If you haven’t already read Coelho’s book The Alchemist then I strongly suggest that you head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy. It’s a wonderfully succinct and powerful piece of work and encapsulates the author’s gentle approach to important spiritual ideas. Paulo Coelho isn’t a spiritual teacher as such, rather, he communicates his “teachings” through his writing.
Many celebrities, including Pharrell Williams, have said that the book has changed their lives and, unsurprisingly, it has sold over 165 million copies worldwide. Coelho himself has an interesting backstory. He has been admitted to a mental institution, worked as a member of an electronic music band and experimented with numerous mind-altering substances. Part of his personal awakening involved walking the famous pilgrimage route the Camino de Santiago, and the main character of The Alchemist is named Santiago, after it.
As a member of the sixties vanguard of artists, musicians and professors that pursued an interest in Eastern spirituality, Ram Dass has been responsible for propounding and spreading many little-known Hindu ideas to Western audiences. He was an associate of Timothy Leary at Harvard in the 1960s.
His seminal work, a book called Be Here Now, recounts his travels in India, his relationship with renowned yogi Neem Karoli Baba and his decision to return to the West to communicate his insights about “what is possible…in the living faith.” It also includes advice about yoga and meditation for those starting on the spiritual path.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the West’s best-known Buddhist figures. He’s written several books and gives retreats at Plum Village, his community in France where he is abbot. The core of his teaching is the practice of mindfulness as the basis for all other spiritual activities and the primary method for achieving peace and fulfillment.
Alongside being a practicing monk, he is also an activist. He founded the Engaged Buddhism movement in the 1950s when Vietnam went to war. He later travelled around the US as a proponent of nonviolence and peace. If you are looking for a body of practices on which to base your own spiritual efforts then Thich Nhat Hanh’s work can be an excellent place to start.
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