James Allen was an Englishman who retired from the business world to pursue a lifestyle of writing and contemplation. "This little volume," he wrote, "is not intended as an exhaustive study on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that they themselves are makers of themselves by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage."
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome during the second century, A.D. Legend has it that he wrote the Meditations as notes to himself during the many battle campaigns he led against invaders. Far from being warlike, the Meditations take a lofty, spiritual approach to life. The brotherhood of mankind is emphasized, and the power of a gentle, disciplined mind is extolled. The Meditations represent a school of Greek philosophy known as Stoicism – the Stoic ideals involved living a life of honesty, humility, and personal responsibility.
Sylvia Boorstein is a Buddhist teacher, an observant Jew, and a practicing psychotherapist. With her delightful, conversational books and lectures, she bridges gaps between East and West. In her work, she explains the synergies between Buddhist and Jewish faiths. Focusing on "mindfulness," Ms. Boorstein demonstrates that the principles of Judaism and Buddhism are not mutually exclusive.
David Burns, M.D. is a leader in cognitive behavioral therapy methods. He graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, and received his M.D. degree from Stanford University School of Medicine. He currently teaches at Stanford University. In his work, he shows how our thoughts and actions contribute to our feelings – and shares dozens of practical methods for changing our emotional state by shifting the way we think and act.
Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a gifted writer and speaker who has contributed to the fields of healing, spiritual growth, and mind/body research. Trained as an endocrinologist, Dr. Chopra draws on his extensive work with meditation and spirituality to offer insights into health and inner healing. He proposes that once we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with natural law, a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, and abundance will spring forth effortlessly and easily.
Early in his life, Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) embarked upon an academic career. He received a Ph.D. from Stanford, and taught and conducted research in social science and education. After pioneering research into psychedelic drugs and their impact on human consciousness, he embarked on a journey to India. There he met Neem Karoli Baba, and began a rigorous spiritual training. Returning to the United States, Ram Dass became one of the pioneers in East-West spirituality.
Diane Dreher, Ph.D., is an English professor with bachelor's and master's degrees in English and comparative literature, and a doctoral degree in Renaissance literature. She is also a licensed holistic health practitioner and spiritual counselor and is a certified massage therapist. She conducts workshops on meditation and inner peace. Her book The Tao of Inner Peace translates the ancient Eastern philosophy into a plan for contemporary Western living.
Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., is the author of ten books, including the classic bestseller Your Erroneous Zones. A psychotherapist, Wayne Dyer received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, and has taught at many levels of education from high school through graduate study. As we gain an awareness of our sacred self, he writes, we develop an understanding of our place in the world and a sense of satisfaction in ourselves and others.
A leader in the world consciousness movement, Shakti Gawain has taught popular workshops for over 20 years and is the author or several bestselling books. She is also the co-founder of New World Library. Her spiritual classic Creative Visualization helped launch a new movement in the personal growth field when it was first published over 30 years ago. She writes about the power of creative thought and imagination.
Joel Goldsmith was one of the most inspired spiritual healers and Christian mystics of the 20th century. For many years, Mr. Goldsmith devoted himself to silently praying with people and writing about the insights he received. By the end of his life, he had prayed with – and assisted in the healing of – thousands of people. Joel teaches that God is present within us, and that we need simply open ourselves to that Presence.
Louise Hay is an author, minister, and publisher whose books have touched millions of lives. In the 1970s, Ms. Hay compiled a reference guide outlining the mental components of many physical ailments. In her work, Ms. Hay develops a philosophy of healing that rests on a few core principles: "Every thought we think is creating our future... We must release the past and forgive everyone... We much be willing to begin to learn to love ourselves."
Gerald Jampolsky, M.D. is a psychiatrist and founder of the Centers for Attitudinal Healing – an organization that provides emotional support for individuals dealing with illness and other challenges. In his books, he teaches that love is the very essence of our being, a force that we can use to transform our lives. He draws upon the Twelve Principles of Attitudinal Healing which are the foundation of his work with children and adults.
Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D., is a counselor, Certified Addiction Specialist, and Reiki Master Healer who has written extensively about relationships. She has worked as a psychotherapist for over 30 years. Her books If the Buddha Dated and If the Buddha Married explore relationships as a part of a spiritual path. Drawing on Buddhism as well as her experience with Quaker and Sufi communities, Charlotte describes how intimate relationships can help us to open our hearts to greater experiences of love and inner peace.
Byron Katie experienced what she calls "waking up to reality" in 1986, and since then she has introduced The Work to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light. In the midst of a normal life, Katie became increasingly depressed, and over a ten-year period sank further into rage, despair, and thoughts of suicide. Then one morning, she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended.
Mira Kirshenbaum is an individual and family psychotherapist in private practice and the clinical director of the Chestnut Hill Institute in Massachusetts. In The Gift of a Year, she gives women guidance on finding support and feeling supported. The Gift of a Year is filled with real-life anecdotes from women who have used Mira Kirshenbaum's program successfully. They talk about what they did with their year, why and how they did it, and what they got out of it.
