The Guru Guide to self-help

Sunday Tribune (South Africa), Aug.16, 2002
By Ingrid Shevlin

Books in the so-called self-help genre feature prominently on bestseller lists, reflecting an international trend, says Batya Green, marketing manager at Exclusive Books, which is featuring a a Mind-Body-Spirit festival from August 19 to 31. Ingrid Shevlin highlights some of the biggest names, their books and some of the terms they use.


Stephen R Covey
The principles Stephen R Covey espouses in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are so powerful they are not only used in business, but as a philosophy. His is a holistic, integrated principle-centred approach to solving problems. Open your minds, he says, to permanent things like values, family and relationships.

Edward de Bono
Hailed as the new Aristotle, Edward de Bono teaches people how to think. He developed the concept and tools of lateral thinking. Skilled in computer intelligence, a medical doctor and psychologist, he demystifies creativity. His message: “If you don’t design the future, someone will design it for you.”

Dr Phil McGraw
McGraw is known to millions as Oprah’s expert on human behaviour – for good reason. He is able to draw on 25 years experience in psychology to offer a “tell-it-like-it-is” message about life and relationships. Oprah describes him as a “walking-talking-in-your-face-reality-check” … so what’s left to say?

Iyanla Vanzant
This Brooklyn-born black American has overcome impossible odds to make a name for herself as a writer and inspirational speaker. Her mother died at two, she was raped at nine, was pregnant in her teens and was in an abusive marriage. She was working as a public defender when she walked into her office and found herself in darkness. When her secretary assured her that the lights were on, she realised she was having a life-altering experience. And so began her mission to bring light to others.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer
A social worker in Toronto, who deals with families in crises, inspiration for her books came from her own life. We don’t know her real name, but she continues to inspire with words such as: “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.”

Wayne Dyer
Dyer is a psychotherapist and counselling psychologist who believes that all the ingredients for a perfect life are possible if we “just add faith”. His books are based on nine spiritual principles that embody his belief that “spiritual life doesn’t grow in the soil of intellectual information, but needs the fertile ground of feelings”.

Robert Kiyosaki
An American financier, author and teacher, he believes the main reason we struggle financially is because we learn nothing in school about money. He’s famous for his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which shows parents how to teach their kids the value of money. “You are either a master of money or a slave to it.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach
This author’s book Simple Abundance offers inspiration for everyday life and is the result of her own long journey towards enlightenment and confrontation with her inner demons. As J R R Tolkien says: “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near him.”

Caroline Myss
Myss is a medical intuitive with a background in journalism and a master’s degree in theology. “I didn’t intend to be a medical intuitive,” she told a reporter in 1997 when visiting South Africa. “But if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Myss has a legendary reputation for medical diagnosis – even at long distance. With name and age she is able to scan an individual’s electromagnetic field and diagnose the nature of the illness. Her philosophy is rooted in the interconnection of the mind, body and spirit in disease.

Deepak Chopra
A household name, Chopra uses the principles of Ayurveda, quantum physics and mind/body medicine in his teachings, which have inspired millions to take control of their health. Born and educated in India, he’s now based in America and, as a practising endocrinologist, has changed attitudes towards holistic medicine in traditional medical circles.

Patrick Holford
A British-based nutritionist and psychologist, his book The Optimum Nutrition Bible has become the bible of millions who care about their health and their loved ones. His creed is “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”

Dalai Lama
Few modern-day philosophers command the same reverence as Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. He assumed responsibilities when he was 15 and has devoted his life to publicising the plight of the Tibetan people and promoting a philosophy of peace. Now living in exile, he espouses the Buddhist philosophy of compassion. “The more you have a sense of caring for others, the deeper your satisfaction will be.”

Scott Peck
Peck is an inspired speaker and writer who graduated from Harvard and served in the American army as psychiatrist and neurology consultant. An authority on psychology and the relationship between religion and science, he combines profound psychological insight with deep spiritualty. His definitive book, The Road Less Travelled, continues to guide us on the nature of loving and the realities of life.

Thomas Moore
The author of Care of the Soul lived for 12 years as a Catholic monk. With a string of degrees in religious studies, musicology and philosophy, he writes and teaches on various subjects. His mission is to help individuals find sacredness in everyday living by inviting soul into their lives.

Gary Zukav
Zukav grew up in Kansas, graduated from Harvard and served in Vietnam. He regards himself as a student of life, has dedicated himself to explaining hard-to-grasp concepts presented by the study of physics, and draws interesting comparisons between quantum mechanics, modern psychology and Eastern thinking. His Seat of the Soul has inspired millions the world over.

Don Miguel Ruiz
Born in rural Mexico, Ruiz is descended from a long line of healers who taught a form of esoteric knowledge learned from the Toltecs, an American Indian people who lived before the Aztecs. A near-death experience inspired him to apply Toltec wisdom to contemporary issues. His best known book is The Four Agreements.

Anima: The feminine aspects and qualities of the human psyche

Animus: Masculine aspects

Ashram: Sanctuary or school – often associated with yoga or Hindus

Aura: Human energy field

Chakra: Sanskrit for wheel – seven major energy points in the body

Chi: Chinese term describing the vital life energy or spirit

Dharma: Sanskrit for an individual’s spiritual duty

Gaia: A name for the earth – also concept for seeing world as a conscious living organism

Guided imagery: A technique using the power of the imaginative mind to relieve stress and promote healing

Inner child therapy: The act of reliving individual developmental stages to heal the present-day effects of early traumas

Karma: The effect of a person’s actions during successive phases of a person’s life which determines destiny

Kundalinai: Hindu concept for creative energy of the human body

Mantra: Sanskrit term which describes words or phrases that are repeated to awaken one’s consciousness

Meridian: 14 main energy channels

Moksha: Sanskrit term for emancipation of the soul from rebirth

New Age: Reincorporating spirituality into everyday life

Prana: Hindu for breath of life

Shaman: Nature-based or spiritual healer

Tao: Chinese word meaning “The Way”

Taoism: Ancient Chinese form of spiritual practice

Yang: Chinese term described as being masculine aspect – light and fiery

Yin: Female aspects – dark, earthy, wet

Zen: A form of Buddhism emphasising meditation and intuition

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