Stories of miracles are found in the texts of virtually all religions, often forming around the lives of past mystics. More than two hundred miracles, for example, are attributed to Jesus in the canonical gospels alone. These, like those found in other religions, are often seen to symbolize a spiritual meaning.
Taking the gospel of Saint John in the Bible as an example, it is suggested that when Jesus selects just one sick man to heal at the pool of Bethesda it is symbolic of the few souls (amongst many) that a mystic comes to collect. Similarly, the resurrection of Lazarus, the man who had been dead for four days, suggests the awakening of the soul following initiation. In another story, Jesus attends a wedding feast and, at the request of his mother, turns water into wine. Whilst this may appear strange, changing water into wine may be understood to show how a mystic transforms a seeker’s intellectual knowledge of spirituality – which like water is tasteless and cold – into the intoxication of divine knowledge and experience. That this takes place during a marriage feast symbolizes the divine reunion of the soul with God, and for Jesus to convert water into the wine of divinity at the behest of his mother can suggest that mystics act on the orders of the Lord rather than following their own will.
Why perfect masters don’t perform ‘miracles’
As the mystics are one with God and his creative power, undoubtedly, they can perform any manner of miracles, physical or otherwise. Yet a close reading of spiritual texts reveals that they rarely do. Actually, they view miracles negatively. For instance, in Spiritual Gems, Maharaj Sawan Singh remarks, “It is impossible to describe the reach or power of the saints … if the Guru wants, he can make even the stones carry out his work.” But he clarifies that mystics “do not let supernatural or miraculous powers even approach them, much less accept them and use them.” Likewise, Jesus comments adversely upon those seeking faith through witnessing miracles:
The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him from a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.
Bible, Mark: 8:11-12
There may be several reasons why mystics do not wish to perform miracles. For one thing, a perfect mystic would never wish to ‘rival’ the Lord. As they have pointed out, the performance of miracles is a path of egotism, of setting up one’s own will in opposition to God’s will, something that is anathema to true mystics. As Maharaj Charan Singh explains in Thus Saith the Master:
Saints don’t come to do miracles, because it is not their mission to perform miracles. They don’t come as rivals of the Father, neither do they want to exert their own will at all. They want to remain in the will of the Father. So, when a saint would make a show of performing miracles, he would be indicating: the Father didn’t give you this thing, so I’m going to give it to you. They don’t come as rivals of the Father. Saints have eliminated their own will; they live in the will of the Father.
There will never be a dearth of suffering and strife, so even if a mystic should perform a physical miracle, its impact would be temporal. No saint seeks to solve the intractable problems of the material world. As Hazur Maharaj Ji states in The Path, saints come not so that they may create a paradise on earth, but to liberate souls from the prison of the mind and repeated transmigration. As such, the everlasting nature of the spiritual help they give is far more valuable than improving (temporarily) life on the material plane or altering fate karma.
Nevertheless, in a world where spirituality is subsumed by material pursuits, we might wonder why mystics do not use miracles to help them convince us. After all, miracles would attract more seekers and might engender faith. The mystics, however, are not interested in attracting followers as an end in itself. On the contrary, they may deliberately act in ways that offend people, thereby dissuading a following. As Soami Ji Maharaj explains in Sar Bachan (Prose), mystics wish to “prevent egoistic people from coming and meddling in their Satsang.” By making themselves the subject of “complaint and hostile criticism”, mystics attract only seekers genuinely interested in spiritual teachings. Nor do mystics perform miracles to develop devotion in their disciples, as this takes place naturally when the ego is slowly eroded through spiritual practice. Spirituality develops through purification of the mind and the cleaning of its myriad impure tendencies, freeing it from the force of ingrained habits. As the mystics explain, this cannot be achieved through simply witnessing a miracle.
