Mind, Body, Soul|Mar 10, 2008 10:18 AM| by:

Magic and Miracles

Man needs miracles. This need, when deeply observed, is the expression of a hunger for power, a need to break free from his countless limitations. But superficially, it expresses itself in the need to witness the dazzlingly fantastic and seemingly impossible.

But what exactly is a miracle? It is the occurrence of a phenomenon which defies the normal processes through which Nature seemingly operates. Magic is different. It is a tricking of the mind and senses, an illusion created by carefully applying the normal laws of Nature to create an illusion, e.g. sleight of hand. It works even with the mind. The mind can so concentrate on one object as to become oblivious of others. Used differently, this faculty of concentration creates the magic of mind-games. However a miracle is not a trick or illusion. But neither is it supernatural. It is supernormal, in the sense that it does not work through the normally known operations of Nature. It does not displace normal operations. It really brings out into the normal world another play of forces and fields. To one who knows them, these forces are perfectly normal and natural. But to one who does not know how to handle them, they appear miraculous and supernatural.

Miracles in Time

A miracle is also not necessarily an instantaneous event that dazzles the eye. There are many miracles that unfold over a period of time and which are no less miraculous on this account. So, for example, the seed of life grows over the years from a tiny cell to a mighty king or an illumined sage. The first miracle evolves slowly; it not only creates a king, but also often equips him with the instruments to rule. The other, though dazzling in its effect, is like the story of King Midas who had the power but neither the wisdom nor ability to exercise it in the right way. The most perfect acts that weave such intricate patterns of life need time and patience. These are God’s true miracles: the opening of a flower bud, the turning of an all-devouring caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly, the evolution of these many tiered universes and systems of galaxies and stars out of a single point of intense concentration. These are the greatest miracles that no human magic can imitate and yet these miracles take the longest. They are not the miracles of things that are accomplished and known but the miracles of the still unknown and unborn. And yet man hardly recognises them as such; he passes by without even noticing them, since they extend beyond his arc of vision in terms of time and space.

Is a Miracle Made to Order?

Another common misconception is to see events from a very personalised point of view. So when things happen in our favour we regard it as a miracle and take it as synonymous with the will of God. A deeper study reveals that this may not be so. Life and Nature do not move with the sole objective of satisfying us. They have their own rhythm and purpose. And whilst our personal choices are taken into account, they are not the sole or perhaps even major determining factors. But our choices do make a difference. Because inherent in our choices are our attitudes towards life, which may or may not be aligned to the cosmic purpose. When it is aligned we feel happy even if adversity appears. When not aligned, we eventually suffer even if the results seem favourable and happen according to our choice!

Another misconception is that a miracle can be made to order. This arises from an ignorance of the way a miracle works. Even when a miracle seems instantaneous, there is a process, however subtle or swift it may be. It overrides the known laws and conditions of working, but there are other hidden laws and conditions through which it works itself out. It is not a creation out of nothing. That would be an impossibility or a trick. Even the Divine does not totally disrespect the conditions of the field in which He works. The field and forces are also Him and have a great purpose in His grand plan. This grand plan and purpose is often far more important than the immediate impulse of the moment.

Recently a girl demonstrated her power of subtle vision to see and diagnose pathologies and illnesses. The scientists demanded proof. The little girl was placed under strict scrutiny and left alone with a group of disbelieving sceptics. The stress created in the child was evident. Yet she could accurately match four out of seven diagnoses and was almost correct with the fifth. But the sceptics were not satisfied! Under such strict criteria, even well-qualified and experienced doctors would fail to pass the test and medical science might be dubbed a superstition rather than a science! That may well be so, but the point is that miracles require certain inner conditions as science requires certain outer ones.

