Sufi Sage Seated in a Niche, from an Album of Miniatures in Persian Style with Deccan Text
Sufi Sage Seated...

Spiritual Teachers and Gurus

One of the most controversial and essential themes of spiritual development is the relationship between gurus and devotees, masters and chelas, teachers and students etc. This theme has been commented on at various places on this website and from various spiritual perspectives. On this page you will find the pro 's and the con 's from Sufism, Theosophy, Buddhism and Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Just get inspired by spirituality in action

These are some of the teachers - past and present - who will keep reminding us that there IS more to life. There is more to US...

Spiritual teachers are the salt that gives flavor to our otherwise somewhat dry western culture. With all the focus on s*x, drugs and rock and roll - development of the heart can very easily be forgotten or ignored.

Not what you expected

A real spiritual teacher will teach you a NEW perspective on your life - which also makes sense, but wasn't what you expected.

Controversies and ponderings on the relationship between gurus (spiritual teachers) and their students.

Readers on a previous version of this page felt the following qualities are important in a spiritual teacher - starting with the most important:

Eckhart Tolle on teaching spirituality

Practicing Presence: A Guide for the Spiritual Teacher and Health Practitioner
The contemporary book on how to be a spiritual teacher or spiritual health practitioner. What to avoid. What to look out for. What to keep in mind. How not to put yourself, but your client first.

Can you feel the quality of a spiritual teacher? Katinka Hesselink
I got a book for review recently that I put down within a few minutes because it made me all jittery. A few days ago we had a spiritual teacher do a lecture at our local theosophical lodge, and he turned the room quiet. We didn't even have questions to last the full time set for that stuff.
Spiritual teachings best fresh? Katinka Hesselink
I dreamt of fruit going bad last night, so I wonder: are spiritual teachings best 'consumed' fresh? What do you all think are classic spiritual books for instance of the same value as say the fresh teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle and the Dalai Lama?
When yoga increases stress: about the teacher, Katinka Hesselink
Yoga is generally sold online and off as a great stress reliever. I can vouch for that: with the right teacher, yoga can be very healthy emotionally. I've often come away from a yoga class with a great big smile on my face that was certainly not there before.
When are you ready to be a spiritual teacher?, Katinka Hesselink
Two people recently made the same remark to me. They both complained that they weren't getting through to people. That they were getting negative responses to their spiritual path. They were rubbing people the wrong way.
Messengers of the Masters or the Great White Brotherhood, Katinka Hesselink
An anonymous reader asks my opinion on the Trans-Himalayan teachings, as they've been called, going from H.P. Blavatsky to Mabel Collins Cook to the Temple of the People to Agni Yoga to Alice Bailey etc.
Caring for beginners a mistake? Katinka Hesselink
Whether beginners are practicing virtues or not is their problem not yours. Believe in no teachers, trust your own logic, your own experiences, make your own mistakes, learn and grow. Have a courageous attitude and be inwardly prepared to die.

That would be all nice and dandy if all I cared about was myself. But I also care about beginners. I care about what effect spiritual teachings have on other people. I care about whether people make themselves and others happy or sad. I care about a lot of things. And I don't feel I need to let go of that in order to 'grow spiritually' - and if I do, I'd rather not grow 'spiritually' at all.

So. what's a REAL spiritual teacher like?

Check out some biographies of inspiring women and men.

Pro

Con

The best spiritual teachers - according to my readers

  1. Jesus Christ
    Only the founder of Christianity :)
  2. Dalai Lama
  3. Thich Nhat Hanh
  4. Gautama Buddha
    The founder of Buddhism
  5. Lao Tzu
  6. H.P. Blavatsky
  7. Kahlil Gibran
  8. Paramahansa Yogananda
  9. Eckhart Tolle
    Vedantist New Age teacher
  10. Anthony de Mello
  11. G.I. Gurdjieff
  12. Jiddu Krishnamurti
  13. Annie Besant
  14. Osho / Bhagwan
  15. Ken Wilber
  16. Dr David R Hawkins
    "Enslavement by illusion is comfortable, it is the liberation by truth people fear."
  17. Gary Renard
  18. Swami Vivekananda
    "Each soul is potentially divine.
    The goal is to manifest divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal.
    Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy, by one, or more, or all of these -and be free.
    This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms are but secondary details."
    - Swami Vevekananda
  19. Donna Eden...
  20. Wayne Dyer
  21. A.H. Almaas
    Guides people to be lovers of truth above all else, and uses curiosity and inquiry as gateways into presence.
  22. Paul Brunton
  23. Mohammed
    Founder of Islam
  24. Ram Dass
  25. Harold Klemp
    Eckankar (aka Eck)
  26. Paramahamsa Nithyananda
    Self realization is the only goal in life!
  27. Lester Levenson
    Happiness is free
  28. Jein Klein
    There's is only Oneness expressed as many oh what a wonderful mysterious paradox
  29. Marianne Williamson
  30. Radhanath swami
    "Mood of Spiritual Kingdom is that we want to see everyone excel more than us"
  31. Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
  32. Albert Low
    Zen Master and Author
  33. Andrew Cohen

Interfaith spiritual teachers - male and female

Jiddu Krishnamurti, world teacher

Jiddu Krishnamurti was famous in his lifetime for first being raised as a 'world teacher' and then renouncing the organisation founded in his honor. Paradox...

David Bohm: science and spirituality

Famous for his 'Implicate and Explicite Order', quantum physicist David Bohm combines a knowledge of current day physics with a spiritual vision of the...

Ken Wilber writes on psychology, philosophy, mysticism, ecology, and spiritual evolution. He has been described as New Age, although his writing...

Karen Armstrong: author, former nun and religious inspiration

Karen Armstrong is the embodiment of religious tolerance and spiritual transformation. A former Roman Catholic Nun, she got disillusioned about religion....

John Hick - philosopher of religion

An introduction into the philosophy of John Hick a noted religious philosopher using quotes. Philosophers of religion know John Hick's pluralistic...

Buddhist gurus

Sufi and Muslim spiritual teachers

Christian spiritual inspirators

Index of spirituality-pages on Katinka Hesselink Net, alphabetical by author

Sufism, fourth way, Buddhism, theosophy, history, and related subjects.

Theosophical teachers

The Theosophical Society has been very influential in comparison to its size.These are some famous theosophists