The Teachers

Here are some of the finest teachers of mysticism in modern, post-modern or contemporary times.  I personally vouch for the efficacy and transformative value of their spiritual teachings, based on how they have shaped and contributed to my own spiritual formation.  

May the light of their wisdom shine brightly upon you, to bless you, and to guide and speed your journey along the path just as it has mine.  Namaste!  Shalom!  Baraka bashad!  Aloha!  Mabuhay!  Blessings!  Peace.
 
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Joel S. GoldsmithPhotograph of modern-day mystic Joel S. Goldsmith.

  • Joel Solomon Goldsmith (March 10, 1892 – June 17, 1964) introduced the message of The Infinite Way, the name by which the body of his teachings is known.  Joel is most probably the finest American contemporary mystic who emerged during the last century.  I have surveyed the works of major contemporary mystics, as well as popular pseudo-mystics of the “New Age” genre. Joel’s Infinite Way is by far the purest and the most practical for an aspiring 21st-century student of mysticism. In my opinion, his contemporary mysticism is unsurpassed in its depths of spiritual wisdom and in its heights of mystical truth. (Visit our subpage titled The Infinite Way for more information on Joel’s work and teaching.  You an also view an online obituary or memorial for Joel.)
     
  • An enlightened modern-day mystic of the 20th century; he distilled the pure mysticism in the various religious traditions and spiritual systems of the world and in the popular metaphysical and New Thought movements which emerged during the 19th through the 20th centuries.
     
  • In addition to his teaching activities, Joel also carried on a spiritual healing practice. He was thus not only a great spiritual teacher but he was also a gifted healing practitioner.
     
  • Joel introduced me to the mystical path, and his teachings helped bring about that vital first mystical experience, after which my soul was hooked and my mind was set aflame in pursuit of the mystical path.

“There is an old saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  Too many believe that this means when the student is ready some human teacher is going to come along to instruct him.  It really does not mean that at all. There are far too few real spiritual teachers in the world, and these few humanly could not possibly reach all those who are seeking.”
— Joel S. Goldsmith —

 

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Eknath Easwaran

      “Nothing can be more important than
      being able to choose the way we think.”

      Eknath Easwaran —                 



  • Originally from India, Eknath Easwaran (December 17, 1910 – October 26, 1999) brought Hindu mysticism to the West in modern times (particularly to the S.F. Bay Area) and made it comprehensible to the western mind.
     
  • He established the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation at Tomales, California. You can subscribe to their free Blue Mountain journal.
     
  • Sri Easwaran taught me the “how to” of meditation through his books, guiding me as I took my baby steps on the mystical path.
     
  • There is a channel at YouTube for Sri Easwaran where you can listen to a number of his talks.

 

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Sri Ramakrishna

  • Gadadhar Chattopadhyay (February 18, 1836 – August 16, 1886) is a famous mystic of 19th-century India. Popularly known as Sri Ramakrishna, he is venerated as the last avatara of Lord Krishna. His religious school of thought led to the formation of the Ramakrishna Mission by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda. Both were influential figures in the Bengali Renaissance and the Hindu renaissance during the 19th and 20th centuries.
     
    Photograph of Sri Ramakrishna

    Sri Ramakrishna

  • Ramakrishna was born into a poor Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal. He became the priest at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to Mother Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali and Indian bhakti. His first spiritual teacher was an ascetic woman skilled in Tantra and vaishnava bhakti. Later an Advaita Vedantin ascetic taught him non-dual meditation, under whom Ramakrishna experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Ramakrishna also experimented with other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that they all lead to the same God.
     
  • He had wide popular appeal, speaking in rustic Bengali, making use of many stories and parables. Though conventionally uneducated, he attracted attention among the Bengali intelligentsia and middle classes. By the mid-1870s Ramakrishna had become the focal point of a resurgence of Hinduism, particularly among Westernized intellectuals. He eventually gathered and organized a group of followers, led by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda, who continued his work as a monk following Ramakrishna’s death in 1886.
     
  • To learn Ramakrishna’s teachings, read and study the book titled The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
     
  • Ramakrishna’s ideas were spread to the West by Swami Vivekananda, beginning in 1893 as the spokesman for Hinduism at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions at Chicago. There Vivekananda’s message of universalism was well received and he attracted widespread support. He eventually established the Vedanta Society to spread the universal truths of Hindu philosophy in America and in India he founded the Ramakrishna Mission, a monastic society that promotes Ramakrishna’s ideas of religious pluralism and carries out social service. The Ramakrishna movement has been termed as one of the revitalization movements of India. As of 2008, Ramakrishna Mission has 166 branch centers all over India and in different parts of the world and the headquarters is located at the Belur Math.
     
  • The Ramakrishna Math and Mission and the Vedanta Movement (both founded by his disciples in his honor) maintain temples and/or societies at: Southern California, Northern California, New York, Seattle, Washington, Chicago, and other worldwide locations.
     
