Some spiritual teachers come in the form of relationships. Others find us in a mosh pit at a Sinead O’Connor concert in our twenties (where I got the courage to walk from my 9-5 job). Others are classical Zen masters and awakened humans.
Here are 11 Spiritual Teachers who’ve influenced my way of thinking, being and leading:
“The truth is that you already are what you are seeking. You are looking for God with his eyes. This truth is so simple and shocking, so radical and taboo that it is easy to miss among your flurry of seeking.”
Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher “devoted to the awakening of all beings by liberating what’s at the core of existence.” I love his compassionate approach to ego, and this perspective: Intention and attention both matter on the spiritual journey.
2. PEMA CHÖDRÖN
“I’ve known many people who have spent years exercising daily, getting massages, doing yoga, faithfully following one food or vitamin regimen after another, pursuing spiritual teachers, and different styles of meditation, all in the name of taking care of themselves. Then something bad happens to them and all those years don’t seem to have added up to their inner strength and kindness for themselves that they need to relate with what’s happening. And they don’t add up to being able to help other people or the environment. When taking care of ourselves is all about me, it never gets at the unshakable tenderness and confidence that we’ll need when everything falls apart. When we start to develop maitri for ourselves, unconditional acceptance of ourselves, then we are really taking care of ourselves in a way that pays off. We feel more at home with our own bodies and minds and more at home in the world. As kindness for ourselves grows, so does our kindness for other people.”
– Pema Chödrön
An American Buddhist nun, who was a school teacher and mother before she took her vows. Pema is accessible and grounded. I adore her.
3. A COURSE IN MIRACLES
“Whatever you accept into your mind has reality for you. It is your acceptance of it that makes it real. If you enthrone the ego in your mind, your allowing it to enter makes it your reality. This is because the mind is capable of creating reality or making illusions. I said before that you must learn to think with God. To think with Him is to think like HIm. This engenders joy, not guilt, because it is natural. Guilt is a sure sign that your thinking is unnatural. Unnatural thinking will always be attending with guilt, because it is the belief in sin. The ego does not perceive sin as a lack of love, but as a positive act of assault.”
“Love will immediately enter into any mind that truly wants it.”
– A Course In Miracles
Channeled by Dr. Helen Schucman, A Course In Miracles is a monumental teaching on Forgiveness and the nature of reality, offered through The Christ Consciousness lens. This is my home zone. As someone who was raised Catholic, A Course in Miracles is like a cross over album for me. All the holy teachers, offering a more inclusive, expansive—and heart centered, perspective.
4. MARIANNE WILLIAMSON
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– From A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”, Marianne Williamson
Marianne embodies fierce integrity. I’m in awe of her unwavering commitment to Divine Principles in politics and beyond.
5. FATHER RICHARD ROHR
“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.”
– Father Richard Rohr
A Franciscan friar and ecumenical teacher, who bears witness to Christian mysticism. Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. Richard’s is one of the few newsletters I subscribe to.
6. ECKHART TOLLE
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
– From A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle
Name drop: I had tea with Eckhart at his apartment, and his hug goodbye was… cosmic. A New Earth was the first book I read that felt like a transmission. Eckhart always returns to a message of Love and he’s as pragmatic as he is hopeful. Beautiful combination.
7. PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA
“Man should blame no one but himself for his troubles. God doesn’t reward or punish anyone. Suffering is caused by the misuse of one’s own free will. God has given us the power to cast him away or to accept him. God doesn’t want us to suffer, but he will not interfere when we choose actions that lead to misery.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda
Known as “The Father of Yoga in the West,” Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian Hindu monk, yogi and guru who introduced millions of people to meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). I love his perspective on karma: “plow through it.” And of course, his view on Love: “Real love is when you are constantly watching the progress of the soul.”
8. THE YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI
This Sutra is the basis of my Choosing Loving Thoughts methodology that I write about in How To Be Loving:
“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksa bhavana.”
– The Yoga Sutras, 2.33
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (I’m quoting from Wikipedia:) “is a collection of Sanskrit sutras on the theory and practice of yoga… was compiled in the early centuries CE, by the sage Patanjali.
The Yoga Sutras is best known for its reference to the eight elements of practice culminating in samadhi. The eight elements are yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration of the mind), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption).
It is closely related to Buddhism, incorporating some of its terminology… The contemporary Yoga tradition holds the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali to be one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy.”
Pick up The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
This one teaching upended my spiritual practice: “Discipline is a tool that numbs the mind.” I felt LIBERATED to follow my heart and compelled to QUESTION EVERYTHING. In this way, Krishnamurti changed my life and how I work in the world.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was a mystical badass. He was groomed to take over the “Star of the Eastern Order”—a theosophical spiritual group of thousands. And on his inauguration day, he stood up in front of everyone and said, essentially, that’s a wrap, we’re disbanding. He agreed to teach, but immediately folded the religious organization. That’s like a King walking away on coronation day. #fangirl
10. REVEREND MICHAEL BERNARD BECKWITH
“The gratitude groove softens the heart, opens the mind, causing even seemingly ordinary things to become sacred.”
– Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith
A powerful conduit for wisdom and higher energy. I’ve always thought the Agape International Spiritual Center was like an acupuncture point on the planet—the community he’s created there is astounding. I tune into his livestream Sunday Services and am deeply honoured to call Michael a friend.
Once in many lifetimes a true healer comes to share the load and help you learn what Divine Love is. For me, that’s an energy healer named V.S. We’ve worked together very quietly for many years. She’s an integral part of Heart Centered Membership and all of our meditations and ritual practices. She’s the lyricist, I’m on lead vocals. Maybe we’re like the Bernie Taupin + Elton John of metaphysics.
Metaphysical correctness is essential in the work I do, and V.S.’s skills and dedication to unfolding Christ Consciousness have been the most instructional gifts of my life. V.S. isn’t on social media, she leads a devotional life. If you want to experience her wisdom, come inside our Heart Centered Membership—the theme for our next season is Deeply Nourished.
May you find your teachers and may they light your way.