Note: the info in this page may not be up to date, for ‘available time’ reasons. – CTT
People often ask me to recommend reliable and understandable reading material in fields I work in, fields like parapsychology, transpersonal psychology, consciousness, etc. This is sometimes a tough question: readily readable books often mix so much nonsense in with their sense, but the scientifically and psychologically reliable books are too often tough to understand.
Here are books I recommend. They are part of my personal library, they are readable (although I warn that a few are technical), and most are available for online ordering through Amazon.com. There are lots of others I would like to recommend, but they are out of print. I recommend my own books, of course, for even though I’m a biased source, my colleagues tell me that my books are accurate, informative, and readable.
I’ll update this list occasionally as new books come out.
Charles T. Tart
You can move to a reading list in the following categories. In alphabetical order by title.
- Transpersonal Psychology & Spirituality
- Out-of-the-Body Experiences (OBEs)
- Altered States of Consciousness
- Near-Death Experiences
- Death and Possible Survival
An excellent book that I had the pleasure of writing a forward to. It will give you a thorough overview of channeling, both historical and current. If possible you should also read Arthur Hasting’s With the Tongues of Men and Angels, a more psychological perspective that is, unfortunately, out of print.
J. B. Rhine
J. B. Rhine is the father of parapsychology, a person who both theoretically and practically shaped most of the field for decades. Most of his books are out of print, but this is a good introduction to his work which still greatly influences the field years after his death.
Grosso is a philosopher and parapsychology who thinks about the big picture and knows how to write. All of Grosso’s books are recommended.
Benjamin B. Wolman (Editor)
This is not easy reading but it is an indispensable reference book for those who really want to understand how scientific parapsychology is carried out and to see accurate surveys of findings.
Joseph W. McMoneagle
I’ve known Joe from when he was a US Army remote viewer and I was a consultant to the SRI remote viewing project, when everything was classified and we couldn’t talk to anyone. I had the honor of writing the introduction to Joe’s book. Not only will you find solid information on remote viewing, including how to do it ideas, but you’ll find the author has a good heart. Highly accurate and very human.
As much as we like the control of precision of psychic phenomena observed under laboratory conditions, we only investigate them there because of real events happening to real people in life that alerted us to the existence of the psychic. An excellent “prehistory” of parapsychology covering what happens in life.
Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives
This is a fascinating and very readable journalist’s account of the investigations of children’s recollection of past lives by the world’s leading reincarnation researcher, Professor Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia. Stevenson now has thousands of cases that have convinced me that there is a real case for reincarnation, even though I would not call it conclusively proven. Shroder has made Stevenson’s work readily accessible to all of us.
A fascinating overview of the government’s secret remote viewing program, only recently declassified. I’m glad this book came out, there was so much I couldn’t talk to people about from the time I was a consultant because of security oaths.
Grosso is a philosopher and parapsychologist who thinks about the big picture and knows how to write. All of Grosso’s books are recommended.
Philosopher and parapsychologist Braude looks at psychokinesis (PK) and what its limits (or lack of them) might be, particularly considering how unconscious motivation can affect our lives. Somewhat technical.
George P. Hansen
Despite more than a hundred years of the highest quality scientific research which, to any genuinely rational mind, demonstrates the existence of several kinds of paranormal phenomena (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis being the major ones), parapsychology research remains marginalized, rejected and actively persecuted. As a psychologist that tells me there are powerful, irrational forces involved. Hansen’s excellent book surveys many of these and is must reading for anyone who really wants to understand this area. Personally the data in the book depressed me in many ways, for I am one of those who attempts to make scientific sense of this area (even though I know there’s much more to the world than that) and it’s not cheering to be reminded of these difficulties. But we don’t solve problems by pretending they are not there, so I am grateful to Hansen for this authoritative reminder.
Category: Transpersonal Psychology & Spirituality
An inspiring little book on how to develop real love, beyond romantic flings, and its necessity for genuine spiritual growth.
A practical book by a leading transpersonal psychologist on accessing many new sources of knowledge.
Grof, a leading transpersonal psychologist and therapist, surveys the spiritual picture, beyond the material level, revealed by investigations of transpersonal experiences, especially psychedelically induced ones.
Richard Maurice Bucke
The classic account by a Canadian physician who experienced the state of cosmic consciousness and gave it its contemporary name. Inspiring as well as informative.
