Every year the Watkins Magazine publishes a list of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People. These spiritual leaders have written many books. WhyToRead will review their most popular or most recent spiritual books for you over the next few weeks.

Spiritual Leaders 1-7

1. How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life – Dalai Lama

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If you are a complete beginner to Buddhism philosophy, there is no better way to be introduced to the Buddha’s teachings than by the Dalai Lama, perhaps the worlds foremost Spiritual Leader. The book starts off with the basics of Buddhist morality, then moves on to the practice of meditation, and ends with explanation of tantra. Overall, How to Practice demonstrates the simplicity and practicality of Buddhism principles, which anyone can learn to incorporate into their daily lives to attain peace and happiness.

2. The Church of Mercy – Pope Francis

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The latest book that compiles talks given by Pope Francis focuses on the theme of mercy, addressing topics such as poverty, Mary and the Gospel. This book does not need to be read in order, because each part is a standalone topic. Even if you are not of Christian faith, you may find some of the topics address issues that may resonate with you.

3. The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World – Desmond Tutu

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Being unable to forgive and move on puts one in a self-created mental prison. Co-written with his daughter, Mpho, Tutu invites readers to embark on a path of healing through forgiveness. The authors outline steps to acknowledging sources that caused one grief and despair, and then how to gradually work past them to create inner peace for oneself. If you have emotional baggage from the past that still haunts you, this is an excellent read that may get you started on freeing yourself form what’s hurting you inside.

4. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

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The fundamental principle to spiritual enlightenment – according to Tolle – is to practice being in the present moment, for that is all we have. The author clearly illuminates readers on destructive thought patterns created by the ego, and how they inhibit spiritual growth. He also outlines simple techniques to break down various mental barriers. The ideas presented are not new, but Tolle has managed to make it accessible to anyone seeking some sort of spiritual direction.

5. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A practical Guide to the Fulfillment of your Dreams – Deepak Chopra

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What place does spirituality have in the quest for material and financial success? It teaches us to accept fate and let go of events which we have no control over, which will lead to less stress and greater peace of mind. Chopra is not saying that we should leave everything up to fate and be passive. Instead, he urges the reader to rethink achievements and failures. If you are prone to worrying about the future, this book may be the pick-me-up you need.

6. Adultery – Paulo Coelho

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This is a new book from Paulo Coelho, probably best known for his spiritual journey “The Alchemst“.

Protagonist Linda is a woman who has it all – a stable career, happy family and financial security. Yet, she feels empty, restless and bored. It would be convenient to dismiss Adultery as a story of a woman looking for excitement in an extramarital affair. However, there are deeper and somewhat uncomfortable life lesson to be learned from this thought-provoking novel. If anything, it is a cautionary tale about how boredom and restlessness can be both constructive and destructive.

7. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

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The Pulitzer prizewinning book is a disturbing yet realistic account into the life of Celie, a young black woman with a tragic, abusive past who learns how to survive, how to let go of the past, and most of all how to love. The author, a committed activist who coined the phrase ‘womanism‘ for black feminists, transformed African-American literature with this book.

More Spiritual Leaders 8-14 next week.