  • Picking up Joel Goldsmith’s cue, Sri Ramakrishna became my gateway to learning and understanding Hindu mysticism (Vedanta).  He taught me the universality of mysticism and convinced me that it was the one true spirituality.
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Sri Ramana Maharshi

  • Modern-era Indian mystic of the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, known for his advaita teachings of nonduality.
     
  • Ramana Maharshi taught me to “cut the fat” and “go straight for the jugular.”   He taught me the one essential practice – to realize that true and divine Self fully.
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Abbot Thomas Keating, OCSO

  • Founder of Contemplative Outreach, Fr. Keating introduced centering prayer as a counterpoint to the then increasingly popular Transcendental Meditation (TM) introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to the West.
     
  • Keating’s books are very insightful especially with respect to the psycho-spirituality or the metapsychology he presents. His video talks and interviews are available online at YouTube. The video below is from his series “The Habit of Heartfulness.”
     
  • Here is a recent Internet interview granted by Fr. Keating. It is a very good one — one that is already a classic in his favor.
     
  • He rekindled interest in The Spiritual Journey and the Christian mystical tradition’s practice of lectio divina or contemplation.
     
  • Fr. Keating helped restore my appreciation of the Catholic religious culture I grew up in. He reacquainted me with its mystical tradition. He is a proactive advocate of the contemplative life.
  • A Quote from Fr. Keating
     

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Roshi John Daido Loori

  • He was Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery until shortly before his passing away in October 2009.
     
  • Roshi Loori is one of three Western dharma-holders in both the Soto and Rinzai schools of Zen Buddhism.  I appreciate his brilliance and depth of spirit which helped me understand Zen Buddhism.
     
  • The author of several book titles, I particularly recommend his The Still Point: A Beginner’s Guide to Zen Meditation,” “Riding the Ox Home: Stages on the Path of Enlightenment,” and Path of Enlightenment: Stages in a Spiritual Journey.”
     
  • Listen to some of his dharma talks on public television.
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The Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

  • A most influential and controversial Buddhist teacher who came to the West from Tibet.
     
    Photograph of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

    Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

  • He is from the Vajrayāna path or vehicle (the Diamond School) of Tibetan Buddhism.
     
  • Trungpa Rinpoche opened my mind to the most beautiful and purest of Tibetan Buddhist teachings – mahamudra or Dzogchen – the “Great Perfection.”
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The Most Venerable Thich Nhất Hạhn

  • A Zen Buddhist monk from Vietnam, Thây, as his students call him, is the author of many books on the subjects of the Buddha’s teachings and the practice of Zen Buddhism.
     
  • He has a sangha or spiritual community at Plum Village Sangha.
     
  • He simplifies Zen Buddhism and makes it appealing for every day wear and practice. Here is the beautiful interview he gave Oprah Winfrey.
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Fr. William Johnston, SJ

    Photograph of Fr. William Johnston

    William Johnston SJ (1925-2010)

  • A contemporary mystic, Irish Jesuit teacher, scholar and spiritual author based in Japan.  I heartily recommend ALL his books for reading and study.
     
  • I like his thorough scholarly and profound understanding of mysticism and his compassionate approach to the mystical life.
     
  • Fr. Johnston was born on July 30, 1925 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He made his transition from this plane on October 12, 2010.
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Sri Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh or “Osho”

  • A contemporary mystic of the last century who was largely misunderstood by western societies.  “His syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humour — qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialization.  His teachings have had a notable impact on Western New Age thought, and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.” (Wikipedia)
     
  • I love his highly unorthodox approach to spirituality and the mystical life.  His sense of humor and straightforwardness were remarkable.
     
  • Visit GC Himani’s site to read some profound quotations from Osho.

 
“The heart is not a computer. It is totally different from the mind: it doesn’t collect, has no memory, it responds to the alive moment in an alive way.” – Osho –

 

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Fr. Willigis Jäger, OSB

  • Another contemporary mystic and an admirable product of the eastern (Zen) and western (Christian) mystical traditions.
     
  • A German Benedictine monk and a Zen master, he is an expert in the subject of contemplation and contemplative practice. His major published works are: “Contemplation: A Christian Path” (1994) and “Search for the Meaning of Life: Essays and Reflections on the Mystical Experience” (2003).
     
  • I like his straightforward, no-nonsense advocacy of mystical oneness à la Meister Eckhart.  

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Scroll painting of Lao Tzu.

Lao Tzu, Founder of Taoism


Allow yourself to yield, and you can stay centered.
Allow yourself to bend, and you sill stay straight.
Allow yourself to be empty, and you’ll get filled up.
Allow yourself to be exhausted,
and you’ll be renewed.

Having little, you can receive much.
Having much, you’ll just become confused.

(Lao Tzu, “Tao Te Ching,”
Brian Browne Walker translation)

 

 
 
 
 

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