One thing about the pursuers of power: They’re always watching for the person who’s one notch higher in the chain of command. Which may explain why the Hollywood elite is so hot on spirituality. After all, nobody gets a better table than the Supreme Being.
But, like everyone else on the A list, you’ve got to go through the Supreme Secretary, which is why the following motivational speakers and self-described prophets (ranked in order of spiritual influence) are blazing their own paths to power.
1. The Dalai Lama Buddhism is hot. Its list of followers spans the media universe, the Zen centers are packed, and — with a circulation of 40,000 — the Buddhist magazine Tricycle is nirvana-bound. So Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama ; can count on an invitation to any Hollywood gala. * Fans: Richard Gere, Tina Turner, Courtney Love, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, Oliver Stone.
2. Deepak Chopra In the youth-obsessed salons of Hollywood, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’s author is a natural superstar. Based on the Indian folk medicine ayurveda, Chopra’s ”forever” formula of herbs, meditation, music, and massage beats the long knives of surgery. * Fans: George Harrison, David Lynch.
3. Marianne Williamson The New Age speaker, AIDS activist, and best-selling author of A Return to Love maintains her rep as ”God’s woman in Hollywood” by presiding at such chichi events as Liz Taylor’s wedding. * Fans: Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen.
4. Tony Robbins His Steinway smile has made him emperor of the infomercials. The motivational millionaire inflames his rah-rah rhetoric with fire-walking seminars, books (Awaken the Giant Within), and videos (Personal Power!). * Fans: Peter Guber, Martin Sheen.
5. L. Ron Hubbard The late Hubbard’s controversial Scientology movement — a system of flushing out painful experiences called engrams — inspires fierce loyalty in many major stars. * Fans: Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Anne Archer, Mimi Rogers, Lisa Marie Presley.
6. Mother Meera A 33-year-old Indian living in Germany, Meera draws seekers who travel hundreds of miles to bask in her silence. Her peace-giving creed? Let it be. * Fans: Madonna, whose new single, ”Secret,” was reportedly inspired by Meera’s spiritual mien.
7. Ram Dass Known for mixing Eastern and Western philosophies with a stress on public service, Be Here Now’s author is often seen as a hippie anachronism. But Ram Dass keeps contacts in the music biz through Social Venture Network, a PC better-business group with ties to labels such as Elektra and Rhino. * Fans: Danny Goldberg, the Grateful Dead.
8. Bikram Choudhury Proudly known as ”yogi to the stars,” he’s spent 20 years beckoning celebs to his Beverly Hills gym, where he cranks the heaters full blast, turning the studio into a sauna, and forces students to stay in painful positions for hours. * Fans: Jerry Seinfeld, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
9. Terence McKenna A Timothy Leary for the ’90s, he zealously advocates hallucinogenic mushrooms and has set his lectures to music at primordial, all-night raves. * Fans: Tom Robbins dedicated his latest novel to McKenna.