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Lance Secretan’s Favorite Books

I am often asked about my favorite books or what I am currently reading. This is a list, in no particular order, of books that have inspired or informed me, and to which I return from time to time. Some are old, some are new, but all have been a treat for my Soul—and I hope will be for yours.

Nurturing the Spirit

Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, by Caroline Myss, ISBN Number: 0609800140, Harmony, 1996; A brilliant review of energy medicine and spiritual healing.

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course In Miracles, by Marianne Williamson, ISBN 0060186682 HarperCollins, 1996; “A spiritual travel guide for our journey back to the truth we were born with”; beautifully written and underscoring the importance of love in our lives.

Illuminated Prayers, by Marianne Williamson, ISBN number 0684844834, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997. This is a beautifully produced work with delightful illustrations containing thoughtful and inspiring prayers and meditations for any occasion.

The Heart Aroused: Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, by David Whyte, ISBN 0385484186, Currency Doubleday, 1994; Welsh/American living in Seattle, writing lyrically about work and leadership, using stories, metaphors and his own poetry as well as that of others.

Nourishing the Soul: Discovering the Sacred in Every Day Life, Edited Simpkinson, Charles Simpkinson and Rose Solari; ISBN 0062512056, HarperCollins, 1995, eclectic collection of essays by Thomas Moore, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Robert A. Johnson, Jack Cornfield, Deena Metzger and others;

The Wisdom of Baltasar Gracian: A Practical Manual for Good and Perilous Times, adapted by J. Leonard Kaye, ISBN 0671796593, Pocket Books, 1992; Baltasar Gracian was a Jesuit priest who counseled kings and was the genius of his age 300 years ago. Intimidated by Gracian’s wisdom and genius, his bishop harassed him, confiscated his manuscripts and spent years trying to silence him.  Gracian’s work, and its enduring quality is a testimony to the indomitable spirit of humans and the love that can still reside in the heart despite the ridicule and torment of others.

The Prophet’s Way: Touching the Power of Life, Thom Hartmann, ISBN 0609807994, Mythic Books, 1997. This is a marvelous, true-life spiritual adventure story by a gifted spiritual leader and exemplar. Hartmann shows what it takes to be connected to our inner divinity and how we have lost our connection to “the heartbeat of the world.”

Entering the Circle: Ancient Secrets of Siberian Wisdom Discovered by a Russian Psychiatrist, by Olga Kharitidi, ISBN 0062514172, HaperSanFrancisco, 1996. This is a remarkable true-life autobiography of a Soviet psychiatrist who encounters a shaman and witnesses real shamanic healing. This experience changes her life and therefore the way she practices medicine. Because of her shamanic experiences she is unable to practice medicine in the old ways she has relied on. She begins to heal psychiatric patients who have been locked up for years in a depressing psychiatric ward of a gulag hospital, healing instantly patients who had been deemed incurable for years and she is unable to explain her new “miraculous” powers. This creates conflict between the old traditions and the new – the same conflicts we experience between the “old paradigm” management theories and the new paradigm concepts based on spirit and values at work. An excellent metaphor for the two solitudes of current leadership theory.

New Approaches to Leadership and Work

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time, by Matthew Fox, ISBN 0060630620, HarperCollins, 1995, Former Dominican priest, defrocked by the Pope for his radical and outspoken views, writes beautifully about why work isn’t working and what to do about it. Check out his other works too, especially Creation Spirituality.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra, ISBN 1878424114, New World Library, 1994. Anything Deepak Chopra writes is interesting and thoughtful. This little book is potent because it contains a complete template for living a happy life – no modest achievement. It is well written and a beautiful map for a life of spirit.

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, by Phil Jackson, Hyperion, ISBN 1401308813, Hachette Books, 1995; Small but potent book by the legendary coach of the Chicago Bulls, describing his relationship with Michael Jordan and how he used Christian and Native American wisdom to lead the best team in the NBA.

Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers, edited by Larry C. Spears (Executive Director of The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership), ISBN 0471036862 John Wiley, 1995. Robert Greenleaf worked for 38 years for AT&T as Director of Management Research. During those years and his 12 retirement years (he died in 1990) he developed his theories of  “servant-leadership” which are a way of life for those today who aspire to lead with spirit, values and love.  Larry Spears has pulled together a marvelous collection of essays by such writers, practitioners and consultants as Scott Peck, Peter Senge, Max DuPree, Ron Zemke, and others who describe the major impact of Greenleaf’s work on their lives and the thinking of today’s evolved leaders.

