The best books on spirituality for understanding one’s life purpose and navigating grief

Who am I?

Without my longtime commitment to the spiritual path of Siddha Yoga, I am quite sure that I would never have even met my wife Seana for I would not have been ready for her, let alone survived the trials along the way. And I certainly would not have been able to meet the calamity of her sudden death and come to know it as something else entirely. I have discovered the most strange and wonderful thing—that hidden within the death of a loved one may also be her final gift to us. And this is what I wish for you—in your moment of greatest need, though the world feels shattered into a thousand shards—may you remember this possibility and fully receive what the beloved longs to give you in farewell.


I wrote...

The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance-13 Days

By Barron Steffen,

Book cover of The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance-13 Days

What is my book about?

This intense, moment-by-moment chronicle begins with the officer’s words, “She is deceased.” For the next 13 days following the fatal automobile accident of his wife, the author draws on nearly forty years of study and training with gurus and meditation teachers to discover ecstatic love, save fractured relationships, and glimpse a greater arc and purpose for being alive.

The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance—13 Days is the story of one man’s sudden, astonishing brush with devastation and the Divine under the most heartbreaking of circumstances. A love story disguised as a tragedy, Steffen weaves extraordinarily poignant and powerful experiences with honesty and revelations that will change lives. Along with intense pain and emotion, prepare yourself for great beauty and transcendent insight, for nothing is as it appears.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sadhana of the Heart: A Collection of Talks on Spiritual Life

Barron Steffen Why did I love this book?

Uplifting, inspired, essential—in this volume of timeless wisdom, my guru Gurumayi teaches students about Siddha Yoga sadhana, the spiritual study and practices that lead to liberation.

Siddha Yoga is a spiritual path. It feels important to understand that it is a philosophy, not a religion, and it includes people from many different faiths. For myself, at its heart, Siddha Yoga sees the highest reality as divine Consciousness that dwells equally in all people. On the Siddha Yoga path, seekers come to recognize this, their innermost Self, experientially.

By Gurumayi Chidvilasananda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sadhana of the Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These five speeches impart the teachings of the Siddha Yoga path for modern seekers with eloquence, erudition, and compassionate humor, making an ancient tradition deeply engaging and vibrantly alive. Each talk, originally addressed to a global audience as a traditional greeting to the new year in the period 1995–1999, offers guidance—both practical and philosophical—for progressing on the spiritual path in today's world and living a noble and purposeful life. The book teaches with illustrative stories and anecdotes and urges all people to make the best use of their lives, to discover the divinity in their own hearts, and to let…


Book cover of Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives

Barron Steffen Why did I love this book?

A few years ago when my wife suddenly died, on the second day I spoke to a dear friend who also happens to be a longtime monk on my spiritual path. He mentioned a book by a psychologist who took people to see the greater arc of their soul’s journey—their ‘lives between lives’. That doctor was Dr. Michael Newton, and this is my favorite of his series.

At the time, reading it had a profound effect on my growing understanding of the greater arc of the human soul and provided an immense sense of peace. Above all, it soothed my tattered mind at a moment when life felt incomprehensible and helped me make sense of our larger purpose for being here even while still grieving. Through 70 case histories of real people who were regressed into their ‘lives between lives,’ Dr. Newton reveals life continuing on the other side, ways that spirits connect with and comfort the living, and much more.

By Michael Newton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Destiny of Souls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Featuring seven case histories of real people who were regressed into their lives between lives, this text discusses the mystery of life in the herafter.


Book cover of The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Barron Steffen Why did I love this book?

Who are you? Are you a physical body? A collection of experiences and memories? This wonderful book explains in very simple yet profound teachings many of the aspects at the intersection between daily and spiritual life. I found this book to fit effortlessly alongside my own spiritual path, exploring the question of who we are and arriving at much the same conclusion—that our eternal identity is to be found inside us in our own awareness. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, Singer offers a highly accessible glimpse into how putting our attention onto our awareness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.

By Michael A. Singer,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Untethered Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who are you? When you start to explore this question, you find out how elusive it really is. Are you a physical body? A collection of experiences and memories? A partner to relationships? Each time you consider aspects of yourself, you realize that there is much more to you than any of these can define. In this book, spiritual teacher Michael Singer explores the question of who we are and arrives at the conclusion that our identity is to be found in our consciousness, the fact of our ability to observe ourselves and the world around us. By tapping into…


Book cover of The Gift of Nothing

Barron Steffen Why did I love this book?

The Gift of Nothing, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, happens to be one of my absolute favorite books. Nestled like a rare bird in between Captain Underpants and Star Wars at a book sale in an elementary school cafeteria, I made a gift of it to my wife, Seana, and in time the story of Mooch and Earl grew into a cherished part of ours as well.

Mooch (a cat) is looking for the perfect gift for her best friend, Earl (a pooch). She wonders, What do you get someone who has everything? It dawns on her. Nothing! So, after looking everywhere for nothing and not finding it, she finally gets a really big empty box (because it was a lot of nothing). When Earl opens it, he declares, “There’s nothing here!” “Yesh!” says Mooch. “Nothing ... but me and you!”

By Patrick McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift of Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mooch the cat desperately wants to find a gift for his friend - Earl the Dog. 'But what do you give the guy who has everything?' Mooch wonders. The answer, of course, is nothing! This simple story features characters from one of the world's most successful comic strips - Patrick McDonnell's Mutts. With the same warmth and charm that he brings to the daily cartoon McDonnell's delightfully spare illustrations and simple text have created a book with the makings of a classic - perfect for gift-giving all year round.


Book cover of I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Barron Steffen Why did I love this book?

"Love says: 'I am everything'. Wisdom says: 'I am nothing'. Between the two my life flows.”

I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is widely considered to be a modern spiritual classic. Through a compilation of talks with the Indian sage in the early 1970s, this collection absolutely delivers. Over the years, I have contemplated specific excerpts from this book time and again marveling how each repetition seems to take me deeper into a silent space where understanding patiently awaits me just behind the words. This book brings to mind metaphors such as “the layers of an onion” or “why temples have a sanctum sanctorum”, appropriate images for the sublime experience of this rare work. I regard this text as existing right alongside other major contributions to the spiritual advancement of humanity.

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I Am That as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

By Nita Sweeney,

Book cover of A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

Nita Sweeney Author Of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

Nita's book list on why meditation is worth your time and effort

What is my book about?

Reduce stress, ease anxiety, and increase inner peace—one day at a time—with a year of easy-to-follow mindfulness meditation techniques. Certified mindfulness teacher, bestselling author, ultramarathoner, wife, and dog-mom Nita Sweeney shares mindfulness meditation practices to help anyone break free from worry and self-judgment.

Mindfulness meditation trains you to live in the present moment—the now. Feel calmer. Think more clearly. Respond more effectively and enjoy a more fulfilling life. Even in tiny doses, mindfulness is scientifically proven to enhance physical and mental health, boost creativity, and improve cognition function.

A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

By Nita Sweeney,


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