Books and Authors Cited - Living Meditation

Books and Authors Cited

Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir (967–1049) A lawyer-theologian who was highly honoured by followers of Islam, Abu-Saeed was known as the “Socrates of the Sufi Path”. This Sufi mystic often referred to himself as “nobody, son of nobody” – his expression of the reality that his life was surrendered in the divine. From Khurasan, an area that is now part of Iran and Afghanistan, Abu-Saeed preceded the great poet Jalaluddin Rumi by over two hundred years on the same path of annihilation in love.

Adi Granth Known also as Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Adi Granth is comprised primarily of writings of the Gurus in the line of Guru Nanak, but it also includes verses from many other saints from the Indian subcontinent. It was compiled and edited by the fifth guru, Guru Arjun Dev, at the end of the sixteenth century.

Bahu, Sultan (1629?–1691) Hazrat Sultan Bahu, a disciple of Sayyid Abdur Rahman Qadiri, was one of the great Sufi saints of the Indian subcontinent. He was not formally educated, but is said to have written more than a hundred works in Persian and Arabic. However, it is his poems in the Punjabi language that live on and remain popular among the people of Punjab.

Bhagavad Gita Literally ‘Song of the Lord’, the Bhagavad Gita embodies the teachings of Lord Krishna given in the dialogue between Krishna and his disciple Arjuna on the battlefield of the Mahabharata war. It is one of the most popular books of Hindu philosophy.

Bible The term Bible, or Holy Bible, refers to the sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The Jewish Bible, written mostly in Hebrew, is divided into the Torah (Five Books of Moses), Prophets, and Writings. It recounts the history of mankind from the time of the Creation, the lives of the Patriarchs and early Israelites, and the teachings of their prophets and holy men. The Christian Bible is made up of the Old Testament, which includes the books of the Jewish Bible, and the New Testament, which consists of writings pertaining to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and his disciples. It contains the four Gospels, the Epistles (letters from some of the disciples), the Acts of the Apostles, and Revelations (also known as the Apocalypse).

Blake, William (1757–1827) English poet, painter, and engraver, Blake created a unique form of illustrated verse. His poetry, inspired by mystical vision, is among the most original, lyric, and prophetic in the English language. Blake’s most famous works of art are the twenty-one illustrations in Inventions to the Book of Job.

Bulleh Shah (1680–1758) Born into a high-class Muslim family, Saa’in Bulleh Shah grew up in Kasur, near Lahore. He incurred the wrath of his community when he became a disciple of the mystic saint Inayat Shah of Lahore, a simple gardener. His poetry and songs of mystical love and longing are still recited and sung in India and Pakistan.

Campoamor, Ramon de (1817–1901) The first Spanish poet to break with the romantic tradition of long, tragic, and emotional poetry, de Campoamor’s humorous short poems are collected in Dolores, Pequeños Poemas, and Humoradas. At one time he was the governor of Castellon and made primary education mandatory in his province.

Charan Singh (1916–1990) Born in Moga, Punjab, India, Maharaj Charan Singh was a disciple of Maharaj Sawan Singh of Radha Soami Satsang Beas. Maharaj Ji, as he was widely called, was a lawyer by profession. In 1951 Maharaj Jagat Singh made him his successor, and for the next four decades Maharaj Ji travelled throughout India and the world, giving discourses and initiating seekers. Teaching about the Word, he often stressed looking beyond differences of race, culture and religion. His teachings have been recorded in several books containing his writings, talks and letters. Before his death in 1990, he appointed Baba Gurinder Singh as his successor.

Chrysostom, John (c. 349–407) Born in Antioch in Syria (now Antakya, Turkey), Saint John Chrysostom studied oratory under the Greek rhetorician Libanius, later became an ordained priest and eventually became known for the eloquence, earnestness and practical nature of his preaching, such that he gained a reputation as the greatest orator of the early church. John Chrysostom’s many works include homilies, epistles, treatises and liturgies.

Cloud of Unknowing A devotional classic of the Protestant tradition, Cloud of Unknowing sprang from an age when English mysticism was in full flower. The author is unknown, but is thought to be an English priest who lived during the latter half of the fourteenth century.

