Magic and Science
WHAT is a miracle when deeply considered? Do real miracles exist, or have they existed in human or superhuman history? To analyse it, let us consider the following definition:”Miracle: marvellous event, due to some super-natural agency.” As far as I can see, that dictionary definition is completely wrong. If the word “natural” means “pertaining to or constituted by nature,” and the word “nature” means “the essential qualities of things,” it is obvious that in any of the planes of manifested Life, nothing can be supernatural. Manifestation starts in Spirit-Matter, and both are the natural basis of all phenomena that we can perceive which are always relative. So, I propose the following definition for a miracle: “The inner and subtle work of natural, but not generally comprehended and studied, universal laws.”
...seriously considered, miracles have not, do not, and cannot exist.
When we think of the fascinating word “miracle,” we have to remember, with our full reverence and love, the great Teachers of the past, such as Hermes, Sri Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha and Christ. Did they perform miracles? No, they did not. What they did, using the high knowledge acquired at their superior level of thought and experience, was to manipulate certain universal natural laws and certain hidden natural energies. They did it as easily as we drive a car, or use and dominate the force of a big waterfall for electrical purposes. So, the very word “miracle” was born from the astonished ignorance of the multitudes, from the childish admiration of the illiterates, incapable of understanding the basis and manipulation of such natural forces and powers. It is a truism which we should have in mind, that any fact may appear “miraculous” according to the knowledge and stage of evolution of a given person. For instance, if some of us could go back into the fifteenth century, carrying a radio or a television set with us, undoubtedly the people would be frightened to death, thinking that these devices are “born of Satan”; or, on the other hand, they may see in this a “marvellous miracle,” which may lead them to reverence and to propitiate us as “divine gods”. So, we must underline the fact: seriously considered, miracles have not, do not, and cannot exist. Certain cases of apparent miracles due to prayer, and carried on through prayer, are merely natural results of mental force. Prayer is a tremendous astro-mental healing and harmonizing power, more or less unconsciously used and put into action. For instance, a single mystic or a group may pray intensively, with their minds and hearts fixed in the direction of a certain objective. Afterwards, in accordance with the intensity of their vibrations, and the nature of their karma, this objective is sometimes reached and fulfilled. Then, they sincerely proclaim: “A miracle!” They do not observe that this apparent “miracle” is only the natural and progressive result of vibrations they themselves have generated acting as an electrical magneto. How many followers of religions and even how many priests would be extremely surprised, if we let them know that they are really, although unconsciously, acting daily as black magicians! Black magic, in one of its main aspects, is the use of our mental and astral force, in order to obtain some selfish and material results. This matter of magic mixed with prayer becomes extraordinarily interesting. Unsuspectingly, not only mystics but all people act constantly as black, grey or white magicians, being animated by selfish or unselfish, pure or impure, helpful or obstructive motives towards those around us, and humanity as a whole. In regard to this matter, we must remember Madame Blavatsky’s teachings: “Pure thoughts, pure feelings, pure words and pure actions. This is the ‘Yoga of yogas,’ that can be and must be practised always and for everybody, without any danger...”
Do relics exist as a real fact? They do, because a so-called “miraculous” relic, belonging to a pure and spiritual, person is saturated with his vibrations; also, if the relic is in a temple or place of public adoration, it becomes strongly impregnated with the thousands and millions of thoughts and feelings of the worshippers, becoming a powerful force. It is said that once there was a very religious woman, who asked her husband to bring, from a remote temple, a special relic. When the man was coming home, he realized that he had forgotten to look for the relic, and knowing that his wife would be very angry, the man suddenly picked up from the sand a piece of a dog’s tooth. He went to the river, washed it carefully, and wrapped it in cotton and silk. His wife and family were anxiously awaiting the coming of the holy relic; so , as soon as he gave it to them, it was placed, with full reverence, on their alter, and day by day a long procession of neighbours came to worship the relic, with intense devotion and love. After some time, they began to observe at night a glorious resplendence coming forth from the relic, and reports of the so-called “miracle” travelled far and wide. One day, a great scientist arrived, attracted by accounts of the miracle, and started secret investigations. The first thing he did was to have a private interview with the man who brought the relic from the temple. He offered him a good sum of money and promised that he would not say anything of it to others, if he told the truth about the relic; in response the man confessed the whole trick. Afterwards the scientist, using his instruments, did a careful examination of the dog’s tooth supposed to be a saint’s tooth and found that the accumulated electro-magnetic vibrations of the religious worshippers were the real cause of the physically perceived reflections. We have to bear in mind, also, how, in our daily life, these accumulated devotional vibrations contribute to form and to augment the powerful atmosphere of certain temples and holy public and “miraculous” places of mystic adoration. In other cases, the apparently “miraculous” waters owe their power to some chemical substances, and individual faith and auto-suggestion do the rest. At other times, the main agent is Devic force or invisible disincarnated helpers’ force, acting in accordance with karma.
“When the physical counterpart suffers, the soul smiles.”
