Slate's 10th Anniversary

The Slate Guide to Gurus

Choose the one who’s right for you.

Do you need a guru? Of course you do!

But how can you possibly find the right one for you? After all, everyone’s a guru these days: In the diet guru category alone, you’ve got Dr. Phil, Suzanne Somers, Denise Austin, Dean Ornish, and Kathy Ireland—not to mention such has-beens as Susan Powter, Richard Simmons, and Dr. Atkins. The guy who used to be a football coach now calls himself a “defensive guru.” Just try to find someone who has appeared on Home & Garden Television, the Food Network, or the Oxygen Network who is not a guru.

Nor is it clear what exactly a guru does. A guru isn’t a Svengali. A Svengali knows you intimately, controls you, whereas you follow a guru from a distance. A guru isn’t a god: She might be spiritual, but she would never engage with something so controversial as religion. A guru isn’t an entertainer. He doesn’t want to bring you pleasure; he wants to change you. A guru isn’t a consultant, either. You can get good advice from anyone: It’s charisma that makes a guru’s advice persuasive.

To understand, then, what gurus do, and which one might be best for you, you practically need a guru guru. That’s where Slate comes in.  Here  is a handy guru guide, a pantheon of the dozen who can, together, solve any problem in the universe. So, click below and scroll right to discover the guru who’s meant for you.