Wilber is the best known synthesizer and theoretician of the transpersonal movement, with many stimulating books out. I just note this one, but search for others of his, such as Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (ISBN 1570620725).
Most psychological typology systems take no account of the spiritual aspects we have, but the enneagram, a 9-type system introduced from esoteric sources does. I found it very useful in my own efforts toward psychological and spiritual development. Palmer’s development of the system is very useful. I had the honor of writing an introduction to this book. Further work on this system is found in Palmer’s The Enneagram in Love and Work (ISBN 0062507214).
The Inward Arc
A classic introduction (and advanced text also) to transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal psychology is our modern attempt to discover and refine a spirituality that works for us, in modern times, rather than just rely on systems that may have been fine in some early culture but may not work well now. Must reading for the serious student.
An excellent overview of what meditation is all about by a leading American psychologist who was also trained in meditation in the East.
Deikman has an astute understanding of what we are trying to get at in meditation, a different kind of “self” that is freer than our ordinary one. A classic in transpersonal psychology.
Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughan
Walsh and Vaughans’ earlier Beyond Ego has been a leading transpersonal classic. This is the updated version, an excellent introduction to the field. Also excellent are Vaughan’s Shadows of the Sacred (ISBN 0835607232) and The Inward Arc (ISBN 0931892961), and, on the research side, Deane Shapiro and Roger Walsh’s Meditation book (ISBN 0202251365).
I can’t recommend this book too highly. At a time when religious fundamentalism is having a huge impact on the world, Fontana’s book helps us understand how people acquire, conceptualize, and practice religion at both personal and social levels. Fontana is a leading transpersonal scientist and a leading parapsychologist, and writes from considerable personal experience in these areas, not just academic knowledge.
Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., a leading transpersonal psychologist and psychotherapist, shares her experiences of people searching for the higher self and the pitfalls, like avoiding the shadow side of personality, that they encounter. Will we work hard enough to transcend our own self-deception? Any book by Vaughan will be both wise and obviously sensible.
Stanislav Grof & Christina Grof
Our culture still denies the spiritual so much that thousands, if not millions of people who have spiritual and psychic experiences are confused by them, wonder if they are going crazy, or otherwise don’t know how to seize an opportunity for growth, suffering instead. This is an important treatment of how to help people in this situation by two prominent transpersonal psychologists.
Seymour Bernstein, Editor
Once a therapist recognizes that adapting to society, becoming “normal,” is not enough, that we must grow into our transpersonal/spiritual heritage, what exactly can a therapist do to help? Here are some answers.
One of the primary dangers of embarking on any psychological or spiritual growth path is getting caught up in some “cult.” By cult here I mean, as Deikman so clearly shows, any group that molds your thinking to protect your and the groups’ ego instead of genuine growth. Besides the obvious cults, Deikman shows the cultish aspects of everyday, mainstream life. Essential reading if you’re embarking on any growth path! Deikman is a profound thinker in the transpersonal field and if you can find any of his earlier books, now out of print, they will be very worthwhile.
NEWS: Deikman has just (late 2003) published an updated version of The Wrong Way Home under the title “Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat.” Excellent!
Bob Frager is one of the leaders of transpersonal psychology and a clear writer. Questions about who or what we really are, after the conventional identity is transcended are central to the field.
I first met Bob Monroe in the fall of 1965 when I was a researcher in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Virginia. Bob was a solid citizen, successful American businessman type, who had started going out of his body regularly some years before. As someone who had long been interested in OBEs, Bob was a wonderful person to know as he was very intelligent, had no previous knowledge of OBEs to bias his accounts, and really wanted to understand what was happening to him. We also became good friends over the years – my eulogy written on his death is in the papers section of my web site, as is a research study I did with him. Journeys is the first of three books he eventually wrote and is a classic in the field. I had the honor of writing the introduction to this book as well as finding a publisher for it. Bob’s first few years of OBEs dealt mainly with this world, but gradually turned into a spiritual quest detailed in his two later, fascinating books, Far Journeys (ISBN 0385231822) and Ultimate Journey (ISBN 0385472080)
Erika Fromm & Michael Nash
I was active in hypnosis research from the 1960s through early 1970s, and this is the reference book I turn to if I want to see what the latest understandings are. Technical.
Steven Lynn and Judith Rhue
Another indispensable reference book if you want to understand the best thinking on hypnosis. Technical.
