Saturday, August 30, 2008

An Introduction

World, as we know now, is an engine of natural laws. Our sun is one among billions of stars in our galaxy and there are billions of such galaxies. On this small planet, what we call as earth, we belong to yet another small species that we call as human beings.

Just like the great organizations like galactic clusters, and innumerable solar systems, we are also organized in this planet.

But, there seems to be a difference (or similarity?), when sun does not overtakes moon, or when moon does not overtakes sun, human beings are frequent victims of bloodshed!


Now when I talk about organizations here, what I mean is not the huge corporate organizations. But, what I am talking about is a much bigger organization called religion. Even the smallest religion will have more individuals than any of these corporates.

What prompted me to write this blog is that, though a large percentile of us live harmoniously between these organizations, I must say that people are quite serious about their religion. Yes, even an atheist, and that is the reason why he/she is an atheist. Neither my reason, nor my curiosity lets me stop thinking about it. So, here is the quest. A quest for the truth. A quest to find out what is the science behind these organizations.

Logical thoughts, in a progressive manner is appreciated. I want all of you, who read this blog to break the barrier of his/her own limitations and social stigma. Think independently and broaden your mind as much as possible. If you have any thoughts that you feel is having a higher level of broadness, I would like you to share, and I shall share with others in this blog. And by now you would have realized why I started from the word WORLD.

Are Miracles 'Religious' ?

We all know that almost all of the religions have something to do with miracles. The objective of this simple research is to find out what is the science behind these miracles. We all know that religious views are contradictory and thus the god of one religion is not the same as that of another. But still, miracles seem to occur in almost all the religions. What I am doing is a search through Google with 'religion name' <_> miracle. I am adopting this technique to avoid any personal bias on any religion. But please don’t think I am a member of the church of Google (thechurchofgoogle). With this technique I would be able to justify that miracles do happen in all the religions. If you are not interested in theology, you can simply skip this part and directly start reading the pre-conclusive para. This may ignite a few thoughts in your mind, which later can help you in contributing for The Quest of Truth!

Miracles in Buddhism:

Probably Buddhists are not as politically attached to their religion as Abrahamic religions. And probably so, they don’t show much interest in developing big missionaries (in modern sense WEBSITES). Also this is what Buddhists says:

"He taught that a monk who displays the first two supernormal powers for their own sake in order to impress people, is no different from the performance of a shaman or a magician. The Buddha said that a monk who practices such worldly miracles is a source of shame, humiliation and disgust. This is because such actions may impress and win converts and followers, but they do not help them put an end to their suffering."

Another Story:

"Another story illustrates the Buddha's attitude towards miraculous powers. One day the Buddha met an ascetic who sat by the bank of a river. This ascetic had practiced austerities for 25 years. The Buddha asked him what he had received for all his labour. The ascetic proudly replied that, finally, he could cross the river by walking on the water. The Buddha pointed out that this gain was insignificant for all the years of labour, since he could cross the river using a ferry for one penny!"

And this was the attitude of Buddha on miracles:

“In one sutra in the Digha Nikaya, the Buddha was asked to perform miracles so that "those who do not believe will believe, and those who already believe will have more faith". The Buddha's answer was something like this: "The Enlightened One can perform such miracles: He can read minds, He can float in the air, He can pass through solid objects etc etc etc. However, the Greatest miracle is the Miracle of the Dharma, the Teaching that destroys all sufferings. Thus, this is the only miracle I will perform here.”

Read this article (if you have time): http://www.parami.org/buddhistanswers/what_about_miracles.htm
And visit this site to know more about Buddhism: http://www.parami.org/buddhistanswers/

But here are a few miracles in Buddhism:

"The miraculous powers (abhinna iddhi /siddhi) often mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures, and sometimes manifested by the Buddha himself, include being able to multiply oneself, fly through the air, hear things over a long distance, read other people's minds, remember one's former lives and know how to destroy the defilements of the mind." (http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/dharmadata/fdd63.htm)

"Burmese religious pilgrims flocked by the thousands at the weekend to Nyaunglaybin township, 160 kilometres north of Rangoon, to witness a "miracle" of multi-coloured light beams appearing from a Buddhist monastery." (Source: DPA, Germany, March 1997 )
Other Miracles on Buddhism seen are mainly like people flocking when light starts emmiting from Buddha’s statue. (http://www.einterface.net/gamini/buddhist.html).

Since Buddhists are monks, they meditate, perform martial arts and keep themselves healthy. They are said to have psychic powers beyond our imagination but Buddha has asked not to publicly display them since he said education is the biggest miracle.


Still there are Buddhist meditating center which are meant to heal diseases on body and soul (many videos are in YouTube).

