The Soul Opener List

By Ron Esposito - October 2011

In 1972 when I was living in Boston I started on the path of self-knowledge leading to becoming a mystic.  I was working as the assistant manager of The Jazz Workshop, the premiere jazz club in New England, and was living “the life.”

There were many late night hangs with people from the scene ---- musicians, dopers, waitresses and freaks.  One of the waitresses from the club, Rebecca, was a hippie/hipster who hosted some of the hangs at her pad.  She had a good jazz record collection and a small library of spiritual/metaphysical books.  Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” seemed to be always on the stereo.

As I got to know Rebecca our late night conversations often turned philosophical.  I was cool with that since I studied philosophy and literature as an undergraduate.  I had taken courses on Buddhism and Hinduism as well as the Western philosophers. ( Sartre and Camus ruled for a while.)

“Meaning” is important to me and these conversations started to take on a depth that ultimately led me to asking the perrenial questions about what is real and who am I.  The philosophy that I had studied now seemed to take on a context that it did not have while I was in college.

Over the next year my metamorphosis progressed at warp speed as Rebecca exposed me to books and ideas from her library. There were challenges to my way of thinking, feeling and behaving that caused me to question much of what I professed to believe about life and my way of being in the world.  This twenty-two year old college educated, middle class, lapsed Catholic white boy from Youngstown, Ohio was getting his mind blown and his soul opened.    

One of the “soul openers” was a book that would light my way for years to come.  That book was “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass ((Richard Alpert, Ph.D.) a Harvard psychologist who worked with Timothy Leary on LSD experiments in the 1960s.  Both men were indelibly changed by their work.

Ram Dass became a mystic and surrendered his will to Universal Truth and Love. “Be Here Now” became a bible for my own transformation.  Ram Dass plumbed the depths of who we are and charted the territory of us as spiritual beings having a human experience.  The illusion of ego identity was lovingly and compassionately explored through the lens of Hindu mysticism.

“Be Here Now” also included a long bibliography that served me for many years as a way to navigate conceptually my new life as a mystic.  Listed below are some books from the “Be Here Now” bibliography.  I hope that they can serve you as well as they have served me over the years.

The Upanishads (Hinduism)

The Dhammapada (Buddhism)

The Bhagavad Gita (Hinduism)

The Holy Bible, King James Version

Autobiography of A Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

Dark Night of The Soul, St. John of The Cross

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu (Taoism)

The Perennial Philosophy, Aldous Huxley

The Way of A Pilgrim, Reginald M. French

The Voice of The Silence, Helen Petrovna Blavatsky

The Conference of The Birds, Farid Ud-Din Attar

Thoughts and Aphorisms, Sri Aurobindo

The Light of The Soul, Alice Bailey

Cosmic Consciousness, Richard M. Bucke

The Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Meetings with Remarkable Men, G.I. Gurdjieff

Zen In The Art of Archery, Eugen Herrigel

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

The Seven Story Mountain, Thomas Merton

On Love, A.R. Orage

In Search of The Miraculous, P.D. Ouspensky

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Paul Reps

The Confessions of St. Augustine

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

The Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

The Practice of The Presence of God, Brother Lawrence

I and Thou, Martin Buber

The Masks of God, Joseph Campbell

The Way of The White Cloud, Lama Govinda

The Chakras, C.W.Leadbeater

The Politics of Ecstasy, Timothy Leary

The New Man, Maurice Nicoll

Yoga Sutras of Patangali, Ram C. Prasad

The Religion of Man, Rabindranath Tagore

Meditation In Action, Chogyam Trungpa

The Essentials of Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill

Beyond Theology, Alan Watta

The Planetarization of Consciousness, Dane Rudhyar

Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, Shunyru Suzuki Roshi

The Sufi Message, Hazrat Inayat Khan


Ron Esposito is a certified Life Coach, Enneagram Teacher and Addiction Recovery Facilitator at the Conscious Living Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Contact:



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