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|A.A. Milne||A.A. Milne|
Student of H. G. Wells, friend of authors J. M. Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle, military propaganda writer during World War I and peace advocate afterwards; Milne resisted the selling out of authors for monetary gains saying he would rather write a telephone directory at his own inspiration than a Blank Verse Tragedy at others’ direction. Made famous after his death by Walt Disney productions, his Winnie the Pooh imagery - second only to Mickey Mouse - inspired $6 billion worth of products. His “children’s” books (especially Now We Are Six) open psychological doors into direct experience of nowness and appreciation of the sacred quality of simple, everyday perception.
|Abaris Hyperboreios||Abaris Hyperboreios|
Legendary sage, Mongol shaman, and catalyst for the beginning of Western Civilization
Abaris Hyperboreios, Skywalker βαρις Ὑπερβόρειος (c. 595 BCE)
|Abbakka Chowta||Abbakka Chowta|
First Indian, woman freedom fighter
“The fearless queen,” Jain sage, warrior, and “first woman freedom fighter of India;” Abhaya Rani was one of the first to resist European colonial attacks. She skillfully fought against the Dutch and British as well as preventing the Portuguese from capturing Ullal several times. Along with fellow Jains, she included Hindus and Muslims in her administration, people from all sects and castes in her armies. Betrayed by an estranged husband, she was finally captured and imprisoned; but, she didn’t give up, broke out, and died fighting. More than 500 years now after her life, she is still revered and celebrated throughout India with stamps, statues, roads, ocean vessels, and festivals named after her.
Left in poverty and exile at 8 years old when his father, Bahá'u'lláh (founder of the Bahá'í faith), was imprisoned and all his family’s possessions looted; Abdul Baha grew up in a Palestinian prison colony and after 40 years of imprisonment at age 64 was released giving him the opportunity to more effectively spread these teachings of social service, racial and gender equality, environmental protection and a universal unification of religion, politics, science and government. He was knighted by the British government for his humanitarian work during WWI and today Bahá'í has grown to over 8 million followers, become the world’s fastest growing religion during the last 100 years, the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity growing at least twice as fast as the population of almost every UN region.
|Abdul Sattar Edhi||Abdul Sattar Edhi|
Pakistan's "Father Teresa"
Called the “Father Teresa” of Pakistan, “Angel of Mercy,” and “the world's greatest living humanitarian;” Abdul Sattar Edhi was a philanthropist and social activist who dedicated his life to helping the poor. National hero and one of Pakistan’s most respected people, he established the world’s largest ambulance service and his country’s largest welfare organization that has trained 40,000+ nurses, rescued 20,000+ abandoned babies, operates orphanages, clinics, shelters, rehab centers for drug addicts and the mentally ill, and works in Africa, eastern Europe, the middle East and even the USA.
|Abigail Adams||Abigail Adams |
One of the most exceptional women in American history
The first USA Second Lady and second First Lady, wife and advisor to president John Adams, mother of president John Quincy Adams, and one of the most exceptional women in American history; Abigail Adams became instrumental in the founding of the United States. A powerful influence for women’s rights, she emphasized the need for their education. A strong voice against slavery, she believed it was evil and a threat to democracy. Opposed to dogmatic, superstitious religious belief, she advocated for a heart-felt connection with a wisdom beyond words rather than a rote belief. Her accomplishments become more impressive when you consider the culture of her time when women’s roles were mainly domestic and educating women was considered foolish. Abigail never went to school but her self-education made her the most wise and influential in an extremely influential family.
|Abraham Lincoln||Abraham Lincoln|
Greatest American president, iconclast, skeptic, self-educated lawyer and congressman opposed to the Mexican–American War whose opposition to the expansion of slavery caused 7 slave states to form the Confederacy when he was elected president; Lincoln skillfully maneuvered between “War and Anti-War Democrats” who wanted to compromise with the South, “Radical Republicans” who wanted to harshly punish the South, fixated secessionists, and British interventionists. His oratory and common sense helped guide the USA through its biggest political and moral crisis while abolishing slavery, preserving the Union, and modernizing the economy. Using the army to protect escaped slaves, he closely supervised the war and planned a compassionate rebuilding of the South until his assassination.
|Abu Yazid al-Bisṭāmī||Abu Yazid al-Bisṭāmī|
Famous Sufi, ”King of the Gnostics,” forefather of ecstatic Islamic mysticism; Abu Yazid disavowed excessive asceticism and changed the course of Sufism by shifting the emphasis from discipline, obedience and piety to direct experience and “self-annihilation in the Divine Presence.” An active shrine to him in Bangladesh was built and has been used since 850 CE and he remains an important lineage holder in thelargest Sufi brotherhood, the Naqshbandi.
Acinta ཨ་ཙིངྟ་། Achingta, “The Greedy Hermit” (second half of 9th century)
|Adi Shankara||Adi Shankara|
Philosopher, theologian, and sage; Shankara unified and established the main philosophical trends in Hinduism. He criticized the dogmatic and ritually oriented schools, emphasized that enlightenment can be realized in this lifetime, and established monastic, personal-practice and direct-experience traditions. Writer of fundamental texts of the Vedanta school and responsible for a major Hindu revival, he is called the source of all the main currents of modern Indian thought. His teachings are similar to Mahayana Buddhism and he was called a "crypto-Buddhist" but he explained the difference being the Buddhism teaching of no self and his that the whole universe is the self - which may be a way of saying the same thing.
