Teachers & Influences
Meet the meditation teachers, philosophers, scientists, and professors who have tremendously shaped my life and being.
Siddharta Guatama, who came to be known as the Buddha, was an extraordinary creature. His influence on my life and my being is impossible to ignore.
His wisdom continues to work on me every day. The light of his love and compassion continues to radiate through me. And his sagacity and discernment force me to stay sharp and awake.
The gratitude I hold for this being breaks down every border of my being and then fills this unbounded space with tears of appreciation.
I am forever indebted to Socrates for introducing me to my unbounded ignorance.
Socrates showed me the transformational power of questions. He showed me how philosophy applies to our lives, how it helps us to discover where our beliefs clash, and also how to discuss them openly, honestly, and critically.
In masterful displays of irony, to highlight clashes in people’s own beliefs and assumptions, he spent his days questioning people about things like justice, goodness, and beauty. And, in the end, he even gave his life to defend the right to do so.
To him the unexamined life isn’t worth living. Reason, he believed, is what makes us human — it’s the divine spark; the spirit of progress; the path to truth, beauty, and goodness. So, he courageously gave his life to defend it.
The Austrian philosopher Karl Popper was a humble giant. He reminded the world of our fallibility. Single handedly, he stood against all the major philosophers of his time, who thought Truth, with a capital T, is something that is within our reach.
All of modern science is now modeled after his continuous cyclical approach of conjecture and refutation. There is no absolute truth – we have ideas, bold and creative guesses about this world. And for those who are interested in truth, it is our job to find holes in our ideas and beliefs, to question them, to criticize them, so we can continue to carve away at the truth.
He was also a Jewish survivor of the Hollocaust, who defended boldly and courageously the free and open society.
The vision, the poetry, and the words of Kahlil Gibran are something we can only marvel at. The capacity of this human to see beyond, to see the world in its fullness, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
His book, The Prophet, never leaves my desk. I also have a copy that sits on the side table next to my reading chair. The wisdom he has packed into so few yet such beautiful words is an infinite well to pull from. Every time I return to fill my cup, I am nourished with more life, with more love, and with more virtue.
How he has become so intimate with so many dimensions of life, I will never know. But the awe and gratitude I have for this man, I know intimately.
Thich Nhat Hanh
If you want to know what it looks like to embody peace fully, look no further than Thich Nhat Hanh.
Thich has been at the forefront of every peace movement since the Civil Rights movement. After being kicked out of his own country for encouraging peace, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., who suggested that Thich be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
There is such a depth and at the same time a simplicity to Thich’s teachings. He had a unique capacity to disarm the ego and point each of us back to our wholeness.
I cried all night, tears of joy, sadness and compassion, when I heard of his passing. And I’m tearing up now just thinking about how much this human has transformed my life.
Joseph Goldstein not only has over fifty years of meditation practice under his belt with renowned teachers from all over the world but he is also a remarkable scholar and philosopher.
He carries an incredible amount of practical wisdom to help point you back to your true self when you’ve been captured by one of the many hindrances.
If you trace the roots of the majority of vipassana teachers today, you will be sure to run into him as one of the world’s greatest influencers and caretakers of the dhamma.
Sam Harris has been with me since I can remember. Growing up as an outcast, infidel, and heretic in a devoutly religious home and community, Sam Harris let me know that I wasn’t alone. He was an exemplary role model outside of any organized religion.
The man has patience and vision; a long-game like no other. As a long-time practitioner of spirituality – of dzogchen and vipassana – he patiently awaited and tactfully helped shift Western culture from its ego-centered framework toward a non-dogmatic path of spiritual awakening and growth.
He is honest and direct – he has no time for bullshit. And though he has some of the hardest conversations, he is able to maintain remarkable composure in every situation.
Consider together his intellectual faculties, his philosophical and neuroscientific background, and his spiritual practice and exploration, and you’re left with nothing short of miraculous being.
Deborah Adele is among the most balanced people. Life, to her, has many facets and avenues, and it’s important to give ourselves fully to all aspects of it, not just to our spirituality.
How she integrates her spirituality into her daily life, however, is seamless and beautiful. She has a remarkable capacity to avoid theoretical language and get to the heart of practice – apply it to our lives.
Her book The Yamas & Niyamas is a living piece of wisdom. When you read it, her words sit in you and work upon you. You begin to establish a relationship with the principles of Yoga’s ethical practices.
This is a book you will continue to pull wisdom from each time you return to it.