Books are obstacle courses for the mind. By confronting us with paradigm shifting ideas they challenge us to stretch our capacity for understanding. And when we succeed, they will open up a world which we couldn’t see before. And then, in this unfamiliar world, we find ourselves having new thoughts and breaking new rules, using new magic and exploring new possibilities. And finally we must come to the conclusion, when we absorb ideas too big for our former selves, we change and we grow and burst like a butterfly out of our old shells that don’t serve us no more. Inhale the essence of these books and feel yourself brimming with vitality! But I must warn you, these books are everything but safe…

You Must Change Your Life – Peter Sloterdijk

In this dazzling display of historic inquiry Sloterdijk delves deep into our human tendency to experience ‘vertical tension’ – the call to outgrow oneself and leave behind our old deficient selves. He argues there is no such thing as religion, there are only ‘anthropotechniques’ used to answer this call. We train and discipline ourselves and, in this regard, the athlete is the same as Kafka’s ‘fasting artist’ and the farmer no different than the yogi. And in the same way, both philosophy, the reading of books or the use of psychedelics can be seen as valid ways to improve our psychic immune-system. We are all objects manipulated and fashioned by ourselves and will be endlessly doing so. The only question remains, which anthropotechniques should we keep, and which ones should we disregard? We can’t be sure of our place in the cosmos, we can’t be sure what we are or who we must become, but we can be sure of one thing, with the cultural, economic and ecological crisis, one thing remains – the absolute imperative, ‘You Must Change Your Life’.

Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noösphere – Richard M. Doyle

From his own personal encounters with the Ayahuasca spirit to the ‘other vector’ of evolution, namely, sexual selection, Prof. Doyle weaves an intricate argument that, once understood in its entirety, will destroy your world and makes room for a far more colorful one. Are humans like bees and do we buzz around psychedelics plants to feast on their nectar while, un-attentionally, help them reproduce? Does the psychedelic experience break down symmetry and order so new forms of information can arise? While analysing thousands of trip reports in the same way Darwin analysed animal behaviour he comes to a stunning conclusion. Going from consciousness to shamanism, from quantum mechanics to cannabis pornography and from the discovery of LSD to the discovery of DNA Prof. Doyle finds that ‘ecodelics’ help us to reach ecstatic states of consciousness where the duality of thought can be overcome and our connection with nature can be restored. And all the while this books also does what it says, when it captures your attention and twirls you into a psychedelic mind-bending workout. Read Darwin’s Pharmacy twice.

Nietzsche and Zen: Self Overcoming Without a Self – André van der Braak

Everything you ever wanted to know about Nietzsche and Zen can be found in this magnificent book. Both Nietzsche and Zen propagate that selves don’t exist. Both deny an intrinsic order or value at the core of the cosmos. Both hold it is possible to reach a higher existence through the cultivation of the bodily drives. For zen, it is the goal of no-goal, Nirvana. For Nietzsche, it is the progression from the camel, through the lion to the child. In this fascinating book you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Nietzsche and Zen. How do we attain truth? How can we overcome ourselves if selves don’t exist? How can we break the chains of God and his Shadow? Prof. van der Braak writes eloquently when he looks at Zen through the eyes of Nietzsche and at Nietzsche through the eyes of Zen. A powerful book, a book for everyone and no-one.

Discover the fallacies of the ego! Recognise the ego as misconception! The opposite is not to be understood as altruism! This would be love of other supposed individuals! No! Beyond “me” and “you”!  Feel cosmically! -Nietzsche (KSA 9,11[7])

The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West – Aldous Huxley

The bible for the enlightenment seeker, Aldous Huxley’s ‘The Perennial Philosophy’ is a must have for anyone who wants to understand the differences between the great religions and the same mystical ground they came from. While his main thesis is heavily debated today this works remains to be a powerhouse of mind-blowing ideas. Huxley covers Zen, Hinduis, Rumi, Meister Eckhart and Taoism and dis-covers they share one fundamental fact – a yearning for transcendence. This is not a book to read in one go, but one to which you will return many times to ponder and re-ponder. The fascinating quotes in this book are complemented with a sharp analysis and will stay food for thought while a new light will shine on your path – the path to uno mystica! Get ‘The Perennial Philosophy‘ now.

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World – David Abram

After you read this book you will be able to read the world. Abram writes pure poetry and argues that through abstract writing and thought we have severed our connection with the sensuous world around us. Abram explores the origin of language, synesthesia, shamanism and phenomenology, the way we experience consciousness, and unearths a world inhabited by an ‘Other’ who fundamentally complements our being human. He traces the origin of language back to a much older way of reading, that of tracks in the mud and the change of weather conditions in the rain. He reconstructs how language through alphabetization became more abstract and lost its connection with the living flesh of the earth culminating in a all-too-human world that is completely self-enclosed. However, this book liberates us from this perspective and brings our bodies back in tune with the pulse of the earth. Brilliant, sensational and mind-blowing, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous‘ is the book for the new ecology movement.

The best gift to a book is to read it more than once.

  1.  You Must Change Your Life
  2. Darwin’s Pharmacy
  3. Nietzsche and Zen
  4. The Perennial Philosophy
  5. The Spell of the Sensuous

Original photo by Andrea Fiore