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9 Spiritual Teachers Who Changed My Life

I have a lot to be grateful for, and amongst the things that I am most grateful for are the spiritual teachers who have changed my life.

As I write this, I’m sitting on the sofa next to my almost 5-year-old son, listening to spring birds harmonize with wind chimes outside as my 2-year-old naps.

It feels quiet and peaceful and lovely.

But I wasn’t always able to appreciate simple moments like this.

I used to be stressed and anxious all the time, and I did everything to avoid my feelings.

My life was a carnival of distractions.

And even though it often felt like I was stuck in a funhouse of nightmares, I was more afraid of what might happen if I allowed myself to just sit still and look at what was going on inside.

Because when you first start turning inward it feels like the volume of your mind is being turned up past the safe noise level, with emotions booming like a bass through your whole body.

It can be supremely uncomfortable.

But if you’re lucky enough to have the guidance of a spiritual teacher (or 9), you can learn how to turn the volume down on those uncomfortable thoughts and emotions.

And with practice, you can even learn to change the channel to something more pleasant, or turn the radio chatter of your mind off altogether to enjoy the stillness that remains.

In the past, I craved the noise because it was familiar.

And the mind always imagines that what is familiar is safe.

But eventually, the pain of all of those thoughts and emotions became overwhelming, exhausting, and I was forced to surrender to the fact that my mind *might* not have all the answers.

Enter the grace of spiritual teachers.

I didn’t even see what was happening at the time.

But little by little, spiritual teachers started to appear.

As I looked outside of myself for guidance, I became more and more comfortable turning inward for the answers I was seeking.

Sometimes what I heard was exactly what I was looking for.

Sometimes a message would reach me that I wasn’t ready for yet.

It didn’t matter.

Each teaching watered the seeds of Understanding that were beginning to grow within my awareness.

The seeds that are still growing, more and more vigorously, joyfully, and freely every day.

There is a saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

The following is a list of the spiritual teachers who appeared for me just when I needed them.

They are in the order of their appearance in my life, which has no bearing on their importance or impact.

Because each teaching has built on the last.

Their messages will reach you when you need them.

So if you’re drawn to one, trust that instinct.

Because ultimately, they all teach the same thing: the best teacher is right inside of you.

All of these spiritual teachers are just here to point you back to your (capital “S”) Self.

Do you have a spiritual teacher on your list that I haven’t included here?

Send me an email to let me know! I’m always hungry for more.

I can’t wait to see where this takes you.

 

1. Pema Chödrön

• “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

• “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”

• “…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”

• “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”

• “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

Learn more:

Books I love:

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chödrön

2. Thich Nhat Hanh

• “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

• “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

• “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”

• “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

• “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

Learn more:

Books I love:

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh

3. Eckhart Tolle

• “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

• “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

• “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”

• “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

• “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”

Learn more:

Books I love:

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

4. The Teachings of Abraham through Esther Hicks

• “As you think thoughts that feel good to you, you will be in harmony with who you really are.”

• “Reach for the thought that feels better, and allow the natural well-being that is yours.”

• “A belief is only a thought I keep thinking. “

• “Look for good things about where you are, and in your state of appreciation, you lift all self-imposed limitations – and all limitations are self-imposed – and you free yourself for the receiving of wonderful things.”

• “When something really really really matters to you, let it go! say to the universe: ‘You know what I want. Give it to me in the path of least resistance. Give it to me the easiest way possible. Give it to me in any way I can get it.”

Learn More:

Books I love:

Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther and Jerry Hicks

The Astonishing Power of Emotions: Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide by Esther and Jerry Hicks

 

5. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

• “It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy, truth liberates.”

• “You will receive everything you need when you stop asking for what you do not need”

• “Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

• “A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part”

• “Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect
– whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage.”

Learn more:

I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

6. Byron Katie

• “It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine”

• “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”

• “As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”—as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.”

• “A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”

• “I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”

Learn more:

Books I love:

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

Who Would You Be Without Your Story: Dialogues with Byron Katie

 

7. Ram Dass

• “It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”

• “Pain is the mind. It’s the thoughts of the mind. Then I get rid of the thoughts, and I get in my witness, which is down in my spiritual heart. The witness that witnesses being. Then those particular thoughts that are painful – love them. I love them to death!”

• “Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.”

• “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”

• “The next message you need is always right where you are.”

Learn more:

Books I Love:

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

 

8. Lester Levenson

• “All unhappiness is caused by our trying to be limited, to be an ego. The more we are our Self, the happier we are. We will never be completely happy until we are completely being our Self.”

• “We can have peace if we let go of wanting to change the past and wanting to control the future.”

• “Don’t probe darkness to understand light. Don’t dwell on sickness to be healthy. Don’t indulge in thoughts of lack to have supply.”

• “There’s nothing bad; there’s just making errors on the way back Home.”

• “Growth is transcending yourself, your habitual self, which is none other than ego.”

Learn more:

Books I love:

Happiness is Free: And It’s Easier Than You Think by Lester Levenson and Hale Dwoskin

The Sedona Method: Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success, Peace and Emotional Well-Being by Hale Dwoskin

 

9. Mooji

• “Step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not.”

• “Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.”

• “My love, stay here. Going in search of Self (as a goal) is illusion; You are already the One Self. You will purchase the map, only to find you are already Here.”

• “Don’t worry about anything at all.
You are not here by accident.
This form is just a costume for a while.
But the one who is behind the costume,
this one is eternal. You must know this.
If you know this and trust this,
you don’t have to worry about anything.
This world is so full of love.
And your heart, your being,
is so full of love, so full of peace.
You don’t have to go
to some place else to find peace.
It is right where you are.”

• “It does not matter what comes up. What matters is who you are, the one perceiving it.”

Learn more:

 

 

*All of the book links for these spiritual teachers are affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you choose to purchase through the link. However, I encourage you to purchase books from independent black-owned booksellers. You can find one near you by clicking here (my favorite is Estelita’s Library in Washington).

And if you’d like to support my work, please click here to donate and learn about other ways to show your love that have nothing to do with money.

Thanks so much!


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