Dhammapada (Path of Truth) The author of the verses in the Dhammapada is unknown, although they are believed to be the teachings of the Buddha himself. The text of the book was established by the time of the great Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka, in the third century b.c.

Donne, John (1572–1631) A London-born English poet, prose writer and clergyman, John Donne is considered the greatest of the metaphysical poets and one of the most profound writers of love poetry. His Devotions upon Emergent Occasions focuses on the themes of death and human relationships.

Epictetus (c. 55–135) Regarded as a Greek Stoicist, Epictetus was born in Hierapolis in Phrygia (modern-day Turkey). As a boy he landed in Rome as a slave and studied with the Stoic teacher Musonius Rufus. After being freed, he went to Greece where he opened his own school. It appears that Epictetus wrote nothing himself. The works that present his philosophy were written by his student, Flavius Arrian.

Farid (c. 1181–1265) Sheikh Farid, or Baba Farid, a Muslim saint whose verses are preserved in the Adi Granth, was the earliest-known mystic poet in Punjabi. Born near Multan (now in Pakistan), Farid undertook rigorous self-discipline and physically punishing methods in his attempt to achieve his goal of God-realization. Eventually, he was advised to go to Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki of Delhi, who revealed to him the path of the Word.

Francis of Assisi (c. 1182–1226) Born in Assisi, Saint Francis was an Italian mystic and preacher who was famous for his ability to communicate with all living creatures. He also performed charities among the lepers and worked at restoring dilapidated churches. Saint Francis founded the Franciscan order of monks and was canonized in 1228. In 1980 Pope John Paul II proclaimed him patron saint of ecologists.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang (1749–1832) Goethe was a German poet, dramatist, novelist and scientist. At first involved in a movement advocating romantic and emotional artistry, he later adopted a more classic writing style. Faust, the first great work of literature in the spirit of modern individualism, was the ultimate achievement of Goethe’s long life. In this allegory of human life, Goethe emphasized the right of the individual to enquire freely into affairs both human and divine and to work out his own destiny.

Gurdas, Bhai (c. 1558–1637) Bhai Gurdas Ji was a mystical poet who was a contemporary of the fourth, fifth and sixth Gurus in the line of Guru Nanak. He is traditionally believed to have been the scribe who, under the supervision of Guru Arjun, collected together the writings that became the Adi Granth. He wrote the Kabitt Svaiyye and the Varan.

Guru Amar Das (1479–1574) The third successor in the line of Guru Nanak, Guru Amar Das, from Punjab, came to his master, Guru Angad, late in life at the age of sixty-one. He is credited with starting the institution of the langar (free community kitchen). His extensive writings are included in the Adi Granth.

Guru Arjun (1563–1606) Guru Arjun was the fifth Guru in the line of Guru Nanak. Through great effort, Guru Arjun Dev collected, classified and compiled the writings of the Adi Granth, including compositions of saints from all over the Indian subcontinent whose teachings emphasize the oneness of God, the path of the Word, the equality of all people and the pursuit of truth.

Guru Nanak (1469–1539) Born at Talwandi near Lahore in present-day Pakistan, Guru Nanak Dev spent a large part of his life travelling to spread the teachings of the Word or Divine Name. He was the first in the line of the ten Gurus whose teachings are recorded in the Adi Granth, which has become the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. He endeavoured to transform the prejudices and superstitions of the people, emphasizing that ritualistic practices and external forms of worship kept the seeker of God away from the truth.

Hafiz (c. 1326–1390) Khwaja Hafiz, one of the greatest Persian poets, was born Shams-al-Din Muhammad in Shiraz. His Diwan-i-Hafiz, a compendium of ghazals or love poems, is universally acknowledged not only as a work of great literary merit but also as one with considerable mystic import. His poetry is well known today in both the East and the West.

Humilis, Clemens (c. 1900s) Not much can be ascertained about the life of Clemens Humilis, but it is known that he was a parish priest who published Vox Domini in 1929 and Vox Dilecti in 1931. A Modern Imitation of Christ, a book of spiritual advice written in poetic form and published in London, is a compendium of the two earlier works.

