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Part 2/Sec.1 on Miracles
Date: Sun Jun 07 1998 - 12:32:28 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Presented below is Section 1 of Part 2 Miracles from my book "Myths, Miracles
and Mysticism". Hope you will find it interesting.
Anbil Ramaswamy
Myths, Miracles and Mysticism

Section 1 : What is a  Miracle and Why Miracle?

" Miracle is an extraordinary occurrence that is ascribed to a divine or
supernatural cause".
 It is clear from the above definition that 
( i ) the occurrence should be extraordinary and 
( ii )  it should be ascribable to a divine or supernatural cause. 
Not all abnormal happenings could be considered ' Miracles"

Miracle is not fraud

Some feats might attract attention for a while. But, they turn out to be the
handiwork of some cunning  conmen who are out there to defraud the gulieless
by beguiling them and masquerade their occult powers by quackery, sorcery or
even witchcraft.These are at the worst, deception and duplicity.

Miracle is not Magic

When somebody steals your possessions without your knowledge, you feel
deprived. When you become aware of the loss, you feel cheated. But, when
someone does the same thing with your full knowledge and  perhaps  tacit
consent, you do not feel the loss so poignantly. This is because you are
mentally prepared for it, you are a willing partner in the bargain, ready to
step into the booby trap, enchanted and fascinated by the illusion and
impelled by the persuasion of an expert craftsman. 

While the former is a criminal misdemeanor which outrages moral and ethical
values and therefore attracts  punitive lashes, the latter  is considered as
'magic'. This magic is deemed innocuous and to be within legal parameters.

Black Magic and White Magic

Within magic itself, you will find what is known as ' Black magic' which has
to be bracketed with the fraudulant variety mentioned above including, as it
does, bizarre practices such as necromancy, legerdemain and even sorcery. The
magic of the other hue (we may call it White magic), is allowed and practiced
as an entertainment on par with sports, circus or a movie. This would include
hypnotism, mesmerism, planchet reading, tarot reading, seance, sortilege,
creative visualization etc.

What magicians do?

The essence of magic of either color is the fact that the practitioners are
adepts in bewitching you, controlling your susceptibilities, dominating your
feelings, seducing your mind into hallucinations, influencing even your
thought process, firing up your imagination to believe in whatever they say or
do,  by clever manipulations. They are proficient in outwitting you, enticing
you into believing the googly illusions conjured up by them and you become a
willing partner in their game.

The practitioners of both kinds are admirable crichtons who by mumbling some
abracadabra, hocus-pocus, or mumbo- jumbo indulge in skull duggery, diverting
your attention for the time being to gain requisite leverage to play their
trickery on you. 

>From the magicians of ancient times to those of modern days, from Houdini to
David Copperfield - all indulge in more or less the same techniques, with a
greater or lesser measure or effect. 

To cite a few examples, there was a magician who could drive a car on a busy
thoroughfare totally blindfolded; Another one used to open his show by
deliberately coming late by 10 or 15 minutes. He would ask for the time from
the restless audience and when they look at their wrist watches, they would
show the scheduled time. Before they come out of their surprise, he  would
shake hands  of the members of the audience and dexterously remove their wrist
watches and put them in his pockets. Back on the stage, he would call them one
by one and astonish them by returning  their respective watches. 

Such acts are performed by sleight of hand and cannot be classified as
Miracles. They remain to be just magic. One could learn the modus operandi
with a little effort and practice.

Miracles and Magic

But, miracles are made of a different stuff altogether. They are not exercises
in hoodwinking. If you are surprised on seeing magic you will be astounded by
what miracles can do. Like magic, miracles also are so baffling, breathtaking,
enigmatic, incredible and mysterious that you will be overwhelmed and spell
bound, left to wonder at the marvel.

Divine Miracles

There is no Religion in the world that does not speak of some divine miracle
or other within its framework. We may even say that it would not be a religion
if there were no miracles  in it.

Why Miracles?

Why do we need miracles and what purpose do they serve? Whether one is a
Scientist engrossed in his experiments, or a Rationalist who never stops
questioning everything, an Atheist who seeks to deny the existence of a divine
being or a Secularist who shuns religion - one would not be convinced of such
a superior force unless that superior force exhibits itself in such a
compelling manner as to make its presence felt through some extraordinary

Even ordinary folk who do not have any pretensions to being  scientific or
analytical would normally dismiss every occurrence as routine unless they are
shocked into something supernatural.

Only when something amazing, fantastic or prodigious strikes which is
inconceivable by all known cannons of rationale does one get the feel that
there is a superior force than what human mind can possibly figure out. 

When such a phenomenon occurs that cannot be comprehended, let alone described
or otherwise expressed, then only man would realize his own insignificane
against the overwhelming presence of the Infinite. 

We with our limited  and myopic perceptions cannot define, verify, or
scrutinize the bewildering yet fascinating events that miracles open up to our
experience. In short, miracle is  one that appeals to the heart and not to the
intellect, to intuition and spiritual experience rather than to rationale.
This enforces belief and faith in the superior force we call Divine.

But, this belief and faith are only the by products of miracles, not their
main objective. Divinity does not have to prove itself through miracles
because it has no need  or purpose to do so. If miracles do happen, it is only
by way of a natural outflow of  divine compassion of God towards us, his

Cannot the compassionate God solve all our problems miraculously?

It may be questioned that if God were so compassionate towards us, why does he
not solve our problems  of disease and poverty, our struggles for existence,
our miseries that we go through. Certainly, he could and indeed he does -  for
those who deserve his saving grace. 

But, solving everyone of our mundane problems is not his objective in showing
up these miracles. His objective is to help us in our spiritual advancement.
Supposing, he solves one personal problem, say disease, that is not the end of
the matter. You will confront him with innumerable other situations ' you deem
'  to be your problems. You cannot expect him to solve every individual
problem of every individual living being on earth and in the heavens. 

If God solves our problem of disease, poverty etc.we would still be at the
same state of mental calibre and spiritual bankcruptcy as before. Our
attachment to lust and hate  (Kama and Kroda) would impel us to fight with one
another leaving the sum total of suffering and misery much at the same level,
the chaotic world remaining the same, if not worse confounded.

The problems one faces are the result of one's own actions in this or earlier
births, the results of which one has to experience as understood by the term
"Karma'. But, God can grant us the strength and the means to face the
challenges successfully, provide us the necessary fortitude to overcome them,
if we turn to him sincerely. 

The miracles serve to reinforce our faith in God's eagerness to help us if we
surrender ourselves to his superior will absolutely, sincerely,
unconditionally and without strings or reservations. And, that is the purpose
of divine miracles.

Section 2 : AVATARS and MIRACLES : will follow