We are delighted to share with you Watkins’ 2021 list of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People – spiritual teachers, activists, authors and thinkers that change the world. The list came out in print in issue 64, Winter 2021 of Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine on January 12.
To see the full list, please click here.
Here, you can read more about each of the winners, counting down to our number 1 Most Spiritually Influential Living Person of 2021.
70 Brian Weiss, M.D.
Brian Weiss, M.D. is an American psychiatrist, hypnotherapist, and author. His research focuses on reincarnation, past-life regression, future-life progression and survival of the human soul after death. His books include Many Lives, Many Masters; Through Time into Healing; Only Love is Real; Messages from the Masters; Same Soul, Many Bodies; and Miracles Happen. September 2020 saw the new editions Directing Our Inner Light; Mirrors of Time; and Eliminating Stress, Finding Inner Peace.
Born in New York, USA
6 November 1944 (Scorpio/Monkey)
Psychiatrist and Author
69 Andrew Forrest
Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola were the first Australians to pledge half their wealth to charity whilst living. In 2001, they founded Minderoo Foundation and continue to drive its philanthropic mission today. In April 2020, they donated an additional AU$520 million to Minderoo, bringing their total donations to the Foundation’s global causes to AU$2 billion. In 2010, Forrest and his daughter Grace founded Walk Free to fight modern slavery globally.
Born in Perth, Western Australia
18 November 1961 (Scorpio/Ox)
68 Anita Moorjani
Diagnosed with terminal cancer and hours from death, Anita Moorjani entered into a near-death experience (NDE) where she discovered one of life’s greatest truths: Heaven is not a destination; it’s a state of being. When she regained consciousness, her cancer miraculously healed. The full story appears in her bestseller Dying to Be Me. Her latest book, Sensitive is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World, is due out in March.
Born in Singapore
16 March 1959 (Pisces/Pig)
Author and Cancer Survivor
67 Daisaku Ikeda
Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet. He is honorary president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization in Japan and founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). Every year on January 26th, the anniversary of the SGI’s founding, he submits a peace proposal to the United Nations. In “Towards Our Shared Future”, his 2020 peace proposal, Ikeda urged nations to collaborate to confront issues like natural disasters and climate change.
Born in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan
2 January 1928 (Capricorn/Rabbit)
Buddhist Philosopher and Peacebuilder
66 Caroline Myss
Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. In 2003, she established her own educational institute, CMED (Caroline Myss Education). Her books include Anatomy of the Spirit, Sacred Contracts, and Archetypes. Her latest and most personal book to date, Intimate Conversations with the Divine: Prayer, Guidance, and Grace, published in September.
Born in Chicago, USA
2 December 1952 (Sagittarius/Dragon)
Teacher and Author
65 Dan Millman
A former trampolining world champion, Dan Millman is best known for his book Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Other titles include Everyday Enlightenment, The Laws of Spirit, The Four Purposes of Life, The Hidden School, and a revised anniversary edition of The Life You Were Born to Live. 2019 saw the release of four audio courses: Energizing the Body, The Power to Change, The Path of Self Discovery, and The School of Life.
Born in Los Angeles, USA
22 February 1946 (Pisces/Dog)
Gymnast, Teacher and Writer
64 Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron is the author of more than thirty books, including bestselling works on the creative process. She is best known for The Artist’s Way which provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self, aiming to dispel the “I’m not talented enough” conditioning that holds many people back and helping you to unleash your inner artist. Her latest book The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention published this January.
Born in Libertyville, Illinois, USA
4 March 1948 (Pisces/Rat)
Artist and Writer
63 Eben Alexander
Dr. Eben Alexander, a renowned academic neurosurgeon, thought he knew how the brain and mind worked. A transcendental near-death experience (NDE), in which he was driven to the brink of death and spent a week deep in coma from an inexplicable brain infection, changed all of that. In his first book Proof of Heaven he describes his 2008 NDE. His other books are The Map of Heaven and Living in a Mindful Universe.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
11 December 1953 (Sagittarius/Snake)
Neurosurgeon and Author
62 Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax is a comedian, mental health campaigner, lecturer, and author. In 2013, she graduated from Oxford University with a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and in 2015 was awarded an OBE for her services to mental health. A new paperback edition of her memoir How Do You Want Me?, with a new introduction for 2020, published in April and her latest book And Now for the Good News… published in September.
