WATKINS REVIEW recently published their list of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People” in the world. I found this fascinating because the other two big areas of study that I’ve had a lifelong interest in other than self defense and the martial arts are comparative religion and philosophy as well as integrative healing methods. Many of the people on the list would definitely fit into one of these two categories, a few of them would even fit into both of them.
Nearly one quarter of the list is made up of Buddhist Meditation teachers. This is as it should be, Buddhist Mind Science offers the spiritual aspirant a 2,600 year old tried and true method of calming and investigating the mind.
The Dalai Lama came in at #2 and Thich Nhat Hanh at #4. Both teachers are not only the two most famous Buddhist teachers on the planet, their teachings have contributed significantly to my own personal evolution as a spiritual seeker. The first time I saw The Dalai Lama was in 1987 at a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in the mountains of Washington, New Jersey. My good friend and Taijutsu training buddy Jon Weinress and I made the three hour trek from Long Island, New York to the monastery.
I began practicing Mindfulness Meditation that same year after reading THE MIRICLE OF MINDFULNESS the first book in English by the Vietnamese Zen Meditation Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Thay, as he’s known to his students, is quietly on fire with his ‘awareness of breath’ meditation teachings and his message of calmness, awareness and compassion.
The Indian/Burmese teacher S.N. Goenka came in at #47. Goenkaji is famous for his 10 day long, 10 hour a day Vipassana Meditation boot camps and has centers literally throughout the world. I’ve been practicing Goenkaji’s body scan meditation for over two decades and I’m still amazed at how simple yet remarkably powerful and healing this method is. I also very much appreciate S.N Goenka’s “You are your own Guru” message.
The Chinese/Thai Daoist Qigong Master Mantak Chia came in at #23. Sigung Chia lived in the same town on Long Island that I grew up in, for a dozen years. Sigung Chia’s International Healing Dao Qigong system is the most complete Qigong system on the planet. It’s a masterful blend of uniting visualization, breathing and movement to create perhaps the ultimate healing/longevity program available to humanity. I’ve been practicing this Qigong system for the last eighteen years. It must be working for me on some level, most people think that I’m as much as 13 years younger than I really am!
Mantak Chia and Dan Millman (#50), author of the “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” are the only martial artists on the list. Sigung Chia has trained in Taiji Quan, Bagua Zhang, Xingyi Quan and Muay Thai. Dan Millman has a Black Belt in Aikido. I would have liked to have seen someone who is primarily famous for being a martial artist to have made the list. Dr.Masaaki Hatsumi comes to mind first. His Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu system is ultimately a spiritual healing art.