Jack Kornfield was trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India and has taught around the world since 1974. He also holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and of the Spirit Rock Center in California. In his book After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, he draws on the firsthand experiences of dedicated leaders and practitioners within the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Sufi traditions.
Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. He is a recipient of the Wallenberg Award (conferred by the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Foundation), the Albert Schweitzer Award, and the Nobel Peace Prize. In this essay, he discusses the importance of practicing love, compassion, and tolerance in our lives.
Brother Lawrence was a monk who lived in France during the seventeenth century. His spiritual counsel was simple: throughout every day, keep an ongoing conversation with God. "I make it my business to rest in His holy presence," he said, "which I keep myself in by a a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God. This often causes in me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them, and prevent their appearance to others."
Caroline Myss, Ph.D., is widely recognized for her work in teaching intuitive diagnosis and is a pioneer in the field of energy medicine. In Sacred Contracts, she explains how we can identify our particular spiritual energies, or archetypes, and use them to help find out what we are here on earth to learn. In coming to know our archetypal companions, we also begin to see how to live our lives in ways that lead us to fulfill our greatest potential.
Peace Pilgrim was a spiritual seeker who, from 1953 until 1981, walked more than 25,000 miles across the United States spreading her message: "Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love." Carrying in her pockets her only possessions (a toothbrush, pen and paper, and a few other items), she walked until given shelter and fasted until given food. She talked with people along the way, discussing peace within and without.
Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, internationally known peacemaker, and founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication. The Center evolved from Dr. Rosenberg's quest to find a way to teach much-needed peacemaking skills across four continents and in war-torn countries. He outlines a simple process that facilitates the flow of communication necessary to exchange information and resolve differences compassionately.
Agnes Sanford was born in 1897, and is viewed as one of the most prominent spiritual healers of the twentieth century. Her first book, The Healing Light, established her as a leading lay healer and minister within the Christian church. In The Healing Light, Ms. Agnes Sanford outlines her experiences with the healing power of God. Ms. Sanford compares the power of God to the power of electricity -- "the whole universe is full of it, but only the amount of it that flows through...will work."
Barbara Sher is a career counselor and the author of five books on goal achievement and teamwork. In I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher explores the idea that the reason we get stuck in our lives is that we simply don't know what we want. However, says Ms. Sher, there are plenty of clues – we need simply take a good look at our lives and history, and then begin to move forward.
Florence Shinn was a skilled artist who lived in New York City during the early twentieth century. She also became known as a skilled metaphysical teacher and spiritual luminary. Her lectures were well-attended and her books, including the classic The Game of Life and How to Play It, have been very popular since the 1920s. Florence Scovel Shinn is widely appreciated as one of the greatest American spiritual teachers of the twentieth century.
Bernie Siegel, M.D., is a surgeon and author. His first book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, was considered a landmark commentary on the process of healing. In 1978, he started ECaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients), a form of individual and group therapy for recovering patients. His work supports the idea that unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system.
Huston Smith is one of the world's leading figures in the study of the world's religions. Many readers have commented that he writes about each religion with care and grace, as if he himself were a member of each faith. Huston Smith, who has served as a professor at several universities, is skilled at distilling the core spiritual themes from the world's various religious paths. In this excerpt, he discusses spiritual practices from around the world.
Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. Having developed a keen interest in nature, he attended Concord Academy and Harvard college before becoming acquainted with Ralph Waldo Emerson, known as the "father of transcendentalism." Around 1845, Thoreau moved to Walden Pond, where he built a one-room cabin and decided to "live deliberately." For several years he lived at the pond, writing, contemplating, and enjoying an unencumbered life. His classic Walden was written during this time.
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual writer and teacher who focuses on finding peace of mind in the present moment. In The Power of Now, the author describes his transition from despair to self-realization. Eckhart Tolle took ten years to understand this transformation, during which time he evolved a philosophy that has parallels in Buddhism, relaxation techniques, and meditation theory. Accessing the deepest self, the true self, can be learned, he says, by living present, fully, and intensely, in the Now.
Angel Kyodo Williams is an ordained Zen priest and the founder of the Urban Peace Project (an initiative associated with the international Peacemaker community). A founding board member of Third Wave, she also cofounded with Rebecca Walker the first black-owned Internet cafe. In her writing, she combines the universal wisdom of Buddhism with an inspirational call for self-acceptance and community empowerment.
Marianne Williamson is a dynamic speaker and writer whose work focuses on bringing spiritual themes "down to earth." In her lectures and books, she discusses her work with A Course in Miracles, the process of coming to a sense of comfort and peace in her life, and the humanization of politics. In A Return to Love, Marianne expands on spiritual themes through stories of her own relationships, work experiences, and other aspects of her life. A Return to Love has been recognized as an enduring spiritual classic.