Miracles in Christianity:

The first site that comes in Google is http://www.christian-faith.com/. You can read a lot of testimonies here, and links to YouTube.

"I was in Australia recently and there was a man who had cancer in his mouth. We asked the people with cancers to stand, and I commanded the cancers in the name of Jesus to disappear. Two minutes after the prayer, there was no cancer in his mouth; it was a perfectly new mouth. His doctor came over and verified the healing. That's slightly challenging if you don't believe in these things, isn't it?"

This is just one of the testimonies of many. Most miracles seen in Christianity is either healing from diseases through mass prayer, saintly faiths or some spiritual practices. Though Christianity can not be called as a single faith, within its numerous sects miracles are observed. Irrespective of the sect, miracles are quite highly dignified in this religion and well appreciated (except a few churches).

Probably because of the massive Christian population, well organized missionary and the miraculous nature of its patron Jesus, the search result is massive. The claims on stigmata, Jesus sightings etc are one in many. But I guess the list would be very long if I go through these paranormal phenomenon in the websites.

For the faithful believer in Christianity, these would be an additional proof but for others it may either appear to be superstitious or sometimes confuse them.

Miracles in Islam:

The first site that came when I Googled is http://www.miraclesofislam.com/. Many things appear here to be graphic designing for those who don't believe (as well as those who know about Adobe Photoshop) while for others this may appear as the sign of God.

But among this one photo appears to be genuine since I saw it in Reader's Digest and news was in newspapers too.



In the page http://www.miraclesofislam.com/indonesia.shtml there are 5 such mosques escaped from Tsunami, but I pasted one of those here since this was the same picture I saw in Reader's Digest. It is told that those who ran to that mosque during Tsunami, none was hurt. May be a coincidence or the Mosque was strongly build (coz the contractors wouldn’t have made much profit in the name of God).

Most of the websites in the first page of Google search gives Miracles of Quran probably because Muslims believe Quran is the biggest miracle of Muhammad.

Various scientific facts like embryonic development, movement of mountains, origin of universe (if Big-Bang Theory is Right), atmosphere protects earth, Einstein's theory of Relativity, moon reflects light, formation of petroleum from livestock, on deep sea and internal waves, how rain is formed etc. are written in Quran 1400 years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur%27an_and_science). Most of these interpretations are understood while the scientific knowledge is increased. And often it is quoted in Quran, "Verily, these are signs for those who possess intelligence".
Quran also prophesied many things some of which has already passed like how Roman Empire will be defeated and the preservation of Pharaoh in sea (which was excavated recently).
Apart from the above the latest claim for the Quran's authenticity is in the 19 based mathematical miracle discovered a few decades ago. Many chapters are initialed with letters, these letters repeat as a multiple of 19 in that chapter. This appears to be either a very careful coding of the Quran 1400 years ago by ceaseless effort of men or simply so because it is the word of God.


When I went deep into the subject I find some people are obsessed with 19 just like the Number 23 movie. They start relating everything in Quran to 19 (http://submission.org/miracle/).


Other claimed Mathematical miracle includes the total number of repetition of certain words in the whole Quran like:

ONE DAY-------------------30
MONTH----------------------12
MOON-------------------------27
etc.


These repetitions can probably be a coincidence but very strong evidence for a believer.


I believe prophecies of Muhammad in other scripture can not be put under this section since it must be put in the respective scripture’s section, since Mohammed is a historical character.
Other Miracles like Spiritual Healing etc are seen in mass prayers, Quran recitation, Islamic medicines etc. Though witchcraft is prohibited in Quran, there are instances when some Muslims consults Jinns (Jinns are spirits, which are further classified into good and bad) for aid (I do not know if it is permitted to seek help from good Jinns). Sufi miracles are those which are performed by Sufi saints during their lifetime. But after their death people visit their tombs for intercession and it is believed that many get help. Also Sufi therapy is widely available where miraculous healing takes place, for example visit http://www.all-natural.com/sufi.html.

Miracles in Judaism:


When I talk about the Jewish Miracles, I must say it is filled with miracles! From Noah, to Moses to Jesus (because Jesus himself was a Jew) all where supported with miraculous powers.
A Rabbi called Ba'al Haness, means “miracle worker” and comes from a Talmudic story describing how he saved his sister-in-law from the clutches of the Romans by a combination of subterfuge and uttering a single prayer: “God of Meir – answer me.

There are Jewish healing centers where many people are reported to get cured. Eg: The National Center for Jewish Healing (http://www.jewishhealing.org/).

But I could not get much information on the websites probably because the total Jewish population in the world is just 0.23% and many of them are engaged in war.
But at a quick glance at the first Google search page it is seen the miracles of escapes from the Holocaust, apart from the mass murders of Jews by Christians in the past and the present fight going on between Palestine and the newly formed country Israel.

