Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 says:
Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs.
The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.
Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (NIT)
In the course of my life I have read many books. As time has gone by I have forgotten much of what I have read.
Time is limited. There are many books. One must pick and choose. As the author of Ecclesiastes counseled “Much study is wearisome to flesh.”
In all cultures, the most quoted texts are sacred scriptures. The reason that these texts have survived is that they are practical guides. They speak of the Way. They contain the sayings of the wise. They remind us of the transcendental world of the divine.
There are many sacred scriptures from the various cultures of the world. Some are the books of the current major religions of the world. Some, such as The Egyptian Book of the Dead or the Enuma Elish have been obscured by the passage of time. To read all of the sacred texts would indeed take much time and perhaps weary the flesh. So, once again, one must pick and choose.
For myself personally, I have chosen a selection of scriptures from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism:
Christianity and Judaism – The Bible
Islam – The Quran and Hadith
Buddhism – There are many different texts from Mahayana, Theravada, and other Buddhist traditions. My favorite is the Dhammapada
Hinduism – Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Ramayana. That which I have read most is the Gita.
Buddhism and Taoism – I Ching and Tao Te Ching
For me, just to read the Bible, Quran, Hadith, Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, I Ching, and Tao Te Ching is a full plate. I read them one at a time and then I start over again. Each time I read one, I gain new insight.
I believe that, as the author of Ecclesiastes says, they are all “given by one shepherd.”
Each one is a set of sacred symbols that stimulates a higher level of awareness, provides food for contemplation, and opens a doorway of understanding into the culture to which they are basic.
That is not to say that that is all that I read. I like to use books to study various languages. I am currently reading a book on mathematics. I like reading books about history, religion, mythology, philosophy, science, astrology, earth medicine, psychology… the list goes on.
I also enjoy fiction, usually at bedtime.
However, on a daily basis and as a steady diet to guide me in the Way, I value the 7 above mentioned books.
Peace and love be with you.