The World’s Top 7 Life-Changing Gurus

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ~William S. Burroughs  

Where do you turn when life gets you down? Who’s your hero, your mentor, your pillar of strength amidst the turmoil?

Haven’t we all had those days when life just seems to be a battle? I know I certainly have. And then there are times when there’s an ongoing challenge that grabs hold of us and just won’t let go.

What can you do? Where do you get your strength—your answers?

For a lot of us, we look to inspirational figures, leaders, experts, gurus, and even celebrities. Those larger than life figures that are out there living life, experiencing things we only dream of, and dispensing the wisdom we don’t think we possess.

In my younger years, I wanted a mentor. I thought surely that would solve all my problems. It would give me the hope, encouragement, and maybe even strategies to live the life I was destined to live. I could finally overcome my personal challenges or lack of experience and knowledge.

This notion went on for years. Oh sure, I had plenty of good jobs and made decent money. I lived the life so many of us do. I just wanted more. I felt I had potential that just wasn’t surfacing.

Eventually my yearnings led me to discover experts and gurus willing to sell their advice.

I won’t list their names here, but you know who they are. They offered seminars, created master-mind groups, put together home-study courses. I thought, hey, maybe this is the answer. I can buy my mentors!

From the big names to the lesser-knowns, I started buying nearly every self-development and business strategy course they peddled.

It became an addiction that nearly led me to bankruptcy.

I was buying so many programs and courses and retreats and “solutions” that I had no time to implement any of them. The buying itself became my solution. Ugh.

I was hooked on glitter, celebrity, and everything external. I was chasing success, happiness, and purpose as if they were “out there” somewhere.

I had no idea who I really was. I gave no credence to the experiences that life had blessed me with. I didn’t value the inner wisdom that resided within.

And the more I chased, the more life ran away.

Does this ring a bell for you? Have you ever discounted your own truth in favor of people that surely must know so much more?

To be clear, I’m not discounting things we can learn from others. That’s part of the beauty of life—we can learn from so many sources. For me, sources like Eckhart Tolle, David Hawkins, and Anthony DeMello led me to the epiphany I want to share with you now.

My problem wasn’t the fact that I looked to others for ideas; it was that I became attached and dependent. I gave away my power. I had lost sight of the fact I already had my own gurus. And you do too.

Let’s get re-acquainted with the world’s top 7 gurus now. Here’s the kicker: we’ve never known them as gurus. But, this new perspective changed my life and I believe it can do the same for you.

Let’s meet them and understand them for the life-changing gurus they really are.

1. The Experience Guru

Experience is an invaluable teacher regardless of your age and endeavors in life.

Whether you’re 20, 40, 60, or 90, you have a lifetime of experience. Life has blessed you with challenges, knowledge, and discoveries that have shaped you. Treasure these. Acknowledge them. See them from a new perspective.

If you discount your experiences you miss out on the richness and wisdom that can only come from within. And nothing is more valuable to you than the truth that comes from your own personal actions.

2. The Observation Guru

We have eyes. We have ears. We have intuition. Through these senses we can learn to really see, hear, and feel. Sounds simple enough, yes, but let’s level it up a few notches.

Make it a personal challenge to watch everything you do and notice the reasons for your actions. Notice the reactions you have. Notice the feelings without analyzing them. Just observe.

Observation is a teacher. This was the beginning of my biggest changes in life. I realized I had been looking but not seeing. Only when I decided to really observe did I finally see life and reach new understandings.

3. The Awareness Guru

Awareness comes after observation. Once I finally opened my inner eyes, I became aware.

The awareness guru teaches you how to allow and forgive. It recognizes that we’re not alone and powerless. Once I allowed people to be people, and me to be myself, I could forgive everything and everyone. What a nice guru to have around!

Forgiveness sets you free. This liberation is the shedding of burdens you’ve perhaps carried for years or a lifetime.

4. The Fear Guru

Fear? How can this be a guru? Well, this is a tricky one. Certainly we can see that fear can protect us. It can keep us from exposing ourselves to dangers. So, for that reason, it’s a good guide to have.

However, we fear so many other things. And many of these fears keep us immobilized and stop us from trying things that would add joy and excitement to our lives. Now for the other side of fear…

The fear guru teaches us because it’s a constant reminder of what lies on its opposite end. Nothing gets our attention more easily and quickly than fear. And through observation and awareness we can let this guru propel us into new and better adventures.

5. The Failure Guru

This is another guru we don’t want to acknowledge. Failure tends to demoralize us. But that’s because we don’t see it as the guru it is.

When we elevate failure to guru status, suddenly a mistake becomes just another adventure in life. We see miscues as stepping stones, not just painful memories, along the journey to even more awareness, peace and joy. So, welcome failure.

6. The Talent Guru

Why do we so easily dismiss our own talents? Why do we see the strengths and talents of others so much more readily than our own?

Once again, it’s likely due to our propensity for looking to external rather than internal things. Again, we look but we don’t really see. Our talents and gifts should be honored and used.

Take some time and list them. All of them. Even the little things make a huge difference. Feel good about them and start using them again. This will change your life.

7. The Love Guru

This is your biggest, most powerful guru. And it’s one you share with me, with your friends, with every human on the planet. Love binds us all.

We’re often told to love ourselves, but here’s my take on this advice: It’s better to simply recognize that you are love. From this place, you can accept yourself for who and what you are. From here, love evolves into non-judgmental acceptance.

