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The 100 Most Spiritually Influential People In the World

Source: Watkins Review

We're delighted to share our debut list of the 100 most spiritually influential living people, that was published in the Spring issue of the Watkins Review. Yes, we've taken up the not so simple task of naming the most popular authors and spiritual teachers, whose contribution in spirituality and spreading awareness is affecting us all.

We live in an age of lists -- from groceries and obituaries to Facebook friends, resume facts, lists of city capitals and lottery numbers. Of course, lists that classify the past, are easier to compile than lists that attempt to predict the future. With the holy grail of sorting algorithms, the world is sure to be your oyster.

Lists help us organize, explore and perceive our environments. But are so many lists really necessary? It is very much in vogue to publish lists of people: Time Magazine publishes an annual list of the 100 people who most influence the world; Forbes publishes several lists including a Celebrity 100 list, the World's 100 Most Powerful Women, and a list of 1000 Billionaires; Art Review's Power 100 is an annual list of the worlds 100 most powerful collectors, artists, gallerists, etc…

The lists of lists of people, just keep going and going. However, the Watkins Review believes that an important list has been long overdue, and we are delighted to share with you our list of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People. Lists of influential people contribute to the discourse and issues that each person represents, and the Watkins Review hopes that our list will nurture the debates surrounding contemporary spirituality.

There are several factors that were taken into account when compiling the list. Listed below are the main three:

1) The person has to be alive

2) The person has to have made a unique and spiritual contribution on a global scale

3) The person is frequently googled, appears in Nielsen Data, and highlighted in throughout the blogosphere

It's interesting to think about the amount of times that a person is googled; in a sense, being googled is a form of digital voting, and illustrates just how often someone is being sought out. Hay House World Summit

Top 10 from the Watkins 100 Spiritual Power List

1. Eckhart Tolle. Tolle does not advocate any particular religion, and has contributed to a wide range of spirituality. Eckhart's profound yet simple teachings have helped countless people throughout the world find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. His books, The Power of Now and the highly-acclaimed follow-up A New Earth are two of the best-selling Mind, Body, Spirit books in the world – more than eight million copies have been sold in North America alone. He deliberately avoided setting up an ashram or centre as he cautions that "one needs to be careful that the organization doesn't become self-serving".

2. Dalai Lama. Born Lhamo Dondrub, Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhists believe him to be a reincarnation of his predecessors and the Buddha of compassion. He is a vocal activist for Tibetan independence and has made an incredible contribution to global spirituality.

3. Wayne Dyer.
A self-made success story, Wayne Dyer inspires readers to actualize  their potential. He is referred to as a "preacher of self reliance" and is currently focusing on interpreting the Tao Te Ching. He lives in Maui, Hawaii and has eight children.

4. Thich Nhat Hanh. Buddhist monk, teacher, author and peace activist. He founded the Order of Interbeing and the Unified Buddhist Church, along with monasteries and spiritual centres in Vietnam, the USA and France, where he now lives.

5. Deepak Chopra. Deepak began as an endocrinologist, and then shifted his career towards alternative medicine. As a writer on Ayurveda, mind-body medicine and spirituality, he has had huge success with titles such as Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Chopra's immense cultural influence spans beyond traditional MBS, from children's books to comics.

6. Louise Hay. Louise Hay is a motivational author, and the founder of Hay House. Her best known work is You Can Heal Your Life; Hay House has published over 300 books, and has made an immense contribution to mind-body-spirit literature and the New Thought Movement. Thinking positively can definitely make a difference!

7. Paolo Coelho. The Alchemist is one of the top selling books in history—with over 65 million copies sold, and holds the Guinness world record for being translated in the most languages!

8. Oprah Winfrey. Oprah might be the most influential person in the world. She has discovered and advocated for so many spiritually influential thinkers—from Obama to Eckhart Tolle. We ranked her at only 8th place, because her influence isn't focused on spirituality, but eighth place may act as a metaphor since 8 means infinity in numerous metaphysical paradigms.

9. Ken Wilber. Wilber has advocated Integral Thought and influenced figures as varied as Bill Clinton, Deepak Chopra, and Billy Corgan. He founded the Integral Institute and has written about adult development, developmental psychology, philosophy, worldcentrism, ecology, and stages of faith.

10. Rhonda Byrne. Well known for The Secret book and DVD. Byrne advocates the belief that we can all transcend our suffering by not falling prey to negative thoughts. She has been listed among Times Magazine's list of 100 people who shape the world, and has also produced television shows. Last year she published The Power as a sequel to The Secret.

Read the full list of all 100 here...

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