Are Spirtiual Books any good?

The most recent one I was recommended was “the power of now” by Tolle. It was recommended by a friend of mine who is a therapist with a phd in psychology (forgot the exact branch) and told be to give it a read, similar to how people tell one to read the Bible.

A red flag at the beginning when the author tells you not to read with the mind (I guess not to think about the material) and take in the information as though you have always known.

Finishing the book it was hard to stomach all the claims being made as though they were truth. But the book has sold 5 million copies and has been featured on Oprah. Does that mean it’s good even if you get nothing out of it?

Has anyone read this book or similar ones? What do you think?

Thread relocated to Cafe Society from IMHO.

My mistake

I read* The Little Prince* and enjoyed it. I told a friend, he laughed and said it was for children.

There are many good reasons to suppose that notions of the spirit* et al *are woo (woo-hoo). Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a book (or even take a lot from it).

It’s just that they like to use experience as a measurement and that’s kind of flawed.

Much of my spiritual growth has been from L. Frank Baum’s Oz books.

I would really like to see you elaborate on this (or link to where you’ve already done so).

And not because I doubt you. I totally agree that the books that are most conducive to spiritual growth need not be “spiritual books.”

The fact that it was featured on Oprah would be a red flag for me.

I have a dear friend with whom I do not see eye to eye on a number of things. She’s still one of my favorite people, but she’s in into a lot of pop psychology stuff, especially anything involving your inner child, so I sympathize with a friend recommending something that you personally find to be crap. It happens. And the book may well be crap. Pleasing a large portion of the general population, or Oprah Winfrey, are not necessarily great accomplishments. If you told me it had won a Pulitzer, and you were scratching your head over why, I might tell you to look up some reviews, and give it another chance.

I’ve also had people recommend Jewish renewal books to me, and I don’t “get” them. I get more out of reading Jewish history, or A Guide to Jewish Observance than renewal stuff. I’m also lukewarm on Martin Buber.

Well I don’t know much about Oprah, I assume it’s something good.

But it also was a New York Times #1 seller and endorsed by Deepak Chopra

More red flags.

Can you explain that to me? I’ve been under the impression that being a New York Times best seeker is a good thing.

Years back, a friend of mine (male) insisted I needed to read, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” I might have read ten pages. Useless.

Suspect the poster meant that “endorsed by Deepak Chopra” raised the red flags

Richard Bach is good, but I’d say he’s more a philosopher than a spiritualist.

I’ve only read One and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but they were both good.

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

Unusual in that it is a book on spirituality written by a prominent atheist and neuroscientist. Highly recommended if you are interested in exploring spiritual ideas from a rational perspective.

I always thought that Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah is Bach’s best book. Probably because I liked the Messiah’s explanation of how the world works.

The Power of Now’s foundation is built on the concept of being present in the moment. This concept is baked into the most ancient of Human “enlightenment-seeking” traditions. It is currently part of scientific analysis about the “Flow” mindstate, statistical analysis of the Hot Hand when someone is in the zone, and other applications. There are fMRI scans of jazz pianists improvising to capture that in-the-moment state of an improvising jazzcat.

So the first question is: do you notice and care about that “in the zone” feeling? Second question would be: Do you see value in using that mindstate for spiritual inquiry, or simply as a cool byproduct of being very focused on something and letting go of the concerns of your day? Both are valid.

Tolle places that in the zone feeling at the center of his approach and points it at enlightenment-seeking. If you don’t care or agree with either of these, it’s a non-starter. I read the book and “get” it, but I come at idea of being present from other lines of inquiry. The fact that Oprah and Chopra dig it just means it is packaged for broad consumption. Even woo-pitchers like them can’t really fuck with a fundamental human mindstate.

It used to be. Anymore, it means it was a default selection from the Book-of-the-month club, and a lot of people forgot to send in their slips, or go to the website and uncheck their names, that month.

Being a #1 doesn’t mean people are reading it, or even choosing to buy it. It’s actually more impressive to be 7 or 8 on the bestseller list. Those are the ones people read or heard about and went searching for.

That’s funny, because when I read it I found out it had nothing to do with the flow mindset. It came more as like a dogma, asking you to swallow things that aren’t true and telling you not to question the entire book. All he has is his alleged awakening which falls in the category of questionable. I doubt any of that really happened. I even doubt the existence of flow to be honest. Things like that with no evidence seem off.

Here’s a description/summary of The Power of Now, excerpted from 50 Spiritual Classics.