, Mark Nepo

Like the other books in this “beginner” list, The Book of Awakening helps to break down the social world as you know it so that you can begin to move toward a more conscious existence.

The lovely thing that sets this book apart from the others is by breaking into 365 small portions that you slowly digest and meditate on each day. And it is meant to be consumed that way: slowly and intentionally, to understand the meaning of each day’s thought and spiritual awakening of the author.

Don’t purchase this one if you’re hoping a quick introduction into spirituality… instead, choose it if you would like to take your time and make spirituality a regular habit and part of your life.

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Extended study with 1 reflection each day for a year

Save some $ on Your Books

If you want any easy way to save money shopping online at all kinds of marketplaces online think about signing up for Honey.
It’s an extension that automatically find codes to apply to your order to save you money and lets you know if the item you’re looking at is a high or low price for that item.
Seriously. Saving money is awesome. The more money you save, the more best books on spiritual enlightenment you can get!

The Best Books on Religion and Spirituality

Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh

Although this could be classified as a religious book, it primarily focuses on the spiritual components of Buddhist and Christian teachings, and the similarities in them.

However, keep in mind that this book is not Christian or Buddhist although Hanh is Buddhist himself. When Hanh speaks of Christianity, it is not about the methodology, the rituals, the dogma, or any of the practices of Christianity the religion. Hanh quotes Jesus Christ and his disciples directly, and even uses the lesser known Gnostic Gospels from which to draw information. Historically, this book is very interesting.

If you are a Christian, you might be a little wary of this book–don’t! Hanh’s goal is to discuss the similarities of the two religions, not to make you convert to Buddhism or to make you question your beliefs. He is very sensitive and factual, and with the turn of each page, I was pleasantly surprised. Inspirational and refreshing!

Where in the World: Vietnam
Best Part: Positive and sensitive comparison of Christ and Buddha

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, Sam Harris

Sam Harris is an uber-atheist.

I want to get that out there before I throw you into this one headfirst. Because it is important to examine how we look at spirituality in terms of religion, and how they exist separate of each other.

Waking Up brings a new and fresh perspective on consciousness, meditation, and spirituality through science and logic. (The author is a neuroscientist.) He speaks about meditation, but this is not a how-to guide on non-religious meditation. An intriguing read for those who are interested in religion and how it may (or may not) be spiritual in nature.

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Non-religious perspective

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Rick Hanson

Similar to Sam Harris above, Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and has learned much about the brain during his time in his profession. There is a substantial amount of jargon in this book, but it’s all worthwhile because it helps to draw connections between Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy and the science of the brain.

It’s very intense stuff, but when thoroughly processed, can help lead you to inner peace, help you release your stress and anxiety, and learn to focus your mind. Rewire your brain to be more like Buddha’s!

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: In-depth look at the brain

Breathing Under Water : Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, Richard Rohr

This is an astounding combination of concepts. Richard Rohr takes the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and transforms them into a spiritual journey as a Christian.

There are people drowning in addiction who may not even know it. Are you addicted to work? Addicted to your beliefs and convictions? Addicted to judging others? Breathing Under Water can help you connect with God, free yourself from your addictions, and live with an intense compassion for others.

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Christian spirituality as seen through the lens of a recovering alcoholic

Tao Te Ching: A New English Version, Lao Tzu

Written by Lao Tzu, a famous Chinese teacher, philosopher, and writer that lived sometime around the 5th century BC, his Tao Te Ching is a central text of Taoism.

Taoism is all about living in harmony with “The Way”… nature, human nature, the natural flow of life. The Tao Te Ching is a poem, and it’s translated from old Chinese, so it’s not an easy read. Take your time with this one, and enjoy some of the amazing quotes like:

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.

Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.

Where in the World: China
Best Part: Realizing that the human race has been studying and writing about spirituality for thousands of years (before Christ)

RELATED: The Best Affirmation Cards to Use for Meditation, Journaling, Reflection, and Empowerment

The Best Books on Meditation and Spirituality

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, Sharon Salzberg

One of my cousins recommended this book to me. Salzberg, the author, talks in the future tense: this is what you will find/discover/receive with meditation. She takes great care to make sure that the reader is willing to put in the work to get there. It begins with a brief introduction to meditation, what it is and why to try it, but quickly evolves into much more.

