Every year, for more than 120 years, Watkins bookshop in London shares with us via Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine, a list of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People – spiritual teachers, activists, authors and thinkers that change the world.
It was only in 2011, that Watkins started publishing the 100 list with the goal of celebrating the world’s living spiritual teachers who have had a significant impact. Watkins selects only those persons who have made unique and spiritual contribution(s) on a global scale. The person must appear in Nielsen Data, have a Wikipedia page, and is actively talked about throughout the Internet. Not surprisingly, a major way to tally the popularity of each spiritual leader is through their Google search rankings. (Will SEO —Search Engine Optimization — be the most important spiritual and ideological battlefield of the 21st century?)
Watkins feels this method gains a highly democratic and transparent parameter. Watkins is quick to remove candidates who spread messages that are hateful or intolerant but celebrate the positive influence of today’s spiritual teachers.
For 2018, here are the first 10 names on the list:1. Pope Francis, 2. Dalai Lama, 3. Desmond Tutu, 4. Eckhart Tolle, 5. Tony Robbins, 6. Oprah Winfrey, 7. David Lynch, 8. Bob Dylan, 9. Arianna Huffington,10. Paulo Coelho.
Here is just a small introduction to each:
1. Pope Francis’ role, currently, in addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, is involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, charitable work, and the defense of human rights (By Msgr. John Wynand Katende).
2. The Dalai Lama preaches as well as practices the importance of non-violence, peace and significance of compassion. For his outstanding achievements, he has been bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize.
3. Desmond Tutu stands among the world's foremost human rights activists. Like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., his teachings reach beyond the specific causes for which he advocated to speak for all oppressed peoples' struggles for equality and freedom.
4. Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” conveys a view of human psychology that has deep roots in Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufi Islam. Tolle explains, “Most humans are never fully present in the 'now', because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one.But then you miss your whole life, which is never not ‘now'.”
5. Tony Robbins is an American author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach who is known for his infomercials,seminars, and self-help books including “Unlimited Power” and “Awaken the Giant Within.”
6. Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, actress, philosopher whose fame spreads across the United States and the world. Oprah uses her media power to change public opinion, politics, and she is a trend-setter. Economists Craig Garthwaite and Timothy Moore showed that after Oprah endorsed Obama in the 2008 election and showed up on the campaign, it changed people's political opinions.
7. David Lynch adamantly promotes Transcendental Meditation (TM) as the core principle to his spiritual awareness mission. Lynch describes TM as powerful and profound as he witnessed positive results of inner-city school children, veterans who suffered PTSD,and females who had suffered terrible violence.
8. Bob Dylan is a songwriter who lets his songs speak for his spiritual belief of an inclusive world. Dylan is tolerant of all beliefs and feels the world needs such an outlook.
9. Arianna Huffington is a Greek-American author, syndicated columnist, business woman, and was editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, now owned by AOL. She was listed as the 52nd most powerful woman in the world in 2014. In 2016, she began devoting her time to a new startup, Thrive Global, focused on health and wellness information.
10. Paulo Coelho is the author of the book “The Alchemist,” which is one of the top-selling books in history, with over 65 million copies sold in 150 countries. Coelho's works have been translated into 71 languages. His latest book “Manuscript Found in Accra” has just been published in paperback.
I know you will have fun researching the other 90 persons on Watkins 100 list. But,aren't these 10 very impressive people whose teachings, I believe, have influenced our thinking and perspective a great deal.
We currently don't often hear someone ridiculing another's beliefs.This has transferred into religious worship spaces where several religious leaders gladly speak at the same podium. We don't hear too many condescending jokes about religions and nationalities anymore. Being kind to another seems to be acceptable today without it being a past, negative sign of weakness.
Each of us, I believe, plays a very special part in the world's spiritual evolution, though we may not be in the first 100. We are role models in every aspect of our lives. What we believe and the actions we take, teach our families, friends and observers. That could be a negative teaching or a positive one.
As you are aware, what we say and do in front of children is particularly important to their education and impacts them greatly. Aren't we in awe of just the first 10 persons on the 100 list? What if everyday we become the person who choose spiritual actions that positively influence others' opinions, perspective and beliefs, causing observers to be in awe of us?
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As is states in the first line of “A Course in Miracles” prayer on page 28, we have only one purpose: “I am here only to be truly helpful.” Would you agree the first 10 have been truly helpful people?