Miraculous Expectations

There is a flipside to this matter of expectation. We often find men in religious garb making stupendous and fantastic claims. So often we even hear men of little apparent merit claiming that their practices, techniques and methods, or even mere presence, is sufficient to cure anyone of every ill, from problems of money to every physical and psychological malady. When some illnesses are cured or partially rectified, primarily due to the faith people place in the process, then the claimant opens shop. Those in whom it does not work simply succumb to their fate and do not raise a word of dissent, lest it be held a sacrilege. Even God would not make such fantastic claims, though potentially He is fully capable of them — not because He is less powerful than these god-men, but because His power is commensurate with His wisdom. His compassion is not blinded by a passion to rush in and help, as if He dwelled in an alien world and the rest of humanity in another. The fact is that He is here too and knows perfectly well what is going on. If He does not always seem to respond to our prayers for help, it is simply because He has seen beyond the rush and rumour of the present moment of anguish and realises the daybreak and advent of Light that waits behind the storm and night. He also knows that the storm and night are often a preparation for the day, so we grow stronger in our energies and not sink into an abyss of inertia or tamas.

Miracles: Visible and Invisible

That takes us to another aspect of miracles. It relates to visible ones, the ones we appreciate and the invisible miracle, which we often fail to appreciate. Let us illustrate with an example. Men who survive major catastrophes often allude to God’s Grace and take it as a visible sign of His miracle. That is understandable. A more difficult thing to accept is the miracle of hope and faith, the miracle of dauntless courage springing up from some secret source within when challenged by adversity, the miracle of the best coming out of the worst in terms of our inner growth and resilience. Where do these things come from, but our own inner heights and depths concealed to everyday sight? It is as if adversity rents the veil that separates the surface from the silent spaces of our soul that lie hidden deep within us. In other words, it is undoubtedly a miracle when a man is cured of an intractable illness, but it is a still greater miracle that a man continues to smile and display faith and courage, even inspire hope and trust in others whilst facing death and imminent disaster. It is indeed a miracle that a man gets what he desires through prayer, but it is a still greater miracle if, when the desire is rejected, he gains a sense of freedom and inner victory. These greater miracles happen silently; they are neither visible to the outer eye nor appreciated by the common mind. But these are by far the greatest miracles of God.

The Path of Miracles

In other words, miracles have a pathway. A miracle is not a rope trick that hangs from nowhere. Neither does a miracle necessarily ignore the conditions of earthly existence. Take the common example of a miracle cure. Now, the miracle cure may take place without the use of drugs, but it may also employ some material support in that form to shorten the course of illness. Sometimes the illness may be allowed to run its full course and yet the power working out the miracle works in such a way as to avoid possible complication. At other times, it may reduce the need for drugs and their dosage and the response is much faster than usually observed. Finally, it may not change anything in the outer form of the illness, but the mind of the patient is free from suffering, his heart spontaneously lifted to a calm gladness in spite of everything. All these are various forms and shades in the working out of miracles. To understand this, we have to delve a little into the pathway of events and dynamics of a miracle in this great chain of cause and effect.

Any event on earth passes through a chain of processes. Science, or more accurately material science, has studied some of these more outward links in the process. But behind the observed there lies a chain of subtle and hidden forces interlacing through the complex cosmic fields of existence. These forces act and interact with each other to shape outer events, much like those in the physical field. Man is himself a part of that great machinery and is used for the shaping of events. Now one can intervene at many levels in this chain. The first level is most outward, the physical one; and science has done much to study and master the field of physical forces. One should not think this field inferior since it is merely physical. Its mastery is necessary. Nevertheless the full significance of this field itself cannot be understood until we have understood its relation to the whole. Yet some of the physical interventions themselves are no less miraculous when seen through the eyes of people living in the previous century!

Behind the physical is another range of consciousness termed the vital. Nature’s primal energies of life are the field of its play. Deft occultists and expert pranic and reiki healers manipulate this domain and, by bringing it into play, alter the balance of physical forces in favour of speeding up the healing process. And beyond the play of life-energies, there is the play of mind-energies whose role in health and healing has already been explored and accepted even by main-stream medicine. Meditation, visualisation, biofeedback are only some of the recognised ways of altering the balance of illness in favour of cure. But mind and life energies are still powers of cosmic ignorance and so they also work much like a physical pill, unable to do anything more than flatten the physical effects of illness by intervening at an earlier chain of events. They cannot tackle the subconscient roots of illness. Of course by altering appearances they too can, like modern medicine, act with swiftness and sometimes give an illusion of cure since the symptoms may disappear. But Nature’s chain persists and, like a spider’s web or hydra’s head, it springs up again in another illness. This continues till death befalls us, unless we try to grapple with the problem at its subconscient roots. This is possible only through higher spiritual forces that are sometimes activated through ardent prayer. This takes time since the roots of the malady are very deep and since it is we who nourish these roots. It is as if we try to push away illness with one hand while clinging onto it with the other.