She focuses on the few things you will need for meditation and expands upon them–namely concentration and breath.. When your meditation derails, Salzberg has a suggestion for it. Her FAQ sections are very comprehensive and covers just about any issue you might run into when you try to meditate.

For those looking for an unobtrusive book into the spiritual world, begin within yourself, through meditation.

Where in the World: USA (Jewish)
Best Part: Excellent introduction to meditation

I’ve Been Thinking . . .: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life

Another “bite-sized” pieces kind of book, I’ve been thinking is a warm and uplifting book by writer Maria Shriver. With a big focus on compassion and giving to others, this book is meant to help give small bits of wisdom in a gentle and forgiving manner.

The book is broken into subjects like aging, change, love, and many more. If you’re in need of uplifting and some inspiration, this is your book. Open it with hygge in mind: a warm cup of tea, a blanket on your lap, and a piece of decadent dark chocolate.

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Written with grace, warmth, gratitude, compassion, and gifts of giving.

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul, Melody Beattie

Once again we see the spiritualistic theme of freeing your soul in Journey to the Heart. With daily reflections and meditations, this book is another that helps you develop a daily spiritual practice.

Melody Beattie has more of an agenda than the book above, with reflections that are deeper than just to motivate, but also to help you grow, connect with others, and renew your journey deep within yourself. Healing and insightful, choose this book for emotional personal growth.

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Finding a new way to live through hope and joy

Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, Dr. Joe Dispenza

This book has broadened my mind and spirit in a way that I was unprepared for. Dr. Joe Dispenza is a neuroscientist and meditation guru who uses brain research (like Rick Hanson and Sam Harris above) to show scientific evidence as to how meditation works.

His specialty is helping others with neuroplasticity (rewiring their brains) through meditation, emotions, and building new habits. This can help us build a new future for ourselves… one filled with compassion, love, and peace.

The concepts in this book (as well as his others) are definitely “out there”, but if you’re looking for a methodology to apply your spiritualist practices, this is a great one!

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Applies meditation practices to your spiritual journey.

The Best Books on Spiritual Enlightenment (Advanced)

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment, Thich Nhat Hanh

From the very start, Thich Nhat Hanh presents us with a premise: Happiness and Peace Are Possible. It seems like a grand presumption!

Through his words, he presents us with the opportunity to be the maker of our own destinies (though I’m sure he would not call it that) and mold happiness and peace out of the garbage of our past and our negative emotions.

As a Buddhist, he speaks in terms of Buddhism, but have no fear–he presents these in the most nonthreatening, gentle way possible. As in the last book, the reader is guided through meditation, though Hanh calls it “mindfulness of breath” instead.

Hanh offers explanations, stories, and analogies to help the reader open up their world to their own experiences and “suffering,” as he calls it. This is not an introductory book! You must read this book with an open mind!

Where in the World: Vietnam
Best Part: A buddhist book in nature, You Are Here can help you overcome suffering

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael A. Singer

By far the best book on this list for your spiritual journey!

This book is quite a bit more in-depth and should probably not be your first step into the world of spirituality. As someone who regularly reads spiritual books, I was surprised to find some different concepts in this one.

This book combines psychology (without all the terms and jargon) and Buddhism into a masterpiece of self-exploration. This self-exploration ends with the dissolution of the self and an embrace of all things gentle and loving towards others. Singer even admits that it may be painful to look so deeply into your psyche and soul–but that the relief, happiness and joy you experience when you get to the other side is the greatest gift you could ever give yourself.

This is truly the best book on spiritual enlightenment!

Where in the World: USA
Best Part: EVERYTHING (if you’re experienced with spirituality)

Conclusion

So what do you think? You don’t have to be a hippie or buddhist to appreciate these books, and I highly recommend Christians to read “Living Buddha, Living Christ” because of the similarities between the religions and their leaders.

These best books on spiritual enlightenment can help us not only achieve peace and relief from our suffering, but also help us build a healthier, more sustainable world.

I hope you find some spiritual development from these books and find yourself a little more connected to your fellow humans!

What are your favorite books for a spiritual journey?

Make sure you read
40 Affirmations for Patience
44 Affirmations for Spiritual Enlightenment

Best Books on Spiritual Enlightenment and Awakening (pinterest image)

16 Best Books on Spiritual Enlightenment


 

95aff27fb7b7addbe5bfad5f5ba9eaf1623db78bfae4e0c6ca