Personification of the hero myth
Hero of fallen Troy, first Roman hero, ancestor of legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, described as a progenitor of Julius and Augustus Caesar, claimed as an ancestor of the British Kings including King Arthur, symbol of piety, loyalty and family values; Aeneas has a long story in myth, legend, and possibly history. Immortalized by Homer, Virgil, literature from ancient to modern times, famous operas, film and video games; he is used as an example of individuation and the hero myth in Jungian psychology.
The Father of Tragedy
Although Aeschylus was the first to present plays as trilogies, the initiator of many theatrical innovations, and the “father of tragedy;” his Greek epitaph didn’t mention his plays, only his military roles. Although not fully acknowledged in ancient Greece, his influence has seeped through history and into the present as an inspiration for Wagner, Milton, the Romantics, Eugene O’Neill, and Robert F. Kennedy who claimed him as his favorite poet who he quoted in a speech to African Americans after Martin Luther King’s assassination. This same quote—“to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world”— became inscribed on Kennedy’s memorial after his own assassination. Aeschylus’ costumes and performances were so vivid that they were said to cause children to faint, men to urinate in their robes, and pregnant women to go into labo
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
Known as a strikingly ugly slave who by his cleverness became free and an adviser to kings and city-states, some historians believe Aesop was a black from Ethiopia and became Uncle Remus in the Cherokee, Algonquin and American slave tradition of Br'er Rabbit. In many cultures he symbolizes a hero of the oppressed, disadvantaged and downtrodden who with wisdom and understanding outsmarts and wins over the rich and powerful. Famous throughout the world - from China to Africa, from Europe to Japan, from ancient times until today; Aesop’s fables and sayings remain a profound influence of goodness and insight.
As a child in a rich family, Ajogi was so fat that his parents had to do everything for him. He wouldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom or eat. When this became too much for his parents they first threatened and then actually abandoned him to cremation grounds in the midst of half-burned bodies and wild animals. Still not willing to get off his back, a wandering wise guru challenged his helplessness strategy - not by trying to make him change but by accepting Ajogi’s situation exactly as it was and working with it. This story and practice gives inspiration and a practical path for the most freakish, despised, and rejected. Mahasiddha #26
While European countries were still stuck in the dark ages of almost universal superstition and ignorance, Al-Kindi - knows as “father of Arabic philosophy” - precipitated the “Moslem Enlightenment,” one of the true golden ages of human history, a time that threw off its dogmatic shackles of uncritical belief and advanced science, direct experience unfettered by external sources, understanding of the sense and not just the words. A famous historian, physician, polymath, musician and mathematician; he brought Hellenistic wisdom into the Muslim world and shocked his contemporaries by appreciating Christianity.
|Alain de Botton||Alain de Botton|
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
School of Life and Living Architecture co-founder, philosopher, public speaker, author, and ”Fellowship of Schopenhauer" winner; Alain de Botton makes major steps in linking philosophy to the practical concerns of everyday life. His many books, talks, and “School of Life” learning sessions help bring down the deep philosophical insights of ancient and modern thinkers into the practical realms of modern life. The School of Life—based in 11 different countries—provides an “emotional education” that challenges conventional universities by focusing on livelihood, relationships, and wisdom rather than only knowledge, by searching for meaningful life paths, and by expanding ways of evolving a greater cultural goodness. From a very wealthy but materialistic family, de Botton shuns a vast trust fund and lives only on his personal income.
|Alan Gua, "Alun the Beautiful||Alan Gua, "Alun the Beautiful|
Alan Gua Алун гуа, "Alun the Beautiful” (c. 862 CE)
|Alan Watts||Alan Watts|
Episcopal priest become Buddhist, trickster, "philosophical entertainer,” counterculture hero, gifted speaker, and transducer to the West of Eastern philosophy; Watts wrote more than 25 books and in 1953 began a 9-year series of weekly radio broadcasts that continue being re-broadcast today. A friend and collaborator with Gary Snyder and Joseph Campbell, an inspiration for Robert Anton Wilson and Werner Erhard; Watts was criticized by teachers like Philip Kapleau, D. T. Suzuki, and Robert Baker Aitken but defended and described as a “great bodhisattva” by Shunryu Suzuki. Equating mystical experience with ecological awareness and Buddhism with psychotherapy, Watts became a bridge between culture and nature criticizing the modern view of “progress,” the idea of an absolute morality, and the ego-centricism preventing individual and international peace.
|Albert Camus||Albert Camus|
Journalist, playwright, philosopher, pacifist, philhellene, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and Paradox of the Absurd champion; Camus grew up with an impoverished and illiterate mother who survived working as a house cleaner after his father was killed in WWI. Devoted to human rights, he worked in the French Resistance, for UNESCO, and protested against the Soviet police state. He passionately opposed capital punishment as well as all the other forms of totalitarianism. Philosophically he understood relative versus absolute understanding, rejected hope, criticized nihilism, pointed out the absurdity of our many paradoxes and confused, dualistic fixations, and explored the absurdity of finding the meaningfulness of life in external action. In many ways he wrestled with the same issues as Protagoras, the Buddha, and Lao Tzu.
|Albert Einstein||Albert Einstein|
Although he made his name synonymous with genius as the father of modern physics and his E = mc2 became ”the world's most famous equation,” Einstein remained humble and unassuming. Although winning a Nobel Prize and writing over 30,000 documents, he didn’t let himself be seduced by fame and fortune but championed civil rights, non-violence, and - like Chuang Tzu and other famous Taoists - refused political honors including becoming the president of Israel. He worked hard for checking the power of nation states with a democratic global government, believed in a pantheistic god, and as an avid violin player said, “I often think in music.”