Spiritually Defining Texts

Every year, as part of the BIG I Conference on Inclusive Theology, Spirituality and Consciousness, clergy from our movement select and affirm the most important texts, in addition to the sacred texts of the wisdom traditions, that serve as the apologetic for our evolving spirituality.  The first list began with 100 books in 2010 and was pared down to the top 25 books in 2012. 

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Click on the book’s title for a link to its description on Amazon.com. If you decide to purchase any of these books on Amazon through our website, a portion of the proceeds will come back to OUnI!

The World’s Religions by Huston Smith.

”Because this second position [religions are all basically alike] is powered by the hope that there may someday be a single world religion, it is well to remind ourselves again of the human element in the religious equation. There are people who want to have their own followers… This suggests that if we were to find ourselves with a single religion tomorrow, it is likely that there would be two the day after.”

The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness by Rami M. Shapiro
“…study broadly in the world’s religions and adapt what you need from wherever it is found. It is not enough to be versed in only one religion.  You are heir to the entire spectrum of human spirituality.  While one of them may resonate more strongly within you than another, you can learn from them all and adapt practices from each to enrich your own capacity for lovingkindness.” (Introduction)

The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions by Wayne Teasedale
“…fortunately, everyone is a mystic.” “In this new age of interspirituality, all forms of spirituality are accessible to us, allowing creative crossover and borrowing among members of the world’s religions.” (page 12) “…we require a spirituality that promotes the unity of the human family, not one that further divides us or maintains old antagonisms. At the same time, this interspiritual approach must not submerge our differences; it must see traditions in relationship to each other, and provide options. The truth itself is big enough to include our diversity of views.” (page 12)

Coming Interspiritual Age by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord
“Interspirituality is the natural discussion among human beings about what we are experiencing. … In the context of religion, interspirituality is the common heritage of humankind’s spiritual wisdom and the sharing of wisdom resources across traditions. In terms of our developing human consciousness, interspirituality is the movement of all these discussions toward the experience of profound interconnectedness, unity consciousness, and oneness.”

Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World by Ken Wilber

“What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential—about spiritual growth, psychological growth, social growth—and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the critically essential keys to human growth, based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a comprehensive map, an all-inclusive or integral map that included the best elements from all of them?”

Seeking the Sacred: Transforming Our View of Ourselves and One Another by Stephanie Dowrick

“Beyond all else, a seeking of the sacred reveals our essential interdependence. It may be ‘about’ a relationship with God. It is undoubtedly about the ways we relate to one another. The most cursory understanding of the sacred shows me that I can’t live or ‘save’ myself at your expense. I can’t and won’t grow spiritually, morally or theically while defiling or dehumanizing you or putting your life in danger… Concern, connectedness, dignity, forgiveness, patience, tolerance, gratitude and an inclusive intelligence: this is what the world needs. This is what we need.”

Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism and the Birth of a New Myth by Theodore Richards
“The shortest distance between two people is a story. … Humans make their world through the stories they tell… A myth allows us to use our imagination to complete the story that observation began. … We seem determined to rape the mother who birthed us [Earth], to profane the womb whence we have come.  These problesm cannot be solved in a fragmented way–‘environmentalism’ that ignores social justice, for example; or, conversely, wealth redistribution that fails to recognize that the economy is a subset of ecology–because fragmentation is part of their root cause.”

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

“Our species now faces a stark choice: Evolve further our comprehensive and integral sense of interconnectedness, and our mutually shared sense of the inherent value of all humanity and planet Earth which hosts us, or die.”

Reverent Irreverence by Tom Thresher

“We now live long lives amid rapid change, so we must deal with starkly different worldviews as they come into competition with one another. A new way of seeing is required—one that intrinsically (not just intellectually) recognizes the value of each of these perspectives in the overall development of the individual, culture and society. We call this new perspective “Integral” because it integrates all the previous waves of development into a comprehensive whole. Integral is a profound move beyond the great achievements of Tradition, Modernity and Postmodernity. It truly synthesizes the wisdom from each perspective into a new and compelling story for our times.”

Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent: Sacred Teachings Annotated & Explained by Rami Shapiro
“What I believe seems to arise in the heart/minds of gurus, rabbis, roshis, pastors, imams, priests, poets, scientists, swamis, and brilliant people of no rank and title over and over again throughout human history. Because it does, I trust it. Because I trust it, I seek to find it in myself and for myself. This search seems beneficial to me, making me kinder and more just, which makes my search of benefit to others beyond myself.

The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism by Andrew Harvey
“…the message at the core of all the world’s spiritual revelations–that lasting happiness springs only from true love of the Divine, the world, and others, a true love that expresses itself tirelessly in wise and compassionate action.  As the Buddhist mystic Shantideva made clear: ‘All the joy the world contains / Has come through wishing happiness for others’…”

Faith Styles: Ways People Believe by John R. Mabry
 “An assessment model will best serve spiritual guides if it does not assume the superiority of one style over another.  Every person’s relationship with Divinity is holy, regardless of how he or she views the Divine or his or her relationship with it. … Rare indeed is the spiritual guide who can companion people of every faith style with equal efficacy.”

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox
“Elders are not so much recognized for the titles, resumes, or fame, but rather their ability to relate to the younger generation from their lived experience. … the training the priests, ministers, and clergy get.  The training they get is not about spirituality, frankly. It’s rarely about bringing the mystic or the spiritual warrior alive–it’s not. It’s much more about church rules and religion and a theological system that they’re trying to shove down people’s throats.  It’s a system that again young people have outgrown, if you will.”

One River, Many Wells by Matthew Fox

Our Religions: The Seven World Religions Introduced by Preeminent Scholars from Each Tradition by Arvind Sharma

The Varieties of Religions Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James

Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality by Jorge N. Ferrer and Richard Tarnas

A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong

Introducing Theologies of Religions by Paul F. Knitter

The Case for God by Karen Armstrong

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Essential Sacred Writings from Around the World by Mircea Eliade

Mystical Theology: The Science of Love by William Johnston

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women by Jane Hirshfield

The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World’s Great Wisdom Traditions by Andrew Harvey

The Art of Being and Becoming by Hazrat Inayat Khan

What Relgion Is in the Words of Swami Vivekananda by Swami Vivekananda

The Marriage of East and West by Bede Griffiths