Born in Evanston, Illinois, USA
19 April 1953 (Aries/Snake)
Performer, Mental Health Campaigner, and Writer
61 Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield is an award-winning speaker and an internationally recognized leader in personal development and peak performance strategies. Best known as the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, he is also the bestselling author of The Success Principles, The Power of Focus, and The Aladdin Factor. His latest book, The Success Principles Workbook: An Action Plan for Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, published in April 2020.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas
19 August 1944 (Leo/Monkey)
Motivational Speaker and Author
60 Neale Donald Walsch
Neale Donald Walsch. Walsch’s Conversations with God series has sold over 450,000 copies worldwide. The first book, published in 1995, became an international bestseller and remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for 135 weeks. Conversations with God Book 4 published in 2017. His latest book, The God Solution: The Power of Pure Love, published in December and a new edition of Neale Donald Walsch’s Little Book of Life is due out in March.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
10 September 1943 (Virgo/Goat)
59 Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder. Described as the “poet laureate of Deep Ecology”, Snyder is often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance. A poet, translator, essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist, his work reflects an immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. 2020 saw the paperback edition of The Great Clod: Notes and Memoirs on Nature and History in East Asia (June) and the 30th Anniversary Edition of The Practice of the Wild (September).
Born in San Francisco, USA
8 May 1930 (Taurus/Horse)
Poet and Environmentalist
58 Daniel Goleman
Daniel Goleman is a renowned science journalist, lecturer and internationally known psychologist who for many years reported on the brain and behavioural sciences for the New York Times. He has written on self-deception, creativity, transparency, meditation, social and emotional learning, the ecological crisis, and the Dalai Lama’s vision for the future. His latest book, The Emotionally Intelligent Leader, published in 2019. December 2020 saw the 25th Anniversary Edition of his five-million copy bestseller Emotional Intelligence.
Born in Stockton, California, USA
7 March 1946 (Pisces/Dog)
Psychologist, Author and Journalist
57 Tim Freke
Tim Freke is a pioneering philosopher who has been exploring spirituality since a spontaneous awakening when he was 12 years old. He first became known as a Gnostic scholar, through the bestseller The Jesus Mysteries. In his latest books, Deep Awake and Soul Story, Tim offers a revolutionary approach to awakening for the 21st century and a visionary new understanding of the nature of reality. Watch his TEDx talk through his website.
Born in Yeovil, Somerset, England
8 April 1959 (Aries/Pig)
Author and Philosopher
56 Richard Rohr
Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within mystical and transformational traditions. He is a Franciscan priest and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His latest book, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder, published in May 2020 and a new book, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: What Do We Do With Evil?, is due out in February.
Born in Kansas, USA
20 March 1943 (Pisces/Goat)
Priest, Author and Inspirational Speaker
55 Andrew Weil, M.D.
Andrew Weil, M.D. is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. The founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, he has authored several best-selling books on integrative health and healthy aging. His latest book is Mind Over Meds: Know When Drugs Are Necessary, When Alternatives Are Better – and When to Let Your Body Heal on Its Own.
Born in Philadelphia, USA
8 June 1942 (Gemini/Horse)
Physician and Author
54 Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabrielle Bernstein is a motivational speaker, life coach, and #1 New York Times bestselling author. She was featured on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday as a “next-generation thought leader” and her books include Spirit Junkie, Miracles Now, The Universe Has Your Back, and Judgement Detox. October 2020 saw the Spirit Junkie Card Deck and her latest book, Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams, publishes in paperback in February.
Born in New York, USA
1 November 1979 (Scorpio/Goat)
Author and Motivational Speaker
53 Prem Rawat
Prem Rawat has been travelling to speak about peace since the age of four and has addressed live audiences of over 15 million in more than 250 cities. The Prem Rawat Foundation has developed a variety of programs and initiatives to fulfil its mission of addressing the fundamental human needs of food, water, and peace. Translated into 9 languages, his book Peace is Possible was published in English in 2019.
