What are miracles? (By Richard Ingalese - 1901)

What are miracles


The Christian nations are, or were, until comparatively recent times, accustomed to think of miracles as the production of phenomena by supernatural means.

This view was due, doubtless, to two causes: first, that the majority of people were ignorant of the cause of the phenomena, which we call miracles, and, second, our teachers, the priests, to give additional glory to the Founder of their religion, were accustomed to teach that His acts were above nature and that He was superior to His creations and could set at naught nature's laws whenever He willed to do so. But, those who are more widely read, those who have studied comparative religions, those who know the lives of the Occultists of the past, realize that miracles did not commence with Jesus of Nazareth, nor will they end with the Christian Church.

The orthodox churches, as well as the Christian Scientists and kindred cults, of the present day, assume that miracles, now, as in the past, are produced by supernatural means; that is to say, through, or by God; and that He destroys disease, performs cures and works other miracles.

This is but a repetition of the old mediaeval and post-mediaeval thought, taking a slightly different form, and is almost as erroneous as was the agnostic who, when asked to define a miracle, said : **It is an unusual phenomenon which never occurred. '

The oriental view of a miracle is, that it is the production of phenomena by superhuman means; the distinction being drawn between supernatural and superhuman. Some of the modern students of Occultism adopt this view, believing that anyone who can cause phenomena, or perform a miracle, is one who has more than human powers.

The itinerant religious teacher in the orient, following an immemorial custom, first attracts his audience and then produces phenomena as his credentials. This procedure is equivalent to saying to his hearers: “I am a miracle worker. I have more than human powers, therefore I have more than human knowledge, consequently, I am worthy to be listened to."

It is rather a natural position to take. When the Nazarene went before the Jews, certain of the Scribes and of the Pharisees said to Him: ** Master, we would see a sign from Thee."

They had been accustomed to have teachers along ethical, or philosophical, lines, produce phenomena as evidence of their competency to teach. If the Occident had adopted this most excellent custom it would have been saved from most of the innumerable teachers of the countless cults by whom it has been perplexed.

The real religious leaders of the world have always had knowledge and power above those of their contemporaries, as the results of their evolvement have shown.

As examples: Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Jesus, all Jesus' disciples, Apollonius of Tyana, Simon, the Roman Catholic Saints, the Hindoo Priests and others, all have produced phenomena now called miracles.

In the human heart there is always the unuttered, if not expressed, demand: “Show us your credentials”. The leaders of several modern cults answered this demand by healing illnesses which could not be cured by the medical profession or by the pastors and priests of other churches.

These demonstrations of power were not only answers to the cry in the hearts for a sign, but challenged the religious world, saying in substance: These miracles are our credentials, and our mission is to bring new truths to the world. Come and accept our teachings, which carry with them healing powers.

Then the members of the older churches said to their leaders: Jesus and His disciples performed miracles and some of the members of the new cults produce many of a like kind: how is it that you are unable to manifest the same power?'

A few sporadic efforts have been made, by some Protestant denominations, to answer this question by demonstrating along similar lines, but, so far, with negligible results.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has been more fortunate in this respect, for it always has justified its mission by its miracles. Those members who performed them were, in due time, canonized — and even their relics are still supposed to carry power. A novena to Saint Joseph often brings results, for which he and the Church both receive due credit though the Occultist would give another explanation of the prayer and answer, as that of mental demand and supply.

Each system has its own explanation of the cause of phenomena — though the phenomena are identical. But, no matter what the various teachers, or their followers, may say, it must be true that where identical phenomena are produced, the same causes must have been put into operation; and it is illogical to accept the miracles of one church and reject the same kind from another.

The Jews had a long line of miracle workers, and when Jesus came and performed His miracles it was equivalent to saying: ^*I justify my mission with phenomena." And the Jews had to either admit He was a legitimate teacher of a new presentation of truth or disqualify Him by saying: He hath Beelzebub, and by the Prince of Devils casteth he out devils." And the Christians learned that lesson well, for when they became powerful and other schools attempted to perform miracles, they also said: We do them through the grace of God, but they through Beelzebub." And so it has been handed down in the Western World that the orthodox do their works by virtue of God, while the heterodox do theirs through the aid of His antagonist.

Simon performed, through magic, many phenomena as wonderful as did Jesus, or His disciples; but Simon was called a black magician. Today some wonder workers claim to produce their phenomena entirely through the love and presence of God, while they say other schools produce theirs through malicious, animal magnetism — which is nothing more or less than Beelzebub under a new name.

It is this jealousy among wonder workers which often perverts their judgment. And the investigator of the tenets of a cult cannot safely accept the conclusions of a miracle man solely because he is a wonder worker; for the connection between his words and works is often remote and illogical. The only safe method, therefore, to pursue, is to investigate all similar phenomena, deduce from them a law and then ascertain if the philosophy of the miracle man is in harmony with that law.

