Let’s take a quick look at who we consider to be the greatest human beings in history. Ones who have excelled in their fields and demonstrated outstanding abilities, such that we all look up to them as role models. There have people of both sexes with great physical abilities (sports people, athletes, gymnasts, acrobats, etc.) and people of both sexes showing great emotional abilities (performing arts, singers, actors/actresses, musicians, etc.). But those people with the greatest long-standing influence on society have generally been those who have demonstrated great mental and/or spiritual abilities – scientists, inventors and spiritual leaders. There are plenty of examples with people of both sexes.
Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
This cover has pictures of many people that were important to the band. The Beatles met the Maharishi in 1967. George Harrison had a particular spiritual bent and visited Paramahansa Yogananda (later taking an interest in the Hare Krishna’s). Amongst the many great people, some of the notable spiritual people include (see a full list on Wikipedia):
- Sri Yukteswar (Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda)
- Aleister Crowley
- Carl Jung
- Babaji (Guru of Lahiri Mahasaya)
- Paramahansa Yogananda
- Karl Marx
- Lahiri Mahasaya (Guru of Sri Yukteswar)
Most influential people of all time
Michael Hart published a book in 1978 ranking the 100 most influential people of all time. This is subjective and does depend somewhat on the value system used, but it is an interesting read. His list controversially placed Muhammed above Jesus Christ which didn’t go down well with about 20% of the world’s population! His list also has few women. I don’t necessarily agree with the order of his list but it isn’t worth getting caught up in the specifics of the ranking order. Anyone making it into the top 100 of the 10 billion people throughout the ages are already in the top 99.999999% that have inhabited the planet over the last 5,000 years.
The point that I am trying to make here is that those people we consider to be the “greatest” or “best” are those who have excelled in their mental and spiritual abilities – those who are using their executive faculties to the best of their ability. Hart’s selection from his top 100 list includes:
- Muhammed, founder of Islam – spiritual leader
- Isaac Newton, physicist – scientist
- Jesus, founder of Christianity – spiritual leader
- Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism – spiritual leader
- Confucius, founder of Confucianism – spiritual leader
- St Paul, proponent of Christianity (New Testament) – spiritual leader
- Ts’ai Lun, Chinese inventor of paper – inventor
- Johann Gutenberg, printing press – inventor
- Christopher Columbus, explorer – bravery and foresight
- Albert Einstein, physicist – scientist
- Louis Pasteur, chemist and biologist – scientist
- Galileo, astronomer and founder of scientific method – scientist
- Aristotle, Greek Philosopher
- Euclid, Greek Mathematician
- Moses, prophet of Judaism – spiritual leader
- Charles Darwin, biologist – scientist
The list also includes William Shakespeare, Napoleon, Plato, Descartes, Oliver Cromwell, Beethoven, Max Planck, Julius Caesar, William the Conqueror, St Thomas Aquinas, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi and Leonardo da Vinci.
Q. What makes these people “great”?
A. Their ability to effectively use their brains’ higher executive functions.
The value of Role Models in the community has been studied, and is considered good to have young people aspiring to and imitating the morally good behaviour of model individuals. Having great leaders exhibiting higher mental and spiritual qualities is important if we want our upcoming leaders to learn and manifest these behaviours. We need spiritual leaders exhibiting behaviour that we want others to imitate and follow.
Also check out Living Gurus.