Born in Haridwar, India
10 December 1957 (Sagittarius/Rooster)
Speaker, Author and Peace Advocate
52 Robert Thurman
Robert Thurman is a Buddhist scholar and co-founder and president of Tibet House US, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. His books include Inner Revolution, The Jewel Tree of Tibet, and Why the Dalai Lama Matters. For 30 years, he served as Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, retiring in 2020. He was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 2020, for his help in recovering India’s ancient Buddhist heritage.
Born in New York City, USA
3 August 1941 (Leo/Snake)
Buddhist Writer and Academic
51 Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a philosopher and writer on transpersonal psychology and Integral Theory. The founder of Integral Institute and co-founder of Integral Life, his books include Sex, Ecology, Spirituality; A Theory of Everything, and Integral Buddhism. The Ken Show, a play on kensho (a sudden glimpse into the nature of reality), is a monthly series with Wilber on Integral Live. The film version of Grace and Grit is set to premiere in early 2021.
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
31 January 1949 (Aquarius/Ox)
Author and Integral Theorist
50 Alex Grey
Alex Grey is a visionary artist, author, and teacher. His work is described as a blend of sacred, visionary art and post-modern art, and has graced numerous book and album covers. With his wife Allyson he founded CoSM, The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a place of contemplation and worship for community honouring the practice of art as a spiritual path. CoSM’s mission is to build a Sanctuary of Visionary Art to uplift the global community. This sanctuary will be called Entheon, meaning ‘a place to discover the God within’. CoSM have almost reached the $400,000 goal that will open Entheon, transforming a three-story carriage house into a stunning 12,000 square foot exhibition of the finest original works of Visionary Art. See the video Open Entheon and contribute here.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, USA
29 November 1953 (Sagittarius/Snake)
49 Marilynne Robinson NEW
Marilynne Robinson is a novelist and essayist best known for her novels Housekeeping (1980), a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Gilead (2004), which won the award in 2005. Her two other highly acclaimed novels Home (2008), which received the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction, and Lila (2014), return to the world of Gilead. In 2015, The New York Review of Books published “President Obama & Marilynne Robinson,” a two-part conversation covering topics in American history and the role of faith in society. Obama has said of her work that it “defines universal truths about what it means to be human”. In 2016, she was named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people. Her latest book Jack (September 2020), is the fourth and final book in the Gilead series.
Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, USA
26 November 1943 (Sagittarius/Goat)
Novelist and Essayist
“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.” – Marilynne Robinson
48 Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. In 2014, Thay suffered a severe stroke. In 2016, after a year of intensive rehabilitation, he returned to his hermitage at Plum Village. In 2018, he returned to Vietnam and expressed a clear wish to live out his days at his root temple in Hue. 2020 saw new editions of Interbeing, Being Peace, Fragrant Palm Leaves, The Sun My Heart, and The Miracle of Mindfulness. How to Connect, the latest addition to the Mindfulness Essentials series published in August 2020 and The Heart of the Plum Village Teachings: The Forty Tenets of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is due out at the end of January.
Born in Thua Thien, Vietnam
11 October 1926 (Libra/Tiger)
47 Karen Armstrong
A former Roman Catholic nun, Armstrong is the author of A History of God, The Great Transformation, The Case for God, and Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. In 2008 she called for the creation of a Charter for Compassion in the spirit of the Golden Rule. The charter was presented in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Signatories include Queen Noor of Jordan, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu. In May 2017, in recognition of her investigations into world religions, Armstrong won Spain’s Princess of Asturias award for social sciences. Organizers described her as an international reference point for her comparative studies of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Her latest book, The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts, was published in paperback in July 2020.