One must make due allowance for the play of human imagination in all cases of miracles; and this constitutes the unearned increment of the miracle worker. This is true throughout all history. Joshua, the great miracle worker of the Jews, was said to have made the sun and moon stand still; but every student of occult law, or of the laws of astronomy, knows that such a phenomenon could not be produced by a man, though Joshua could and probably did concentrate certain Cosmic Forces which gave to his followers the appearance of sunlight and moonlight. Joshua did work miracles upon the rivers of Palestine and among the people, and he even raised the dead; but his claim of making the sun turn backward in its course and the moon to reverse its position in the heavens is absurd, and must be considered one of the many unearned increments of a miracle worker.

The ''Lord,'' whoever that entity may have been, while talking to Hezekiah, through Isaiah, was supposed to have made the sun cast its shadow backward ten degrees upon the dial, and this was another case of the unearned increment of the agent; because there is no law by which a human, or incarnated mind, can reach into space and re- verse the will of Planetary Spirits, or Sun Gods, any more than an individual can turn aside the will of the Universal.

When it was stated that the leaders of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, of New York City, had, by prayer alone, changed the carved words on the cornerstone for their church, while it was in transit, because Mrs. Eddy did not approve of them, it must be understood that this was another case of unearned increment that should go with other miracle workers, and be accredited to the play of the human imagination.


The Occultist says it is the production of physical phenomenon by the use of occult means. When the Children of Israel had crossed the Red Sea and had come to the Waters of Marah they found them bitter and they could not drink. Moses commanded his followers to cut down a tree and cast it into the waters and, when this was done, a miracle occurred; the bitter waters turned sweet and the Israelites quenched their thirst.

When the City of San Diego, California, was suffering from a polluted water supply, and the inhabitants knew that the very life of the city was in jeopardy, a man went there from San Francisco, and gave to a boatman a small bag, containing an unknown substance, to drag through the water of the reservoir. When this was done, the contents of the bag were dissolved, the polluted water supply of San Diego became pure, and a modern miracle had been performed.

In the case of Moses with the waters of Marah, that miracle was produced by the use of the knowledge Moses had of the effect that the chemical constituents of the tree would have upon the water. And the miracle at San Diego was performed by the blue vitriol in the bag killing the polluting vegetable life and making the water sweet and palatable. In both cases what were originally miracles, on being analyzed, became known as chemical action; and one miracle was as great as the other.

The realm of the miraculous is constantly contracting, while that of common knowledge is expanding; and what was a miracle at one period of history, is a common occurrence at a later time.

The occult sciences of mediaeval days are the mothers of modern sciences, but their precocious children, like most human children, are too prone to underestimate the wisdom of their ancestors.

When Jesus and His disciples performed wonderful cures, some two thousand years ago, the people thought they were great teachers because they used unknown forces. The same miracles are performed today by Christian Science, New Thought, or by Occult Practitioners. These cures have ceased to be miraculous because they are all now within our common experience, or knowledge.

An examination of all historical miracles will reveal them as belonging to one of two general classes: first, where the phenomenon is produced by the independent functioning of individual mind or where there is action of individual mind on mind; second, where individual mind acts on occult forces.

As examples of the functioning of individual minds, there are what are commonly known as voluntary clairvoyance and clairaudience. These occult senses are not, in themselves, miraculous but are only super-normal, as compared with undeveloped humanity of today; and clairvoyance is a miracle only to those who do not understand its functioning. When Jesus, using these occult senses, saw Nathaniel under the fig-tree, far away, He impressed all those around Him with His superhuman power by describing the conversation that occurred and everything that was done by Nathaniel. This created in the minds of His hearers a worship of His power. In modern times a person may also become clairvoyant and see what is done at a distance, and the world is just beginning to understand, in this twentieth century, that such a sense is merely a normal, human power developed by every ego at a certain point in its evolvement.

The second division of the first class mentioned — where mind acts on mind — is itself divisible into two classes, magic and suggestion. Magic is a distinct branch of Occultism; it is one of the occult sciences. In another chapter it is dealt with from its better known, but lesser aspect, as necromancy. It will be touched upon now as one of the working tools of the miracle man. Of course it must not be supposed that its modus operandi will be disclosed, since that is one of the secrets of the student of the Occult. It is sufficient to say, then, that, as a human mind can reach another mind telepathically, so the human mind can act upon intelligences less than human. For example, as a man may control a dog, so may he control certain intelligences which, as yet, have not incarnated on this earth. These lesser intelligences are called elementals, and, through the control of a trained mind, can be made to produce physical phenomena, such as the carrying of articles from place to place, the precipitation of articles, the disintegration and reintegration of material things.

