Spiritual Teacher Ratings

As I explain on my bio page, some criticize the idea of spiritual teacher ratings and reviews. Generally, they argue: I am in no position to judge “enlightened” people, that I cause irreparable harm to seekers who discover their teacher’s low ranking, or I can’t possibly have devoted sufficient time to studying their (low-ranking) teacher.

spiritual teacher ratings
Image by Shawn Nevins

Addressing each point in turn: If I didn’t think I had a useful perspective, I wouldn’t write, and judging from the 4,500+ unique visitors every month looking for information on spiritual teachers, awakening, and enlightenment, others must find it useful as well. As for harming people, I can’t tell anyone something they don’t want to hear. At best, I may nudge someone to further explore a doubt or inspiration they already have.  Lastly, it’s true I didn’t read all dozen or so of Andrew Cohen’s books, nor buy my way into the inner circle, but if something smells like garbage to you, it probably is; yet one person’s garbage is, truly, another person’s treasure.

That said, here is a quick overview of the spiritual teacher ratings on this site.  There are scores more I could add, but one of the goals for this site is to create an actionable list.  Too many choices leads to paralysis of analysis. Instead, begin with someone on this list and really apply yourself to their teachings. If you find no one that resonates, check out my Guidelines for Choosing a Spiritual Teacher. Though I use a star system for the spiritual teacher ratings, any of these other than the one star reviews deserve a look.

Five Stars – This is a mix of both classics who are no longer with us, and others lesser-known but alive and worth contacting:  Nisargadatta Maharaj, Richard Rose, Ramana Maharshi, Douglas Harding , Bob Fergeson, and Paul Rezendes.

Four Stars – More of my favorites.  This category includes: Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Bernadette Roberts, Paul Hedderman, Art Ticknor, Bob Cergol, Gary Weber, and Adyashanti.

Three Stars – This is a broad category, all of interest.  Some are superstars too popular to study with directly, others played key but limited roles in my spiritual search, and others I don’t know quite well enough to call them Four Stars.  This category includes: Eddie Traversa, Peace Pilgrim, Joseph Sadony, Bassui, Huang Po, and Foyan, John Wren-Lewis, Paul Brunton, Vernon Howard, P.D. Ouspensky, Linda Clair, Eckhart TolleMichael Singer, and Rupert Spira (note that I removed Bart Marshall at his request).

Two Stars – This is the largest category and includes one-hit wonders, a few of the better non-duality and neo-advaita crowd, and spiritual teachers respected by someone I respect, but whose teachings I don’t find quite as deep or as useful as the Three Stars.  This category features: Isaac ShapiroKarl Renz, J. Krishnamurti, Ken Wilbur, David Deida, Sailor Bob Adamson, Nick Roach, Jed McKenna, Melvyn Wartella, Wolfgang Bernard, Metta Zetty, Hubert Benoit, John Davis II, Lama Ole Nydahl, Suzanne Segal, U.G. Krishnamurti, and Alfred Pulyan.

One Star – Stay away from these.  I don’t actively look for spiritual teachers to debunk, but occasionally someone crosses my path, and I am compelled to speak up.  This is the category that causes the most irritation as people protest why I rank their favorite spiritual teacher so low.  This group includes: Bentinho Massaro, Swami Premodaya, Pamela Wilson, David Hawkins, Andrew Cohen, Richard Moss, John de Ruiter, Supreme Master Ching Hai, Shantung Zuber III, Mother Meera, and The Finders.

If you want even more spiritual teachers ratings, visit Sarlo’s Guru Ratings Service. I don’t endorse Sarlo’s ratings, but his is a massive database of over 1,800 spiritual teachers, though only a few are actually rated.