Miracles in Hinduism:

Now considering my ancestral religion, there are innumerable miracles not just what I observe from the net but also from the daily hearings.

One thing what even I tried a few years ago with my dad was trying to give water to a statue of elephant we had in our home. This was a consequence of The Hindu Milk Miracle.

"The Hindu milk miracle was a phenomenon considered by many Hindus as a miracle which occurred on September 21, 1995" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_milk_miracle).

Now about Sai Babha, of all the miracles I have gone through this is most interesting:
"Sai Baba Raising the Dead:

Sri Satya Sai Baba raised Mr V Radhakrisna from the dead in 1953 after he had had been dead for about two days. He went Puttaparthi with his wife, daughter Vijaya and his son in law Mr. K S Hemchand. He was suffering from gastric ulcers, was very ill at the time of the visit and this was one of the reasons for visiting the ashram. He was given a room in the same building the swami lived and spent most of his time in bed and was visited by Baba before he went to a coma and died. On the third day after his death when the corpse was stinking Baba came to his room and asked his wife, daughter and son in law to wait outside and closed the door. After few minutes he opened the door and on the bed Mr Radhakrisna was looking up at them and smiling. Baba asked the wife to give him a hot drink and waited for another half and hour in the room. Family stayed at Prashanthi Nilayam for few more days and returned to their home in Kuppam. His gastric ulcers had vanished for ever and he continued to live for many more years afterwards."

Well at a quick look there are so many miracles and healing power reported to be possessed by so many Swamis. Let me tell you, this is a very hectic job and let me finish it here.

Miracles in other Religions at a glance:

One reason I had to mix many religions is not because of any inferiority towards these religions but the lack of internet participants (since their population is very low compared to the major religions).

But, the miraculous phenomenon is very high in religions like Spiritism, Wicca, Neopaganism etc. Confucianism, Jainism, Taoism etc have miraculous yogic healing.
To my surprise I saw coincidentally a program in NGC which lively showed the various African healing practices through spirits. They call these spirits good spirits which drives away evil spirits. Though I should not bring my personal opinion here, let me say that the goodness and badness are humanly chosen for their own convenience and hence relativistic.

Propagating religion in the name of miracles is considered to be fraud by a few Deist (Deism is a religion developed by Thomas Paine, a great American Revolutionist). Deism is based on natural reasoning, and they find it not reasonable to believe in scriptures. Thomas Paine was himself opposed for showing mistakes in bible in his famous book ‘The age of Reason’.

The final search on Miracles – A scientific approach:

Science being the proof of the existence of God for believers, a scientific understanding can be indeed a light to those who are confused over the subject.

Since science is evolving through generation, I must say that the lack of understanding of spirits does not mean that spirits do not exist. Probably the better understanding of physical phenomenon will let us know more about the things which can not be experienced by human beings through their five senses.

A basic characteristic of science is experimental reproducibility at a given condition. This is a necessary but not sufficient characteristic. Psychology and psychotherapy comes under this and hence these fields can be called as science. The sufficient characteristic of science could be achieved only if the reason for these phenomenon could be found.

With this introduction, I am entering into a scientific search.

Hypnotism is a field in Psychology which uses mind power for healing. Many miracles (though this word may not fit under this 'scientific' section) do happen through Hypnotics. Post-surgical hypnosis is a well accepted medical method. Wounds get instantly healed, scars gets vanished etc.

I shall support this with a testimony given by Ed Thiessen, please take time to go through the testimony, it is worth reading:

Healing of a Muscular Dystrophy, Blindness, Growing a Foot ...

"Six years ago, if you would have told me I would ever be happy and healthy, I wouldn't have even smiled at the thought. My health was so bad I couldn't even imagine being well.
That was before someone introduced me to the Silva Method [of self-hypnosis] and the power of the mind.

When I was born in 1962, I wasn't expected to live, but if I did it was predicted that I would have severe brain damage and cerebral palsy. It was later found out, through further examination, that I had muscular dystrophy as well. I was also partly deaf, had severely crossed eyes, and was legally blind.

The "experts" didn't give my parents much hope I would ever be able to read or write or function in the "outside" world - outside of a state institution. Because of this and my declining health, they didn't expect me to live for long.

At the age of two I had my first surgery on my eyes to correct my vision and my crossed eyes.
From 1967 to 1979 I was placed in institution and special schools and went through several operations on my legs and eyes to try to correct my many problems. But none seemed to really help. My eyesight, hearing, and speech were getting worse.

Then, in the early part of 1978, a volunteer gave me a book she had been reading. I often looked at books to see how many words I knew. As I read and reread the book The Silva Mind Control Method many times, over a period of time I mastered the techniques in the book. At times I even slept with the book. I wore the book out.