Born in Wildmoor, Worcestershire, England
14 November 1944 (Scorpio/Monkey)
Writer and Academic
46 Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, from 2002 to 2012. In 2013 he started his new position as Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. Regarded as one of the world’s greatest living theologians, Dr Williams is a scholar of the Church Fathers and an historian of Christian spirituality. He is also a noted poet and translator of poetry. Apart from Welsh, he speaks or reads nine other languages. 2020 saw the publication of The Way of St Benedict (January), the paperback edition of The Book of Taliesin: Poems of Warfare and Praise in an Enchanted Britain, co-translated with Gwyneth Lewis as part of the Penguin Classics series (September), and his latest book, Candles in the Dark: Faith, Hope and Love in a Time of Pandemic (December).
Born in Ystradgynlais, Swansea, Wales
14 June 1950 (Gemini/Tiger)
Anglican Bishop, Author and Theologian
45 Richard Bach
Richard Bach is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, which have been continual bestsellers since the 1970s. An avid aviator since the age of 17, Bach was badly injured in 2012 when his aircraft clipped power lines and crashed. Hospitalized for four months, he reported that his near-death experience inspired him to finish the fourth part of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. 2014 saw Illusions II: The Adventures of a Reluctant Student, which incorporated the real-life story of the crash. Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition, including Part Four, published in 2015. His latest book, Life with My Guardian Angel, published in 2018 and the paperback edition of Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul (The Lost Book from Illusions) published in 2019.
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, USA
23 June 1936 (Cancer/Rat)
Writer and Aviator
44 Martin Seligman
Commonly known as the founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman is a leading authority in the fields of resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism. He has written more than 350 scholarly publications and 30 books which have been translated into more than 50 languages, including Flourish, What You Can Change & What You Can’t, The Optimistic Child, Helplessness and Abnormal Psychology (with David Rosenhan). Since 2000, his main mission has been the promotion of Positive Psychology and applying his research to groups like teachers and students, the U.S. Army, athletes, and every-day people. A new paperback edition of Authentic Happiness was published in 2017 and 2018 saw a new paperback edition of Learned Optimism. His latest book, The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism came out paperback in January 2019.
Born in Albany, New York, USA
12 August 1942 (Leo/Horse)
43 Dr Joe Dispenza
Dr Joe Dispenza is an international lecturer, researcher, corporate consultant, author and educator who has been invited to speak in more than 30 countries on five continents. As an author, lecturer and researcher, he is driven by the conviction that each of us has the potential for greatness and unlimited abilities. Through his workshops and retreats, he has educated hundreds of thousands of people, detailing how they can rewire their brains and recondition their bodies to make lasting changes. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, as well as Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain. His latest book Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, was published in paperback in March 2019.
Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
24 March 1962 (Aries/Tiger)
Lecturer, Researcher, and Author
42 Justin Welby
Justin Welby was installed as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in a service at Canterbury Cathedral on 21st March 2013. In his sermon he said: “There is every possible reason for optimism about the future of Christian faith in our world and in this country.” More recently he has added: “When the church is working it is the most mind-bogglingly, amazingly, extraordinarily beautiful community on earth. It heals, it transforms, it loves, and it changes society.” His book Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope (due out in paperback in July 2021), draws on Christian social teaching to identify the values that will enable us to reimagine, and to enact, a hopeful future, identifying the building blocks for reimagining “British Values” and their implementation in a post-Brexit, multicultural country.
Born in London, England
6 January 1956 (Capricorn/Goat)
Archbishop of Canterbury
41 Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore is the author of the number one New York Times bestseller Care of the Soul. He has written over twenty books about bringing soul to personal life and culture, deepening spirituality, humanizing medicine, finding meaningful work, imagining sexuality with soul and doing religion in a fresh way. He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist, and today he lectures widely on holistic medicine, spirituality, psychotherapy, and the arts. Oprah Winfrey referred to him as one of the top elders of the spirituality movement in our time. His latest book, Ageless Soul, published in the UK with the subtitle An Uplifting Meditation on the Art of Growing Older and in the US with the subtitle The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA
8 October 1940 (Libra/Dragon)
Author and Jungian Psychotherapist
To read the Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2021 List countdown from 100–71, please click here.
To read the countdown from 40–11, please click here.
To read the Top 10 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2021, please click here.