The title of this post comes from a Grateful Dead song, and I can still remember the images of Deadheads wandering the parking lot wherever the Dead were appearing looking for someone with tickets to sell. They carried homemade signs that read ‘I Need a Miracle.”
In the film Moonstruck, Rose’s mother, upon learning that her fiancee’s mother has recovered from near death, exclaims ‘There ain’t supposed to be miracles no more!” And indeed, many people believe that miracles, if they ever really existed, are feats that were performed thousands of years ago. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Miracles are not rare occurrences
Every single day is a miracle.
Breathing is a miracle.
Children are miracles.
Animals are miracles.
Trees are miracles.
The oceans are miracles, and so are all of the creatures that live in them.
Our bodies are miracles, and so are our souls.
The entire planet, galaxy, and universe are miracles. The particular pattern on a dog’s coat, the color of your eyes, your blood type: all miracles. Why? Because the mere fact that they exist at all are the result of an incredible chain of events that could only happen once in a billion chances.
You might be thinking ‘Hey! Those aren’t miracles. They are the result of natural phenomenon that can easily be explained by scientific principles.’ Which is true, but makes them no less miraculous.
In fact, the more that science figures out about the way things work in our universe, the more miraculous it becomes. Some people believe that science takes the mystery out of things and renders them mere facts. But the more that we understand ourselves, our planet, and our universe, the more miraculous and mysterious they actually become.
Understanding them makes us appreciate and love them more, not less. The fact that after spending as much time as we have on this planet we still don’t understand how everything works is testament to its miraculous nature.
“OK” you say, ‘fine. I accept that, but you know that’s not what we’re talking about when we talk about miracles. What we are talking about are things like curing the blind. Lighting lamps for 8 days with only enough oil to light them for a day. Walking on water. That kind of thing.”
Lama Norlha and the Bodhi Tree Miracle
Lama Norlha told the beggars to come to the Bodhi Tree the next day, promising that they’d be fed. Some 500 people showed up and they were all fed a piece of bread and cooked lentils. The Lama told everyone to return the following day with a bowl. The number of people grew each day until there were more than two thousand people there every day. The Lama and his group did all the cooking themselves and fed the poor and homeless for forty-nine days.
If this had occurred centuries ago it would be the kind of story that appeared in the religious books of one faith or another. Yes, this happened because someone raised a lot of money and transported a lot of people to Bodh Gaya. It can be explained. But to those who were fed it was a true miracle.
In Return to Love, Marianne Williamson writes:
“If we think we’re small, limited, inadequate creatures, then we tend to behave that way, and the energy we radiate reflects those thoughts no matter what we do. If we think we’re magnificent creatures with an infinite abundance of love and power to give, then we tend to behave that way… the energy around us reflects our state of awareness.”
Lama Norlha clearly believed in the infinite abundance of love and power that he and his followers had the ability to give. They behaved as though they believed it, and the result was that it was true. It happened.
What changes is the way we experience the world. The world can, and often does, change in response, but that is not what creates the miracle. Our conscious intentions set in motion effects that we could not necessarily have imagined.
As far as walking on water or raising the dead, there are those whose faith allows them to believe in such feats and others who believe that they are spiritual fables meant to inspire and to illuminate the nature of our true selves, which is boundless and timeless. Either way, they are expressions of the knowledge that we are not separate from the Universe—we are of it.
A Zen Story About Miracles
But those who demand such feats as evidence of the Divine would do well to remember this Zen story about a group of monks who wandered the Chinese countryside with their master.
One day they encountered a second group of monks. The second group asked if the wandering master could do any tricks. Their own master, they explained, could write characters in the air, and if someone stood on the other side of the river with a piece of paper the characters would appear on the paper. One of the wandering monks replied that his master could perform amazing feats, more amazing even than writing in the air.
“What kind of feats?” asked the second monk.
“If he sleeps, he sleeps” responded the wandering monk. “If he eats, he eats.”
There’s no greater miracle than that.
Or, as Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”
Maybe you’ll get your ticket to the show. Maybe not. Either way, keep in mind that you are a miracle, today and every day.