Jagat Singh (1884–1951) Born in the village of Nussi not far from Beas, Punjab, India, Maharaj Jagat Singh was initiated when he was twenty-six years old by Maharaj Sawan Singh. Following his retirement in 1943 as vice-principal of the Punjab Agricultural College, he spent the remainder of his life in his Master’s service at Beas. In 1948 Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh was appointed by his Master to be his successor. The Science of the Soul, a compilation of his discourses and excerpts from his letters to seekers and disciples, was published after his death.

Jaimal Singh (1839–1903) Born into an agricultural family in Ghuman, Punjab, India, Baba Jaimal Singh, widely known as Baba Ji Maharaj, was initiated by Soami Ji Maharaj of Agra and directed by him to propagate the Sant Mat teachings in Punjab. After retiring from military service, he chose a secluded place on the west bank of the Beas River to pursue uninterrupted meditation. Soon seekers started visiting him, laying the foundation for organized satsang at Beas. Several months before his death in 1903, he appointed Maharaj Sawan Singh as his successor. It was the latter who named the place Dera Baba Jaimal Singh in honour of his master’s memory. Baba Ji Maharaj’s letters to Maharaj Sawan Singh have been published in the form of a book entitled Spiritual Letters.

John of the Cross (1542–1591) Saint John of the Cross was a Spanish mystic and poet. Born in Fontiveros, Spain, he became a Carmelite monk in 1563 and was ordained as a priest in 1567. His attempts at monastic reform led to his imprisonment, and it was there that he began to compose some of his finest work, including the poems Cántico espiritual (Spiritual Canticle) and Llama de amor viva (Living Flame of Love). In his best-known lyric, Noche obscura del alma (Dark Night of the Soul), Saint John described the soul’s progress in seeking and finally attaining union with God through an experience parallel to Christ’s crucifixion and glory.

Kabir (c. 1398–1518) Born in Kashi (Banaras or Varanasi), Kabir Sahib eked out a meagre living weaving cloth. Teaching the practice of the Word, he travelled throughout India and attracted a large following of disciples, Hindus as well as Muslims. Kabir faced unrelenting opposition from the priestly class for his outspoken condemnation of rituals and the outward show of religion. Today, his verses are popular throughout India and the versatility and power of his poetry are widely acknowledged.

King, Carole (1949–) Born Carole Klein in Brooklyn, New York, Carole King is a popular American singer and songwriter who recorded the album Tapestry in the 1970s. In the early 1980s King moved to rural Idaho and became an environmental activist.

Lawrence, Brother (1611–1691) Born Nicholas Herman in Lorraine, France, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection lived most of his life in a Carmelite monastery where he suffered from a feeling of anxiety that he was clumsy and stupid and didn’t do anything right. He decided that he would just hand over his worries to the Lord by talking to him as his close friend. Some of his letters and conversations were compiled into a short book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God.

Lennon, John Winston (1940–1980) This British songwriter and singer composed some of the most popular songs of his era. Born in Liverpool, Lennon was the co-writer, along with Paul McCartney, of most of the songs that distinguished the phenomenal career of the Beatles through the 1960s. He was assassinated outside his home in New York.

Muhammad (570?–632) The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca and lived in what is now Saudi Arabia. Called ‘the Messenger’, he brought the Muslim teachings to the people of his time and taught the importance of worshipping the one God, Allah. The message revealed to him is recorded in the Qur’an, and traditions concerning his life and teachings are found in the Hadith.

Pascal, Blaise (1623–1662) A French philosopher, mathematician and physicist, Pascal was one of the eminent scientists of his day and also a great mystical writer. He espoused Jansenism, a Christian reform movement that advocated strict morality and austerity, and in 1654 entered the Jansenist community at Port Royal, where he led a rigorously ascetic life until his death eight years later.

Patanjali (200 b.c.?) Patanjali was the compiler and editor of the Yoga Sutras, the earliest systematic treatise on yoga. He described an eight-step system designed to free the body and mind from restlessness and impurity and to control, unify and direct bodily and psychic energy towards higher consciousness and liberation.

Qur’an The Qur’an is the sacred scripture of Islam, written in Arabic and said to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the beginning of the 7th century. It consists of 114 chapters covering many different topics – sacred, legal, social and scientific.

