100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2014

London’s best esoteric book shop, Watkins Books, has once again published its list of the 100 most spiritually influential people. The top 10 on the list are:

spiritual 1001. Dalai Lama
2. Eckhart Tolle
3. Pope Francis
4. Thich Nhat Hanh
5. Rhonda Byrne
6. Deepak Chopra
7. Oprah Winfrey
8. Dr Wayne W. Dyer
9. Desmond Tutu
10. Paulo Coelho

No doubt disinfonauts will have their own candidates – vent in the comments!

You can view the full list at Watkins Books.


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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54 Comments on "100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2014"

  1. Lists make me laugh… I have decided they are all zero on the list.

    • American Cannibal | Feb 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm |

      Giggly! But, seriously, no Cornel West?

      • Cornel West is not one of my favorite peoples. It appears to me that his style is counter to unifying.

        • American Cannibal | Feb 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm |

          I disagree. I think you have him all wrong. I see him as one of the few truly out there attempting to unify different cultures by speaking-up for fair justice and really bringing truth to a wider audience. He seems like a fair-minded, tough, courageous and spiritual man from everything I’ve seen and heard from him. His style is entertaining & challenging, and that helps drive home the message. And, yes, un-PC. We need that individuality from people.

          • I tried, but he’s not for me.

          • American Cannibal | Feb 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm |


            But, yeah. Ranking Lists are completely pointless. Hate them.

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          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm |

            again, agree with vigor. particularly lists about nominal ‘spirituality.’ isn’t the whole point of leaving quote/unquote ‘organised’ religion and discovering new paradigms of knowledge (aside from discovering new paradigms of knowledge) to also abandon religious hierarchy and corruption and the atrocities of church(es)??? regardless i’d say the top 10 are full of shit anyway- even though i do like thich nhat hanh quite a bit- i also recognise he caters to a far more new age, non buddhist demographic.

            and really glad to see you back.

          • American Cannibal | Feb 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm |

            Idolatry seems to be a human default mode, and often based on fickly rationalizations. Ho-hum.

            Nice to be back! Thanks!

          • American Cannibal | Feb 20, 2014 at 8:39 am |

            Serendipity! I just saw a flyer on a pole during my morning walk, advertising a conversation with Cornel West at a church only 5 blocks from my apartment next week. What great luck… can’t wait to meet him in person.

            The Universe provides.

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm |

            you hoodoo’ed it didn’t you?

          • Sure! Call it whatever you like.

            I got it,

            You got it,

            We got it,

            the magic touch

          • Beverly Hills VooDoooo

          • Is that the Hoff?

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 19, 2014 at 6:26 pm |

            agree 200% percent.

        • Jin The Ninja | Feb 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm |

          not trying to dismiss your opinion; however when he’s speaking of ‘black nationalism’ he’s referring to liberation and social justice for everyone. and when he refers to the injustices of history to ‘black’ people he’s attempting to contextualise racism- rather than ‘whitewash’ it (literally and figuratively) as ‘mainstream textbook history does in large. his analysis can be applied in large part to class, gender, and non black race. however i also see only benefits in his particular black nationalist rhetoric- as there is nothing wrong with extolling and uplifting an oft denigrated demographic. what i’m trying to say, rather indirectly, is you shouldn’t take what he says about black nationalism or black history or racism- personally. it’s not about you. it’s about the system.

          • I get that about him, it’s just not for me. The little I have seen of him, I felt pushed away from, not attracted.

            However, I can dig this.

            None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so. (p. 109)

            ― Cornel West, Race Matters

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm |

            i understand that, we all have our own preferences.
            who are some thinkers you hold in high esteem?

          • I’ll come right out and say it, they are all white. Not because they are white though. Just to get that out of the way.

            I like Robert Anton Wilson, Howard Bloom, Graham Hancock (although all this entheogen talk has long ago bored me), Aldous Huxley, R. Buckminster Fuller (Although I would like to read more of his books), and Richard Bach.

            Then there’s fictional authors: Neal Stephenson, A.A. Attanasio, and Jean M. Auel.

            I am sure I missed a few. I can certainly benefit from diversifying my sources of info. I prefer experience as a source for spirituality and life lessons overall.

          • I want to clear this up. I get the impression that you and others may think I am racist. This is not so. I tried to give Cornel West a chance. I watched some videos. His message failed to come across as powerful to me. To me, a powerful message is one of accountability and love.

            There’s no room for this group of people did this, and this group of people are this way because of that. Progress comes from the inner realization that it’s up to the self. Say so what, now what? Owning up to limitations and taking actions to overcome them.

