gift of miracles

Gift of Miracles: a Sufi Allegory

“There is a Sufi story about a man who is so good that the angels ask God to give him the gift of miracles. God wisely tells them to ask him if that is what he would wish.

“So the angels visit this good man and offer him first the gift of healing by hands, then the gift of conversion of souls, and lastly the gift of virtue. He refuses them all. They insist that he choose a gift or they will choose one for him. ‘Very well,’ he replies, ‘I ask that I may do a great deal of good without ever knowing it.’ The story ends this way:

“The angels were perplexed. They took counsel and resolved upon the following plan: Every time the saint’s shadow fell behind him it would have the power to cure disease, sooth pain, and comfort sorrow. As he walked, behind him his shadow made arid paths green, caused withered plants to bloom, gave clear water to dried up brooks, fresh color to pale children, and joy to unhappy men and women. The saint simply went about his daily life diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without ever being aware of it. The people respecting his humility followed him silently, never speaking to him about his miracles. Soon they even forgot his name and called him ‘the Holy Shadow’.” ~Rachel Naomi Remen

Gift of Miracles

This Sufi tale has one great flaw: in reality, the angels would have understood that the gift of humility was the greatest gift God could give the man, or that he could give himself. But then it is just a tale, a parable, intended to make a point. Like most scripture, it is not history and is not intended to be taken as literal truth.

God understood when he told the angels to ask the man if he wanted to be given a gift of miracles. The man did want to do good, as he probably had been doing for a long time, but he didn’t want to know he was doing it. The reason is humility. He knew that if the angels made him a miracle worker, it might puff up his ego and he would lose the important gift of humility. Virtually all spiritual schools teach that humility is necessary for any significant spiritual advancement. We must be doing it for the good of all, not just to give ourselves the idea that we are better than others because we have developed our spiritual facilities and gained in some way, the gift of miracles.

Three Specific Gifts

The angels offered the holy man three specific gifts: healing, conversion of souls, and virtue. This is a curious group of miraculous abilities. First, spiritual healing usually is just a matter of awakening in the other person the ability to heal themselves. Although there are cases of individuals having the ability to channel God’s healing energy through them and into others, it is rare. Further, it comes at a cost, like everything in the material realm. Those who do channel healing through themselves may find that they get the illness also, at least for a while. In other cases, channeling that energy may shorten their own lives. Because of that, those who truly have the gift to channel healing into other use it sparingly and only to help those who are truly deserving.

As for the conversion of souls, it is unclear what is meant by this. If it simply means getting people to believe in a particular faith or church, that is dealing more with the mind than the soul. The soul needs to be awakened, not converted, and that we must each do ourselves with the help of God. A spiritual teacher or holy person can only guide us to the correct path, not do it for us.

As for the gift of virtue, that is a vague one and includes the others. Certainly, spiritual healing is a virtue, as is the ability to help others awaken their souls. Yet the continuation of this Sufi tale gives more ideas about what is meant by this particular gift of miracles.

The Holy Shadow

When the angels give the man the gift of virtue in his shadow, we see that where his shadow touches, plants grow in bad soil, dry land becomes wet again, flowering plants burst into bloom, etc. This is way beyond what we generally think of as virtue. This gift of miracles is not just allowing the holy man to heal sick people, but to heal all of nature. This is indeed a great gift, one I have never heard of any individual having in real life. But then, this tale is an allegory for the importance of humility to live a truly holy life and have the real gift of miracles. For more about the importance of humility, click here to read an older post on the subject.

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Unfolding Spiritual Consciousness for Growth

Unfolding Spiritual Consciousness

“As man unfolds spiritually he feels his relationship to all mankind, and he begins to love his fellowman more and more. It hurts him to see others suffering, and when it hurts him enough he tries to do something to remedy it. As time goes on and man develops, the terrible suffering which many human beings undergo today will be impossible, for the reason that the unfolding Spiritual Consciousness of the race will make the pain felt so severely by all that the race will not be able to stand it, and they will insist upon matters being remedied. From the inner recesses of the soul comes a protest against the following of the lower animal nature, and although we may put it aside for a time,it will become more and more persistent, until we are forced to heed it. The old story of each person having two advisors, one at each ear, one whispering to him to follow the higher teachings and the other tempting him to pursue the lower path, is shown to be practically true by the occult teachings regarding the three mental principles. The Intellect represents the ‘I’ consciousness of the average person. This ‘I’ has on one side the Instinctive Mind sending hin to the old desires. … On the other side is the Spiritual Mind, sending its unfolding impulses into the intellect, and endeavoring to draw the consciousness up to itself … and to cause him to master and control his lower nature.” ~William Walker Atkinson

As Man Unfolds

It would be nice if we could say that all of humanity is growing spiritually, but the truth is that only a small minority are doing so. The success of Trump, and similar politicians in several other countries, shows that a large percent of the population still clings to materialism and their lower instincts and animal nature. But now that the Sun of Righteousness is here and is growing stronger all the time, more and more people will awaken to some degree and turn toward the development of the unfolding Spiritual Consciousness which is the only way that mankind can be saved from total destruction in the years ahead. Continue reading “Unfolding Spiritual Consciousness for Growth”

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steps of illumination

Steps of Illumination and Spiritual Growth

Steps of Illumination

“There are three main types of experience which appear again and again in the history of mysticism; nearly always in connection with illumination, rather than any other phase of mystical development. I think that they may fairly be regarded as its main characteristics, though the discussion of them cannot cover all the ground. In few forms of spiritual life is the spontaniety of the individual so clearly seen as here: and in few is the ever-deadly process of classification attended with so many risks.