A miracle can take several directions. The most elementary and stunning are of course those done by modern medicine through a combination of material forces. This is necessary for those not used to invoking higher forces or those not invested with the necessary trust and patience. Some people neither want to take drugs nor fulfil the conditions for a higher intervention on a diseased body. To wait with an occasional prayer expecting a miracle to suddenly appear is to play the fool with oneself. Not that a miracle cannot happen suddenly or that prayers are useless. Prayers may yet be effective and a miracle may still happen, but it may take time.

Higher Determinism

The other form of a miracle is through the intervention of a higher determinism, or bringing into play higher forces than the physical, say vital (pranic) and mental energies for example. These forces may intervene, changing the course of illness or may simply superimpose themselves on the physical manifestations of illness leading to temporary reprieve. The illness may then remain dormant for years but may never leave completely. It can also erupt again after a certain period. Or else a new malady may appear in place of the old one. Otherwise it might stay as an undercurrent of life, maiming us from within, even though we may seem to be free of the illness from outside. These interventions sometimes appear miraculous since they relieve and heal without the aid of physical methods. We are so used to thinking and believing that material forces are the only effective means that we feel any other intervention without material support is truly miraculous. But if we look behind the magic and try to understand the play of forces, then we discover that even this is effective only to the extent that the body consciousness secretly supports the will to cure and the mind gives assent through its faith in the process. In reality, the body is cured only when it has decided to be cured and the means it uses is the one in which it has faith.

Miracle Cures

Much group healing is like this. Such sessions are generally full of vital forces thrown out by the group members themselves and the healer or medium, often a strongly vital person, generating a strong field of vital forces that are supported by a collective hope. Functional illnesses, that is to say, not so much physical as psychological, like for example hysterical paralysis or blindness or epilepsy which is more a dissociative reaction, may seem to magically disappear but only to return in a new dramatic form or remain as an undercurrent in the hysterical personality. Many so-called miracle men thrive on this sort of mixed stuff and some make it really big because of the high drama generated by their extremely vital personality that magnetically attracts such a following. These things often rise on the crest of a popular boom and later crash as suddenly as they had appeared. Of course, people may continue to throng around such individuals because that is the usual psychology of the sufferer. They do not mind trying it out even if it does not work for the moment. In any case, the intensely vital atmosphere, combined with heightened expectation, facilitates an emotional catharsis and so attracts people. Most men relish emotions on display and to that extent this catharsis itself partially helps. It is as if by sharing this group enthusiasm, we forget for a while our personal grief and pain. This is not so much caused by any great or astounding power on the part of the medium, but rather due to the very nature of group psychology!

Spiritual Forces

The third route is taken by higher spiritual forces. Although to the onlooker, a genuine spiritual intervention may be mimicked by vital and mental forces in its outer effects, there is a fundamental difference. Vital and mental forces, being those of Ignorance, work through division. They attack the illness as if it existed in isolation without heeding other issues involved in their formation. Spiritual forces work on the basis of oneness and therefore heal holistically. They take into consideration not only the present state of illness and patient’s constitution, but also the past formations, present necessity and future utility of these things, spontaneously, in the grand design of the universe. They may sometimes take time and the effects may be less instantaneous but the work done is more complete, the healing more thorough. They change the course of illness and convert it into something milder and less dangerous. The force of illness is exhausted or purged from the system in relatively innocuous ways — like catharsis through a safer route. It works upon our mind, life and body to help prepare better ground so that illnesses do not recur.

