Presented annually since 2011 in the spring issue of the quarterly publication, the list – also known as the Spiritual 100 – compiles the most spiritually prominent people of the past year.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was recognised in front of German spiritual teacher and writer Eckhart Tolle and Pope Francis, who were placed second and third respectively. Others listed include Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (fourth), South African retired Anglican bishop and social rights activist Desmond Tutu (fifth), Brazilian novelist and author of The Alchemist Paulo Coelho (seventh), American talk show host Oprah Winfrey (eighth), and Chilean filmmaker and director of El Topo Alejandro Jodorowsky (fifteenth).
17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – which she received in 2014 for what the Nobel Committee described as "her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education" – was among plenty of newcomers on this year's list.
The magazine states that the list is compiled based on three factors: "1. The person has to be alive as of January 1st, 2014. 2. The person has to have made a unique and spiritual contribution on a global scale. 3. The person is frequently googled, appears in Nielsen Data, and is actively talked about throughout the Internet."
"By taking into account the amount of times that a person is googled or how many times their Wikipedia profile is viewed, the list gains a highly democratic parameter. In a sense, being googled is a form of digital voting, and illustrates just how often someone is being sought out," it added.
According to Mind Body Spirit, the list is not a competition but "is meant to celebrate the positive influence of contemporary spiritual teachers."
Watkins Mind Body and Spirit magazine is sold and published by Watkins Books, England's oldest and largest esoteric bookshop that has been trading since 1893.