For example: When Jesus was called upon to pay His taxes, He directed Simon to go to sea, cast his hook, take the first fish caught and in its mouth would be found a piece of money to pay taxes for them both. Jesus, either clairvoyantly saw a fish which had swallowed money — not a rare occurrence — and through His will compelled it to take the hook, or, knowing where there was money, by the use of elementals, disintegrated, conveyed and reintegrated it inside the fish. This latter process of disintegrating and reintegrating is frequently seen in these days at spiritistic seances as in the precipitation of flowers, etc.

The difference between the amateur and expert worker along these lines is that the precipitated articles of the former last but a short time and then crumble into dust, while those of the expert last their normal lives. This difference is due to the fact that if the interstices between the particles that compose the precipitated article are unduly extended, they will never again permanently hold their normal relationship to each other, nor will they hold their relationship if demagnetized in the operation — as the elasticity in rubber is destroyed by overstretching, so demagnetization and overdistention in precipitation weaken the articles precipitated. But the phenomena cannot be produced without an extension of the interstices and an expert judgment based on numerous experiences is required to accurately adjust the particles.

The second sub-division — suggestion — is more familiar to the present age. Suggestion is a thought sent telepathically by one mind to another. No thought which is repeatedly and forcefully sent to another person. can fail to reach him; but whether or not it is acted upon is another question. Thought travels unimpeded in the same manner as the etheric waves, initiated by a spark from a wireless station. The spark causes a motion of the ether which goes forth onward and outward into space, registering wherever there is a receiving instrument. And wherever there is a receiving negative mind it catches, quickly, a thought sent telepathically into the ether; and even a positive mind must receive a thought sent by a trained mind directly to it.

Suggestion plays a most important part in miracle working. In all cases of nervous troubles, in almost all cases of functional troubles, suggestion is an all-powerful instrument in healing. Many wonderful cures of the modern miracle worker are reported. It may have been a tumor that was cured in an instant — all schools cite such instances — but there never was a human suggestion sufficiently powerful to destroy a fibroid tumor and there is no authenticated case of record, notwithstanding the many claims to that effect. But there have been phantom tumors which have been cured; that is to say there are certain groups of nerves in the human body that can be worked upon, by the ego incarnated within that body, in such a manner as to cause all the phenomenon of a tumor and which cannot be distinguished from a real tumor except through clairvoyant vision, or an X-ray.

Through the power of suggestion it is possible, in the case of a phantom tumor, to remove the creating thought, which produced it, to relax the nerves and thus dispel it — and these are the cases that are cited in all the modern schools of miracle workers.

Many persons have been nervously bed-ridden. They were obsessed with the idea that they could not move, that their muscles would not function, that their nerves would not act. A strong suggestion sent forth by a trained mind will change the mentality of the person who is suffering and, through that change, bring a reaction to the physical body. All nervous conditions can be successfully changed and the many cases of this kind cited in the Bible or performed by modern cults can thus be explained.

Cures are sometimes effected by a mental change through causes other than suggestion. An interesting case of this kind occurred in Savannah, Georgia, in 1886, during the Charleston earthquake. A leading physician's wife, who had been bed-ridden for twenty years, and who had been pronounced incurable by all the prominent ner\'e specialists of the Eastern Coast, when she felt the house rocking, bounded out of bed, ran down two flights of stairs, dashed across the street, vaulted the fence into the park and sat on a bench for several hours before she could be persuaded to re-enter her house. The earthquake brought a nervous shock to her which wrought a complete change in her mentality, causing her body to once more function normally.

Suggestion was used by Jesus and His disciples, and by all Occultists who had preceded Him, and it is used by all similar workers today. When Jesus fed the multitude on a few loaves and fishes, the phenomenon did not then come within any of the known laws of nature, occult or otherwise. But it was possible with His power to impress, through suggestion upon the minds of the people, the belief that they had been fed. The phenomenon was produced, the curiosity of the multitude was satisfied, its hunger appeased, credentials established and mental suggestion had done the work.

When King Edward, then the Prince of Wales, visited India, it is authenticated that there were present several thousand people in one of their great temples, and that a wonder worker of India was brought in who did the well-known basket trick.


A mind can so dwell upon an image as to cause, within its own photosphere, that image to appear; and it can be so intensified that every one, looking upon the person producing the picture, can see nothing but the picture. The mental image is impressed upon the minds of the spectators with such intensity that it cannot be distinguished from the reality.

Moses was not convinced of his mission to the Jews until the “Lord God," who came to him in the bush, told him to cast down the stick he held in his hand and it became a snake. Then he was told to catch the snake by the tail, and, when he had done it, the snake was transformed into a rod. In reality there was no snake, but an image of a snake had been impressed upon Moses' mind, and it is said that Aaron went through a similar experience.

Moses and the Egyptian miracle workers, in their contest for supremacy, as miracle workers, each produced the same phenomena in the same way; that is to say, they held the image so complete in their minds that any person looking at them could see nothing but the image.

Madam Blavatsky duplicated some of these phenomena in New York when she formed the Theosophical Society. A gentleman called upon her who desired to join the society and to become her student. When he was boasting of his ability and bravery, Madam dropped her handkerchief, and, as he stooped to pick it up, to all appearances it became a snake. It is needless to say he did not join the 'society.

When Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine, it was done, or could have been done, by His imaging the water as wine. The guests did not know the difference and were better off with the imagined wine than they would have been with the fermented juice of the grapes — having consumed a quantity of the latter during the earlier part of the supper.

The second class of cases is where an individual mind manipulates occult forces. What and where are these forces?

The Occultist says that around, in, and through the earth, are subtile forces of nature which the human mind, by study and concentration, can use as it desires. As the dynamo collects free electricity from the atmosphere, by the rapid revolution and friction of its wheel and turns it into light, heat, or power, so the human mind, acting as a dynamo, can attract to itself the free Cosmic Forces of nature, and, drawing them into itself, can then send them forth in any direction and for any purpose it may desire. Many miracles are performed by the mind consciously using these occult forces, but only a trained mind is able to do it. Merely thinking of them in a passive way cannot put them into operation.

The mind acts upon these forces as the wind acts upon water. For example: there is a placid lake. Now a little breeze stirs the water slightly; the breeze continues, growing in strength, and there is a ripple on the water; and as the wind increases the ripples finally become waves.

It is in a like manner that the human mind acts upon the Cosmic Forces through concentration; a little thought scarcely brings any action of the forces. But when concentration is continued for any length of time, they are set into motion and thus it is that miracles may be performed.

When Jesus performed the miracle of the draft of fishes, He probably produced the phenomenon by putting into operation these same forces of nature. He pictured, near the boat, a vortex in the water; this caused a movement there, which attracted the fish to that center. Then He directed His disciples to cast their nets into the vortex and they made the miraculous catch.

When Jesus stilled the storm He put a Cosmic Force into action which nullified the opposing force. He drew a higher Cosmic Force into the vortex where the storm was raging. The higher overcame the lower and dissipated its fury. When Jesus saw Lazarus lying dead, He knew that the vibrations of the atoms composing Lazarus' body had become so slow that the ego could no longer control it with its magnetic force. Jesus with His tremendous power of concentration directed the Orange Cosmic Force into the motionless form of Lazarus and commanded him to 'come forth.'' Then the conscious ego, who was still near its body, re-entered and Lazarus was raised from the dead.

Within a short time after death, life may be restored by anyone who understands the process of restoration. The Electrotherapist, on rare occasions, has resurrected a lifeless body through the use of electricity — which is a part of the Blue Cosmic Force. The difference between the Occultist's method and the Electrotherapist 's is, the former does the work through mental processes and the latter by aid of an electric battery. In the course of the evolution of the human race, to triumph over a premature death will cease to be a miracle.

It is contrary to the traditions of Occultism to teach other than accepted students, the use of the destructive forces of Nature. Mankind, unfortunately, is still, like a child, distinctive in its tendency — as witness Art, Science, Literatiare, Invention, Manufacture, transportation — every line of human endeavor perverted to destructive purposes during the last five years. And for this reason, details of how Jesus destroyed the fig-tree, or how the plagues befell the Egyptians cannot be entered into. But it is sufficient to say that the destructive forces of Nature can be put into operation, by the human mind, in the same manner as can the constructive forces and both may be used to produce miracles.

The immediate purpose of this chapter is to show that all men are using the forces of Nature, through which miracles are performed. The conscious agent produces them quickly, while he who uses the forces unconsciously does not get results until after many years — and then may be unable to trace the causes from their effects. Most persons drag out unhappy lives, due to their environment, totally unconscious that it is self-created, and that it is self-curable through a change of mental attitude toward it.

Each person, through the study of psychology and philosophy, can learn the rules that govern creation and make the Spiritual, Mental and Physical environment desired. And since to think is to create, all men should carefully scrutinize their habits of thought lest they become Frankenstein and create monsters.

A man's character determines the quality of his thoughts; and therefore, all the Saviours of the world have taught the same ethical principles, hoping thereby to convince man that ethics are not moral platitudes but are statements of the immutable laws of Nature.

You may be interested in this Lecture: "What Is Creative Visualization"?

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