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Modern-Day Mystics
July 09, 2013
Philosopher William James was famous for his early twentieth century definition of mystical experiences. But what do they like look like today, on the individual level? Meet five different people with five different answers to that question.
Credit: Fran McColman
Part One: Introductions
Journalist John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism, introduces us to the ideas of William James. Then, we meet Carl McColman. After a winding religious journey, he found Catholicism and has remained in the Church for nine years. But McColman’s story all starts with one weekend, back when he was a Lutheran teenager.

Pictured above: Carl McColman
On Finding Catholicism
Credit: Quinn Dombrowski | flickr
Part Two: Hippies
Jacob Spilman and Khadija Radin have a lot in common. Both of them grew up Jewish. Both went through the drugs and the spiritual questing of San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s. And to this day, they both remain what we're calling modern-day mystics. But their journeys took them to very different places. Spilman has returned wholeheartedly to his Jewish roots. Radin has found her home in the centuries-old tradition of whirling dervishes.

Former Interfaith Voices Producer Lauren Talley produced this story for Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly:

Watch Sufi Whirling Dervishes on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Whirling, After Some Potent Punch
Courtesy Adam Elenbaas
Part Three: The New Generation
Preeti Harris and Adam Elenbaas came along after the so-called hippie generation, but their ways of accessing the mystical are age-old. Raised in a Hindu household, Preeti Harris has found her spiritual sustenance in meditation. Adam Elenbaas has traveled down many mystical paths. In this segment, he takes on on a journey to Peru and introduces us to the mind-altering Amazonian plant known as ayahuasca.

If you want to learn more about ayahuasca, take a listen to Ayahuasqueros, a radio documentary by Jeremy Narby. 
Pictured above: Adam Elenbaas sips ayahuasca tea.
Extended interview with Adam Elenbaas