“These three characteristics are:

  1. A joyous apprehension of the Absolute: that which many ascetic writers call ‘the practice of the Presence of God.’ This, however, is not to be confused with the unique consciousness of union with the divine which is peculiar to a later stage of mystical development. The self … is not immersed in its Origin, but contemplates it.
  1. This clarity of vision may also be enjoyed in regard to the phenomenal world. The actual physical perceptions seem to be strangely heightened. …
  2. Along with this two-fold extension of consciousness, the energy of the intuitional or transcendental self may be enormously increased. The psychic upheavals of the Purgative Way have tended to make it central for life.” ~Evelyn Underhill

The Phase of Illumination

Ms. Underhill says that these three experiences generally happen during the illumination phase of spiritual development. She has probably defined elsewhere what the various stages are, but I don’t have the list handy at the moment. In any case, I think that virtually all spiritual growth is aimed ultimately at complete illumination, so there seems to me to be little need to define stages or phases of the process. It is sufficient to know that it is an ongoing process, not an instant event.

The Apprehension of the Absolute

The joyous apprehension of the absolute is the first of the major steps of illumination. It isn’t a thing that just suddenly happens. It isn’t like turning on a light switch. It happens gradually, in many small steps. The first step is simply the recognition that the physical world is flawed, or that it is largely an illusion. Next is the recognition, or at least consideration of, spiritual worlds beyond the physical. These spiritual words may seem like they are completely separate from the material one, but the next step is realizing that they are entwined. In fact, all the dimensions of reality are linked together, and crossing barriers between them isn’t terribly difficult.

A lot like traveling in the physical realm, though, going up is harder than going down. So we can very easily go from the third dimension to the second. We do, in fact, interact with the second dimension all the time without even realizing we have done it. To reach into the fourth and fifth dimensions, though, is somewhat more difficult, and is almost always done intensionally. This is another step in this Apprehension of the Absolute. Continue reading “Steps of Illumination and Spiritual Growth”

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polish a stone

Polish a Stone, Polish a Soul

“In order to polish a stone, one needs to chip and grind it. The same is true for a human being. Polishing, suffering, is necessary so that one may awaken.

“It is difficult for people to become aware. They need to be boxed into a corner in order to awaken. Every time the consciousness falls asleep, suffering comes to awaken it. After that comes rejuvenation and uplift. Suffering will uplift you. Be joyful that you suffer so that you may bear fruit.

“God will transform the suffering of people into precious stones that will be placed as a wreath upon their heads. In the future, people’s suffering will adorn their heads.

“When Nature puts someone in restraints, she has his best interests in mind and has, as her goal, the awakening of the hidden forces within. All suffering, constraint, and trials in one’s life aim to awaken the higher consciousness within. When Nature imposes sorrow, we feel wronged toward it. When a mother puts her child in the tub to bathe him or her, the baby cries and thinks that this is something bad. The child does not understand that the mother means to do well for her baby. …

“As a result of suffering one’s way of thinking is gradually set right. When the thinking is set wright, the consciousness awakens.” ~Biensa Douno

Polish a Stone or Gem

The main image used to illustrate this post shows an opal that has not been polished and one that has. That polished stone is clearly a valuable gem, while the unpolished stone looks to most of us like an ordinary rock of little value. Cutting and polishing can do that for a stone. In the case of valuable melts like silver and gold, they are purified by heading them until they melt, at which point the pure metal can be separated from other minerals in the ore. Humans generally need a similar kind of polishing, cutting, or purifying process to help them awaken to their true selves.

A different, yet related idea is that of the geode. These appear to most of us to be ordinary, often rather ugly, rocks, until split open. Then the crystals hidden within are revealed. There is hidden greatness in many of us and we need something to crack our shells so it can come out.

Becoming Aware

It certainly is difficult for people to become aware and awakened. We have sunk very deeply into matter and that makes it hard for us to see the spiritual, or even the need to be spiritual. It is like trying to see the sun rising on the horizon when you are at the bottom of a twenty-foot deep hole (seven meters). And while “polishing” and “grinding” of some types will encourage people to start developing their spiritual Self, it doesn’t awaken by itself. Suffering may be necessary to help us become aware, but by itself, it does not make us aware.

Transform Into Precious Stones

Yes, polishing, cutting, and curing people with certain types of “suffering” or obstacles does help transform them into precious stones, which is to say the spiritually awakened. But as already mentioned, that alone never does the job. You need to turn to the light of the Spiritual Sun for the final steps of the process. If suffering alone did it, we would have many millions of spiritual adepts in the world, but we actually only have a few.

Nature can Polish a Stone

Sometimes it is Nature rather than other humans who cause the suffering that polishes us into gems. We may be born with a physical defect. We might be struck by lightning. There are many possibilities. The results are much the same as with any other suffering. Many will just complain about it forever. A few will try to change their path in life and become true gems of humanity.

Polish a Stone Until it Shines

One thing Douno doesn’t mention in the section quoted above is that sometimes a person who has been through obstacles and has turned to spiritual development may give up before reaching the goal. If you know someone like that, you should encourage them to continue, to get back on the horse, as the old saying goes. If you are a person who gave up on spiritual growth thinking you were getting nowhere, look to the image below. It shows someone who has been digging for a great treasure but finally gives up having failed to find it. He doesn’t see that he was almost at his goal when he gave up. Don’t be like him. Don’t be a polished stone that becomes dull and ordinary again. And when you have reached the goal, start to polish a stone by helping others develop. The world can use more polished gems and fewer rough rocks.

digging for treasure

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