            The quote I posted above is powerful. There’s no blame, or victimization in it. It’s a clear message. Transformation requires commitment. It was the only one on the list I found.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Feb 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm |

      A friend recently forwarded me an hour long interview with Chris Hedges. When asked his opinion of Oprah Winfrey he basically described her as a cross between a snake oil salesman and a televangelist.

      • Ouch indeed, and I can see why he’d say that.

        I once witnessed a group of mostly civil people on a message board dissolve into absolute me mentality. What did it? The OP was about commentators on the message board, where they were numbered on the list, and how each compared. This was the most successful display of how powerful comparisons are and the ways of the apple of Eris.

  2. American Cannibal | Feb 19, 2014 at 1:13 pm |

    Winter’s almost over, everyone. Attempt to stay positive, if you struggle. Laterzzz…

  3. Ellen Joyce | Feb 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm |

    Holy crap we so have to list our top influencers, especially if they aren’t on the list. I’m going with Clive Barker, Madeleine L’Engle and Frank Herbert.

    • For me, it’s all about people I encountered on my travels who I didn’t know. Like the homeless dude who offered me a swig off his fifth of vodka out front of Greyhound station.

      The woman from Africa, and the gypsy woman at an airport who saw I was distressed and offered information that eased my suffering.

      The cop that could have arrested me for walking across a bridge that didn’t have a walkway, but instead gave me a ride home.

      The acquaintance I hadn’t seen in years that stopped while driving and gave me a ride a rainy day, one in which I was feeling beyond low.

      There’s been people online that have shown kindness.

  4. Bruteloop | Feb 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm |

    Watkins nearly went under. When I can I buy from them. They have a wide ranging and excellent selection of esoteric and occult books, contemporary and valued first editions. However, they need to stay in business and this is what sells and allows them to stock the good stuff. They manage to keep the new age guff to a reasonable minimum in the shop but these are the people that pay. Along with the venerable Atlantis bookshop, where Crowley took in books to garner beer money spent in the pub opposite and where Spare traded paintings, London has no other outlets. Long may they continue.

  5. Damien Quinn | Feb 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm |

    Eckhart Tolle is influential than the Pope? I dunno about that, I’m not sure who he is but I’m fairly sure he has a way to go before he can boast about a million odd clergy, a billion confirmed followers and his own country.

    • kowalityjesus | Feb 19, 2014 at 7:51 pm |

      I’m so glad someone else took a jab at Toilet. I read his most famous book and actually tried to take it seriously for a long time: a series of meaningless, sweeping over-generalizations. This man must have an army of sycophants.

      Just based on that placement, whoever made this list must be as gullible as a catfish chowing phlegm, (if you’ve waited to be on the Iron Dragon at Cedar Pointe that reference would make sense).

      • Rhoid Rager | Feb 19, 2014 at 10:53 pm |

        I haven’t, but I have an image of you spitting off a bridge into a fetid pond below as the roller coaster roars overhead.

        • kowalityjesus | Feb 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm |

          you get an A for visualizing my metaphors. It was more memorable than the coaster, and I am sure a good percentage of their diet was mucous, based on how everyone in line scraped their throat clean to appease these lumbering weirdos.

  6. jasonpaulhayes | Feb 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm |

    Alejandro Jodorowsky and Alex Grey should be #1 and #2… the rest are all liars and charlatans. Anyone who reads Eckhart Tolle or Rhonda Byrne, and thinks that the power of positive thinking is all you need, should go candy stripe a cancer ward because the inescapable conclusion of your philosophy (for the well to do and well off) is that the least among us are to blame for not being positive enough. If you ever watched The Secret on DVD (that one of your “friends” or “family” gave you) and thought “I can really identify with that”, you lack the necessary mental faculties to defend yourself against even the most basic of intrusions and you are a part of the problem that is Non-Critical Positive Thinking.

    When all your theories have caught fire and youre left alone like a rodent in a spring trap, we will still be right here keeping the flame and waiting for you to descend the mountain of fevered ego and accept that you’re no more than a court jester with state approved spirituality.

    The only thing that’s being conjured here is a Literary Golgotha gnawing upon the minds of the rotting masses and the stinking flesh of the crown of creation.

  7. Spasmodius | Feb 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm |

    The proper name for this list is: The Top One Hundred Authors from the “New Age” Section of Watkins’ Book Database (Out Of a List of Six Hundred).

  8. how about Alejandro Jodorowsky??

  9. mannyfurious | Feb 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm |

    With a couple of exceptions, this list is basically, “The 100 people who are most successful at separating idiots from their money in the name of spirituality.”

