Here are my Teachers. I’d like to also acknowledge my loving parents and grandparents, without who I’d not have had all the joy in my life so far. I am grateful. Some of the Teachers listed here I met in person. Others came to me through different media. All in all, here are the people that have been gold to me, some of them huge teachers (like Krishnamurti) and some of them regular people that would sit next to you on the subway.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
OMA was a Bulgarian philosopher, teacher, alchemist, mystic, magus and astrologer. One of the biggest 20th-century teachers of Western Esotericism, he was a disciple of the spiritual Master Peter Deunov, the founder of the Universal White Brotherhood.
Without Master Aivanhov, I might have thought myself an atheist! Thank you, my Guarding Angel, that it didn’t happen.
I’m thankful to Master OMA for helping me understand Christianity. I’ve been brought up as a Roman Catholic, which by the way has been a great thing for me, as I look back. In spite of the huge resistance present in the world today directed toward the Church, I consistently identify myself as a Catholic—and that is thanks to Master OMA, who explained to me how to approach Christianity as an esoteric and mystically subtle religion and how to understand Christ’s teachings as metaphorical lessons for my own conscious evolution.
Jimmy Barkan “Mr. B.”
“Let’s play some cards, Tommy G.!”
I have never called Jimmy “Jimmy”. I have called him “Mr. B.” since the first time we met at his studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 2003. At the time I joined the studio, it had been open for over 25 years. Mr. B initiated me into his yoga tradition and I am grateful for that. I graduated from the Barkan Method training programs, first the Level I in 2004, then the Advanced in 2005. He also introduced me to Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship lessons, which I completed, and which soon after changed my life.
At first as my teacher, later as the dearest friend and partner-in-crime in casino gambling, and my boss, Mr. B. taught me things that I keep to myself; suffice to say that what I learned from Mr. B., I have been using ever since not only to have more resilience in facing the difficulties of life but also to make a living. Thank you, Mr. B. God bless you.
G. I. Gurdjieff
“Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies.’
Gurdjieff was an early 20th century mystic, philosopher, spiritual teacher, and composer of Armenian and Greek descent.
Ouspensky’s book ‘In Search of The Miraculous’ had started my research of Gurdjieff’s work. I’ read most of G.I.’s books and some of his biographies. He said that the human life, as ordinarily lived, is similar to sleep. The transcendence of the sleeping state requires work (called The Fourth Way or The Work), but, when the work is done, a person reaches remarkable levels of vitality and awareness. What I’ve learnt from Gurdjieff is this: I do not take for granted that I’m a conscious being. I do not take my immortality for granted. Both consciousness and immortality have to be earned. The evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness.
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
With the message and the man himself—I fell in love at the first sight and today, fifteen years later, I’m fond of him beyond measure.
In the early 2000’s, I would spend time in big American bookstores, like Borders or Barnes and Noble’s, looking through different books. I got to the New Age section, Krishnamurti had the whole shelf. I stayed at that shelf for three hours, only walked away because I had to pee, bought three books: ‘The Awakening of Intelligence’, ‘The First and Last Freedom’, and ‘Krishnamurti’s Notebook’.
Thanks to Amazon, as time went by, I owned and read another dozen or so of his books, also read some memoirs of the people that were close to him. I remember Krishnamurti coming to me in dreams, too—so vulnerable— would always hug him gently, as his shoulders and arms seemed so fragile. K.’s life was not a happy one, and he suffered from debilitating headaches. Thinking about that made me pause, because he was an enlightened master… I thought until then that enlightenment and joy go together by default. In K.’s case, they didn’t. There was lots of enlightenment, and little joy.
Around the ‘Krishnamurti chapter’ in my life, a girlfriend of mine who also was a Krishnamurti’s fan, told me in an argument: “You are just like him! Too elevated to have a normal relationship!” Haha. I took that as a compliment, of course, even though that wasn’t what she wanted.
What I understood (among a million of other important things that K. taught) is this: our minds are bound by our past. We are conditioned by our thought; we continuously and habitually cling to the same patterns. Liberation is the freedom from what we know. The ultimate intelligence placed herself in the silence of intelligence, what a great paradox that is.
