In this informative and wide-ranging episode of Global Spirit, host Phil Cousineau explores the diverse forms and expressions of mysticism. Defined as the personal experience of oneness with all things, mysticism has been a part of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other wisdom traditions down through the centuries. Mystical literature is filled with attempts to describe unitive experiences of direct connection with the Divine but many who have had them say they are ineffable.

In the past, many mystics were been persecuted for claiming to be in direct contact with God and today, others are being attacked by religious fundamentalists for their unorthodoxy. Cousineau probes these complex subjects with his three guests representing different traditions yet sharing common ideas about the mystical experience.

Brother David-Steindl-Rast was born in Austria, where he studied art, anthropology, and psychology. He emigrated to the U.S. and in 1953 joined a newly founded Benedictine community, the Mount Saviour Monastery, of which he is now a senior member. At present, Brother David serves the worldwide A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L), through, a sister site of Spirituality & Practice; this interactive website has several thousand participants daily from more than 243 countries.

Maata Lynn Barron received formal training in classical Sufism from a Shaykh in Delhi, India. She founded the nonprofit organization The Circle of Light as a vehicle for the transmission of the innate Wisdom, Beauty and Goodness of the divine feminine principle, SHE. Maata Lynn speaks and sits in meditation with people at retreats and conferences around the country.

Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man is a teacher, writer and lecturer, devoting much of his professional life to the dissemination and promotion of Jewish spirituality. In 1985 he established Metivta, a center for contemplative Judaism, which sought to provide an integrated approach to Jewish religious life centered on meditation and traditional spirituality. Rabbi Jonathan also created and launched the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. He lived in Jerusalem for 20 years, and served as the personal editor and consultant to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

To Continue This Journey:

  • See our profile of Brother David Steindl-Rast that includes reviews of his books, quotations from his writings, listings of videos, interviews, and other resources at S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers Project.
  • Read our book review of Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer by Brother David Steindl-Rast, which presents rich and lively meditations on the spiritual practice of gratefulness with material on grace, belonging, and openness.
  • In the program, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Maata Lynn Barron, and Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man share brief accounts of their own mystical experiences. Have you had a mystical experience? What happened and how did it impact your life? Share it with a trusted friend.
  • Brother David says: "A mystic is not some special kind of human being but every human being is a special kind of mystic." What do you think he means? What is your response to his comments on the value of everyday mysticism?
  • Share your reactions to Maata Lynn Barron's quest for Truth, her spiritual teacher, and her own special brand of mysticism with SHE. Who are some of your favorite female mystics?
  • What do you think about Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man's idea that we all have a fundamentalist within us ?
  • Discuss the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner's prediction: "Tomorrow's devout person will either be a mystic — someone who has experienced something — or else they will not be devout at all."