Where Did the Money Go? – A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Business Scorekeeping: by Ellen Rohr; ISBN number 0966571908, Bare Bones Biz, Inc., 2010. A book about business BASICS, the stuff you wish someone had explained to you long ago about confusing business and accounting terms. After this, you’ll know what your banker and accountant are talking about. It will teach you how to keep track of the money, so you can make more of it…to share, to contribute, to grow, to energize…to use to make the world a better place.

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, by Parker J. Palmer, ISBN 0787996866, Jossey-Bass, 2007. We are all teachers— I define teaching as “showing how to” and leading as “showing the way to”.  Therefore leading and teaching are almost the same thing.  Parker J Palmer writes beautifully about the sacred responsibility of the teacher.  As a great teacher himself, he shares himself openly and honestly, and engages us in the very kind of teaching he so eloquently describes.

The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly, ISBN 1401303706, Hachette Books, 2007. This parable emphasizes that a key and critical role of leadership is the ability to recognize the dreams of those that we lead and inspire them to achieve those dreams. If everybody adopted this philosophy, performance and productivity, meaning and fulfillment was sore.

 New Approaches to Personal Life

 Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, by William Davis MD, ISBN 1609614798, Rodale Books, 2014. After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic―and that elimination of wheat is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. Dr. Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat”―and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new wheat-free lifestyle.  This book will change your diet and lifestyle forever.

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy— Until You’re 80 and Beyond, Chris Crowley and Henry S Lodge, ISBN 076114773X, Workman Publishing Company, 2007. This is a breakthrough book that will change your life. Co-written by one of the country’s most prominent internists, the late Dr. Henry “Harry” Lodge, and his star patient, the 73-year-old Chris Crowley. This book shows us how to turn back our biological clocks—how to put off 70% of the normal problems of aging (weakness, sore joints, bad balance) and eliminate 50% of serious illness and injury. The key to the program is found in Harry’s Rules: Exercise six days a week. Don’t eat crap. Connect and commit to others. There are seven rules all together, based on the latest findings in cell physiology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and experimental psychology. Brilliant work!


 Buddhism, The Religion of No-Religion: The Edited Transcripts, by Alan Watts, ISBN 080483203X, Tuttle Publishing, 1999; Alan Watts’ lectures on Buddhist thought, including Zen and the Tibetan Tradition, delivered in 1965 and 1969 and transcribed by his son.

It’s Easier than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness, by Sylvia Boorstein, ISBN 0062512943, HarperCollins, 1997; Slim volume by a beloved Buddhist teacher who makes traditional Buddhist teaching understandable for the beginner and for the seeker; entertaining and filled with charm and warmth.

Open Heart, Clear Mind, by Thubten Chodron, ISBN 0937938874, Snow Lion Publications, 1990. This is an easy-to-read explanation of Buddhist philosophy.

Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart: Parables of the Spiritual Path from Around the World, edited by Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, ISBN 0062503006, Harper Collins, 1991. Teaching stories handed down over time by the great masters including Jesus, Buddha, and Ramakrishna and many of the great wisdom traditions including Sufi, Zen, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.

Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice, by Thich Nhat Hanh, ISBN 0385475616, Harmony; Three Leaves Press, 1994. Perhaps the most gifted and beloved thinker and writer in Zen Buddhism and tireless advocate for peace practicing in the West today. Originally written in 1974, and completely updated in this edition, this great Zen Master provides a fresh perspective on Zen Buddhism for westerners suffering from hurry-sickness.

The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti, Jiddu Krishnamurti, ISBN 0060648791 HarperOne, 1995. The writings of an extraordinary sage of our time, arranged into 365 daily meditations, developed thematically over seven days, illuminating the concepts of freedom, personal transformation, living fully awake and life.

Your Life is Your Message (1993) ISBN 0915132745 and Take Your Time: Finding Balance in a Hurried World (1997) ISBN 0786862211 both by Eknath Easwaran, and published by Hyperion. Easwarin was the Founder and Director of the Blue Mountain Center for meditation in Tomales, California. Both are thoughtful little books that offer guidance to balancing our lives.