The love guru will change your life faster than all others combined.

Here’s the lesson I learned: I only found value in the “external gurus” once I began to acknowledge the power of these 7 internal ones.

Change comes from within.

Only when I tap my personal truth and source of all knowledge and strength does positive change happen for me. What about you?

Have you found similar discoveries? What’s your favorite inner guru?

Photo by h.koppdelaney

About Carmelo Bryan

Carmelo Bryan shares nature’s wisdom at His mission is to help achievers find their purpose and overcome the struggle. He’s completing his book titled: “Defeating the ‘Guru Addiction Syndrome’ and Gaining Control of Your Life.”

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  • Lars

    Just love the talent guru. Though I needed the awareness guru and the fear guru to see that. I like the idea that all these gurus are “just” “there.” I can picture them in a nice little circle, sitting there, waiting to be addressed. That image makes me smile.

  • Hey Lars,
    That’s a really nice image … a circle of gurus, all your own and ready to serve you. And if it makes you smile it shows the image has helped you break a barrier and believe in your strengths. Good deal! 🙂

  • curiousmuse1

    Trust. The one I struggle with most. Trust in myself, my own judgement, my instincts and abilities. When I find trust in myself the rest seems to fall into place somehow.

  • It really does center around that, doesn’t it? I have found that trusting myself and “my gurus” comes so much easier when I practice self-awareness. This non-judgmental observation of myself really opens up the door to my inner being where it’s so much easier to trust. That’s a really good point you made, thank you!

  • I love this. If I had to choose, I would say conscious awareness is my go to guru because it enables me to observe and use all the other gurus (experiential life teachers) in a constructive way. I too now see all the books/ seminars were important signposts pointing to the wisdom within. Thank you for sharing personal insights and evolution.

  • Thanks, Sheila. Glad you liked it. I guess sometimes it takes a while to understand that the people and things we study are really no more than conduits to our own truths. Good for you … and nice to meet you.

  • friend forever


    A veeeerrry unique article and take on gurus if you ask me. My favorite line of all: ‘It’s better to simply recognize that you are love.’ I just LOOOVE it! I most need the Observation and Awareness in my life. Talent guru- in the sense that I often fail to acknowledge myself and all the wisdom I possess. I downplay myself a lot.

    I am ready to make a positive change!
    Cheers! 🙂

  • Awesome! Isn’t it so easy to downplay ourselves? We take ourselves for granted as we look at others and wish we had their “whatever.”

    But we do have talents and we ARE love, as you noted. You’re so right in seeing that Observation and Awareness are the keys to releasing all the inner being gurus we possess. I wish you all the best! 🙂

  • lv2terp

    Wonderful post!!! I love how the perception of viewing and looking within to our own Guru’s that have and will always be there for us to tap into!!! Adding the “negative” or ignored feelings as guru’s in their own right…love it! Thank you so much for a fresh, and wonderful perspective! 🙂 Wonderful words of wisdom!

  • I’m happy you found value … thanks for your kind words, too! Your gurus are smiling back at you. Happy Holidays to you!

  • excelinwa

    I enjoyed this post.

  • Best guru of all: The Guru of Self. Thanks for this reminder, Carmelo. While the many external advisors and mentors do have much wisdom to impart, we benefit most from reading/listening to/watching them if we use their pointers to literally point the way for us — to help ourselves discover and develop our Guru of Self.

    I believe we all have the wisdom and strength and knowledge, but sometimes we can’t access these gifts. That’s when we need one of those external guides to help us listen to and expand our inner guidance systems. So today, you’re one of those external guides for us. Thank you!

  • Hi Kate,

    Very well said. We sure can get wrapped up in the challenges we face and forget our own inner strengths. We forget we are connected to the source. When that happens it’s great to have the external guides to redirect us.

    They key, I’ve found, is to be aware of when we begin to lean on those guides and use them as crutches instead of signposts. That’s when we weaken ourselves instead of strengthening ourselves.

    Thanks for contributing, Kate. You’re also an external guide! We can all be, can’t we? 🙂

  • I just love the direction in which you’ve taken the post, Carmelo (always a pleasure to see you!). When I saw the title of the post in my mailbox in the Tiny Buddha newsletter, I was curious to see who the seven gurus were – and came over expecting to see names. My favorite is the experience guru. Nothing teaches us more than the actual process of going through something, feeling it, responding to it and perhaps, depending on what it is, handling it successfully (or not).

    Change indeed comes from within. And I am grateful we can orchestrate it.

    🙂 Beautiful post! Thank you.

  • I think we sometimes have to remind ourselves that action is so important. Yes, things happen whether or not we’re actively involved in them but, as you say, it’s the process of personally going through things that provides us with the most growth and knowing.

    Perhaps there are times and moments where letting something alone for a while is best but I believe at some point, it’s better to just dive in. Thanks for your kind words, Vidya … happy to see you!

  • Thank you. I wish you well!

  • Subas

    Loved this piece and the discussion that has followed it’s publication. The teachers / gurus only help us realise our inner potential and divinity as that is the ultimate vector through which we evolve. As an eastern saying goes when the student is ready the teacher comes! It reminds me of something that I had read long ago titled the twenty four gurus. For an enlightened being everybody is a teacher. Please find it at