Krishnamurti’s teaching prepared me to understand Dr. Hew Len’s message better, which came soon enough.
Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len
(It’s pronounced: ee-huh-leh-ah-kah-lah)
In Koh Samui, Thailand, works a healer named Alistair. When I met Alistair in 2008, I felt immediately connected to him. I was fortunate to spend time talking with him a few times. Alistair told me of the modern Ho’oponopono and their mantra of love, repentance, and forgiveness. He told me of Dr. Hew Len’s work. I’m grateful: Dr. Hew Len has taught me what the most important question is, how to “clean”, and how to talk with my Inner Child.
“I love you. I am sorry. Please, forgive me. Thank you.”
She is a respected intuitive healer, writer, and spiritual teacher. I was drawn to Caroline Myss because of her book ‘The Anatomy of the Spirit’, which blew me away by its profound explanation of how Christian sacraments, yogic chakras, and Jewish Kaballah are essentially the same teaching and how that can be interpreted toward an understanding of health and healing.
“Healing means getting over the pain–not marketing it.”
In the early 2000’s, I followed the Hayhouse Radio’s podcasts of recorded Myss taking calls from people into her radio program and offering them insights (intuitive insights!) into their diseases. She was for real. She was direct. She was loving. I learned more from a few podcasts than I did in 12 years of school. What followed was the urban mystic’s guide to direct contact with God (‘Entering the Castle’) and mystical laws of healing (‘Defy Gravity’). For the past 15 years, I am Caroline’s number one fan.
“If something is wrong with anyone, look first to the stomach.”
A true visionary. A loving healer, teacher, an advocate for natural holistic health from 100 years ago. I am fascinated by his work. I’m testing much of his teaching on myself, today in 2016.
“It is useless to push the river.”
I seeked out “The Urban Daoist” through the internet in the late 90’s, when I was chasing after teachers who could fight and heal. Serge is one of them. I called him my teacher, but didn’t study with Serge long enough to become his student. I took several trips to Paris, where Serge lives, begged Serge to teach me Xing Yi Quan, and he did—much more than that.
What I learned by being around Serge has shaped me for years to come. Not only his fighting ability, but his energy work and his understanding of the Taoist heritage are astounding. Thank you, Serge, for teaching me how to practice (anything) correctly, how to slap, how to go with the flow of the universe, and what change means.
Watch an interview with Serge here.
Dr. Bernard Jensen
“It’s not what we eat; it’s what we assimilate that matters.”
Iridologists most likely would recognize him best for his significant influence on the advancement and awareness of the science of iridology, but Dr. Jensen was knowledgeable and skilled in a wide variety of holistic health care disciplines: nutrition, bowel care, colon hydrotherapy, reflexology, fasting, glandular balancing, sanitarium work, homeopathy, herbology, diets, acupuncture… with a total of over 6,000 hours of graduate work during his career! He received awards, honorariums, and degrees and was even knighted, but Dr. Jensen did not seek fame, recognition or glory—he found his purpose in helping relieve human suffering.
Cesar Millan. And My Dogs
“I am my dogs’ best friend.”
In 2009, I got two shitzu puppies. Before that, I had been I’ve been following the teachings of Cesar Milan, commonly known as the “Dog Whisperer”, for about three years. I studied in depth all of Cesar’s DVDs, books, TV shows. In consequence, I’ve been able to bring up my doggies in accordance with Cesar’s approach to canine psychology. This has also been helpful in better understanding of dynamics of teaching yoga classes, but how that is possible is another story.
From living with my dogs, I have learnt, among many other grand things, the following:
1. It is possible to have no opinion. Being free from “data”, we can approach every thing and every person without prejudice, without comparison, without agenda. looking into dog’s eyes, I can see the spirit of nature. Nature follows certain laws, and those laws are impersonal.
2. When there’s a fight, there’s a fight. But when the fight’s over, we shake it off and move on. We let go and forget about it. We do not carry the memory of it for years to come, punishing the enemy in our mind over and over again for the single transgression that has already been addressed and resolved on the spot through the fight.
3. The world is about energy. There’s the energy of excitement, anxiety, aggression, calm, resting and digesting, even pooping has its energy! The perfect attitude toward life’s events is found in being calm and assertive.