Florence Shinn was a skilled artist who lived in New York City during the early twentieth century. She also became known as a skilled metaphysical teacher and spiritual luminary. Her lectures were well-attended and her books, including the classic The Game of Life and How to Play It, have been very popular since the 1920s. Florence Scovel Shinn is widely appreciated as one of the most popular American spiritual teachers of the early twentieth century.
Peace Pilgrim was a spiritual seeker who walked more than 25,000 miles across the United States spreading her message: "Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love." Carrying in her pockets her only possessions (a toothbrush, pen and paper, and a few other items), she walked until given shelter and fasted until given food. She talked with people along the way, discussing the process of finding peace within and without.
James Allen was an Englishman who retired from the business world to pursue a lifestyle of writing and contemplation. His writings largely focus on the power of the mind. "This little volume," he wrote, "is not intended as an exhaustive study on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that they themselves are makers of themselves by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage."
Brother Lawrence was a monk who lived in France during the seventeenth century. His spiritual counsel was simple: throughout every day, keep an ongoing conversation with God. "I make it my business to rest in His holy presence," he said, "which I keep myself in by a a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God. This often causes in me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them, and prevent their appearance to others."
Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. Having developed a keen interest in nature, he attended Concord Academy and Harvard college before becoming acquainted with Ralph Waldo Emerson, known as the "father of transcendentalism." Around 1845, Thoreau moved to Walden Pond, where he built a one-room cabin and decided to "live deliberately." For several years he lived at the pond, writing, contemplating, and enjoying an unencumbered life. His classic Walden was written during this time.
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome during the second century, A.D. Legend has it that he wrote the Meditations as notes to himself during the many battle campaigns he led against invaders. Far from being warlike, the Meditations take a lofty, spiritual approach to life. The brotherhood of mankind is emphasized, and the power of a gentle, disciplined mind is extolled. The Meditations represent a school of Greek philosophy known as Stoicism – the Stoic ideals involved living a life of honesty, humility, and personal responsibility.