The miracle of everything
If saints do not perform miracles, we may reach the conclusion that miracles do not occur. However, by broadening our perspective, we would realize that miracles abound. We tend to take for granted that which is familiar and to overlook the marvel and miracle in the everyday. The beauty and harmony found in the laws governing the natural world, for example, are nothing if not miraculous. For seekers on a spiritual journey, human life itself and interaction with a perfect mystic are perhaps the greatest miracles of all. Obtained after many lifetimes, the human form is a unique opportunity to end the cycle of birth and death, whilst the rarity of meeting a perfect mystic is highlighted in the following passage quoted in Buddhism: Path to Nirvana:
We have no way of knowing for how many thousands of kalpas we have fallen into the darkness or entered the Interminable Hell and endured all kinds of suffering. Nor can we know how many times we have aspired to the path to Buddhahood but, because we did not meet with wise advisors, remained submerged in the sea of birth and death for long kalpas, dark, unenlightened, performing all sort of evil actions.
Secrets on Cultivating Mind
A ‘kalpa’ is a unit of time referring to a ‘world-period’. The Buddha mentioned that if a solid piece of flawless rock one mile long by one mile wide by one mile deep were rubbed with a piece of silk every hundred years, this rock would disappear quicker than a world-period (kalpa). Drawing on the metaphor of the rock and silk cloth, if we can imagine how long one kalpa lasts and then amplify that by many thousands, it becomes clear just how miraculous, how priceless, how valuable it is to become a disciple of a perfect mystic. As the quotation suggests, we may well have desired spirituality in one or many of our countless previous lives, but have not been able to realize this until a mystic shares this knowledge with us.
Actually, the mystics explain that our desire to be reunited with the Lord is instilled in us by him. As Maharaj Charan Singh explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, without the grace of the Lord, we would not fall in love with the Master or have the desire to meditate:
Without the Lord’s love, we can never get out of the well. We think we worship him, we think we love him, but actually he is the one who is pulling us from within. He is the one who’s giving us all this atmosphere and these arrangements so that we can think about him. He’s the one who puts us on the path, and he is the one who is leading us, and he is one who is forcing us to meditate and to burn the rubbish that we have collected.… All the love that we find in the Master – it is by the grace of the Lord that we find love in the Master … he has made us receptive so that we can feel that love for the Master. But for the Lord’s grace, we would not feel that love even in the Master. It is all the Lord’s doing.
Given all the negative actions we have performed in the past, the fact that the Lord wishes us to come home and has arranged for us to make the spiritual journey, is nothing short of phenomenal. In fact, the value of the unique position in which we find ourselves is highlighted throughout the Sant Mat literature. To stop us from feeling depressed about the karma we are experiencing or being discouraged by our seemingly poor efforts in meditation, the Masters often draw attention to just how blessed we are:
You have been given the passport to go back to your own home where your Supreme Father is waiting to receive you. What greater joy, blessing or bliss can one have in this world of misery and suffering? In fact no other person should be so happy in this world as an initiate who is on the path.
Quest for Light
If the miracle performed by the Lord is that he arranges for the Master to guide us home, the miracle performed by the Master is just as extraordinary. He transforms our attitude and approach to life. No longer do we view the purpose of life in terms of maximizing our individual material achievements, nurturing personal relationships, or even doing charitable work. Whilst continuing to engage in such activities, we work towards the (new) principal objective of our life: the spiritual journey that takes us home to the Lord.
We do not know whether the miracles we read about in the religious texts actually occurred or whether they are just stories. Yet, as the author of The Gospel of Jesus beautifully explains, we are living a miracle now:
The greatest miracle of all must surely be that God comes into the physical creation in the form of a man, a human personification of his creative power. The ocean encloses itself in a teapot and enters the sphere of humanity as a Master, bringing with him the supreme love of God and the grace to share it with all who are drawn to him. From being fully engrossed in the world, these souls are then turned around and become eager to find God. Man – born spiritually blind – is given spiritual vision by a Son of God and enabled to see clearly the illusions of this world and the path to God. This is most surely the greatest and most significant of all miracles that can come upon any soul.
Knock, knock, knock. He hears. If at first you do not succeed in having the door opened from inside do not run away. Go on knocking, knocking so violently as to make him open the door. Simran is the knocking.
The Science of the Soul