The doctors couldn't understand it, but my health seemed to be getting better. I did not tell them what I was doing - it's called "programming".

First I began walking. In a short time I no longer needed braces for my legs and arms. My hearing was restored, as well as my speech.

They said I would lose my eyesight, but, after I went to level [relaxed state of body and mind] three to four times each day, my eyesight improved. In the early part of 1980 I was able to leave the institution for good.

A few months later my aunt heart about Silva Mind Control, and she thought it would help me. She did not know how much it had helped me already. In December of 1980 we took the class.
The class helped me even more. My health improved greatly. In 1981 I stopped wearing glasses, and now I have 20/20 vision and am in perfect health.

In 1982 I took my GED test for my high school diploma and only missed one question, in trigonometry. That was because I did not program for the problem.

I used to have to buy two pairs of shoes for every one I needed, as my feet were not the same size. I programmed at the beginning of last year (1983); now both my feet are the same size. One foot grew three sizes in less then a year.

All that is left from the past is a slight limp. That will pass soon. That is one of my projects for 1984.

My success is not a "miracle", and I didn't do what I did because I am a super-special person. What I did, I believe anyone can co. It just takes belief, a method, and a lot of work."

And look here on one more interesting Testimony:

“Those who stood about watching tensely could see nothing until her hands suddenly moved slightly on the man's leg, and she took them away, saying quietly in Hawaiian, "The healing is finished. Stand up. You can walk."
The injured man, now entirely sobered, rose wonderingly to his feet, took a step, and then another. The healing was complete and perfect. The leg showed no indication of the break in any way.”

You can read more testimonies from this link: http://www.hypnosis-kids.com/hypnosis-healing-stories.htm.
You can even try to become a Hypnosis wizard through that site.
I shall give my personal opinion upon this in my pre-conclusion.

Pre-Conclusion – A Philosophical approach:

Let me try to go to the basics where I have to take the meaning of an oft repeated word:
Miracle: - An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature, the term is derived from Latin word miraculum meaning "something wonderful".

(The first definition shall be used hereafter in the explanation, unless * where the second definition holds).

From a historical perspective anything miraculous (i.e. “An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature”) was considered to be the work of a supernatural power or sometimes considered itself to be supernatural. For example, the various Greek gods and goddesses, godliness of some historic characters in various religions etc.

The evolution and growth of scientific knowledge broadened the spectrum of nature, thus bringing the super-natural phenomenons into the category of natural phenomenons.
Looking at the various miracles* described above (which was obtained by simple Google search, and hence can not be called comprehensive but appears to be sufficient for our purpose), some of them cannot be called miracles according to the first definition. For example, the scientific and Mathematical miracle* of Quran has come under the spectrum of Naturalness, and hence not a miracle now.

Further screening the above miracles they can be categorized into healing miracles and paranormal experiences. All these are happening irrespective of religions (though religious views are very much contradictory).

So something must be common over these phenomenons. Is it god (here ‘god’ means the gods of different religions, for our convenience saints, prophets etc are included under the term ‘god’)? Obviously not, since when wicca, neopaganism, spiritism experiences miracles, even strictly monotheistic religions like Islam and Judaism experiences the same miracles.
The study on scientific approach shows that even an atheist can be healed instantaneously through Hypnosys. This argument is sufficient to say that Faith is important. i.e. for the complete cure to take place, the atheist must have faith in what he is doing, probably the Hypnotist, or Himself. But, for a Sai Babha worshiper it has to be Sri. Sathya Sai Babha.
Now let me give a few statements as a believer in one God (This may contradict a few religions. But the oneness of God has been proved to me over prior thoughts and hence has to be supported to bring my thoughts to a higher level).

God does allow these things to happen as apart of the freedom given to his natural creations. The world is created and given its laws and everything here happens as per the natural law. Things appearing as supernatural are not actually supernatural but natural, but an understanding of nature through scientific means is required to prove the naturality.


The suffering of the world is enormous, billions of people are sick, millions are starving etc. Through scientific effort medicines are produced (which would have been called miracle by one who has no knowledge), which helps a huge percentile of people. Among the people who seek help through the psychological means only a few people gets cured. This fact proves the fact that, the way of approach by Yogis, Evangelist, Sufi saints etc and even hypnotists are very crude in nature.


I hope a further understanding of this science, will help in curing a wide range of diseases instantaneously and also help in establishing Truth, unity and equality.
As the final pre-conclusive sentence, let me say that as the spectrum of naturalness increases through scientific means, the word miracle itself will vanish.

Conclusion:
The conclusion part is left to the reader, since I can’t claim the universality of my thoughts.

Recommended Books: Some Sayings of the Buddha, Sufism - The Heart of Islam, The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece