The Sacred and the Miraculous?

It is an oft used phrase that “nothing is sacred” in this world.  It is a phrase often used with a sigh by those who believe “the good old days” were better than what we have today, as if something was sacred before, with nothing being sacred any longer. In a sense, those who say that “nothing is sacred” are even more right than they know, as no thing can ever be sacred – whether we are talking about today or yesterday, this, or that.

The reason no thing is sacred, nor can be sacred, is because “the sacred” is that which is pure, uncorrupted, never changing, without beginning and without end; and if it is this we are longing for, then what we are talking about can necessarily be no “thing,” no “being,” nor any other idea which can be defined as distinct and separate from other things, as the notions of God, the “spiritual,” and the “soul” are traditionally defined. The reason this must be the case is because to have any attributes of separation whatsoever is to have limits of form, which makes something with such limits necessarily of time and space by definition, since limits of form are limits of space, while limits of space are also limits of time, because time is nothing more than the measurement of form’s change. The reason time and space are both illusions, is because the very perception of “permanent” form (space) is itself an illusion to begin with, since all forms are constantly changing and transforming into “something else.” The measurement of this change and transformation of forms is again what we call time, which therefore makes time also an illusion.  That is the reason why time and space are inseparable, and why time and space are therefore the same illusion, and not separate illusions.

“The spiritual” is that which is “before time,” “not of time,” or “eternal.” But this definition of “the spiritual” creates unresolvable problems and contradictions for the spiritualist who purports the idea of “spiritual beings,” whether we call them “angels,” “spirits,” “souls,” or “God.”  The reason for these contradictions, and why therefore none of these so-called “spiritual beings” can exist, is because for these defined entities to exist, they must therefore have attributes which define them as distinct and separate from other beings and things. The problem is, once we do this, we put them into the realm of time and space by virtue of defining them as separate and distinct from other things.  Once we assign attributes to something as separate, we put them into the realm of time and space, making them no longer “spiritual” by definition.  That is why “the spiritual” as defined as a unique and separate “reality” from the natural, material world is false.  A so-called “timeless being” or a “spiritual being” is a contradiction of terms, because to be a “being” at all by definition, requires we define it as distinct as a unique form – whether we call it “spiritual” or “material.” But “the spiritual,” being supposedly not of time, cannot have attributes which separate it from other things without also being of time and space at the same time. In other words, if something has attributes of separation, which God and “the spiritual” are obviously believed to have, then it must be of time and space, and therefore cannot be “timeless” as spiritualists claim.  That which is truly timeless – without beginning and without end – the only constant, is the Oneness of All and the two inseparable principles of stasis (consciousness), and change, as we have discovered before. Oneness and the two principles is not a “thing,” “being,” or “entity,” with defining attributes of separation like the concept of God, and is instead simply the nature of All.

The reason we have failed in the past, and will always fail in the future to “capture” that which is truly sacred in our concepts of God, the soul, and “spiritual realms,” is because these things are merely concepts – ways we limit and define the limitless and the unknowable so we can pacify our fears in not knowing.  That is why this attempt at capturing the sacred is futile, because that which is truly sacred is not of time, and therefore not of space.  It therefore cannot be “captured” or “embodied” in any concept, thing, being, or form we invent as a tool to project our longing for the sacred on to something else.  That being said, our longing for “the sacred” and “the spiritual,” is a genuine longing.  This is a truth several mystics claim, and even some rare enlightened atheists, such as Sam Harris.  However, this does not mean “the spiritual” is some “other dimension” of existence, or a separate and independent “reality” or “being” apart from the material world, but rather another aspect of human experience of this life.  Human beings have sought this “higher awareness” in art, music, poetry, literature, and religion.  The problem with religions is that unlike the arts, they tend to make exclusive ownership claims on truth, which cannot be made from any mode of understanding and expression.  There is honesty in the arts, because they attempt to reflect life as it is and what we long for without making exclusive ownership claims on truth, unlike religion which aspires to claim exclusive ownership of truth and ideological viewpoints of how life should be.  At best, the arts can reflect Truth, but can never be Truth, since Truth is no thing, being, entity, or form whatsoever.  The problem with several religions is their claims to be Truth itself, when nothing can be, no matter how lofty and “transcendent” we believe it to be.

While our longing for “the sacred” is genuine, we corrupt this genuine longing by our also overwhelming desire to “objectify” things – to “egotize” or “personify” them if you will.  Our concrete thought tendencies compel us to attempt to encapsulate and embody Truth into a form our limited mind can digest.  That is the reason we create gods, religions, ideologies, and other objects of worship in the first place. While this tendency is understandable, it is delusional, because Truth cannot be captured or encapsulated into any being, entity, or form whatsoever. The bottom line is, you cannot embody and therefore own nor hold on to Truth.  Our natural tendency to want something to hold on to, to define, to “capture,” is our ultimate undoing in our quest for the sacred.  In fact, it could be said this objectification of the sacred is true idolatry. This makes the creation of Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, and other such gods, idolatry.

In truth, there is nothing – no thing to hold on to.  There is only now, which is not a “thing.” Our incredibly powerful tendency towards concrete thought rather than abstract thought, and our desire to “understand” is what drives our creation of gods, religions, and ideologies.  We think we truly need these things, but do we really need them?  Do we need to believe in something we think is true, or do we need to simply see what is actually true and act in harmony within our awareness of it? What is actually true is not an opinion, belief, ideology, or any other abstraction.  What actually is is what is actually true.  Further arguments over opinions, beliefs, ideologies, religions, and abstractions will get us nowhere, and have nothing to do with Truth.  Only by embracing and accepting reality can we be truly free in any real and meaningful sense of the word.

This leads to notions of “the miraculous” – an idea which, like “the spiritual” as a distinct and separate “reality” from the material world, must be false.  Why must “the miraculous” be false?  Because so-called “miracles” as found in the Bible are that which violate existing natural law – things like raising the dead, parting the Red Sea, turning a woman into a pillar of salt, turning water into wine, etc.  But we know from our real world and real life experience that natural law is never violated in this way at any time.  It is a very striking fact that what we consider “miracles” today are not miracles at all when examined objectively and rationally. Things like recovering from a deadly cancer after chemotherapy, surviving a major earthquake, or serendipitously meeting the love of your life may be improbable, but they are hardly miraculous.  For a miracle to qualify as a true miracle in the Biblical sense, it must be something that cannot be explained by natural means. 

It is often sarcastically asked by believers what an atheist would accept as legitimate evidence for the existence of God and the miraculous.  Interestingly enough, it would be quite easy for God to prove his existence and that of the miraculous if he simply showed us the evidence, just as any other credible person would who had nothing to hide.  Such evidence which would qualify for the truly miraculous would be Jesus materializing in the flesh to each living person on Earth, to allow them to touch his nail and spear scars, then dematerializing his physical body and disappearing before our eyes, just as he supposedly did for his disciples, and especially for “doubting” Thomas after the resurrection.  Other such examples of miraculous evidence would be if we could move Mt. Everest to the United States, simply by commanding it to move, seeing an amputee’s limbs grow back, or watching our dead grandmother who has been dead for twenty-seven years rise up out of her grave and have dinner with us. While this may seem facetious to mention these qualifying true miracles – things which necessarily violate natural law, these types of occurrences were simply run-of-the-mill miracles from Biblical times that happened back then, but which conspicuously never happen today.  Why do we settle today for anything less than what constitutes a true “miracle” than what our Biblical ancestors counted as miracles?  The reason is because what we call “miracles” are in reality only improbabilities and coincidences.  Just because something is improbable – even extremely improbable, does not qualify something as truly “miraculous.” For a miracle to be a true miracle, it again must be something which cannot be explained by natural means.  If God is real, and can so easily produce the evidence for his reality and supernatural power, than in our modern world, just the same as in the ancient world, we should settle for nothing less than true miracles, such as those from the Bible, and not be so easily satisfied with mere improbabilities and coincidences, passing them off as “miracles.”  The reason we do so easily settle for this watered-down, cheapened definition of “the miraculous,” is because everyone knows “the miraculous” does not exist.  If we truly believed it existed, then we would pray for things we know are impossible, such as the regeneration of the limbs of amputees, for Jesus to materialize before our eyes, and for grandma to rise from the dead. The fact we do not pray for these impossible things, proves the fact we don’t really believe in what we say we believe in terms of “the miraculous.”

I have no shame in admitting the fact I have been a sucker and given much of my hard-earned cash in my pursuit of “the miraculous.”  I have spent more money than I care to remember on more than one meditation technique which made fraudulent claims.  I have tried a “transcendental energy” technique, and another which claimed to be descended from the Apostle John.  That being said, there is truth in genuine meditation and its benefits.  Some do this by “watching” their breath – the inhale and exhale, or creating a mantra to repeat to oneself to bring them back to the present moment. While practicing meditation can quiet the mind so it can be in a state of awareness without thought, it still cannot replace critical thinking and honest examination of what is. Both critical thinking and meditation have their place, just as work as well as rest also have their place. Mindless practice of any technique will not lead to enlightenment as I once naively believed.  It still takes work to be cognizant of truth.  While Jiddu Krishnamurti rejected any and all meditation techniques, and I agree with Krishnamurti that any technique in itself is insufficient to bring about an enlightened mind, and certainly should not be offered in exchange for money, I hold a somewhat middle ground viewpoint in my feelings on the usefulness of meditation techniques.  Like any tool, its usefulness or lack of usefulness depends on the individual using them, and their own state of awareness and understanding.  Simply bringing our awareness in line with the present moment, that which is now, is true meditation, and what it means to witness the sacred.  How different this is than subscribing to a so-called “spiritual authority,” in which we do not find truth, but rather a projection of our own desires.

The quest for “the miraculous,” is in truth the quest to be dazzled by magic tricks. It is not at all the same as our quest for the sacred.  “The miraculous” always involves impossible things happening within the physical, material world, which do not happen in real life because they cannot happen, invalidating the notion of “the miraculous” as we discovered previously.  That is why the quest for “the miraculous” is the shallow pursuit of our illusory, wish-fulfilling fantasies, while the quest for “the sacred” is our pursuit of the genuine at the core.  While we cannot “possess” nor “have” the sacred since it is not something to possess, we can live in the awareness of the sacred – of the ever-mysterious now and its uncorrupted oneness.  So in this sense, the “sacred” is not material, in that it is not a thing, being, entity, nor any other form, since it is simply now, ALL, oneness, as we discovered before.  However, what the sacred is not is what spiritualists consider to be some “special transcendent reality,” separate and independent of the physical, material world, as we also discovered before.  Dualists attempt in vain to “egotize,” or objectify and therefore desecrate the sacred – that is, they project their ideas of the “sacred” on to objects, beings, and “realities” of their own invention, such as God, Heaven, the “soul,” and “spiritual realms and beings.” This, as we learned previously, is their downfall.  All they do is simply reduce and limit the sacred to yet one more aspect of duality – yet one more thing” we can manipulate and use for our egotistical self-interests, leading to endless conflict and war. For the sacred has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this dualistic egotism.  For the sacred is nothing more nor less, than the timeless, egoless, Oneness of All.

Listen to audio version of “The Sacred and the Miraculous?”

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