Rumi (1207–1273) Jalaluddin Rumi, known respectfully in India as Maulana Rum (the learned man of Rum), was of Persian origin from Balkh. He moved to Konya, Turkey, where he became a religious teacher. There he met Shams-i-Tabrez and became his disciple. Rumi wrote the Masnavi and Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrez, both of which have contributed to his contemporary status as one of the most well-known Sufi mystics and poets, popular in both the East and the West.

Sardar BahadurSee Jagat Singh

Sasaki, Sokei-an (1882–1945) Son of a Japanese Shinto priest, Sokei-an Sasaki arrived in San Francisco in 1906 with the mission of bringing Zen to America. He wrote his autobiography, Holding the Lotus to the Rock, as America’s first Zen Buddhism master.

Sawan Singh (1858–1948) Maharaj Sawan Singh, affectionately called the Great Master, was born in the village Jatana near Mehmansinghwala, District Ludhiana, Punjab, India. He was initiated by Baba Jaimal Singh, who appointed him as his successor in 1903. Thereafter, for forty-five years he assiduously served as the Master at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas, spreading the teachings of Sant Mat in India and abroad. His books include the Gurmat Siddhant (Philosophy of the Masters), an encyclopaedia of the teachings of the saints, as well as two volumes of letters written to Western disciples and a volume of his discourses.

Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950) Irish-born writer and Nobel laureate, Shaw is considered one of the most significant British dramatists since Shakespeare. Shaw moved to London in 1876, and by the mid-1880s, he became, and remained, a firm believer in vegetarianism and never drank spirits, coffee or tea. Shaw’s major play, Heartbreak House, exposed the spiritual bankruptcy of his generation, and he received the Nobel Prize for Saint Joan. His comic masterpiece, Pygmalion, was the basis for the musical comedy and film My Fair Lady.

Shiv Dayal SinghSee Soami Ji

Soami Ji (1818–1878) Born Shiv Dayal Singh in Agra, India, Soami Ji was raised on the scriptures of the Adi Granth. He started preaching the way of the Word after spending the greater part of seventeen years meditating. Through his two books Sar Bachan (prose) and Sar Bachan Poetry, he gave out the universal teachings of the saints in unveiled, simple Hindi.

Tao Te Ching It is difficult to know much for certain about the origins of the Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way and Its Power), a fundamental Taoist text that espouses the way of the Tao, the timeless ultimate principle, which is followed through simplicity, humility, and non-binding action. The Tao Te Ching was probably compiled before the latter half of the third century b.c., but it is thought that the book is based on Chinese oral tradition that may even antedate the written word. The author of the Tao Te Ching is commonly referred to as Lao-Tzu or Lao Tse (there are many variants in English), but modern scholars doubt that he actually existed. It is probable that ‘Lao-Tzu’, which means both ‘the old philosopher’ and ‘the old philosophy’, refers to the ancient origin of the varied material within the text.

Tukaram (1598–1650) Reared in a well-to-do family of traders in the Indian state of Maharashtra, Tukaram was blessed with initiation by Babaji Raghavachaitanya in 1619. He composed thousands of poems in Marathi, the local language, denouncing all outward forms of worship and urging people to devote themselves to the Name. His poems, which remain popular today, are published under the titles Sartha Tukaram Gatha and Shri Tukaram Maharaj Yanchya Abhanganchi Chhandabaddha Gatha.

Tulsi Sahib (1763–1848) The great poet-saint of Hathras and author of the Ghat Ramayana, Tulsi Sahib was born in the princely family of the Peshwas. He began to show signs of a devotional trend of mind at an early age and had no desire for worldly pleasures and pursuits. He settled in Hathras near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, where he was known as Dakkhini Baba. Soami Ji’s mother was a disciple of Tulsi Sahib long before Soami Ji was born, and Soami Ji had contact with him from his childhood.

The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way A classic nineteenth-century Russian text by an unknown author, this is an account of an anonymous wanderer who set out on a journey across Russia with nothing but a backpack, some bread and a Bible – and a burning desire to learn the true meaning of the words of Saint Paul, “pray without ceasing,” and to put them into action.

Williamson, Marianne (1952–) An American author and lecturer in the fields of spirituality and new age thought, she wrote the best sellers A Return to Love and Everyday Grace, among other books. She teaches the basic principles of “A Course in Miracles” and discusses their application to daily living.