Luke Jordan

Books, books, books

Books for the Journey

I’ve always been drawn to the comtemplative and intellectual side of this-thing-we-call-yoga. My first yogic experiences stemmed not from physical but from mental ‘postures’. When I came to the physical practise, I got the impression that the intellectual curiousity that led me to yoga in the first place was considered of a secondary importance.

Later I learned of the term svadhyaya (one of the three aspects of kriya yoga in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras). This refers to, and emphasises the importance of, the idea of ‘Self-Study’or ‘Self contemplation’. This can mean both study of the Self (sva) and study done by oneself (or both together). I was encouraged to learn that Pattabhi Jois, the ‘Guru’ of Ashtanga Yoga was, like his Guru before him, an exemplary and incredibly well read scholar and, in being so, was taking part in the great (yogic) intellectual and literary history of India.

Below are a few of the books that have helped me come to my current understanding of yoga and/or spirituality in general (though increasingly less what it is and more what it is not). Each of these in their own way has provided, to a greater or lesser extent, some kind of ‘Aha’ moment. It is a fairly non-sectarian list. I don’t believe that any one tradition has a monopoly on ‘truth’ and, indeed, all may be some kind of reflection of what Huxley calls, the Perennial Philosophy. Neither do I think that one has to be a ‘believer’ or follower of any particular Guru, tradition, or practise in order to have access to what they call the ‘truth’. In the words of J. Krishnamurti, ‘belief has no place where truth is concerned’.

If I had to choose just one of these books to bring with me to my desert island it would be the Tao Te Ching (my first spiritual book) for its lightness, clarity and profound simplicity (Bhagavad Gita would be a close second). I’ve probably omitted reams of crucial tomes but this is should be enough for a start. I’ll continue to add to the list as more come to mind…

From the world of Taoism

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (Kwok, Palmer and Ramsey)

Chuang Tzu (Gia Fu Feng, Jane English)

Lieh Tzu (Eva Wong)

From the World of Islam

Omar Khayyam, The Rubaiyat

Barks, The Essential Rumi

From the World of Buddhism

The Heart Sutra

3rd Zen Patriarch, Hsing Hsing Ming

Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind

Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

Pema Chodron, Start with Where You Are

Hindu’ Scriptures

Vyasa, Bhagavad Gita (Edgerton, Zaehner, Sargeant (Mitchell)

Dattatreya, Avadhuta Gita

Anon, Ashtavakra Gita (Balsekar, A Duet of One)

Upanishads (Radakrishnan, Jacobs)

Ishvara Krishna, The Samkhya Karika

Patanjali, Yoga Sutras (Chapple, Yoga and the Luminous; Bryant; and Osho, Yoga: the Alpha and the Omega)

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Modern western teachers/teachings

Douglas Harding, On Having No Head

Anthony de Mello, Awareness

Thaddeus Golas, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment

Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Gangaji, Who Are You?

Paul Lowe, In Each Moment


RD Laing, The Politics of Experience

Wilhelm Reich, Listen Little Man

Indian Mythology

Roberto Callasso, Ka

Wilkins, Hindu Mythology

Wendy Doniger, Hindu Myths

Ramesh Menon, Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering

Ramesh Menon, Siva Purana

Academic Studies

Wendy Doniger, The Hindus

Mark Singleton, Yoga Body

Georg Feuerstein, The Yoga Tradition

Arthur Versluis, American Gurus

Fingarette, ‘Action and Suffering in the Bhagavad Gita’

Gerald Larson, Classical Samkhya

Carrette and King, Selling Spirituality

DG White, Yoga Sutras: An Autobiography

DG White, Kiss of the Yogini

Whicher & Carpenter (ed), Yoga: The Indian Tradtion (particularly the chapter by Lloyd Pfleuger)

Das Gupta, A History of India Philosophy (Might take you a while to get through this one)

Modern Eastern teachers/teachings

David Godman, Be As You Are, Teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ram Das, Be Here Now

Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That

Ramesh Balsekar, Consciousness Speaks

UG Krishnamurti, The Mystique of Enlightenment; Mind is Myth

H Poonja, Wake Up And Roar

Robert Svoboda, Aghora (1,2,3)


Hermann Hesse, Siddharta

Kahil Gibran, The Prophet

Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Fron the world of Ashtanga Yoga

KP Jois, Yoga Mala

Richard Freeman, The Mirror of Yoga

Further Inspiration

Osho, Books I Have Loved. (A more wide-ranging and passionately discussed list which contains many of the books above)