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50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom From 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose Paperback – March 10, 2005

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Frequently Bought Together

50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom From 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose + 50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life from Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus + 50 Psychology Classics: Who We Are, How We Think, What We Do: Insight and Inspiration from 50 Key Books
Price for all three: $43.75

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (March 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857883497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857883497
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A kaleidoscope of inspiration ...insightful commentaries on each classic and biographical information on the authors. A unique overview of Spirituality" -- Watkins Review, Summer 2005

From the Inside Flap

Tom Butler-Bowdon’s selections for 50 Spiritual Classics are bound to be controversial. From mega-bestsellers to 1st Century writings, stories of personal journeys to biographies of spiritual leaders through the ages, Butler-Bowdon places each work into its historical context and offers insightful commentary on how these classics can help spiritual seekers everywhere bring personal beliefs, values and practices squarely into the center of their every day lives.

50 Spiritual Classics captures the diversity of life journeys that span centuries, continents, spiritual traditions and secular beliefs: from the historical The Book of Chuang Tzu to modern insight from the Kabbalah, from St. Augustine’s Confessions to Eckhart Tolle’s recent The Power of Now, from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to Rick Warren’s phenomenon The Purpose-Driven Life. The first and only bite-sized guide to the very best in spiritual writing, this one-of-a-kind collection includes personal diaries and compelling biographies of such diverse figures as Gandhi, Malcolm X, and Black Elk; Eastern philosophers and gurus including Krishnamurti, Yogananda, Chögyam Trungpa and Suzuki; and Western saints and mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi, Herman Hesse and Simone Weil.

In its commentaries of both the conventional classics as well as new writings destined to endure, 50 Spiritual Classics makes universal the human spiritual experience beyond time and space and will inspire spiritual seekers everywhere to begin their own adventure.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Will find one or more similar in tone to read and ponder.
Amazon Customer
There is also a short biographical sketch of the author of the respective work.
Lee Say Keng
I read and enjoyed Mr. Bowdon's Self-Help & Career Classic books.
B. Rimes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dr. A. D. Vellore on June 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Butler-Bowdon's '50 Self-help Classics' (2003) and '50 Success classics' (2004) have been acclaimed as erudite commentaries in personal development literature. His third volume in this Trilogy- '50 Spiritual Classics' is a compelling read that establishes Butler-Bowdon firmly in the unique niche' that he has carved for himself with his previous two works in the field of personal development literature.

Reading the `50 Spiritual Classics' is an enlightening and often humbling experience. Whether it be The Discourses of Epictetus (Enchiridion), or Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence', the author displays a masterful ease which is commendable. Halfway through a chapter, one is often seized upon by an unstoppable urge to tear out, get hold of the title being commented upon by the author and read every page of it. And then one decides to exert self-control and continue with Bowden's own book as it is just too difficult to put down.

A brief glance at some of the authors reviewed bears testament to the breadth covered by this 320-page book: St. Augustine, Malcolm X, Chuang Tzu, Gandhi, Kahlil Gibran, Carlos Casteneda and Fritjof Capra! Somerset Maugham's `The Razor's edge' and Huxley's `The Doors of perception' are included. The authors and works in focus are dissected in a fairly non-judgemental fashion. Tom Butler-Bowdon succeeds in bringing out the essential messages and themes of the spiritual classics reviewed without sounding reverential.

This is not a jingoistic account of spiritualism or PD literature; This is not a collection of pontifications from a zealous convert; this is not a book of lists........
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Lee Say Keng on October 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life, From Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus

50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom for Life and Work from 50 Landmark Books

50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom from 50 Great Books on Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose

In the first instance, I have bought these three books in one go because I have been fascinated by what the author had done: He has practised what is known as the highest level of reading. Mortimer Adler, in his classic book, 'How to Read a Book', written in the forties, had called it 'syntopical reading'. It's actually reading a number of books of the same genre, more or less simultaneously & then synthesising the key points.

Secondly, the author, who is a graduate of the London School of Economics, somehow impresses me with his ability to synthesise the big picture of each of the books that made up the entire collection. For apparently a left-brain thinker i.e. economist by training, this has been a very remarkable feat, as his synthesising endeavour has been essentially more of a right-brain activity. Well, I must compliment him for a job well done.

Before my final decision on buying the three books, I have been thrilled by the prospect of reading three books, which in turn will give me access to one hundred & fifty books.

For each book, the author has very artfully as well as skillfully selected fifty books to made up one collection. I may not agree with his selection, but I must admit that I can't default him at all.

Take the first book, '50 Self Help Classics', with timeless wisdom, as an example. Out of the fifty books he has selected, I have read only seventeen of them. I have those books in my personal library.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Moses on June 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm reading a lot of self-help or success literature by people like Anthony Robbins and Zig Ziglar at the moment. They touch on the spiritual aspect of our lives, but mainly their emphasis is on the here and now. I've found that approach useful, but on the days when I feel able tackle the greater questions I turn to books like 50 Spiritual Classics.

This book follows the format of Butler-Bowden's previous 50 Self Help Classics and 50 Success Classics. In a clear and concise style he examines 50 texts ranging from ancient to modern, taking in many different forms of spiritual experience. The short chapters allow the reader to learn a lot with just a little effort. I don't have as much time as I'd like to read, but I can usually find ten minutes to absorb a chapter. His languange is intelligent and incise, but never dull or worthy. He has a dry sense of humour that makes reading his work a delight.

It's not just how Butler-Bowden summarizes the books that makes 50 Spiritual Classics special. What he does is arrange the information to help the reader digest the sometimes complex ideas easily. You can read this book from start to finish, or if you find a particular stream of spiritual thinking more to your taste, follow that path by referring to the In A Similar Vein section. Butler-Bowden also gives a one-sentence In A Nutshell summary of each book. Perhaps even more importantly he organises the classics into different categories, such as great spiritual lives, practical spirituality, opening the doors of perception and divine relationship and life purpose.

50 Spiritual Classics is by its very nature less practical than Butler-Bowden's previous books.
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