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Dancing with the Kalahari Bushmen

Watching a Kalahari Bushman shaman dance by the fire

Photo credit: Paddy M. Hill

Can a self-proclaimed science nerd embrace the path of pure experience? A journey from inquiring mind to limitless heart.

This article appeared in our June 2003 issue. In January 1971, I was a 19-year-old science nerd. My family and friends had high expectations for my future, because two years earlier I had won the international science fair. Dutifully, I went off to college, where I studied around the clock. Then, early one evening, as I passed the university library, I was suddenly overcome by a wave of deep calm and silent knowing; the weight of my body disappeared and my legs walked me right into the university chapel, where I sat down on the front pew and had the most powerful experience of my life. I felt a ball of fire ignite at the base of my spine and slowly, surely creep up my back, triggering what seemed like multiple heartbeats inside my body. The fire rose to the top of my head and emerged as a ball of light. As I gazed at it, I saw Jesus and the saints of diverse world religions. For the entire night my body shook and vibrated and I wept uncontrollably, filled with the deepest love imaginable. It took several weeks for me to calm down. I feared that if my experience had been any more intense, I might have …

Photos reprinted from Ropes to God: Experiencing the Bushman Spiritual Universe and Kalahari Bushmen Healers, edited by Bradford Keeney, Ph.D. (Ringing Rocks Press in association with Leete’s Island Books).

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