Meditations in a Groove: Transcendental Reading With Evan Voytas

There's a special quality to Evan Voytas' music that puts his songs in cosmic territory. Stemming from an early interest in meditation he picked up while studying improvisational jazz in New York, this Kerouac-like collection of experiences piqued our interest. We asked for some reading recommendations that have influenced his transcendental lifestyle.

I became interested in meditation while studying improvisational music. Certain musicians seemed to be accessing something special. The notes they chose were so perfect. It seemed that each idea they played was dictated by what was stated in the previous idea. And to be able to catch the next idea, they were somehow riding a wave, letting go of themselves so much that they were merely making way for a stream of ideas that was pouring through them. It occurred to me that they must be accessing a place beyond thought, and I began looking for that place in myself. Here are some of my favorite books that have helped bring me there.

A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine

This is my favorite book. I bought it from a vendor on the street on the Upper West Side when I was in school in New York. It's a very simple book that gives a clear explanation of meditation and awareness. Stephen Levine is also a poet, and the language is all very spare and precise. I've read it a bunch of times, but still reading just a few lines takes me back to a very high place.

The Book by Alan Watts

This book is the one that made me realize that I don't exist. It's a book about Vedanta, a school of Hindu philosophy, but written with a Western audience in mind. It really obliterates your sense of identity in a pretty righteous way. There's a chapter called "The World Is Your Body"!!!

Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Bucke

I found this book at the now defunct "Used Book Store" in my hometown, Kutztown, PA. Richard Maurice Bucke published Cosmic Consciousness in 1901. It profiles people who he believes reached a transcendent level of consciousness, from the Buddha and Jesus, to William Blake and Dr. Bucke's personal friend Walt Whitman. It's exciting to read so many different accounts of very similar mystical experiences throughout history, back to back.

The Only Dance There Is by Ram Dass

My friend Nick came across a copy of this in high school and it was a big deal for us. It's transcriptions of Ram Dass' lectures from the early '70s and it's way vibey. His breezy language and far out attitude immediately transport me.

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po translated by John Blofeld

Huang Po says all conceptual thought leads to error. It seems extreme but most things that have felt right in my life haven't come about through the use of my rational mind.


Evan Voytas’ new "Disappear Into the Stars" and "Lite Conversation" are out now via our digital single series, For Immediate Release (FIR). Download the songs for free and listen here.