Let us consider another important aspect: astro-mental force mixed with healing prayer. It is obvious that prayer lifts consciousness to the infinitude, and of course, when in an unselfish way we pray for another’s health the intention is useful and pure. Contemplating things from our low and dark level of evolution, we feel it is important to keep the welfare and comfort of the physical body uppermost. However, we rarely feel the same with regard to the spiritual Self. I often remember a beautiful thought that says: “When the physical counterpart suffers, the soul smiles.” When some terrific physical catastrophe happens such as a deluge, a big earthquake, and so on, there is nothing wrong, nothing bad but on the contrary a necessary, beneficent and good circumstance, because it represents a collective karmic payment and a purifying agent for the future inner progress, evolution and liberation of thousands of human souls. In this case, though very many physical bodies may suffer hunger, cold, pain and starvation, the catastrophe contributes to and facilitates spiritual growth and expansion of consciousness. For example, old cities, linked with ancient traditions, at a certain time may have to be destroyed, because they have fulfilled their basic mission, and afterwards their accumulated, traditional vibrations become negative, and represent a very strong obstacle for future developments of evolutions. Tradition is useful and helpful while it keeps and protects racial characteristics and knowledge. But afterwards it becomes a serious obstacle, when converted, age by age, into rigidity, intolerance, prejudice and cruelty, working against the renovating and wider flowering of life and thought. All this shows us clearly how even wars will not exist in future purer civilizations, but at the beginning of our century they have been in a certain way constructive and useful as every historical and human circumstance is, when considered in the light of Theosophical teachings.
The hidden paths of purification and spiritual flowering need our physical illnesses, discomforts, troubles and pain....
It is said that once the Lord Jesus, with a group of His disciples, stayed overnight in the house of a very old man. Next morning, when they left the house and started walking through the mountains, they saw the granary of the poor old man being destroyed by fire. Then one of the disciples said: “Oh, Lord, please stop that fire!” But the Lord Jesus, with a serene and divine smile, answered: “Use your inner Eyes of Light, and not your external and physical eyes: this old man has in the city a son, to whom he is sending, continually, a certain amount of money. The son does not spend it in studying, but in vices. So, occultly considered, “the best” for both of them would be the fire that destroys the granary. Then the old man will not be able to send more money to his son, and the son will have to come back to work and help his father; and by this action, his soul will be purified. So try to use always your inner Eyes of Light!...”
The hidden paths of purification and spiritual flowering need our physical illnesses, discomforts, troubles and pain, as internally valuable karmic equilibrating forces and evolutionary collaborators to the main goal: the fulfilment of human consciousness and liberation. It being always our duty to help, to love and to act as instruments of the good karma of others, the practice of healing prayer becomes beautiful and wise, if we think or say always, before the use of that astro-mental power: “Within the karma of this soul. May we all learn our lessons as soon as possible and give of our higher service!” And although healing prayers and ceremonies are useful and valuable as channels and instruments for the fulfilment of good karma, we will sooner or later come to the conclusion that the highest and wisest prayer is merely an abstract and silent meditation in which nothing is asked for. To ask for proper inspiration, righteousness and enlightenment to comprehend and help others is always very good, but to go on asking and asking supposed “favours” or “miracles” from “God,” seriously considered, is an absurdity, because our small and earthly points of view will be in logical contradiction with the bitter and unavoidable karmic adjustments that will have to be made. Neither “God” nor the wise Lords of Karma need our childish claims, complaints, wrong petitions and desires to act in Their superior planes. To suppose the Great Ones may “forget” if we do not ask and remind Them, is to doubt Their perfection. We should not try vainly to avoid the results of karma but should face them with courage, serenity and wisdom. So we will achieve maturity. Karma cannot touch us, unless attracted by our action. There is no such thing as “bad karma” as in evolutionary paths everything is certainly and always good, necessary, useful and valuable. Therefore, it is much better to spend time in helpful and good deeds than to waste it in complaining and mistaken petitions. It is obvious that we should always keep in our mind and heart constructive and beneficent thoughts, hopes and feelings, and that we must do everything possible to sublimate and change our so-called “bad karma” and the so-called “bad karma” of humanity. But this must be done always harmoniously and wisely, and without trying to force or misunderstand any circumstance. For instance, there is a great moral and medical problem in what is called euthanasia, which is, whether we should bring about a gentle and easy death in cases of incurable and painful disease. From a Theosophical point of view, it must not be done, as long and painful, unavoidable agonies are very purificatory. On the other hand, if for instance a very old and incurable person feels and says he has already finished his mission and earthly experiences in this incarnation, it would be a great mistake for his family and friends to use through prayer their inner power of thought and feeling in order to attempt to retain this soul on earth any longer, only because they do not want to lose his physical company and presence.
...every prayer, in accordance with the inner evolution and liberated force of the one who prays is a magnetic and magic energy...
Passing to another part of our subject, the etymological origin of the word “magic” is quite interesting: it comes from the Greek mag and agios which means “great action”. Various English words hold the same etymological root: mag-num, mag-nificent, mag-nate, mag-nanimos, mag-nitude, mag-netic. Really every prayer, in accordance with the inner evolution and liberated force of the one who prays is a magnetic and magic energy, directed straight to the purpose of the prayer. According to the following definition of magic “Occult control of Nature’s forces,” apparent miracles and magic always work together. But, is there any relation between apparent miracles, magic and science? Certainly! As science, whose definition is “systematic knowledge,” is the hidden basis of all apparently ‘miraculous” or “magic” facts. Really, as somebody wisely said, the so-called “magic” is not “magical” for the magician, who knows the natural, logical and scientific laws of its manipulation. Thus, as for the word “magic,” an elucidation similar to the above explanation can be given for the word “miracle”: deeply and scientifically considered, magic does not exist, and can only be called “magic” because of the ignorance and low grade of evolution of the person who observes and judges it. There are certain words such as “miracle”, “magic,” “luck” and “hazard” that must belong to and be used only by ignorant and superstitious people. “Good luck” and “bad luck” do not exist; only the karmic working out of the law. “Hazard” does not exist, because, as very wisely said by H.P. Blavatsky, “there is an uninterrupted concatenation of causes and effects in every life” in accordance with its proper karmic and vibrating atmosphere, which embraces even the apparently most insignificant facts. Universal mathematics cannot fail. Hence, the so-called “magic” is a sort of “esoteric chemistry,” while official and today’s external science is “exoteric’. But both will have to approach day by day, and finally meet, as happened in the golden centuries of the past, when religion, magic and science used to work together. The “happy dream” of the medieval alchemist-transmutation of copper into gold - had been reached by modern science. But why is it not performed? Because the whole process is more expensive than the price of gold. However, the main point to observe is this: Miracles, magic and science are really “one in three and three in one,” representing another interesting trinity of values on the philosophical human horizon. When the majority of people gradually become aware of the fact, prejudices, obstacles and struggles between scientist, magician and priest will tend to disappear, as all of them are working basically in complementary aspects of the same field; all of them are seeking the same truth through diverse angles; all of them manipulating the same energies, although at different levels of vibration. Their whole activity basically is science, manifesting and growing in different branches that may be called “concrete science,” “abstract science” and “mystic science”. As the general grade of human evolution approaches the sixth and seventh sub-races, the three paths towards the Supreme and the Highest, will have to mingle more and more with one another, as they are now beginning to do. Old, superstitious and degenerated religions will have to become friends of science, if they do not want to be laughed at by intellectual and cultured people. Magic (also nowadays degenerated into lower psychism, and mixed almost always with sinful and economic exploitation of the ignorant) will have to regenerate and vindicate itself, going back to its superior and proper footing of scientific dignity. Official science deplorably degraded in our century, as in the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and in the tremendous daily economic exploitation of human sorrow and pain, will have to spiritualize and purify itself, facing and remembering this sublime attitudes and aspirations of pure and fraternal mysticism. In fact, every one of them needs the approach and the complementary help of the others. It is logical and natural, as all of them integrate and constitute one of the great triangles of inner and outer force and inspiration, among the concrete-abstract keys of present human evolution.
Only in this philosophical serenity is it possible to reach the ecstasy of the mystic, the magic work of the magician, and the scientific meditation and practice of the scientist.
What is the position of philosophy in this regard? If we have observed religion, magic and science as three branches of the same tree, growing up to infinitude, and based on eternal truths given to humanity, this tree is the expanding tree of philosophy: the love of knowledge and wisdom which deals with ultimate reality and with the most general causes and principles of things. Moral philosophy studies the principles of human action and conduct; natural philosophy becomes the natural basis of religion, magic and science, considered as a whole. The philosopher is a lover of wisdom, natural and moral: one who shows philosophical calmness in trying circumstances. Only in this philosophical serenity is it possible to reach the ecstasy of the mystic, the magic work of the magician, and the scientific meditation and practice of the scientists.
Frequently it has been asked: Is Theosophy a religion, or a magical practice, or a philosophy, or a science? Although opinions are divided in this regard, as far as I can see, Theosophy is not and cannot be any one of these aspects of Truth separately, but embraces them all in a higher, enriched, concrete-abstract and superior whole. To think that Theosophy can be described or defined only in one way or another, is to limit and mutilate its greatness. We must be, or at least must try to be, at the same time profound philosophers, skilful scientists, beneficent, white magicians and sweet and spiritual mystics. It is very difficult, but also very necessary, in the century whose realities and ideals we have to serve.
A person can have a very tender and exquisite heart, full of love and spirituality, with compassion for all beings in the universe; but if this love and spirituality are not supported and helped by a strong, brilliant and cultivated mind such people will not be able to serve properly and to love intelligently. A person can have a very strong intellectual and remarkable mind; but his mind, without the abstract wisdom of tenderness and compassion, will become cruel and proud. Another person can have a very strong will, but this will, without the help and the necessary equilibrium of love and knowledge, will convert him into a forceful and inharmonious character. So, the great “formula” is to cultivate and blend ourselves in well-balanced proportions of love, will and knowledge, in order to reach wise, dynamic and helpful action.
To achieve the serenity of the philosopher, the skilled brain of the scientist, the beneficent and attractive power of the white magician, and the always sweet and tender heart of the pure and universal mystic, is our goal, and it embraces the supreme art of living.
The Theosophist 1961
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