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About The Way and the Power of The Way: by Ursula Le Guin, ISBN 1570623953, Shambhala Publications, Boston, 1998. Moved by a life-long love for the Tao Te Ching, this marvelous writer has been working on an original translation of this sacred text since the 1950’s. The result is a translation unlike anything seen before. A feast that you can sit down and relish or an hors d’oeuvre that you can dip into repeatedly.  Either way—delicious!

Seven Masters, One Path, by John Selby, ISBN 0060522518, HarperOne, 2003. This is a book by my friend John Selby who has brilliantly interpreted the meditation practices of Pantanjali, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti in one simple your complete program.  Everyone who wants to learn how to meditate or to deepen the meditation practice, can turn to this book but leaves readers gently yet surely into experiencing the seven universal dimensions of daily meditation practice.

The Untethered Soul: The Journey beyond Self, by Michael A. Singer, ISBN 1572245379, New Harbinger Publications, 2007. this author brings together the philosophies of the East and the West into a brilliant synthesis on how to succeed in life from our spiritual quest to our everyday activities. This is a book that is in a class by itself, which helps us to unlink our consciousness from the ego and our self-image and attain a state of inner freedom and liberation


The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology, by Robert A. Johnson, ISBN 006250648X, HarperOne, 1993; Two traditional fables unlocked and reinterpreted using Jungian psychology and metaphor.

Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel, by Candace B. Pert, Scribner, ISBN 0684819813, Simon & Schuster Ltd , 1998. I have followed Candace Pert’s work for years. She is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and made some of the earliest discoveries of neuropeptides. One of my presentations, “The Hand or the Fist”, and the chapter entitled “The Alchemy of the Soul” in Reclaiming Higher Ground as well as my audio tape for healing migraines called “The Healer Within” draws very heavily on her work. This is a brilliant book that begins to make the links between emotions, mind, spirit and neurochemistry.

Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert, ISBN 9781400077427, Vintage, 2007. This is a brilliant, witty and accessible book by a renowned Harvard psychologist who vividly brings to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, all in pursuit of unraveling the mystery of how we imagine the future, and predict how much we will like it when we get there.

Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotions Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, by Barbara Fredrickson, ASIN: B017MYREXW, Hudson Street Press, 2013. This is a user-friendly manual for opening our hearts. Using rigorous science, practical exercises and heart full daily life examples, the author shows us how to strengthen our capacity to more truly connect to ourselves and others.

A New Psychology of Human Well-Being: An Exploration of the Influence of Ego-Soul Dynamics on Mental and Physical Health, by Richard Barrett, ISBN 1326591452,, 2016. My friend Richard Barrett is one of the most profound integrative thinkers of our day. Bringing together numerous strands of research and theory with his visionary perspective he succeeds in “building a theory of human wellbeing that unites psychology with spirituality and science”. A brilliant synthesis of the psychology of the future. This book redefines the meaning of wellbeing for the 21st century.

The Selfish Gene: 40th Anniversary Edition, by Richard Dawkins, ISBN 0198788606, Oxford University Press, 2016. As influential today as when it was first published, The Selfish Gene has become a classic exposition of evolutionary thought. Professor Dawkins articulates a gene’s eye view of evolution— a view giving center-stage to these persistent units of information, and in which organisms can be seen as vehicles for their replication. This imaginative, powerful, and stylistically brilliant work not only brought the insights of Neo-Darwinism to a wide audience, but galvanized the biology community, generating much debate and stimulating whole new areas of research. Forty years later, its insights remain as relevant today as on the day it was published. This is the book that introduced the concept of the “meme”, a central part of the Secretan Center’s Permission Space Mapping which forms the foundation of the ONEDream® process.

Destiny, Character and Calling – The Why-Be-Do®

 The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, by James Hillman, ISBN 0399180141 Ballantine Books, reprint edition 2017. A wonderful and original insight into the subject of calling and destiny. Hillman describes his “acorn theory” in which he suggests that, “…each life is formed by a particular image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak’s destiny is written in the tiny acorn.”

Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life, by Michael Novak, ISBN 0684827484, Free Press, 1996. After studying for the priesthood for 12 years, and six months before becoming ordained, the author abandoned his studies to become a theologian and writer. He has been a U.S ambassador, and author of 25 books. He always writes thoughtful, provocative material about spirituality and values, and this book is no exception. A fabulous view of work as a spiritual calling and commerce as a potentially unifying, peace-giving and loving activity for humans on this planet. A rousing pick-me-up if your spirits ever flag or your faith in the system ever sags.

Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, by Gregg Levoy, ISBN 0609803700, Harmony, 1998. Gregg is a beautiful writer—poetic, exuberant and keenly insightful—and in this work he guides readers to ask and answer the fundamental questions that arise from any calling: How do we recognize it?  How do we distinguish the true call from the siren song?  How do we handle our resistance to a call?  What happens when we say yes?  What happens when we say no?  And then, Greg shows us many ways to translate a calling into action.

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon, ISBN 0062102419, Harper Business, 2012.  Clayton Christiansen, best known for his seminal work on disruption theory, give a speech to Harvard Business School’s graduating class about finding meaning and happiness in life.  This was especially poignant because Christensen had just overcome the same type of cancer that it taken his father’s life.  The wisdom and inspiration in this book will help you chart your own path to fulfillment.

Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood, by Marsha Sinetar, ISBN 0440501601, DTP, 1987 . This classic book offers a step-by-step guide to finding the calling that expresses and fulfills your needs, talents, and passions.


Tuesdays with Morrie: An old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson, by Mitch Albom, ISBN 0385484518, Doubleday, 1997. Mitch rediscovers his old professor, Morrie, in the last weeks of his life. He accepts a final private “class” with Morrie, meeting every Tuesday to learn the lessons of life.

The Circle¸ by Dave Eggers, ISBN-13: 978-1410466822,  Thorndike Press, 2014. Imagine Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are just one big company called The Circle. Then imagine what could happen to us all: the fundamental transformation of human society created by perpetual electronic connectedness. Eggers weaves a narrative, that includes his criticism of this phenomenon, around a company that is a thinly disguised version of all these technology companies merged into one.  It is a dystopian novel with a creepy resemblance to reality.  Fascinating!


 Daybreak: 52 Things Nature Teaches Us: by Amy E. Dean, ISBN 0871318083, M. Evans and Company, 1996. This book is a collection of essays that links the natural world with our daily material reality and paints a metaphor from which we can learn. For instance, communications are explained with the metaphor of African vervet monkeys, toads help to explain individuality and ravens demonstrate problem solving. Loaded with wonderful quotations and 22 black and white photographs from the American Museum of Natural History.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby, ISBN 0007139845, Harper Perennial, 2008. This is a wonderful little memoir (144 pages) written by the author, the former editor-in-chief of the French edition of Elle magazine in Paris, who at age 43 suffered a massive stroke that left him totally paralyzed and able to use only his left eyelid. Once witty and gregarious, he is now imprisoned, but his spirit will not die – so he writes a poetic, ironic, touching and whimsical book about his experiences by dictating to a friend through the use of eyelid! The book was published two days before he died in 1996 and became a number one bestseller across Europe.

Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life: by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussatt, ISBN 0684835347, Scribner, 1998. I have been reading this book consistently for ages because it is such a gift. It is a 608 page spiritual banquet containing 650 wonderful anecdotes, stories, poems, homilies and advice. Curl up around a fire and bury yourself in this beauty and I bet it will be hard to pull you away! Using a very creative format the Brussatts have created an Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy – from Attention to Zeal – including spiritual perspectives on things, places, nature, animals, leisure, creativity, service, body, relationships and community along the way.

Stone Soup for the World: Life-changing Stories of Kindness & Courageous Acts of Service, edited by Marianne Larned, ISBN 1573241180, RED WHEEL, 2002. A collection of inspiring stories of individuals who have made this world a better place through their personal passion and commitment to service, from the famous (Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Bette Midler, Paul Newman) to scores of ordinary folk doing extraordinary things to build communities and make a difference. Contains details of how to find and contact most of the people described and how to join their cause.

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer ISBN 0061116718, HarperOne, 2006. The Invitation started life as a poem on the Internet. Over the years it became a meme and was spread millions of times through multiple sources.  Finally it grew into a book and this is a delightful read of a familiar program augmented with updated wisdom.

Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, by Phil Bolsta, ISBN 0984032827, James Monroe Publishing, 2012. This book is divided into 19 sections, each dealing with different significant life-issues. Bolsta has gathered a delicious collection of quotations from wisdom teachers and writers relevant to each section, and then accompanied a thoughtful essay touching on the quotes and providing wisdom for us to contemplate for each of the issues.

What recent books have inspired you?   E-mail us to tell us about your favorite books.