    For the price of a one month’s subscription of Eckhart Tolle’s youtube channel, you can buy any of a number of books that will provide you much more “spiritual” nourishment. Just off the top of my head, books that cost less than $14: Most translations of the Chuang Tzu and Tao De Ching. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Breakfast of Champions. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Penguin’s translations of Meister Eckhart’s homilies. Any of Brad Warner’s books. Don Quixote. Many of Basho’s collections. Issa’s Springtime…. The Dog of the South. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

    There was that post a few days ago about the Borges interview. I’m not a Borges fan, but most of his collections are less than $14 and if you’re into that sort of thing, that’s a much better use of your money.

    • Speaking of other books/sources, I’m currently just over halfway through the book “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss” by David Bentley Hart and it’s outstanding. Guy can be a bit verbose and stuffy, but it’s one of the best and most comprehensive philosophical (and phenomenological) books on God/spirituality/whatever that I’ve read in quite some time.

    • American Cannibal | Feb 20, 2014 at 8:14 am |

      Ahhh.. But you should be a Borges fan! The Seven Nights is a great intro to his thinking and life.

      Also, I’d add William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience to your list; a basic text every literate person should have on their bookshelf.

      • mannyfurious | Feb 20, 2014 at 11:36 am |

        Ooh. Good call on James. I might try Borges again. His style is too “literary” for me. It’s just a personal taste issue. I think he was a man of interesting philosophies.

        • Give Seven Nights a try. It’s actually an edited transcription of a seven-night informal lecture series he gave in Argentina c. 1977. It’s an easy read. This may not draw you into his other works, but this series of talks may happily influence other things in your life, and reading lists.

          Topics covered: The Divine Comedy, Nightmares, Thousand and One Dreams, Buddhism, Poetry, The Kabbalah, and Blindness.

          Good luck! 777!

          • kowalityjesus | Feb 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm |

            I am secretly a shameless numerologist. Also augurist (flight of birds). Don’t tell my priest, as if he could care in a world so chock-full of heresy, he just appreciates that I show up and sing.

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm |

            numerology is a hugely important part of the biblical canon, kabbalah, and biblical occultism. if it wasn’t meant to be used as a system, it wouldn’t have been included;)

          • kowalityjesus | Feb 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm |

            This is an interesting dichotomy that my friend and I once discussed. Catholics are told to rely upon the grace of God and not (officially) ominous dreams, numbers, apparitions/calls of birds, other astrology-esque oracles, etc. but Catholics often happen to be extremely superstitious, sometimes with fairly good reason. This same friend has a cousin who had to go on heavy psychotics from dabbling in black magic (I guess she mega-fucked up a ritual), and I also worked with a girl who had to continue going to mass to prevent nightmares.

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm |

            growing up catholic (with a small smattering of ‘folk’ catholic practice and heavy chinese/malay superstitions) i completely agree. catholicism lent itself extremely well to ‘folk’ magic and syncretic traditions, whether willingly or otherwise (emphasis on the latter).

          • kowalityjesus | Feb 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm |

            haha! probably “other” on the local level (barring the Latin-American shrines scattered around my church) but with a substantial “willing” allowance/allotment at a more ‘administrative’ level, if I had to guess.

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 20, 2014 at 2:46 pm |

            oh i agree- there is at least a combination of ‘feigned ignorance’ and ‘ resigned apathy’ at the local level. i think the higher up you go in the church hierarchy, the less they want to admit or sanctify folk traditions, but they tend to go along with popular practice and acceptance of- at least where canonisation is concerned.

    • PrimateZero | Feb 20, 2014 at 9:51 am |

      The best part is that some of those books can be borrowed from the local library. I would like to add to the list of good reads….Cat’s Cradle, Valis, Catch 22, One Flew over the Cuckoos’ Nest, and The Dharma Bums.

      • mannyfurious | Feb 20, 2014 at 11:37 am |

        Exactly. It’s like the Matt Damon quote in Good Will Hunting about late fees being a cheaper way to invest in your education than however much it is to go to Harvard.

        I like your choices of books as well.

  10. DrDavidKelly | Feb 20, 2014 at 1:18 am |

    Number 44 is an interesting guy. I watched a few of his videos the other day on Youtube. But what does it mean to be ‘spiritual’? How are they measuring this? How is anyone more ‘spiritual’ than anyone else? Besides Brian Cooper is the most spiritual guy in the world. He lives a couple doors down from me. He can levitate, talk to cats and make his own beer.

    • DrDavidKelly | Feb 20, 2014 at 1:21 am |

      Sorry just found the criteria for ‘spiritualness’. I’m still disillusioned.

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