Essential Readings in Traditional and Contemporary Mystical Literature

Seasoned students of comparative mysticism will be familiar with many of the following titles. For newer spiritual aspirants, this list will serve as a basic introduction to more than sixty selected classics and recommended texts on mysticism. This list is periodically updated. In addition, we have provided links to books that are in the Public Domain and available online (except where noted).

Our emphasis is on practical rather than theoretical knowledge. While books can be valuable tools for the serious aspirant, they are no substitute for spiritual practice. It is useful to remember what Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God is found within you” (Lk. 17:21).

Comparative Mysticism and World Religions

F. C. Happold, Mysticism: A Study and an Anthology

Philip Novak, The World’s Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World’s Religions

Huston Smith, The World’s Religions

Walter T. Stace, The Teachings of the Mystics

Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism [emphasizes Roman Catholic saints]

Buddhism – General

Buddha Gandhara

William Theodore de Bary (ed.), The Buddhist Tradition in India, China and Japan

Christmas Humphries (ed.), The Wisdom of Buddhism

Buddhism – Theravada

Narada Mahathera, Buddhism in a Nutshell

Nyanaponika Thera, The Power of Mindfulness

Nyanatiloka Mahathera, The Word of the Buddha

Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught

U Silananda, The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Buddhism – Tibetan

The 14th Dalai Lama, Kindness, Clarity, and Insight

Dilgo Khyentse, Enlightened Courage

Lama Yeshe, Introduction to Tantra

Buddhism – Zen

William Barrett (ed.), Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D. T. Suzuki

John Blofeld (trans.), The Zen Teaching of Huang Po on the Transmission of Mind

Richard B. Clarke (trans.), Hsin Hsin Ming – Faith in the Ultimate Reality, by the Third Zen Patriarch

Thomas Hoover, The Zen Experience

Red Pine (trans.), The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Christianity – General

Christ's baptism

The New International Version, The New Testament

Gerald Heard, The Creed of Christ (not in public domain; disclosure: The Barrie Family Trust administers the Gerald Heard Estate)

Henry Koestline, What Jesus Said About It

Christianity – Orthodox

R. M. French (trans.), The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way

Timothy Ware (ed.), The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology

Christianity – Protestant

Joseph D. Driskill, Protestant Spiritual Exercises

Peter Erb (trans.), True Christianity, by Johann Arndt

Christianity – Roman Catholic

John Beevers (trans.), Abandonment to Divine Providence, by John-Pierre de Caussade

John J. Delaney (trans.), The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence

William Johnston (trans.), The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling

Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (trans.), The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross

E. Allison Peers (trans.), Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila

H. A. Reinhold (ed.), The Soul Afire: Revelations of the Mystics

Leo Sherley-Price (trans.), The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A’ Kempis

Hinduism – Vaishnavism

Lord Krsna

Swami Paramananda (trans.), Srimad Bhagavad Gita

Swami Tapasyananda (trans.), Srimad Bhagavad Gita

Hinduism – Vedanta

Swami Adishwarananda, The Vedanta Way to Peace and Happiness

Swami Nikhilananda (trans.), Self-Knowledge, by Shankara

Swami Nikhilananda (trans.), The Upanishads [one-volume abridged edition]

H. P. Shastri (trans.), World Within the Mind [extracts from the Yoga-Vasishtha]

Hinduism – Yoga & Meditation

Swami Adishwarananda, Meditation & Its Practices

Swami Paramananda, Concentration and Meditation

Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood (trans.), How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

Hinduism – Modern Teachers

David Godman (ed.), Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

M. N. Gupta (trans.), The Condensed Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna Math (ed.), Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna

Judaism – General & Hasidism

Prise de Jrusalem par Hrode le Grand

Arthur Green and Barry W. Holtz (trans.), Your Word is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer

Louis Jacobs (ed.), The Jewish Mystics

Judaism – Renewal

Avram Davis, The Way of Flame: A Guide to the Forgotten Mystical Tradition of Jewish Meditation

Aryeh Kaplan, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide

Sufism – General & Anthologies

Nahid Angha, Principles of Sufism

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Sufi Essays

Reynold A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam

Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam

Margaret Smith (trans.), Readings from the Mystics of Islam

Mir Valiuddin, Contemplative Disciplines in Sufism

Sufism – Mystics

William C. Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson, Divine Flashes, by Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi

Victor Danner (trans.), The Book of Wisdom, by Ibn ‘Ata’illah, combined with
Wheeler M. Thackston (trans.), Intimate Conversations, by Ansari

Paul Jackson, S.J. (trans.), The Hundred Letters, by Sharafuddin Maneri

K. Khosla, The Sufism of Rumi

Barbara R. Von Schlegell (trans.), Principles of Sufism, by Qushayri


John Blofeld, The Secret and Sublime: Taoist Mysteries and Magic

Jane English and Gia-Fu Feng (trans.), Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu

Contemporary Mystical Literature

Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism

Gerald Heard, Training for the Life of the Spirit (not in public domain; disclosure: The Barrie Family Trust administers the Gerald Heard Estate)

Lee M. Hollander (trans.), Selections from the Writings of Kierkegaard

Anne C. Steinemann, Love is Like the Universe