A few months before he died, 83-year-old Spyros Sathi, widely regarded as the greatest Christian mystic of modern times, agreed to sit down and talk with me in his first American interview. Known simply as the Daskalos ("teacher"), this powerful Cypriot healer had, I'd heard, once frightened a group of hard-nosed reporters by rocking a lame child in his arms and setting him down a few minutes later on legs that were suddenly functional. The night before our interview, I'd studied the Daskalos from a distance, holding forth on a New York stage strewn with flowers; now, stepping into his hotel room with a photographer, I had no idea what to expect.
The moment he rose—six feet five in a cardigan sweater—and took my hand, all my apprehension disappeared. Something about this towering man—a glowing kindness, a welcoming ease—put me at ease, too, and for the next hour I questioned him about how it felt to have his powers. I barely understood his responses (you try interviewing a mystic), but when I stood up to say goodbye, I was so light-headed—so light all over—that I had to sit down to steady myself. The Daskalos smiled and watched me intently; then without any forethought, I asked him about a painful situation in my life. My host leaned forward, took my wrist between his fingers, and said, "You are good." Three simple words—just that—bearing no conscious link to my question; yet hearing them I wanted to weep, as if Spyros Sathi had somehow heard, underneath the surface question, a deeper confusion, a covert hunger, a secret longing to be blessed. The photographer happened to capture this moment, the Daskalos gently touching my arm, grinning at me as I beamed back at him with the same sort of lit-up expression. In the photograph, which I treasure, my face looks like a hundred-watt bulb.
I've never been a person of faith. In matters of spirit, I'm from Missouri—fascinated but skeptical. Were it not for meeting the Daskalos and a handful of other exceptional teachers in my travels as a writer and seeker, I would surely doubt that such a thing as spiritual energy existed—not as a miraculous fluke but a natural gift accessible to all of us. Like harmony, symmetry, and even genius, this invisible force is a mystery whose uplifting power must be encountered to be believed. Once that happens, revealing a glimpse of our awesome potential, it can never again be denied.
Next: The science of spiritual energy