This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine, Part III On Miscellaneous Topics
Television once showed picture of a man lying on his back on a bed of nails with two planks across him and a tractor or some-such thing being driven over him on the two planks; at one time a wheel slipped off the plank and went over his body. As he stood up the interviewer asked him how he did it and how he felt. He said that he put his faith in Almighty God and that he felt okay. Another film showed a man chewing up wine-glasses and saying he enjoyed eating them.
I cannot vouch personally for these two happenings. But it does seem that such strange and seemingly impossible things do occur with certain unusually gifted people, and that science is beginning to take notice of them and sometimestoivescientific explanations.
There are also the strange workings of astrology and psycho- kinesis — as when a tensed hand is held over a compass and swings the needle in the opposite direction, and extra-sensory perceptions — as when the details of the sinking of S.S. Titanic were perceived thousands of miles away at the same time that it happened. And most envied of all are the miracles of healing both physical and mental. There have always been many such healers, One of the best known is Agnes Sanford who wrote the well known Healing Light. And a less known mental healer was the American Buddhist monk, Sumangalo, who unexpectedly found he had suddenly acquired the ability to cure mental disorders. Among these apparent miracle-workers we must place those gifted preachers who have the power to convert people from delinquency and drug addiction.
Let us then admit that these supernormal happenings are factual, and also that science is becoming increasingly interested, so that we may well expect a widening of our knowledge.
The question we need to consider is whether it will make any difference to our social well-being if there are people trained to eat glass or even to cure people of drug addiction and delinquency. No supernormal talent in itself implies simple goodness and compassion which alone can bring about more harmonious relations between man and nature. True, some religious books assume the goodness of the healer and other miracle-workers, and assume that no one can be a saint unless he performs miracles. But are miracles any different from other supernormal happenings? Does what you call it make any difference? Those who now walk on fire for the edification of tourists, admit that it does not mean the same for them as it did when they performed the same act for the glory of God. But the fact remains that they outwardly achieve the same result as when they did do it for the glory of God. Those who examine these supernormal happenings from the scientific angle assume that the moral goodness of the doer has nothing to do with the matter.
And indeed — why should we think that goodness or badness in the doer is important? After all the world is composed of and founded upon pairs of opposites. Therefore we cannot have white magic without black magic too, any more than we can have a positive without a negative. It is therefore obvious that a person who performs, say, a miracle of healing is not necessarily a good man or woman. For this reason it may or may not be inspiring to read about miracles or other abnormal happenings, which appear to be supernatural.
The supernormal happening depends upon the natural talent of the individual who performs it. It is not of any importance. The only thing that matters is whether it springs from love and compassion which alone can draw us above the pairs of opposites. To read of those who performed no miracles, but who did achieve this love and compassion is far more likely to be helpful and inspiring to ordinary people like ourselves.
Foremost among such ordinary people of whose thoughts we have a written record is the saintly Stoic emperor of Rome in the second century, Marcus Aurelius, who kept a record of his meditations. And that simple record has been the inspiration of millions all over the world. And yet he had no outstanding talents: He had only simple goodness and kindness, springing from compassionate love and understanding of the oneness of all creation.
And another such was the simple Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence of the 17th century, who performed no miracles except what the Buddha would call the only real miracle, that of a transformed life. He accomplished this merely by turning his mind to God and doing nothing but for the love of God. His whole being radiated serenity and’ love, and without any intellectual explanations his example transformed the lives’ of many.
Of course we must all use the talents we have been given and do the work that falls to our lot — being the emperor of a mighty empire, a cook in a monastery-kitchen, performer of miracles or healer of the sick. None is superior or inferior, and talents do not count The way to compassion and enlightenment is the same for all. We cannot and should not want to acquire supernatural talents we do not already possess, nor scientific knowledge beyond our normal capacity, nor even an inclination to harness these supernatural happenings or miracles. There are always specialists dealing with their particular fields. But we each have a built-in computer, as it were, which collects what is necessary for each of us according to our talents, if only we will let it work freely unimpeded by our predilections. One of the best ways of letting it work freely is to repeat in thought’ or if possible in a whisper, what the Hindus would call a mantra, suited to one’s individuality. Brother Lawrence’s practice of the presence of God is a perfect example, for he would do nothing except for the love of God. By this means our whole being tends to get tuned-in with Cosmic laws and the harmony of the universe, whether we know them clearly or not.
Thus our individual talents get utilized by the internal computer get and directed as migratory birds and fishes are. Then whatever our talent, whether to perform operations without anaesthetics like the Philippine healers, or merely to wash dishes, our work will be well done.
Therefore let us read and learn whatever is helpful, but let us not be bewildered by or crave for supernormal powers. Let us be content with the Inner Light that has been given to us, remembering that the greatest of Masters like Buddha, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana have decried the craving for and display of supernormal powers as utterly detrimental to one’s spiritual enlightenment.