This study investigates the lived-experience of spiritual life in contemporary USA, India, and China. A qualitative coding frame was constructed based on participant responses to open-ended questions regarding spirituality. Qualitative analysis was facilitated by the use of Dedoose, a mixed methods software. The exploratory approach of this study takes on a cross-culturally comparative lens, and has two primary questions: (1) What are the universal aspects of lived spirituality across cultures, and (2) How does culture shape spiritual experience (e.g., typology and prevalence)? A total of 6112 participants (41% women, mean age of 29 years, range 18–75 years) were recruited, and analysis was conducted on a subset of 900 participants. The primary thematic categories derived by content analysis included religion (religious traditions, religious conversion, religious professionals, religious figures “theophany,” and religious forces “heirophany”), contemplative practice (meditation, mindful movement, prayer, and rituals), ancestors (ancestral worship, dreams about ancestors, and general mention of ancestors), natural world (animals, and nature), and metaphysical phenomena. Metaphysical categories were further parsed apart to include extrasensory perception (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, realistic dreams, and intuitive impressions), psychokinesis, survival hypothesis (near death experiences, out of body experiences, and apparitional experiences), and faith and energy healing (recovery/remission of illness, and spiritual practitioners). Explanatory factors for similarities and differences across groups, and the origins of spirituality, are discussed.
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