Category: Spirituality and Inspiration
Huston Smith & Philip Novak
I am really enjoying the way this very readable book takes my fragmented knowledge of Buddhism and meditation and puts it together for me. As the book jacket says, “Beginning with the life of the Buddha and continuing through the current emergence of Buddhism in the West, the internationally revered world religions authority Huston Smith and award-winning teacher Philip Novakâ€”an expert in historical and contemporary Buddhism and a longtime Buddhist practitioner himselfâ€”explore all aspects of this 2,500-year-old religious tradition in all its rich variety: its history, the central doctrines and practices, and its evolution and continuing development. In Buddhism the reader discovers the essential story behind:
- The life and the legend of the Buddha
- The core Buddhist tenets
- The profound distinction between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism
- Pure Land, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism
- The diversity and evolution of American Buddhism
With consummate expertise and respect for Buddhism.
How often do you get someone who is both graduate level trained in modern physics and has spent years as a monk, trained in Tibetan Buddhism? Wallace is a very clear writer with a lot to say about “reality.”
We moderns have a difficult life. We are aware of suffering on a global scale as well as struggling with our personal suffering. We have been able to alleviate some of it with our science and technology and in other ways we have made it worse. The materialistic philosophy of modern times undercuts our spiritual hopes, but we are spiritual beings and we must find a way to live that gives us deeper meaning than nihilism or consumerism. So many of us have turned to ancient traditions, like Buddhism, and found various degrees of satisfaction, but the ancient traditions often seem too simple for the complexity of modern times – and we can’t really turn our backs on the fact that we are moderns, steeped in a scientific view of the world, which has much truth in it.
Sukie Miller, with Doris Ober
I was deeply touched by this look at beliefs around the world as to what happens when a child dies. Sukie Millier points out that our culture has almost nothing to comfort parents and make a child’s death meaningful, but other cultures do, and we need to know that. Must reading for parents who’ve had a child die – or anyone who wonders about death.
The Golden Thread is a moving story of young people at the University of North Carolina (my alma mater) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the late 1960s, experimenting with psychedelic drugs but wanting a deeper and more reliable spiritual path. It has just published by my sister-in-law, Barbara Scott. I thought The Golden Thread might be of personal interest, since I had been acquainted with a few of the people, but not of general interest. The more I read, though, the more I realized this was both a fascinating history of the times and an excellent teaching story of the evolution of spirit. The particular solution Barbara and her friends took (and still take 30+ years later), following the Indian holy man Meher Baba, is not one that ever appealed to me personally, but I have the greatest admiration for anyone who follows teachings of love and compassion. I am also very impressed with my sister-in-law’s ability to tell a complex story in a clear and impressive way.
P. D. Ouspensky
This is the classic account of the Fourth Way teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff by his most famous pupil. A book I’ve read many times and which I take as my primary source in teaching mindfulness techniques for everyday life. Some parts of this are beyond me, such as the “tables of hydrogens,” but the psychology is right on and highly applicable to modern life.
When I first saw the book, I groaned! Come on! Then as I read here and there in it I found I kept saying “That’s right.” or “Well put,” or “That’s a very clear description of that technique and its meaning…..” Edited by the former editor of Yoga Journal, this is an excellent book on meditation: for those of us who think we know something about it, as well as beginners.
No matter how much I dislike the oversimplifications of broad, emotionally loaded categories, I have always had to admit that I fall into two common ones. The first is “spiritual.” The second is “patriot.” How odd, at first glance! Aren’t they rather contradictory? Am I a redneck if I put (as I have done since September 11th) an American flag on my car? It’s puzzled me, as well as others. Needleman’s American Soul clarifies (I almost said “dispels,” but it doesn’t really make the mystery go “away,” it deepens and enriches it) the mystery for me: without being in any way blind to human shortcomings, he reminds us of the spiritual ideals that this country was founded on and which can still be effective agents in life if we seek and create the America inside our souls. Our founders, like Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin were not naÃ¯ve idealists who ignored the abundant greed, folly and hatred that existed then, exists now, and has always existed.
Sogyal Rinpoche is a high Tibetan lama who is a master teacher for Westerners. This book is a masterpiece, condensing the essence of Tibetan Buddhist wisdom into its pages in practical ways to improve the quality of living and dying. I have written a full review of it elsewhere (on my website).
Translation by Chogyam Trungpa and Francesca Freemantle
I don’t know how ultimately right the Tibetans are about what happens after death, or how much their accounts are colored by cultural factors, but this modern translation of the Bardo Thodol, popularly called the Tibetan Book of the Dead, is very stimulating if you have any wonderings about what might happen after death.