Finally, the very highest spiritual forces (for here too there is a gradation) may penetrate deeper into the subconscient layer and pluck the illness out from its very roots. When this happens, the illness may seem paradoxically aggravated for a while. The poison, held so far within the dark folds of the subconscient nature, is all at once exposed to the Light. The deeply hidden resistances of human nature that prevent our everyday life from becoming a miracle are brought to the forefront so that the highest Light may definitively work upon them once and for all. It is as if a master craftsman had taken upon himself to carve a god-image out of our mud and slowly but surely chips away at all that stands in the way. This takes considerable time and the process may extend beyond the single lifetime of an individual, yet when it is complete it is a masterpiece, a work of tremendous perfection. But hardly anyone calls this a miracle since we are so cabined in our small and egocentric view, our vision imprisoned in a narrow arc that is unable to appreciate the greatest of miracles since they are too vast to behold. If anything, we resist or lose faith and so instead of assisting the highest alchemy of Grace, we only shut the doors to it and thereby complicate and prolong our own misery.

Requisites for a Miracle

We see that a miracle has two requirements, which represent two ends of a single continuum. On one is the nature of the force that performs the miracle, at the other, there is the ground and recipient on whom the miracle is performed. The force responsible for the miracle may come from the subtle physical, vital, mental, rarely the spiritual or even the very highest Divine Grace. Each brings its own stamp on the nature of the induced change. The Divine Grace works thoroughly and therefore may need more time, as it is not bound by human calculations. The other forces may sometimes seem to work instantaneously but their work is incomplete and the malady is mostly held in check rather than truly healed. It may erupt later with similar or altered appearances, necessitating repeated interventions. The ground conditions that facilitate a miracle by the intervention of the highest are faith in the Force or the one who represents it. It is further facilitated by an atmosphere of calm and peace. Detachment in the mind and nervous vital parts from the suffering is a further help. Above all, an absence of fear and anxiety about the illness and its possible complications immensely helps the process. Of course, most miracles need some kind of call from the subject, but this call should not be confused with anxiety. It may be intense and full of a luminous trust in the Divine. Luminous in the sense that one should be full of confidence that the Divine is there, looking after our bodily existence and even if it seems apparently painful and even if we do not understand it now, it is for the best in the highest sense.

Of course the materialist might always object that all this talk of unseen forces is simply an imagination. To him, all such instances of unexpected recovery are due to chance (a scientifically approved term that conceals ignorance of the forces and factors involved). Or else he points to nothing more than cases of spontaneous recovery that have run their natural course. There is, of course, some truth in the latter logic since many illnesses indeed seem to recover without any intervention, if we only allow sufficient time. But the time taken in spontaneous recovery is precisely due to this play of forces behind the scene. There is no other miracle but a conscious handling and use of these concealed forces. After all, the material scientist is simply stating a fact that illnesses do spontaneously recover and there can be no objection since this is a well-known truth. Indeed some so-called miracle makers credit themselves with this type of recovery. But these facts do not discredit the play of deeper forces. The materialist does not understand or has an a priori bias against them. He is unable to explain the phenomenon or reproduce it, though he sometimes does try to explain it away. That is to say, he plays with words that sound high and scientifically authentic, but where there is equally no evidence. The charlatan, on the other hand, simply makes a false claim of having a hold over these forces whilst he has none. The matter cannot be proved or disproved on the physical plane. It is like small children trying to guess what propels an engine or lights a bulb. So long as the process is unknown it appears a miracle; when it is known and understood, it is simply natural. So too, in the deepest sense, there is no miracle but only a play of Nature, or indeed, Supernature. Once we have understood and known its process it becomes natural to us, though it may still seem miraculous to the one who has not yet ventured into that territory. Just as children stop regarding commonplace events as magical or miraculous when they grow up and learn the process of things, so too we must grow out of our infancy and play with energies and learn about other forces in God’s world of infinite wonders. Then the scientist and the occultist shall speak with one voice. Then the miracle shall cease to be. Or perhaps the whole of life and its most seemingly insignificant events will appear as a wonder and miracle!