Miracles, Wonders and Prayers
Miracles are one
aspect of religion – and there are so many of them in every religion – which
the rational mind rebels against. In fact, more often than not,
any discussion of Science and Spirituality is likely to end up into a debate on
miracles. If you probe carefully into someone who is disinclined towards
spirituality and if you scratch below the surface you will find that the real
reason is disbelief of what is usually called a miracle and a
consequent distaste for anything that is termed supernatural. The concept of avatAra (divine descent or manifestation) – so special
to Hinduism – is another part of the miracle story which drives away the
skeptic. That God can descend to the earthly level of
manifestation, live amongst us like one of us, eat and drink like all of us,
beats the imagination of a ‘scientific’ mind. But this is where one may see the
other side of
well-known divine descents in Hindu tradition are those of Rama and
The natural questions that usually arise in the mind of a modern rational human being are many. Some of them could be the following:
If all these are avatAras of Divinity why have all the problems of the suffering world not been solved? Why are people still suffering? If God has come down on earth why is He allowing suffering to continue? Why do we fight right before his eyes? Having manifested on earth, why does’nt He solve our problems?
These questions certainly rise, at one time or another, in all thinking minds who are eager to understand Divinity and its purpose. But we forget we think of these questions only in relevance to an avatAraa. Why is it the same questions are not asked in respect of that all-knowing omnipresent Divinity irrespective of whether He comes down on earth as a manifestation or not? Even when Divinity is in its own heaven, surely it is aware of all the sufferings man is subject to. So why does it not remove our sufferings by a stroke of its magic power? Thus posed the question looks childish. It now looks like the questions frequently asked by non-believers to throw doubts on the existence of God namely,
If God exists but cannot remove our suffering then he is not God;
If God exists and would not remove our suffering then he is not kind;
If Godexists and should not remove our suffering then he is not the boss;
If God exists and suffering also has to exist then he is not the only Truth.
These are only rhetorical statements which do not take into account the fact that a God, if He is really God, should not be judged from our human norms of right and wrong, justice and injustice -- for the very simple reason that no human has either the database or the holistic view that the divinity must surely have of the universe and its contents. Even in our day-to-day activities we come across incidents which bear testimony to the presence of this holistic objective in the Powers that are beyond us.
So then, what is the purpose of a descent of Divinity on earth? It is only to establish faith in the existence of a higher Reality and the truth of spiritual laws, so that man may have the strength to turn towards righteousness and steadfastly work for salvation of himself and his contemporaries. If the Supreme Reality in the form of either the Omnipresent Divinity or an avatAra solved all our problems of poverty and disease, would that be the end of our problems? No. The cure of our bodily illnesses or of our poverty would still leave us spiritually as we were, at the same level of consciousness and spiritual evolution as before, so that very soon we would be at one another’s throats. The same chaotic world will continue. A God can perhaps convert the entire ocean water, or at least a large part of it, into oil, so that the fuel problems of the world can be solved immediately, but even God cannot give a guarantee that no crazy man would throw a lighted cigarette in that sea of oil, because man has the free will to do so. If God had really a purpose in descending on earth, it would be only to clear the way for our spiritual growth! People who have been around the God-men of the 20th century, who are known to perform ‘miracles’ are of the opinion that they are personally experiencing the even more unbelievable miracle of transformation that is taking place within themselves - and they are seeing and feeling and hearing of the countless, deep personal transformations occurring within the throngs of people at the ashram and around the world. Many come to observe the miracles and stay on to experience the great personal growth that accrues to those who come. The miracles force an expansion of consciousness: it is like opening the gates in our scientific stalls and being invited to gallop out beyond our limits. We are reminded that we need to shift our beliefs, that there is more to this life than we think we know.
From Reawakening the Spirit In Work, by Jack Hawley, p.195
One may wonder why we are not asking the question: If God exists and did create the universe what was His purpose in such a creation? In fact this is an important question which occupies the mind of every scientist who investigates into the frontiers of science leading him into questions of spirituality and God. The MuNDaka-Upanishad answers this question by citing three analogies for the relationship between the universe and the Godhead, brahman, which is the origin of the universe according to the Upanishads. The three analogies are contained in the verse: MuNDaka-Upanishad, I - 1 - 7:
Just as the spider emits its own saliva to build its web and withdraw it;
just as plants grow on earth naturally without any effort ;
just as hairs grow on a man spontaneously,
so also the universe emanates from the Imperishable brahman.
The first analogy raises the doubt that the Ultimate may have a purpose, like the spider. No, says the second analogy. But the latter raises another objection questioning whether brahman, the Ultimate, is unconscious or inert like the Earth. To answer this, look at the third analogy. Hair grows on a man without effort or strain, so does the universe sprout from brahman, just as an extraneous projection of His Sakti or prakRti.
The most complete incarnation of God in Hinduism is supposed to be the descent of
or an intellectual may rise by successive steps of reasoning to the level of
understanding an unchanging Atman which is omnipresent, omnipotent and
omniscient. A true devotee also is ready to grant that there is a Supreme Power
who controls everything. But the vast majority of people are
neither philosophers nor intellectuals nor are they convinced devotees of the
Lord. They believe in God only when that God expresses Himself through
miracle-healing or through inexplicable phenomena. It is a moot point whether
The value of prayer can never be overstated. The so-called fate cannot No one can reveal God to another. But by revealing the value of prayer and inculcating the habit of prayer we place ourselves in a position to receive God-experience, in due time. Spiritual experience can come only through the correct understanding of prayer. Prayer is the point of contact with God. Silent prayer is the preparation of consciousness for the experience of Divinity within. We should tune ourselves from childhood well enough so that at adult age we are ready to receive the inevitable message that unhappiness and suffering are necessary for the unfolding of the soul within and to stand that unhappiness and suffering, prayer is the nutrition needed. From the age of 5, the practice of silent prayer should become a daily routine for a child irrespective of the denomination or religion to which the child belongs or does not belong. The habit of prayer must be made a second nature. This should not be left for the child to learn by itself after it reaches adult age -- as is the experience of many a materialist adult who has learnt things the hard way and then, turned to the ways of the Orient in the past few decades. This is where it is not possible to accept the plea of the rationalist that, to pray or not to pray should be left to the individual for a decision on his own, when he becomes an adult. The plea assumes that each man, without standing on the shoulders of the men of earlier times, begins all over again to learn all that the earlier civilization has already discovered and recorded for us to take the torch from there. That is not the way Man has ascended to the present state of knowledge.