The Way Things Are: Conversations with Huston Smith
Phil Cousineau, Editor
These interviews with one of the worlds formemost authorities on spirituality, Huston Smith, are a delight to read and very inspiring. The informal style of the interviews gives an immediacy that makes you glad you have met this sophisticated, yet positive and down-to-earth soul!
The richness and sophistication of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is hard for many of us to understand because of cultural differences. Wallace, with not only a bachelor’s degree in physics and a Stanford PhD in religious studies to form the Western part of his education but many years as a Tibetan Buddhist monk under the tutelage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, builds the bridges we need.
Category: Altered States of Consciousness
Charles T. Tart
It is with mixed feelings that I note my own Altered States of Consciousness, while officially out of print and so not available from Amazon.com, is still available via mail order from Psychological Processes Inc. (See the CTT Books and Tapes section of my website.) It is still considered one of the best books in the field, as well as a classic, 29 years after its original publication. I still use it as a basic text in my classes. The mixed feelings come from the fact that I had hoped it would inspire so much research that it would be totally outmoded within a decade of publication, but, sadly, there has not been that much research.
Charles S. Grob (Editor)
Just got this brand new book, and I can see by the chapter contributors – people like Andrew Weil, Terrence McKenna, Houston Smith, Albert Hoffman, Ralph Metzner, Roger Walsh and Rick Strassman – that it’s going to be informative and authoritative. Lots of solid knowledge and practical was learned about psychedelics back in the 60s that is slowly being lost except for books like this. I just wish the book had been named Psychedelics rather than Hallucinogens, but I guess the medical sounding term was considered more respectable. A solid source of information.
This is the practical side of constructive use of psychedelics in the course of psychotherapy, written by leading psychedelic researcher and transpersonal psychologist Stan Grof.
Lester Grinspoon & James Bakalar
Our culture is pretty crazy when it comes to drugs, splitting into opposite camps of we’d all be enlightened if we just dropped a little acid on the one hand and it’s all bad and always drives people crazy on the other. This book is one of the few sensible ones that looks at positive uses psychedelic drugs can have if they are used properly.
Varieties of Anomalous ExperienceE. Cardena, S. Lynn & S. Krippner (Eds.)
An excellent look, especially for those with psychological training, at altered states and some of their parapsychological aspects. While it is cautious about parapsychological aspects, the fact that this book was published by the American Psychological Association, as mainstream as you can get, represents progress.
I was also charmed by the fact that the editors did not ask me to do a chapter because, as one of them diplomatically explained to me, I’m still too far out for many of the establishment. Phew! I was worried that I was getting too conservative in my old age…..
Jayne Gackenbach and Stephen LaBerge, Editors
An exciting anthology of findings of lucid dream research.
Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold
Follow up work to LaBerge’s Lucid Dreaming, extending our knowledge and suggested techniques.
Handbook of Dreams
Benjamin Wolman, Editor
A modern overview of dream research and its findings.
A modern classic, including how-to-do methods for inducing your own lucid dream states and exploring them.
Category: Near-Death Experiences
P. M. H. Atwater
Because NDEs are so overwhelming it’s easy to focus on them as a special experience, but research shows that the aftereffects, the struggle to integrate the vision into the rest of life, is as or more important than the experience itself. Atwater is a pioneer in exploring this area.
Inspiring and informative accounts of near-death experiences by a leading researcher, as is his Closer to the Light (ISBN: 0804108323).
Category: Death and Possible Survival
Stevenson is the world’s leading reincarnation researcher, and although he still takes a “the evidence is strong but I haven’t made up my own mind” approach, his work has made me give a high probability to the reality of some kind of reincarnation. This is solid research, not the gee whiz sort of stuff associated with New Age books.
John Spong, Editor
Based on an exciting symposium on death and survival held in Washington DC, in which I had the honor to give a talk, this is a good overview of what we know about the evidence for the possibility of surviving death in some form.
I have heard Christine Longaker lecture on finding hope in death, death’s use as a spiritual growth procedure, and the practicalities of preparing for your own death or helping loved ones, and this distillation of her wisdom in her first book is a real gift to us all.
Moody’s classic Life After Life (ISBN 0553274848) and his Reflections of Life After Death (ISBN 0553252275) brought near death experiences out of the closet. Here he deals directly with evidence of long term survival of death.